So here we are. The first book with Melissa as a narrator, a non-original animorph. Let's see how it goes. Thanks for reading, everybody! I hope you like this as much as the previous books, and I hope that the non-canon narrator keeps your interest. Let's find out.

Chapter One

My name is Melissa. The others have said that they wrote my last name as being Chapman. I'll stick with that, but I can't promise that it's true. They changed things around to make it harder to find them. Actually, I guess I mean us. But they've been in danger a lot longer than I have. Well, I guess we're all in danger. The whole world is. They're just more in front of the danger. We are.

Sigh. Sorry, this is all new to me. When the others told me I should write, it seemed, umm, dangerous. But I guess they have a system. I've never written anything before, besides a school report I mean. So I don't know if I'm doing this right. Bottom line is, if you're new here, you should really read what the others have written first. Because if you're clueless, I don't know if I can clueify you.

Okay, I'll do my best. Let's start with the big one. Earth is being invaded by aliens. Yeah, from outer space. Still here? I'm going to assume you are since you just read this sentence. Unless you just read up to this sentence. But if you read this far, you're probably going to keep reading. I should explain before you give up.

You're probably wondering why you haven't seen anything on the news about any of this. There are two reasons for that. First, it's a quiet invasion. They're not flying around shooting down F-Whateverteens and blowing up the white house and being punched by Will Smith. They're infiltrating us, slowly but surely. Which brings me to the second reason you haven't seen this on the news. The news anchor might be one of the aliens. Or maybe it's the editor of the paper you read. Or the guy whose blog you read. Or the girl who drops off your paper in the morning. Or the… you get the idea.

The aliens are called yeerks. A yeerk is basically a little slug, about six inches long. They're blind and deaf and the entire race would be hard pressed to perform a hostile take over of your refrigerator. That is, if they didn't have one pretty huge advantage. You see, every yeerk, as helpless as it is, can slither into the ear of anything with a large enough brain, wrap themselves around it, and take over. When a yeerk crawls into a brain, they control that person completely. They make the person walk, talk, sit down, blink, everything. A person who is taken by a yeerk has absolutely no control. They're prisoners inside they're own mind. The yeerk can look through their memories at will, can read their lives like a book. When you're taken, you have no more rights. You're a slave of the yeerk.

So you see, they could be anyone. All those people you see every day, any of them could be a human-controller, a person who has been taken by the yeerks. They are infiltrating our world piece by piece, taking policemen, teachers, politicians, anyone they can, especially those in a position of power.

If you're waiting for me to tell you about the crack squad of flamethrower wielding cyborgian super-ninja marine sharpshooters we have opposing them, prepare yourself for disappointment. The only people on earth fighting the yeerks are four human teenagers, a bird who is sometimes a teenage boy, and an alien kid who fell asleep in class a lot. But! Before you go max out that credit card and say your good byes, we do have one pretty major advantage. If we can touch an animal, any animal, we can become it.

It's because of the Andalites. They're sort of the arch enemies of the yeerks. Picture a blue deer, only with a human torso, head, and arms. You're halfway there. Now give the deer a sort of furry scorpion-like tail with a wicked blade on the end. Then give him seven fingers on each hand instead of five. Finally, put a pair of eyes on top of his head that move around in any direction on these short stalks. No no, give him back the eyes in the normal spot too. They have four total. Now take away his mouth and nose. Replace them with three vertical slits that they use to breath through. Congratulations, that's an Andalite. If you're wondering how they talk without a mouth, they use what they call thought-speak, which is umm… speaking with thoughts.

Andalites fight the yeerks. Apparently they're fighting them all over the galaxy. They were fighting them on Earth, or in orbit anyway, but the yeerks ambushed the Andalite ship and pretty much beat the pants off of them. The Andalites will send reinforcements, but I guess they're spread so thin trying to deal with this invasion that it's going to take awhile. So for now, it's our job to hold back the entire yeerk empire. But you know, no pressure.

When the Andalites were being tpk'd, one of them, a warrior named Elfangor, crash landed on earth. He met my friend Rachel, her friend Cassie, her cousin Jake, his friend Marco, and this other kid from school named Tobias. I wasn't there, so I don't know exactly how it happened. I know Elfangor was dying. But before he did, he used this blue cube to give each of them the power that only Andalites had until that point, the power to touch an animal, acquire its dna, and then morph into that animal. I know you wish he'd given them a bazooka, but trust me, this way is actually better.

