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:: #14 The Unknown
:: Book Overview

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Narrator: Cassie

Cover Morph: Cassie to Horse

Release Date: December 1997

Cover Quote: Never under estimate the power of a morph...

Plot Summary: There's a knew rumor in town. Someone has discovered an item that proves life on other planets exists. And they've been hiding it on a base called Zone 91. The Most Secret Place On Earth.

Cassie, the other Animorphs, and Ax already know about life on other planets. Too well. They also realize the Yeerks will try to access Zone 91. To find out if what's there will threaten their mission. So the Animorphs decide to pay Zone 91 and the Yeerks a little visit. But what they discover is not at all what they expectů

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:: Sample Chapter

I was on my back. I was indoors. I opened my eyes. Staring down at me was an alien. A pale, ghostly oval face with two enormous eyes. It looked like a small child, with weak arms and legs.

It looked like one of the aliens from that old movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In fact, it looked exactly like one of them.

I blinked and looked again. It was a life-size cardboard cutout. Standing just behind the alien was Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I sat up. All around me were shelves piled with Star Wars masks-Wookiees and Darth Vader and Imperial stormtroopers, along with Star Trek handheld phasers and Spock ears. There were posters everywhere - Mulder and Scully from X-Files, Mike, Crow, Servo, and Gypsy from Mystery Science Theater 3000, Jane Fonda as Barbarella, and movie posters from Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and, of course, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

But mostly there were posters, mugs, ashtrays, pencils, and T-shirts, all emblazoned with a red-and-white logo dominated by the stencil letters spelling "Zone: 91."

"She's awake," Rachel said. She sauntered over, carrying a short stick in one hand.

"What's going on?" I asked her.

"You were knocked out. You know, when that totally unexplainable explosion happened." She arched one brow and gave me a meaningful look.

I understood. Rachel was reminding me that we had not seen what we had seen - there had been no Yeerk crawling from a horse's ear. There had been no Dracon beam.

My father came rushing over, followed by Crazy Helen. He knelt and began feeling my head.

"Ow!"

"Looks okay," he muttered. "Superficial cut. Serious bruise, but I doubt there's a concussion. Still, I'll take you by the hospital emergency room on the way home. Have the doctors there check you out."

Rachel winked. "Doctor Carter may be there. Noah Wyle. Oh, yeah."

"What happened?" I asked my dad.

"Well, honey --"

"It was the aliens," Crazy Helen interrupted. "They have these exploding rocks they spread around out there. BOOM!"

My father rolled his eyes. "We're on the edge of an Air Force facility. They have a base way back in the Dry Lands. You see the jets flying over all the time. I suspect they may have lost a bomb or a missile or something. That snake- bit horse must have set it off. The blast caught you."

"That sounds logical," I said.

"It was the aliens!" Crazy Helen screamed. "They keep the aliens out at Zone Ninety-one! That's why it's all so secret out there. That's why the Air Force won't talk about it. Zone Ninety-one is the secret base where the government keeps the aliens it has captured. They have 'em out there in cages. They get secrets of technology from them. You think computers just happened? All that stuff was from aliens. Here, have a souvenir mug. Normally ten-ninety-nine. But you can have it because you got hurt."

Helen grabbed a mug from the shelf, wiped it off on her sleeve, and handed it to me.

Rachel held up her stick. "I got a pecan log," she said.

"You want a mug?" Helen asked her.

"No, the pecan log is great. But I don't really believe in aliens." Rachel said this with a perfectly straight face.

Helen just smiled. "Lots of people do, young lady. Very smart people, too. Out at Zone Ninety- one they know. Oh, they know! The government doesn't want us telling. They watch me. They listen in through the microchip they implanted in my head. They're listening right now! One of those black helicopters of theirs is listening in and transmitting everything we say to the New World Order headquarters in the Azores, which is where Atlantis is, you know."

This tirade left us all temporarily without anything much to say. We just kind of stared.

"Well, we may as well get out of Helen's hair," my father said, breaking the spell. "Cassie, honey, do you feel okay? Can you focus your eyes?"

"Um, yes," I said. "But how about that horse?"

My father shook his head, mystified. "Strangest thing. There isn't a trace left of her. Not a trace."

"Hah. It's the Martians," Crazy Helen said. "It's all the fault of those darned aliens."

Rachel and I exchanged a look. We were both having the same thought: It's a very strange world where a person called Crazy Helen is at least partly right.

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