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:: #4 The Message
:: Book Overview

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Narrator: Cassie

Cover Morph: Cassie to Dolphin

Release Date: October 1996

Cover Quote: Sometimes you have to change a little more than your mind...

Plot Summary: It all started with the dreams. But Cassie didn't pay much attention to them. She and her friends had all been having weird dreams ever since they'd first learned to morph. Maybe it was just some crazy side effect.

That's when Cassie discovered that she and Tobias had been having the exact same dreams. Dreams about the ocean. And a strange feeling that someone is calling to them. Calling for help.

Cassie, Tobias, Jake, Rachel, and Marco have to figure out if the dreams are a message - or a trap. And if it is a trap, it could mean the end - for everyone...



:: Sample Chapter

I was falling, falling, falling.

Falling into the sea.

Splash! I hit the water. But still I fell. Down and down and down through blue-green, sunlit layers of water.

<I'm here,> a voice called to me. <I am here, I cannot survive much longer. If you hear me...come. If you hear me...come.>

Suddenly I opened my eyes. I stared up at Jake's concerned face.

Glancing across the room, I saw Rachel with the telephone to her ear, preparing to dial.

"She's awake!" Jake said.

"I'd better still call an ambulance," Rachel said.

"No!" Marco snapped. "Not unless we know she's hurt. It's too big a risk."

Rachel's eyes flared the way they do when someone tells her something she doesn't want to hear. "I'm calling nine-one-one," she said tersely,

"No, Rachel, I'm okay," I said. I sat up. My head felt a little woozy, but I was all right.

Rachel hesitated, her fingers just above the keypad. "What about Tobias?"

I looked around the room and saw Tobias spread out on the floor, one wing crumpled beneath him.

He looked dead.

I jumped up and ran to him.

"Rachel, Cassie seems okay, and nine-one-one can't help Tobias," Jake said.

Rachel replaced the receiver and ran over to Tobias.

"He's not dead," I said. I could feel him breathing. Then, just as suddenly as I had, he woke up. His enormous brown hawk's eyes opened, instantly fierce.

His first reaction was pure hawk. He hopped up and flared. Hawks flare just the way cats do when they're trying to intimidate someone. They hunch their shoulders and fluff up their feathers to make themselves look bigger than they are.

"Everybody stand still," I said quickly. "It's okay, Tobias, you were just out for a minute there."

He quickly gained control over the hawk instincts. <That was strange,> he said.
"It happened to me, too," I said. "I passed out. And then I had the dream again. Only this time I could hear an actual voice. Or at least I heard thought-speech."

<Me, too,> Tobias confirmed.

"Okay, now this is getting weird," Rachel said. "Because at the same time I thought I kind of felt something."

"Yeah," Jake agreed. Marco nodded.

<I know this sounds crazy, but...but it's like someone is sending out a distress signal. Like they are calling for help.>

"Only this someone is in the water, or under the water, or something," I said. "Seeing that video, seeing that writing, it was like suddenly the message grew stronger."

"Or it may have just been a coincidence," Jake said. "This isn't a dream. I don't know what it is, but it isn't a dream. Even I halfway saw something. This is some kind of a communication."

"Well, this is all very interesting," Marco said, "but so what? I mean, are we getting some kind of psychic message from the Little Mermaid? What are we supposed to do about it?"

Jake looked closely at me. "Cassie? Was the voice in your dream a human voice?"

I was startled by the question. I hadn't really thought about it. I actually laughed. "When you asked me, the first thing that popped into my head was no, it isn't human." I laughed again. "But that doesn't make any sense."

<lt's not human,> Tobias said suddenly. <I understand the meaning of what it's saying, but it's not human. It's not 'speaking' in words, really.>

"So what is it?" Rachel asked. "Yeerk?"

I let my mind drift back to the dream. I tried to hear the sound in my head again. "No, not Yeerk. It reminds me of something. Of someone."

<The Andalite,> Tobias blurted.

I snapped my fingers. "Yes! That's it! it reminds me of the Andalite. When he first thoughtspoke to us. That's what it's like."

"The Andalite," Marco muttered, He looked away. I knew he was remembering. We all were.

We had been walking home from the mall at night. Walking through a big abandoned construction site, when the Andalite ship had appeared above us.

It landed, and out came the Andalite prince, fatally wounded in a battle with the Yeerk

He was the one who had warned us of the Yeerks - the parasite species that inhabited the brains of other creatures and enslaved them, making them Controllers. It was the Andalite who had warned us, and who, in desperation, had given us the great and terrible weapon -the power to morph.

We had been hiding, cringing in terror, when the Yeerks caught up with the Andalite. When Visser Three himself, the Yeerk leader, had murdered him.

I shuddered at the terrible memory of the Andalite's last, despairing cry.

"Yes," I whispered. "Tobias is right. It's an Andalite. That's who is calling to us from the sea. An Andalite."

For a few minutes no one said anything.

Then Rachel said, "He died trying to save us." She looked defiantly at Marco, "I know that doesn't mean anything to you. But the Andalite died trying to save Earth."

Marco nodded, "I know. And you're wrong, Rachel. That means plenty to me."

"Yeah? Well, if there's some Andalite calling for help, I'm going to try and help him," Rachel said.

I looked over at Jake and we shared this look, like "Oh, big surprise, Rachel is ready to go." I hid my smile and Jake kept a straight face.

"Tobias?" Jake asked. "What do you say?" <I don't know if I should have a vote. I'm the one person here who isn't going to be much help dealing with water. Besides, you guys all know how I'd vote.>

Of all of us, it was Tobias who had stayed longest at the Andalite's side, even as the Andalite ordered him to get to safety. Something really deep had gone on between the Andalite prince and Tobias.

It was my turn. "I can't just ignore someone crying out for help, if that's what this is."

We all looked at Marco. I could see Rachel getting angry, like she was ready to jump all over Marco if, as usual, he disagreed.

Marco just grinned. "I really hate to do this. I really hate to disappoint you all." Then he grew serious. "But I was there at the construction site, same as all of you. I was there when Visser Three --" Suddenly his voice choked. "What I mean is, if there's an Andalite who needs anything, I'm there."

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