Chapter One

Back in Town

My name is Tobias. I haven't had a last time for quite awhile so don't bother asking. As to where I live, its basically a meadow out in the country. Nothing special. Though, admittedly, the prey is quite good. I don't tell my friends that though; it kind of creeps them out.

You may be asking what the heck I'm talking about.

Well, the simple answer is, I'm a red- tailed hawk who can change into any other animal I touch, as well as become my old human self for two hours at a time. Okay, maybe not so simple.

A couple years ago, I met up with four other kids: Jake, Marco, Rachel and Cassie at the mall. We decided to take a shortcut through an abandoned construction site. It was there we met Prince Elfangor, a dying Andalite warrior who warned us of an invading parasite race called Yeerks. To help us fight the Yeerks, Elfangor gave us the power to morph, to obtain the DNA of any given creature, and to have the ability to become that creature.

But there was a catch. If you stay in that morph for too long, you're trapped in that animal body. That's what happened to me. If it hadn't been for the mystical Ellimist, I wouldn't be able to morph at all!

Now I was perched up in one of the rafters looking out at Cassie's barn. Bales of hay littered the dirty floor. Animals ranging from wolves to skunks lay in various cages all over the place. There was a nearby golden eagle with a broken wing that was making me nervous. Cassie's parents used the barn as their Wildlife Rehabilitation clinic. It was also where we, the Animorphs, held most of the meetings.

"Has anyone else noticed the stink in here?" Marco asked. "I blame the skunk."

"Sorry about that," Cassie murmured. "Its just that I had a dream last night. But it was more than a dream..." She blushed, clearly flustered.

"Do you mean like the one that led you to finding me in the ocean?" Ax, our local Andalite, asked. "Ocean. Oceeaan." Andalites had no mouths, so when Ax was in his human morph, he tended to play with the sounds.

Cassie nodded. "Yeah. It was about that girl we met last month: Melissa." She looked up at me. Melissa was my cousin. She was also a mindcaster.

"Guess who's back?" A male voice called from outside.

Jonathan, I said in thought- speak. I'd seen the crappy old Ford Jonathan and Melissa drove in from miles away.

Cassie ran over to the barn doors and threw them open. Jonathan and Melissa walked in, Melissa seemingly distressed. It was no big surprise; the two of them, and Jessica Day during the secret hour, had spent the last couple of months searching for other midnighters.

"I take it you put that dream in my head?" Cassie asked Melissa.

The mindcaster nodded. "Not too long ago, I had to touch people to manipulate their minds. Not so much these days. Anyway, I figured I should phone ahead before stopping by."

A chill ran through me; Melissa had a way of being incredibly creepy. Melissa looked up at me, a small smile curving on her lips. Great. She read my mind. No big deal. She probably heard that a lot.

"So why did you come?" Jake asked.

"Yeah, you don't seem the type to come around for small talk," Marco added.

I told them to come.

All heads whipped around. An elderly man outlined in blue had just appeared out of nowhere! I inwardly groaned. This couldn't be good. When the Ellimist was involved, it was rarely good.

Suddenly, a blue light exploded all around them, followed by an unearthly silence. It seemed as if the entire world was at a standstill. Not even the animals moved. The Ellimist had frozen time before, but this was different. This had an ancient feel to it.

"What happened?" A red- headed girl I hadn't noticed before asked. She seemed to be in shock.

I have enacted the blue time. We need to talk about the upcoming danger. The danger centered around the Yeerks and the darklings.