The morphing does come with a big restriction though. You can only morph for two hours. If you stay any longer than that, you're stuck in that form forever. That's what happened to Tobias. He stayed in his hawk morph for too long. Except he sort of got a 'get out of jail free' card. Actually, it was a 'get halfway out of jail for a favor' card. He helped this powerful creature called the Ellimist, who is sort of like Q I guess, and got his morphing power back. Only now his default form is hawk instead of human. Somehow, he even got his old human body back as a morph. So he could morph into a human and stay that way, but then he could never morph again. Personally, I don't know how he resists. I don't know if I could.

Elfangor died after he gave them the morphing power, and the blue box was lost. At least, it was lost for awhile. Then I found it. Shortly after that, I found out the truth about the yeerks and everything else when I saw Rachel in midmorph. That was freaky. And seeing Ax didn't help. His real name is something like Facsimile Escargot Is Still, but everyone calls him Ax. He's an Andalite cadet that the others rescued. He's trapped here on earth. He was in his own body when I saw him the first time. Like I said, freaky. But they told me the truth, and with the kind of proof they had, it was easy to believe.

Besides, when I say that anyone can be a controller, I don't say it just to scare you. I say it because it's true. Whenever I see anyone now, I wonder if they have a yeerk inside their head. Everyone I talk to, I have to think, are they trying to take over Earth? Would they kill me if they knew what I knew, or would they just trap me and enslave me? I walk around and think about these things, because it's easier than thinking about the controllers that I already know. Specifically, my parents. Both of them were taken by the yeerks a long time ago.

For a long time, I didn't know what was wrong. I thought I did something to make them mad. I thought they gave up on me. I thought they wanted someone else. They were so interested in everyone else and always going out to these games and these parties and meetings. But they never took me with them. Actually, half the time I think they forgot I existed. Most of the time I got my own meals, got my own homework done, and got myself to my gymnastics practices. Heck, I even had to remind myself to do my own chores. After awhile, it wasn't like they were mad at me. It was like they didn't care one way or another. I was a goldfish that figured out how to pour its own food. If I died, they might make a sad face while flushing me down the toilet. It's not a good feeling.

So I probably don't need to explain why I was so ready, and so happy to believe that something like this was happening. When I heard that my parents weren't my parents, that they were taken over by aliens and that somewhere inside, my mom and dad were still who I remembered, I would have believed anything else they wanted me to. See, in a way, they thought they were telling me, 'your life is in danger, the whole world is being invaded, there are aliens who want to enslave you and everyone you know.' What they were actually telling me was, 'Your parents still love you and you can save them.' So if you ever wonder why I agreed to get into this, why I volunteered to fight when the last altercation I was actually in was in second grade, that's why. Because even though I failed to get my pencil back from the kid who sat behind me, I will free my parents. As terrible of a battle oath as that is. I really need a new one.

Pretty soon after I found out the truth, Cassie disappeared. It's a long story and the others are better at telling it. Basically, now she works for the Ellimist, and she's moved on from this world. So, I guess in a way, it's really hard not to think of myself as a replacement. I can't help but think that when the others look at me, they wonder if Cassie would have said something better, or done the right thing faster. But really, all I can be is me. And well, any animal I touch, but still me. I'm Melissa. Not Cassie 2.0. Maybe I'll do the right thing and maybe I'll do the wrong thing. But whatever I do, it's me.

What I was doing at the moment was sitting cross legged on my bed, petting my cat, Fluffer McKitty, and watching Firefly. I was wondering if Andalite ships looked that cool, when my dad walked in. Or rather, the yeerk piloting my father's body steered him into my room.

It was all I could do to smile and ask, "Do you need something, daddy?"

For a second, I didn't think he heard me. His gaze was fixed on the screen, where Wash was using the ship to break up a suddenly lethal bar fight. His eyes narrowed, and then, as though accessing what the ship he was seeing was from my real father, he visibly eased. "Ah." Finally, his attention turned to me. I felt like a bug under his gaze. Since I've actually been a bug a couple times, so I had to look down and make sure I wasn't really becoming one again.

I guess Fluffer felt the tension in the room, because he squirmed until I put him down, then ran straight out of the room. How I envied him. Reluctantly, I forced a smile once more and looked back up to my father expectantly.

