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:: #39 The Hidden
:: Book Overview

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Narrator: Cassie

Cover Morph: Cassie to Cape Buffalo

Release Date: February 2000

Cover Quote: To morph or not to morph? That is the question...

Plot Summary: The Yeerks have discovered and repaired a damaged Helmacron ship. They know of its morph-seeking capabilities, and they plan to use the ship to capture the "Andalite bandits." And to find Elfangor's blue cube. The one that gave the kids the ability to morph.

Cassie, the other Animorphs, and Ax are in a pretty bad situation because they can't leave the cube in one place, they can't morph without being discovered, and they have to keep moving. It looks like this may be a battle the visser can't lose...

This book also involves an animal -- a very dangerous cape buffalo, which is also the cover morph -- obtaining the power to morph. The animal's morph? None other than Vice Principal Chapman!



:: Sample Chapter

Several things happened at once.

The truck rumbled and jerked to life.

The Cape buffalo stumbled backward, bound by two ropes around its horns and two around its neck. The ropes were knotted into metal loops on the truck's walls.

The ropes were frayed and flimsy-looking compared to the buffalo's massive head. But then again, most people wouldn't have to worry about the ropes because they would never, ever get into a truck with a widow-maker.

"But the reading says the signal's honed in on this area!" someone shouted from outside.

"Yeah, but it's also picking up four other readings in four other directions!" someone else said. "If you ask me, this is some kind of wild-goose chase."

"Don't let the visser hear you say that," the first man said uneasily. "He just pulled up."

The voices faded as the truck lurched forward, picking up speed.

<You're headed toward the back exit, Cassie.> Tobias was still around. Faint but around. Silence. <Uh-oh.>

Uh-oh what? I thought. I held still and watched the Cape buffalo watch me. Not a good feeling. Trust me.

It was hot and waves of the animal's thick musky scent were nearly overpowering. Even for me. But the stench wasn't anything compared to the pure power in the broad, muscular body and the deadly threat of its massive horns.

The buffalo snorted, blowing a rush of hot, moist air out through its nostrils.

<They're going to stop you outside the gate, Cassie, at that stretch of road surrounded by woods.> Tobias was starting to sound a little frantic. <Visser Three's limo is right behind you and there's a bunch of other cars waiting around the bend.>

The buffalo snorted again. Tossed its head in a threatening, hooking movement, pulling the ropes taut.

The truck began to slow and lean into the bend.

The truck nose-dived, sending almost a ton of buffalo surging right at me. The ropes tightened as a rippling wall of muscle -


One of the ropes broke and pulled apart like a piece of thread.

I whipped left and flattened myself against the wall of the truck as the buffalo skidded forward and sideways, fighting the remaining restraints.

The buffalo bellowed again, thrashing in anger.


Another restraint. Gone.

The last two ropes were around the buffalo's neck. Somehow I figured they wouldn't be there for long.

It whipped its head around in a frenzy. The buffalo was going to break loose, and either trample or gore me to death. Impale me on those wicked, gleaming horns.

And then Visser Three would have the morphing cube.

There really was only one way out of this.

I inched sideways, watching the buffalo watching me. It was tense, just seconds from erupting again. I was shaking. I had to get past those horns but I knew it'd never let me get behind it where it couldn't see me.

The truck braked harder.

The buffalo stumbled forward, past me, to the ends of the remaining ropes.

Trembling, I laid my hand on the buffalo's thick hide, right at its midsection, and began to acquire it.

The buffalo gave one last thrash, then went into a kind of dreamy, semi-trancelike state. It happens to most animals when we acquire their DNA. Most, but not all.

"Hey, what's with the roadblock?" The shout came from the truck's cab.

The truck was barely creeping forward now.

In a minute it would be stopped and searched.

Would I have enough time?

I stripped down to my morphing outfit. Jammed my clothes out of sight behind one of the truck's wide, wooden slats. Laid the blue box on the floor of the truck and focused on the Cape buffalo's DNA.


My skull split straight down the center and began to thicken, dragging my head down with the weight and back into my bulging, beefy shoulders.

Sproot! Sproot!

The bones broadened, following the contours of my huge head, shot out, and flipped up into three-foot horns on each sharp, lethal side.

My skin darkened and thickened into a tough, coarse-haired hide.

My body was bloating, stretching and expanding, bulking out further and further, piling on pound after pound of sheer muscle.

My fingers melded together and were sucked back into my hands. Tough hooves banded around the edges like metal plates.

"I'm telling you, don't open that! I'm hauling African Cape buffalo here, mister, and I don't think you wan to - "

"Never attempt to think for me." A cold, sinister voice. A voice I had heard before. A voice I would never forget.

Visser Three.

My morphing had stopped when I'd lost concentration.

I refocused. Fast.

Schloop! Schloop!

My ears elongated. Sort of stretched out, drooped, and grew fringed hair.

The latch on the double doors clunked open.

"I'm telling you guys, don't do this!"

"Shut up and get out of my way!" Visser Three roared.


A tail shot out of my hind end as the double doors swung wide.

"See, I told you - " The driver stopped, his eyes wide with horror. "The restraints broke!" He backed away. "Run!"

"Don't be a fool," Visser Three snapped. "I - "

The Cape buffalo gave an explosive snort through its wide, quivering nostrils.

And immediately, without warning, my own buffalo instinct kicked in.

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