:: #9 The Secret
:: Book Overview
Cover Morph: Cassie to Wolf
Release Date: July 1997
Cover Quote: No place to run. No place to hide...
There's something pretty weird going on in the woods
behind Cassie's house. The place where Ax and Tobias call home.
It seems the Yeerks have figured out one very important thing:
Andalites cannot survive without a feeding ground. Visser Three
knows the "Andalite bandits" don't feed where he does, so there
can only be one other place.
Now Cassie, Marco, Jake, Rachel, Tobias and Ax have to figure out
a way to stop a bogus logging camp. Because if Visser Three finds
Ax in the woods, nothing will stop him from finding the
Now Cassie, Marco, Jake, Rachel, Tobias and Ax have to figure out a way to stop a bogus logging camp. Because if Visser Three finds Ax in the woods, nothing will stop him from finding the Animorphs….
:: Sample ChapterWolves can run. Wolves can run all through the night, without stopping or slowing or taking a break.
We ran, Marco and I, jumping fallen logs, swerving through trees, and skirting patches of thorns. Across sunset-lit meadows, and through dark stands of tall pines. We splashed happily through streams and skittered across rocks.
We were running on sensation, our heads swimming with smell and sound and sight. There was nothing within a thousand yards that we didn't know about. We were plugged into the data stream of nature itself.
We smelled the logging camp long before we reached it. Then we heard the sounds of machines. And we heard the murmurs of conversation. Human voices.
Then we got a reminder that we were not the only hyper-alert predators in the forest.
<Is that you guys?> a thought-speak voice asked. Jake's voice.
<Yes. Where are you?> I asked.
<Way up above you,> Jake said with a laugh. I stopped running and craned my head back like I was going to howl at the moon. Through a break in the trees I saw a patch of sky. And way, way up in that sky, I saw two tiny black dots.
Tobias and Jake, floating a quarter-mile up. Even in the weakening light they had seen us from clear up in the bellies of the clouds.
<The place is just ahead. Lots of heavy equipment. Guards. But go take a look. Just be careful.>
<We'd hang out, but the sun's going down and we won't be able to see much more anyway,> Tobias remarked.
<You saw us,> I said, a bit grumpily.
Tobias laughed. <Yeah, but you're a pair of great big wolves. That's not much of a challenge. Now, that flea crawling by your ear...>
<You can't see a flea,> I said.
<Heh,heh,heh,> Tobias answered. <Can't I?>
Marco and I started moving forward again, but slower than before. More cautiously.
Through the trees we began to see light. Artificial light.
We crept slowly nearer, shoulders hunched, heads low, ears aimed forward, sniffing the wind for clues.
The command center building was bigger than it had looked at first. It was made of logs, like some kind of rustic ranger station. It was two-stories tall, with a porch on the front.
On the back-and-side ground levels there were no windows. None at all. There were windows on the upper level, but they were dark. Too dark for me to see into.
There were blindingly bright spotlights mounted atop the building. The forest had been cut back a hundred feet or so on all sides of the building, and the bare, scarred earth all around was lit as bright as the sunniest day.
A dozen or so huge pieces of equipment were parked neatly side by side. Earthmovers, oddly-shaped cranes, trucks, and some monstrous thing that looked like a huge kid's toy. I guessed that it was used to cut trees.
My heightened wolf senses noticed several men walking around the perimeter of the clearing. They were spaced about fifty yards apart and seemed very alert.
The nearest one was walking just in front of us. Marco and I crouched low behind tree trunks and stood perfectly still.
The man wore a tan uniform. The legs of his pants were tucked into high leather boots. He was carrying an automatic rifle.
<Okay, this does look just slightly extreme for a logging camp. That guy is no lumberjack,> I said.
I aimed my ears at the building, but no sounds came from inside. Either there was no one in there or they had soundproofed the place really well.
<Are you getting anything?> Marco asked me.
<Not from inside the building. But I'm smelling stuff that I can't recognize. Weird smells.>
<Yeah. Me too. Animal smells, but weird, you know?>
<Could be,> Marco said.
<The guards are all human,> I pointed out. <You know, this may have nothing to do with the Yeerks. Maybe whoever these guys are, they're up to something totally different. I mean, normal humans do act strange sometimes. Not every weird person is a Controller.>
<No. But don't forget -- the force field. Even if these guys were like drug dealers or something, I don't think they'd have a force field.>
<Good point.> I fell silent. I had heard a noise. Several noises. Movement. Careful, stealthy movement.
I glanced at Marco. I saw that his ears were pricked up, too. <Yeah, I heard that,> Marco said. <Behind us. Someone circling around.>
I felt the knife edge of fear. The human part of me was afraid. The wolf me was not. But I trusted the human instinct more on this.
<Where are the guards?> I asked.
<Uh-oh,> Marco said.
Light everywhere. Everywhere! The whole world was a brilliant white.
I felt like the whole universe could see me.
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
The sound of sharp, cracking explosions in the trees above us. I glanced up. Something falling. A net!
Big steel nets were exploding from the trees above us, falling toward us. There were heavy weights at the edges.
We bolted. The net above me fell. I was racing the falling edge, racing, racing...
The net scraped my back. But I was out from under!
A brilliant stab of red light shot from the dark upper windows of the log building. The beam hit the base of a tree not six inches from me. The wood was vaporized. A six-inch hole was blown right through its trunk.
I started to run. But something felt wrong. Marco! Where was he?
I turned and looked back. He was under the net! He was weighed down and crawling on his belly to get free of it.
I ran back.
The Dracon beams, almost pale in the brilliant floodlit woods, fired again and again.
I grabbed the edge of the net in my jaws and lifted it up. It was shockingly heavy. No wonder Marco was crawling.
<Get out of here!> Marco yelled. <Don't get killed for me.>
<Shut up and come on!> I cried.
I couldn't hold the net. My jaws were aching. My neck was dragging down. Marco was barely inching forward. The Dracon beams were getting more and more accurate.
And now I saw where the guards had disappeared to. They were running through the woods toward us. Half a dozen men carrying automatic weapons. It was an eerie and terrifying sight, as the men cast gigantic shadows up into the treetops.
Then . . . something fast. Faster than a wolf. Faster than a human.
Like a deer. Like a horse. A mouthless face, eyes on stalks, a tail like a scorpion. A creature like nothing that grew on Earth. It raced straight for us.
<Ax!> I cried.
His tail struck, faster than a human eye could follow.
The tail blade made sparks as it sliced through the net, leaving a long gash just in front of Marco's nose.
<Yikes! That was a little close!> Marco said. But he surged through the hole in the net and took off. I was right behind him. Wolves are already fast. But when you get a scared wolf with a scared human mind inside it, you'd be amazed how that animal can move.
We hauled out of there, with Ax right beside us.
Gunfire! Good, old-fashioned, human, very deadly gunfire.
It's much louder in reality than it is in movies.
And it's much scarier to have it aimed at you than it is to see it in a movie. Basically, getting shot at is absolutely nothing like a movie.
<Aaaaahhh!> I yelled.
<Aaaaahhh!> Marco yelled.
<Aaaaahhh!> Ax agreed.
Two wolves and an Andalite set a new record speeding away from that place.
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