1. Chapter 1 (1/2)

The Discovery The Discovery

Part 1

Cassie:

We were going back to the Yeerk pool. Again. I can't remember how many time's we've ventured down there. I don't want to remember. But Jake says this time will be different. This time we'll win. As much as I want to believe him, I can't. I have this awful feeling about this mission. Not just the usual fear that wells up was whenever we face certain death. It's more that that. It's something deeper. Something darker.

** **

Here we were. The Yeerk pool. I looked over to Rachel, but the look on her face was not the reassurance I needed. Since all this began it seems as if Rachel has found her true calling, as a warrior. A murderer. I closed my eyes. I shouldn't think like that. Rachel is my best friend. Besides, what we're doing, is for the good of the entire world. That makes it right. Doesn't it?

** **

Jake looked each of us in the eyes. As his eyes met mine, he grinned nervously. I smiled. He was exactly what the Animorphs needed. A fearless leader who wasn't afraid to do what was necessary, but still cared for his followers. His friends. He finished his tour of the group. I knew then. The moment was now. Rachel obviously noticed too.

"Let's do it!" she yelled enthusiastically.

She started morphing. Grizzly. Power morph. Everyone else started morphing, but I hesitated. I still felt troubled by this mission. Something was wrong. I felt sick. I knew something bad was going to happen. But I couldn't back out. I couldn't let my friends down. As I stared morphing I looked out on the scene below us. From our vantage point in an alcove just above the Yeerk pool we could see everything. The Hork-Bajir standing guard all around the complex, the human hosts, the willing ones, lounging around enjoying themselves, and the unwilling hosts, caged and defeated, mourning for their lost lives, lost loves, lost freedom. Finally, the Taxxon, slithering over and around each other, searching for their next meal, their next victim. I shuddered. Beside me Rachel tensed. On an unseen signal everyone surged forward to meet the on coming force of Hork-Bajir death machines that would soon approach.

** **

Just as I took a step forward, towards certain death, I faltered. The world around me spun. I felt light-headed, but my legs weighed a ton. I staggered sideways and collapsed, my head coming down to rest on my paws. My wolf's paws. My eyes closed, the world went black.

** **

Part 2

Slowly I opened my eyes. My head spun. I ached all over. Where was I? Slowly, as my mind cleared, I climbed to my feet. My two feet. I was human? Looking around, I realised I was alone. Completely alone. Now I was scared. I wasn't at the Yeerk pool, or anywhere near there. The moon shone down, illuminating the forest around me. A large oak was nearby, filing the air with it's incessant rustling. I suddenly realised where I was. Tobias's meadow! I hurried over to the base of his tree, hoping he'd be there. I gazed up, shielding my eyes from the full moon. Empty. He wasn't here. I looked down sullenly at my feet, and suddenly noticed there was something under the tree. I went for a closer look. Only as I approached did I realize they were three wooden crosses. I stopped in mid-stride. Crosses. Graves. I didn't want to know who they belonged to. Who would be buried under Tobias's tree. But something inside compelled me to go forward. I slowly stepped close and peered at the tombstone. The inscribing on the cross became clearer. It said just one word. Marco. I gasped. NO! Marco wasn't dead, was he? I shook my head. He can't be! I turned my gaze to the second cross. I had to know. But the name lay in shadow I crept closer till I saw the name carved in the wood. Rachel. I screamed. RACHEL! Not Rachel! Anyone but Rachel! I couldn't take it, I freaked. I turned and ran. As far and as fast as I could.