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:: #41 The Familiar
:: Book Overview

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Narrator: Jake

Cover Morph: Jake to Older Form

Release Date: April 2000

Cover Quote: They're out of sight. You're out of mind...

Plot Summary: Jake is just a normal kid. Well, as normal as possible considering he can morph animals, and he's in a war against parasitic aliens. But as unbelievable as it sounds, something even stranger has happened. One morning Jake wakes up, and he's twenty-five years old.

Okay. Maybe it's a nightmare. Or maybe Jake's just lost it for a while and misplaced a few years. And there's another problem. The world Jake-the-kid went to sleep in has changed. It's ruled by the Yeerks. Jake has to find out if the other Animorphs and Ax are still around. Still somehow fighting. Or if he's really on his own...

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:: Sample Chapter

We shot high. Skimmed the tops of tall towers. The Chrysler building filled the windows. Streamlined and whimsical, just like in the photo my mom had in her office. All rounded edges and gleaming stainless steel and...

Wait a minute. I looked closer and saw it was covered in some kind of sack. A silver sheath, draped like a giant deflated gift balloon. Busy workers moved about on platforms jutting from the skin at all levels.

My mind was swimming...

Even the Chrysler building. Transformed.

Swimming...

That green suit had called me by a Yeerk name...

I wasn't Yeerk. How could I be? What was going on?

When a Yeerk slug slithers through your ear canal, when it melds and flattens into every crevice of your brain, you know it's happening. Trust me, you know. Because you can't eat or talk or call up memories unless the Yeerk lets you. You're a helpless observer of an endless nightmare. A prisoner in your own head.

I was no prisoner. My eyes moved freely. My legs, when they weren't strapped to a hovercraft seat, walked where I told them to walk. Why wouldn't whoever was responsible for this just talk to me?

Until today, I'd been the leader...

No! I still was the leader of a small but powerful resistance to the Yeerk invasion. A group of six kids, five humans and an Andalite. We call ourselves Animorphs because of our secret weapon, the power to morph into any animal we touch. We fight the Yeerk invaders, led by Visser Three. Those slimy parasitic aliens who've come to Earth to enslave our bodies because without host bodies, Yeerks aren't much more than the wriggling, helpless worms you avoid on the sidewalk after it rains.

There was no Yeerk in my brain. I was no human-Controller.

Not Essak-Twenty-Four-whatever.

No! It's...

"Jake! My name is Jake!"

The words slipped out before I could stop them. Pierced the relative silence of the cabin.

"What's the matter with you?" said a yellow-suit with an accent. Eight pairs of eyes fixed on me. Eight faces I might have taken to be your average, ethnically diverse, cross section of New York commuters.

Emphasis on "might have."

Because there was one crucial giveaway.

They'd reacted to me.

See, I'd been to New York before. A class trip. I may not have noticed much of the cultural stuff I was supposed to have noticed, but I noticed one thing. You can shout Hamlet's soliloquy or scream Limp Bizkit lyrics, you can blare "The Star-Spangled Banner" or stomp an American flag, and no one -- I mean no one -- will give you the time of day. They'll look you over, but then they'll walk right on.

All I'd said was, "My name is Jake." And these guys were on me like I'd driven a Kawasaki into their living rooms.

I forced a smile. These weren't New Yorkers. These were human-Controllers. These were Yeerks.

Watch your step, Jake.

I cleared my throat. "My host," I said. "Sometimes I still... have trouble. You know, controlling him."

The craft stopped again. "Medicine," the computer voice declared.

"They have pills for that now," Yellow Suit answered. "You should visit the clinic."

He rose and shuffled out. Seven other yellow suits filed out after him. The doors closed. We twisted away from the landing dock. Just me and one other orange suit.

A short ride.

"Research and development. End of the line." The orange suit questioned me when I didn't rise.

"Going to the clinic," I said smoothly. "Not well." I pointed at my head. She gave me a look of understanding. The doors closed behind her.

I was alone.

"My name is JAKE!" I yelled. And then I yelled it again.

And for a second, I thought I would lose it. Really lose it. Start screaming stuff like, "I don't wear jumpsuits, I wear jeans! I'm not twenty-five, I'm a kid! I'm not a Controller, I'm free."

But I didn't. Chances were that someone, somewhere, was watching. At least that's what my gut told me. I've learned to trust my gut.

Down, down, down. The craft fell like a parachute, bobbing slightly with the buffets of wind, descending slowly toward street level.

I looked out over a small park. A fraction the size of Central Park. Trampling the crusty, late-winter grass was a mass of bodies. Blue and tan fur. Hooves. Stalk eyes. The bodies were assembled in orderly, disciplined rows. Maybe fifty across and a hundred lengthwise.

A fog horn blared and they stopped and turned, changing directions.

Captive Andalites. And they were feeding.

My spine felt like a live lightning rod. A world with Andalite-Controllers is no world at all.

In the world I know there is only one Andalite-Controller. And he's a sad mistake. Any conscious Andalite warrior would use his tail blade on himself before he'd let himself be captured.

The craft buzzed just feet above the street, passing rows of blacked-out windows on run-down facades. The ship entered a large, open space. A sort of parking lot. A paved triangle filled with other hovercraft. The engines were cut. The craft docked.

I didn't know what world this was. I didn't know what time this was. A world before or after or parallel to mine? A bizarre reality that had somehow imposed itself on the one I was used to accepting?

My own personal nightmare?

I didn't know. But I knew the Yeerks were strong in this place. They owned this city. They owned the people in it.

But they didn't own me.

As long as I was free and in control of my mind, there was a chance - no -- the certainty that I could find out what was going on.

And then maybe, just maybe, somehow -- even in this strange place -- I could find the others and together we could...

The doors opened and I dropped to the concrete. My heart was back to its regular rhythm. My mind calmed and focused on a single thought.

"Jake," I breathed quietly, "you didn't plan this one, but now it's time to deal."

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