Jake, we're in!
We're on our way. Ax is down, three or four bullet wounds, Jake
I...am incapacitated. Ax grunted. One of you must...cover me while
I morph out of my injuries.
I'll take this one, Xena. You've done enough cover work. Marco said.
He sprinted out the door, and a huge rhinocerous came lumbering in, grinning
from ear to ear. Jake was cheerful enough: We nailed 'em good, Rachel. Ax got
shot up when we bum-rushed them, but he'll be alright. Those controllers won't
be waking up for a while. So, what have we got here?
Well, nothing so far. But some genius of a controller left this be-
hind. I picked up a dracon pistol that was laying on the dirty concrete.
Set that on stun, Rachel, or don't use it. We're not here to kill
Jake, you're my cousin and I love you, but you can be way too soft
Jake did not reply. We took stock of our surroundings. We were in
what looked like a small closet, with a door about a yard away. There were a
few shelves stacked with papers. A window to the next room, but the lights
were off in that room, and the moon glaring off the glass was screwing up
Jake's already rotten vision, so we couldn't see what was in there.
Want to demorph and see what that stuff is? I asked, pointing a
claw at the papers.
No, no need to. But I'll have Marco swipe a few sheets when we
leave. Let's check out the rest of the building, see what they've got in
I put my hand on the doorknob.
Jake! Rachel! We're in deep caca!
You know that old beer commercial, some days are better than others?
This was not one of those days. Man, if I ever wished I was ambling down the
beach with my arm around Carmen Electra, sipping a Michelob, it was now.
Ghaffra Andalite! Freeze! Four snarling, seven-foot-tall Hork-Bajir
had dracon beams leveled at me and Ax, who was human at the moment. Where did
these guys come from? And what did these walking rototillers need with
weapons? They were weapons!
And have these dudes come and perform a little urban renewal on my
house? Hell no.
Ax, do we have anyway out of this? Think quick!
"If you insist," Ax said to the Hork-Bair. He was Andalite again in
about three minutes. His tail whipped through the air, but it missed because
the Hork-Bajir had moved. Very far. Very quickly. Being hit full force from
behind by an angry wolf tends to do that to you.
Cassie! I thought you were sitting this one out.
I punched a Hork-Bajir. He did not get back up. The flat of Ax's tail
blade took care of the other two.
Well, I changed my mind. Women do that sometimes.
Sometimes? How about more than they change...
Forget it, Marco. What did I miss?
Well, for starters, you missed me breaking into a building and Ax
getting stitched by gunfire. Jake and Rachel are in the...
Hey guys! Cassie, what are you doing here? I thought you couldn't
get away from the house.
Jake was approaching us with Rachel in tow.
She wants you to change her- Cassie growled at me and I shut up.
Jeez, can't anybody take a joke?
Never mind me. How did you guys do? Cassie asked.
So far, we haven't. Rachel found a dracon gun, and we were about to
go into that room when Marco hollered. By the way, Marco, I found some stuff
you might like to see.
Later, man, we need to finish looking at that building first. I
don't break into places for nothing.
Guys, you better hurry! Black van coming down the road, about two
miles away. They'll be here in a couple of minutes! Tobias called down.
Thank you, our fine feathered AWACS. I said more cheerfully than I
Our fine-feathered what? Rachel asked.
Never mind. Let's get this over with. Jake snapped. Marco and
Rachel, come with me. Ax, get their weapons and start putting them in the
bag. Cassie, cover Ax. Let's go. We headed for the building again.
Russian Carrier Kuznetzov: 0700 hrs
"Comrade Lieutenant, listen to me very carefully," the squadron
commander said. He glanced at his deputy, then back to Kyshkin. "We do not
have any idea what that craft you encountered could possibly be. But you and
Comrade Goronyev must tell absolutely no one of this encounter. We do not
want the the men to be frightened or demoralized. If more of our pilots
encounter these hypersonic jets, then I will ask the wing commander to give
a general briefing. Until then, you did not see anything, understand?"
"Yes, Comrade Captain." Andrei stood up to go. "But, suppose Sergei
and I were to run into these aircraft again? What then?"
"Did they make any threatening moves last time? Did they lock you up
or chase you?"
No, you idiot, they didn't threaten us, Andrei wanted to say. All
they did was buzz over our heads at a measly twenty-five hundred meters per
"No, Comrade Captain." Andrei said cooly.
"Then you must ignore them unless they do. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Comrade Captain." Andrei turned and left, glad that no one
could see the steam coming out of his ears.
Squadron commander Davidov looked at his deputy. "Could he be one of
Deputy Bogdonoff laughed at Davidov. "No way, my friend. Think about
it, a controller in a human Navy? Any Navy? Naval officers stay at sea on
patrols lasting for months. Even our people may not see the homeworld for up
to a year when they go on patrol. Unless he could get a small personal pool
to store the Yeerk in, but surely inspections would detect such a device,
though they would not know what is. And who would guard him when the Yeerk
was out? No, Comrade, human naval units are quite immune to Yeerk influence,
"Perhaps you are right, Kildorn." Butarin-Elnaril-Shintoth poured a
glass of vodka for his friend, Kildorn-Raya-Karmir, and then another for
himself. He sipped it slowly, then screwed up his human face, a gesture he
had learned as a junior Seaman in the Russian navy. "What is it with these
humans? They drink the worst tasting things on earth, but totally avoid the
real treasures, like rubbing alcohol. Now, if you will excuse me, I believe
we both have-personal business to attend to."
Kildorn left the room, and Butarin focused his mind and felt it
Marco, I think I'm going to have to insist on just the papers.
We were back in the building, having a discussion we really didn't
have time for about what to do next.
Oh, alright, Marco whined. Man, I have got to know what's in
there, he said, looking longingly at the door to the next room.
Prince Jake, we need to demorph soon, Ax called from outside. I
looked at my watch. The action had taken about an hour and forty-five
minutes. That's a wrap, guys. Marco, grab a few of those papers and let's
Marco snatched a few sheets from the top of the stack, and we started
demorphing. Not two seconds after we were done, guess who walked in? With us
standing there, five kids in bike shorts.
"Well, we're screwed." Marco said, throwing up his hands. Visser
Three himself was standing in the doorway, throwing his sneer around the
"No, you're not." A familiar voice.
"Erek!" Rachel shouted.
Damn, too late! You missed them again, you fools! Visser Three
started smacking his soldiers around.
"Bbbbbut Visser, they were right here! The Hork Bajir said they had
them in custody!" Vice Principal Chapman came running up behind the Visser,
stuttering his apologies. Visser Three pressed his tailblade aginst Chapman's
Well, they're not here now, are they? he barked.
"Ummm, guys, what's going on?" Rachel asked. I knew what it was.
Erek said, "I have extended my hologram around you. Visser Three just
sees the wall, the door, the papers, the same stuff that's always been in here.
Just don't move. My father is outside, covering for the others. But you have
to get out of here as soon as he's gone. No sense taking chances."
"I heard that," I said. "Everybody morph birds now, then we'll take
off when he leaves. Hopefully, we'll be high enough so people can't see
several sheets of paper hanging from a bird's talons."