:: #26 The Attack
:: Book Overview
Cover Morph: Jake to Tiger
Release Date: January 1999
Cover Quote: Change is necessary...
The Animorphs have met the Ellimist. He "helped" to
save the kids when they were about to be eaten by a Taxxon. He
"helped" to free two Hork-Bajir and restored Tobiasís morphing
ability. But even though the Ellimist has enormous power, he is not
all-powerful. He has an enemy. The Crayak.
So, the Crayak and the Ellimist decide that a battle will prove their
ultimate power. But they donít intend to fight each other: The
Ellimist will choose the Animorphs, Ax, and Erek, the Chee; the
Crayak will choose his own army. If the Animorphs lose they will be
erased from the universe altogether. And thereíll be no one left to
fight the Yeerks....
So, the Crayak and the Ellimist decide that a battle will prove their ultimate power. But they donít intend to fight each other: The Ellimist will choose the Animorphs, Ax, and Erek, the Chee; the Crayak will choose his own army. If the Animorphs lose they will be erased from the universe altogether. And thereíll be no one left to fight the Yeerks....
:: Sample Chapter"Who invented this place, Dr. Suess?" Marco demanded.
We were miles in the air. Miles from the ground, which we could see just over the edge of the platform. The platform with no railing, no warning. The platform that just stopped suddenly.
Below us was a twisting, leaning, propped-up-on-gigantic-support-beams structure of other platforms. Floors, I guess, all stuck here and there, sticking far out and not so far.
Above us was more of the same, till you'd swear the monstrous construction would reach the moon, assuming the Iskoort had a moon.
All of this was built of brilliantly colored blocks or bricks or segments.
Imagine that someone starts with all the Leg-os in the world. Add in all the Duplos and cheap bargain Duplos and let some humongous kid assemble them all into a tower a hundred miles tall.
Assume that no sensible adult ever becomes involved, except to come along occasionally and wedge in what looks like crutches the size of skyscrapers.
The floors could have been five feet apart, five hundred feet apart, or five miles apart. It was like no one figured it out till they built it.
I jumped back from the edge, feeling my stomach lurch and my heart stop. I had to push the Iskoort away to get safe, but I wasn't worried about politeness. I was trying not to take a fall that would last a couple of hours.
"Back up!" I yelled.
But now a whole gaggle of Iskoort were rushing us, honking with the diaphragm in their bellies and yammering thought-speak, pushing us, shoving us by sheer mad exuberance toward the edge.
"Rachel!" Cassie cried.
I spun left just in time to see Rachel windmilling, her heels back over the edge of the platform.
"No!" I yelled, as she lost the fight and toppled backward.
I caught a blur of movement. When the blur stopped it was Erek, his hand holding Rachel by the arm as if she weighed no more than a candy bar.
Erek pulled her back up onto the platform.
"Did I mention I've always wanted you along on this mission, Erek?" Rachel said shakily. "Get back, you stupid jerks!"
This last was directed at the press of a dozen Iskoort, all yammering incessantly.
<I will buy your memories!>
<Come visit my execution parlor!>
<Give me your clothing and I will give you credit!>
<Here! Eat this larva! Let it gestate and we'll split the proceeds between your heirs!>
<You stink horribly! I will cleanse you!>
And to Ax: <Become my partner and we will sell your fur as a gachak poison!>
"What is this, Planet of the Salesmen?" Marco demanded. "Back off! All of you, back off!"
"Man, I thought there were a lot of salespeople at Nordtrom's, but this is nuts. I'll take care of this. I know how to get rid of pushy salespeople." Rachel stepped out front, hands on her hips. "We're just here to use the bathroom. Can you tell me where the ladies' room is?"
The Iskoort stared, goggle-eyed. Several of them wandered away. The others continued staring at us, waiting to see if we'd loosen up and do some business.
I looked at Cassie and we both sighed at the same time.
"Now what?" she wondered. "What do we do? Stand around till someone tries to kill us?"
I looked around, trying to get a grip on this bizarre place. There was no making sense of the structure itself. Our floor was a roomy one. At least a hundred feet separated our floor from the floor above. Back from the edge the small buildings began. They looked like clusters of igloos: blue and gold and white and green and red. Some were jumbled into piles several layers tall. Others were free-standing.
The Iskoort themselves came and went, in and out of the colored igloos, up and down the twisted, arched stairways connecting floors. They all looked busy. All in a hurry.
They were not the most frightening-looking race we'd ever encountered, but they were definitely not even slightly human.
They had heads like vultures, thrust forward on long necks. The necks protruded from shoulders that were a sort of oval platform, flat across. From the shoulders dropped two arms, one on each side, each arm jointed three times, ending in a hand made up of one very long, tentacle-like finger, and two smaller, hooked, sharp-clawed fingers.
They walked in a way that made it seem they were crawling on their knees. Backwards. Not that they went backwards. They went forwards. They had two thick legs, maybe two and a half feet long. Then came what looked like knees, followed by calves that extended forward, lying flat against the ground. Those ended in feet, each with a single long prehensile toe and two smaller claws jutting from the sides of thick pads.
Their mid-section was bare of clothing and looked weirdly like an accordion--an accordion made of veined, pink flesh. It moved, wheezing out a sort of running commentary on their thought-speak.
It was the sound of a whine. A grating, annoying whine that rose or fell, depending, evidently, on how excited or mad or agitated they were.
"'The Nanny,"' Cassie observed.
"That sound. It sounds like Fran Drescher, the woman who plays the lead in 'The Nanny.' No offense to her."
<I don't think Fran's probably around here to overhear you being rude,> Tobias pointed out.
Iskoort faces were, like I said, not attractive. They were roughly triangular with the point toward the top, which left no room for a pair of eyes to fit. So their eyes, pink as a rabbit's, were stuck on short stalks. They had mouths, but didn't use them to communicate. They sat shut, opening only every few minutes to suck in air and reveal a fat, blue tongue and tiny, blue-tinged teeth.
Rachel said, "You know how you meet some people and right away, before they even say anything, before you have any idea what they're like, you don't like them? I mean, on sight you can't stand them? And it's not that they're ugly or anything, it's just something about them that sets you off?"
"No," Cassie said. "At least, I didn't know. Now I do."
A new assault team of Iskoort was quick-crawling toward us, heads thrust forward, eyes goggling.
<Forgive us, strangers!> the leader of this crowd said. <We did not expect off-worlders today. Welcome to the City of Beauty! Do you require a guide? Do you wish to sell your memories, or perhaps any unneccessary body parts?>
His diaphragm whined as he thought-spoke, a low, grating sound that rose and fell like a bagpipe blown by a man with too little wind.
I sighed. I was on the verge of suggesting Rachel morph to grizzly bear and get rid of them, but Cassie said, "You know, if they're serious about a guide..."
"Yeah, you're right," I said, but I wasn't enthusiastic. "Um, well, we could use a guide. You know, to show us around. Show us where to stay."
<And what will you pay?> the Iskoort demanded, to the sound of eager whining.
'Well . . . we don't exactly have any money," I said.
<I will give you an excellent guide. My own grub! In exchange for her hair.>
He pointed one of his wormy tentacle fingers at Rachel. Or, more precisely, at her hair.
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