He watched the cat run out with a thoughtful expression before speaking distractedly. "Your mother and I are leaving. We'll be back after midnight."

I blinked. "Okay."

He nodded once before walking out. That was it. No telling me to get to bed on time. No teasing me about wanting to know where they were going. No reminding me not to eat junk food. Nothing. He just left. A minute later I heard the front door open and close. Walking to my window, I could see the car start to pull out of the driveway. Then I frowned. My mother was driving, but I didn't see my father anywhere. That meant he was still in the house and didn't want me to know. That had to mean yeerk secrets that we really should know.

I spent a minute trying to decide what to do. If he was still in the house when he was supposed to be gone, he had to be down in the basement. If he was anywhere else, I could have accidentally run into him. But I'm not allowed in the basement. Of course, that meant that the top two floors were safe.

I thought about calling Rachel, but what would I tell her? I didn't know for sure that anything important was happening. My luck, I'd get her and whoever she dragged into it over here and it would turn out that he was sorting the yeerk empire's drive-thru receipts for tax purposes. I had to at least find out if this was important.

So, I needed a little morph, one that could get around easily and not be seen. It wasn't a hard choice, since I don't have that many morphs. But I couldn't do it here. It would take too long to try to find the right place once I was tiny. Instead, I cracked my bedroom door and looked around before quietly easing my way out.

It's really helpful when you live in a house most of your life. You learn where all the creaky floor spots are. I avoided them and carefully moved down the stairs into the kitchen. The dishwasher was running, and the door into the basement was closed, as usual. I pressed my ear to the door, but didn't hear anything. I was going to have to get small and get down there.

Quickly, I slid my pants and shirt off. You can't morph anything more than skintight clothing, like the leotard I wore under my clothes. Anything else gets left behind. That's pretty much why we must be the only teenagers in the world who have never asked for a cell phone. We'd just lose them. And it would look a little weird if my dad came out and found my clothes lying right in front of the door to the basement. I put them in the clothes hamper next to the laundry room, and then looked around one more time before concentrating.

Other than the energy it takes out of you, morphing is surprisingly easy. All I had to do was think about the animal I wanted to become and focus on it, and the changes started. The first thing that happened was the wings. Huge gossamer wings sprouted from my back. They were human sized. That's the weird thing about morphing. It's never logical. It never follows any kind of pattern. You might grow some enormous things that should be small before everything shrinks down to size. Or if you're changing into something big like an elephant, you might get a human sized trunk first. It's all random.

When the wings appeared, I looked over my shoulder at them. They were easy to flutter, but doing so knocked some papers off the table. I started to go pick them up, but the changes were continuing. I put my arms out, and they turned black, like they were being burnt off. Then most of the muscle seemed to dissolve as each arm split into two and started to shrink. It was disgusting. I was reeling from that sight when my legs were suddenly incapable of supporting me. They were shrinking as fast as my arms, and I pitched forward with a yelp. Luckily, by the time I hit the floor, enough of me had shrunk that I was fairly sure my dad wouldn't hear it below.

Squirming on the floor with a mostly human, if really small torso, I focused on continuing the morph. I got smaller and smaller, and equally more disgusting. Finally, my vision completely split into an odd kaleidoscope of images that took a lot of work to try to sort out, and I was done. I had become the common housefly.

It may seem weird, but the housefly was one of my favorite morphs. That's because for as disgusting as it is, the fly does one thing really well. It, well you know, flies. As soon as I was completely morphed, I shot off the floor and into the air. One millisecond, a thought, that's all it took and I was airborne. I shot straight up, doing ninety, ummm… yards an hour.

I did a few quick loops and spins as the fly. I couldn't help it. They're just so utterly and completely free. They don't move through the air, they dance in it. A fly in the air is like one of those Olympic figure skaters on the ice. They totally own it.

But there was work to do, and no one was here to remind me to do it. So I had to remind myself, and focus. Gradually, I pointed the pathetic and confusing multiple image compound fly eyes at the door. I had morphed right next to it, but it still took me a couple minutes to figure out where exactly it was with the pathetic fly vision. Once I located the door, it was easy to land on it and find the crack at the bottom that let me crawl underneath and into the basement itself.

