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:: #19 The Departure
:: Book Overview

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Narrator: Cassie

Cover Morph: Cassie to Butterfly

Release Date: June 1998

Cover Quote: There's always room for a little change...

Plot Summary: Cassie's had it. After the last mission, she realizes she's tired of missions. Tired of battles. Tired of being an Animorph. She decides that she just can't do it anymore. So she quits.

But that's not the worst that's happened. It seems a human-Controller named Karen followed Cassie after the last run-in with the Yeerks. And she knows Cassie is an Andalite… or human. Either way, if she exposes Cassie, it's all over. No more Cassie. No more Animorphs. No more planet Earth….

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:: Sample Chapter

We were not in a good position. Night was falling. We were somewhere in a forest. We had no tools and no matches. Everything around us was damp, maybe too damp to burn. And what I could see of the sky, looking up through the trees, was filled with dark clouds scudding on a stiff breeze.

"This will hurt," I said. I had found some sticks the right length. I had removed my belt. Fortunately, I never listen to Rachel on matters of fashion, so I had a good, strong, practical leather belt.

"Your pants will fall down," Karen said, sounding like a kid again.

"Yeah, right. I seem to have gained a little weight since I bought these pants. They're plenty tight. Or maybe they shrank. That could be it." I placed the sticks carefully around her lower leg and down over her ankle bone. Then I wrapped the belt loosely. "Okay, I'm not going to tighten it a lot, because your ankle is going to swell up. But I have to tighten it some. I want to keep your ankle immobilized. On the count of five, okay? When I get to five, I'll yank it. One..."

I yanked the belt.

"Aaahhh! Hey! What happened to five?"

"You would have tensed up on five," I said. "This way I caught you while you were relaxed."

"A trick."

"For your own good."

Karen snorted. "Now I know you're an Andalite. Typical Andalite arrogance. The only race in the entire galaxy that make war 'to help people.'"

I stood up again and stuck out my hand. This time, Karen took it. "Come on," I said. "We have to get moving."

I helped her to her feet. She winced in pain as she placed weight on the bad ankle. I leaned over awkwardly to grab the crutch. "Here. Try this."

She stuck it under one arm. "Which side? The side with the bad ankle, or the other side?"

"I don't know," I admitted. "I don't work with humans much."

"Ah? Ready to stop pretending and admit what you are, Andalite?"

I laughed. A real laugh this time. "I work with animals. I know how to set a broken leg on a deer or a raccoon or a wolf. I've never done a human before."

Karen peered skeptically. "Ah, yes. The barn full of animals. Of course. What a perfect cover for an Andalite. All those animals right there so you can acquire their DNA for morphing.'

"Whatever you say, kid," I muttered. "Let's try moving."

"Where are we going? Which way is civilization?"

"I don't have a clue. But it doesn't matter. We're not trying for a way out, not tonight, anyway. We need shelter."

"What? If you're going to try to kill me, go ahead and do it. No need to drag me off to some secluded spot."

"Karen, what could possibly be more secluded than this?" I waved my arm around at the tall trees.

"Okay, if you don't have the stomach for killing me, let's walk out of here. My leg is fine." She took a couple of wincing steps.

"Look, I'm sorry you think I'm some space alien. I'm sorry you think I want to kill you. But the truth is, if we try and walk out of here tonight, we could end up dead. It's going to rain. Maybe even storm. You ever been in a forest in the middle of a storm? The ground will be mud. Lightning hitting the trees. Flash floods in the gullies. Cold. No way to build a fire. You wouldn't like it."

Suddenly Karen erupted in a rage. "Why do you keep up this stupid game? I know what you are capable of! I know what you did. You could morph to that wolf and easily kill me and then run out of these woods. Why are you playing this game?"

I waited till she was done yelling. Then I said, "I see higher ground over that way. Maybe low hills. I can't tell peering through these trees. Maybe we'll find a cave over there. At least we'll be away from this river. It could rise during the night, with rain and all."

But Karen wasn't listening anymore. She was staring up at a tree.

"What is that?' she asked in a worried voice.

I followed the direction of her gaze. There, lodged in a crook of an elm tree branch was a crumpled, ripped body. The sweet face with the big eyes was lolled to the side.

"Itºs a young deer," I said.

"What's it doing up there?"

"The animal that killed it put it there for safekeeping."

"What kind of animal does that? A wolf? A bear?"

I shook my head. "No. But a leopard does."

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