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:: #53 The Answer
:: Book Nine of Story Arc
:: Book Overview

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Narrator: Jake

Cover Morph: Jake to Boa Constrictor

Release Date: April 2001

Cover Quote: All questions are about to be answered...

Plot Summary: The subtle invasion is over. Hoards of Yeerk reinforcements are landing on Earth every day, and Visser One is constructing an enormous new Yeerk pool by blasting giant holes in the ground‹obliterating whatever gets in the way. The Animorphs' plan to enlist the help of the U.S. military has failed.

Now, Jake and the others find themselves trapped in what will soon be the new Yeerk pool. There is no way out . . . unless help comes from the most unexpected form. The Taxxons...



:: Sample Chapter


I fell a long way. My tiger speed and balance turned me around, aimed my feet down, tail twirling to maintain this attitude.

I hit the dirt, took the shock in all four paws, rolled sideways and came up snarling. Snarling at nothing. I was in an empty tunnel. Dark. Too dark for even my cat's eyes. But I smelled plenty, a smell I knew: Taxxon.

I stayed on-guard, not too worried, but definitely ready. I heard a sound . . . shuffling, grinding . . . digging!

The ground opened beneath me again and I fell in a cascade of dirt, down, and this time no hard landing on a flat surface. I was in a chute, rolling, trying to grab on with my spike claws. But the surface was smooth, almost like glass. And now I was getting worried.

I fell for only thirty seconds or so, but that's a long way to go underground. Finally the chute ended and I was once more rolled across a dirt floor.

<Marco! Rachel!> No answer. Was I that far underground? Out of thought-speak range? I took a chance. <Marco, get everyone home, that's an order, don't argue.>

There was light. Dim, but more than enough for me.

And there were Taxxons: three of them. Each carried a Dracon beam in one set of upper legs. I could get one, maybe two of them. But three? Before they could shoot me? <Please do not attack, we mean you no harm.>

It was thought-speak! Not the impossible-to-decipher hissing and spitting of spoken Taxxon. Thought-speak, and impossible as it seemed, I had the strangest impression that it was an Andalite thought-speak "voice."

I froze.

<What do you want?> I demanded.

<To speak to you, Jake.>

He knew my name. Of course the Yeerks did know my name now, but still it was a shock.

<Okay, so speak. You've got the Dracon beams, I guess I'll listen.>

The Taxxon who was speaking opened his pincers and let the Dracon weapon drop. The other two did the same.

<Now we are at your mercy, Animorph. That morph is more than capable of killing the three of us.>

I took a deep breath. <Okay, let's talk. You know me. Who are you?>

<My name is Arbron. I am - was - an Andalite aristh.>

<You're a Taxxon.>

<Your friend Tobias is a hawk,> he countered.

<You're stuck in morph? You're a morphed Andalite stuck as a Taxxon? A nothlit?> I couldn't keep the horror out of my voice. One thing to be trapped as a hawk. But to be trapped as a Taxxon?

<I am a Taxxon,> Arbron said almost proudly. <I have been for more years than I can easily count. I was on the Taxxon home world with two Andalites of your acquaintance. One was Alloran-Semitur-Corrass.>

<Visser One?>

<Not then. But, yes, Alloran became the unwilling host body for the Yeerk now ranked Visser One. He commanded our mission. Alloran was an Andalite prince with the smallest possible command: two lowly arisths. Me, and Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul.>

I stopped breathing. Could it be possible? Elfangor, Ax's brother? Elfangor, who gave us the morphing power to begin with? This . . . this whatever he was had been a friend of Elfangor's?

<What is it you want?> I asked him.

He shuffled closer and I had to resist the normal reaction of disgust.

<I want to be free, Jake the Animorph.>

<You're a Controller?>

<No. I have no Yeerk within me. We want to be free . . . We all want to be free . . . Of the curse of being Taxxons.>

<I don't understand,> I said, although I was beginning to guess.

<The morphing power,> Arbron said, now sounding almost desperate. <The morphing power! Don't you see? If the Taxxons could morph, acquire some more benign shape and find a safe haven on your planet . . . Become something other than what they are, escape the hunger. You cannot imagine the hunger . . . They've seen that there could be a better way. The virus of knowledge is in their blood streams now, they realize that they could change forever!>

<You're telling me the Taxxons want to . . . to stop being Taxxons?>

<Yes. Yes. My people have seen a better way . . . A way out of this life of eternal, excruciating pain and hunger, a hunger that has made us slaves of the Yeerks.>

I didn't know what to say. Too much to absorb. An entire species wanting to morph? And surely Arbron knew that we no longer had the morphing cube, that Visser One had it. And in any event, Arbron must know that it wouldn't work on him. Not on a nothlit.

As if he was reading my mind, Arbron said, <Listen to me, Jake the Animorph. I have been a leader of these, my new people, for many years. We have fought the hunger, resisted as well we could the murderous cannibalistic urges. I've tried to show them a better way. But the need is too powerful. Resistance always breaks down, and we fall again under Yeerk sway. They feed us, you see. It's as simple as that.

<I know that . . . I understand the morphing technology. I know it cannot save me, that I am forever trapped. But it can save my people. And if they are saved I can lay down my burden of leadership.>

No choice but to be honest, I thought. I can't sustain a lie. I can't trick them. <I don't have the morphing cube,> I said.

<We know. Visser One has it, and he will never free us, never. No Taxxon or even Taxxon-Controller has been allowed to acquire the morphing power. We can only have it, only be free, if you and not the Yeerks are victorious.>

<And you would . . .> I began, not daring even to complete the sentence, it was too amazing, the possibilities too incredible.

<Yes. We would fight with you. There are one thousand, seven hundred and nine non-Controller Taxxons on the surface of this planet and aboard the Pool Ship. And we the Taxxons, would fight with you.>

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