After I made it into the basement, I just kept flying lower. The place was dark and I had no idea where I was going. But I hoped something would direct me before I got completely lost and had to demorph. Luckily, there was a guide in the form of my father's voice. I could hear him somewhere ahead of me, and flew that way.

Ahead, I could see a line of light from a door that wasn't quite fully closed. It was the secret room that I wasn't supposed to know about, the one that my father used to talk to Visser 3, the leader of the yeerk invasion on earth. He hadn't bothered to close the door all the way. I guess that was because he'd hear me coming if I opened the door and walked down into this place that I was forbidden to enter anyway.

Once I got inside the little communications room, I planned on sticking my butt (or whatever flies have), to the ceiling and waiting to hear what was happening. It didn't exactly work out that way. First, it was a good thing I actually was a fly because if I'd been human I would have fallen over when the first thing I heard upon entering the room was a thought-speak voice.

(Insignificant yeerk bottom feeding cretin! You will give us the energy we demand or feel the unyielding crush of our imperious boots upon your whimpering bodies! You will tremble in terror before the sound of our all mighty weapons as they reduce entire fleets to atoms. You will beg and plead for mercy but find none if you do not shower us with that which we seek!)

Ummm, that wasn't a yeerk. The only yeerk to have thought-speak was Visser 3, the only Andalite-Controller. And besides, no way he'd talk like that. Oh, he'd threaten my father like that, he just wouldn't put down the rest of the Yeerk Empire. Andalites? Maybe, but it didn't sound like them. They sounded like bullies. It was hard for me to think of the only real hope for the Earth as bullies. Call me hopeful. Besides, if the Andalites were here, no way my dad would be dealing with them on his own. No, this had to be something else.

Then I saw it. Sitting on the desk as I flitted wildly behind my father's head was a tiny alien ship. It looked like a model. The whole thing was maybe four inches long, shaped sort of like a baton with six tubes at one end in clusters of three, each trio spaced evenly around the thing. At the other end was some kind of death head shape that I took to be the bridge. At a guess, the thought-speak was coming from there. Was that possible? Could there be aliens that tiny? I wished the others were here, especially Ax. He'd know what this was.

My father rubbed his forehead and sighed. I guess he was having a bad day. That made me like the aliens a little more. His voice was strained. "I told you. If you locate the morphing energy on this planet, and help us track it, we will repair your engines."

Okay, that was bad. Track morphing energy? That meant track us. They wanted these little aliens, whoever they were, to point them in our direction. If they did that, it was going to get a lot harder to stay hidden. I had to tell the others.

The aliens didn't seem to like what they were told. (Fool! No one lives who dares believe they who wallow in the mud of their ancestors can do more before the orders of the Glorious Helmacron Fleet than beg for their lives and shower our supreme Over-selves with all of their meager possessions!) There was a pause, as though they were debating internally. (However! In the interest of leaving the yeerk dregs with what meager power they have for the time of our great battles, when we shall purge the galaxy of all who fail to grovel at our feet, we will find this energy you seek!)

My father started to lean forward, as I began to get a bad feeling. "Good. You will—"

(It is behind you.)

The answer was simple, to the point. It took my father a moment to process it. It only took me half a moment. Then I spun around in the air and made for the exit. As I did that, he got it, shouting. "Door close!"

At his command, the door slammed shut. I nearly bounced off it before skimming up the side, frantically searching for an exit. My father was leaping, trying to grab me out of midair, but the fly was too fast. I darted between his fingers and went for the ceiling. Crap! The room was sealed. There was no way out of here! All he had to do was call reinforcements, or simply wait two hours. I'd rather demorph than be stuck as a fly for the rest of my life.

Then, as though the bad situation needed to get worse, the tiny ship lifted into the air from the desk. I guess the Helmacrons wanted to join in the fun. (We will destroy the source of the energy and you will give us what we demand!) As the shout came, a little bolt of laser energy shot out from the ship. I say little in relation to being human sized. To a fly, it was enormous. The laser nearly blasted my left wing off!

Instantly, I shot away from my perch on the ceiling. My father circled below, waiting to grab at me if I came anywhere near. The Helmacron ship was in hot pursuit, firing laser after laser through the air while he bellowed at them to stop so they could catch me alive. I felt like an X-Wing, dodging left, right, left, down, left around their shots. The fly was fast, but so were they, and sooner or later, I'd make a mistake.

It looked like I was going to have a lifetime fight record of 0 and 2.