They have come to destroy you.
I couldn't believe what I heard but, at the same time, I knew he wasn't lying. Apparently, everyone else felt the same way because no one disagreed with him. Maybe it was because he was dying, and we knew he was trying to warn us of something terrible.
They are called Yeerks. They are different from us. Different from you, as well.
"Are you telling us they're already here on Earth?" Rachel demanded.
Many are here. Hundreds. Maybe more.
"Why hasn't anybody noticed them?" Marco said reasonably. "I think someone would have mentioned it at school."
"Maybe it's because they're shape shifters, or they have cloaking technology," I said, all sorts of ideas running through my head. "Or maybe it's plant life that kills the original human while replacing him or her with a double. Like Invasion of the Body Snatchers."
"You watch too many movies," Marco remarked.
Interesting theories, but I'm afraid that's not the case, The alien explained. Yeerks are different. They have no body, like yours or mine. They live in the bodies of other species. They are...
The alien closed his eyes and seemed to concentrate. Suddenly, a bright picture of a gray-green, slimy thing popped into my head. It's what like a slug the size of a rat. Nowhere near as magnificent as the alien we were talking to, but interesting.
"I'm guessing that was a Yeerk," Marco said. "Either that or a very big wad of slimy chewing gum."
They are almost powerless without hosts. They —
That's when I felt a blast of pain, straight from the alien, along with his sadness. It was like his time was almost up.
The Yeerks are parasites. They must have a host to live in. In this form they are known as Controllers. They enter the brain and are absorbed into it, taking over the host's thoughts and feelings. They try to get the host to accept them voluntarily. It is easier that way. Otherwise the host may be able to resist, at least a little.
"Are you saying they take over human beings?" Rachel asked. "People? These things take over their bodies?"
"Look, this is serious stuff," Jake said. "You shouldn't be telling us. We're just kids, you know. This is like something the government should know about."
We had hoped to stop them, the alien continued, ignoring Jake. Swarms of their Bug fighters were waiting when our Dome ship came out of Z-Space. We knew of their mother ship and were ready for the Bug fighters, but the Yeerks surprised us—they had hidden the most powerful Blade ship in a crater of your moon. We fought, but...we lost. They have tracked me here. They will be here soon to eliminate all traces of me and my ship.
"How can they do that?" Cassie wondered.
The alien's second pair of eyes formed into what looked like a smile.
Their Dracon beams will leave nothing behind but a few molecules of this ship, and...this body, he said. I sent a message to my home world. We Andalites fight the Yeerks wherever they go throughout the universe. My people will send help, but it may take a year, even more, and by then the Yeerks will have control of this planet. After that, there is no hope. You must tell people. You must warn your people!
So, that's what the magnificent creature was called, an Andalite. Another spasm of pain ripped through him, and we all knew he was nearly gone.
"Um, sir," I said nervously to the Andalite. "Not that we don't appreciate you warning us, but... It's just that..."
"What she's trying to say is that no one is ever going to believe us," Marco said hopelessly. "No way."
I was just getting to that, which was what I wanted to say to Marco but didn't have the courage to voice.
"Not that all hope is lost," I said, trying to sound more courageous than I felt as I put my hair behind my ear. "Maybe we could keep you well enough in order to get you to the nearest television station and broadcast your message from there."
"How do you plan on carrying a half-horse all the way over to a TV station?" Marco asked.
"Please don't be offended, I'm sure he means well," I said to the alien and then turned to Marco. "There are six of us. We can take turns carrying him."
"Yeah, and then what?" Marco asked. "We break into the station and tell everyone 'hey, we got a story about an alien invasion and this guy's going to tell it to you!'"
"We'll figure this out as we go," I said, turning red from embarrassment.
"So, you're taking lessons from Indiana Jones?" Marco remarked.
"Aren't we forgetting something?" Rachel asked. "Like, the fact that he's dying?"
"I haven't forgotten," I defended. "That's why we need to get the word out before he dies."
I don't know where my boldness was coming from but, if we couldn't save the alien, I felt that we should at least fulfill his dying wish, even if my plan was unbelievably ridiculous.
"No, we need to save him!" Rachel said, passionately.
"It won't matter," Tobias said, with a fierce calmness. "He said it himself. He's going to die."
"I don't care if he thinks he's going to die, we have to try to help him," Rachel said, with an air of determination. "We can get him to a hospital. Or maybe Cassie's parents..."
There is no time. No time, the Andalite said. Then his eyes brightened. Perhaps...
"What?" Jake asked.
Go into my ship. You will see a small blue box, very plain. Bring it to me. Quickly! I have very little time, and the Yeerks will find me soon.
We all looked at each other, trying to figure out who would be the one to go inside the ship. I'll admit, I was curious to see what the ship looked like but I didn't want to leave the Andalite's side. So, we ended up all agreeing that it should be Jake.
"Go ahead," Tobias said. "I want to stay with him."
He knelt beside the Andalite and place a comforting hand on the alien's narrow shoulder.
Jake looked at the spaceship, hesitantly, and then turned to Cassie.
"Go ahead," she said, sending him a smile. "You're not scared."
Jake entered the spaceship, leaving the rest of us with the dying Andalite. You might think I was being insensitive, but I started singing Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory under my breath.
What's that? the Andalite asked.
"It's nothing," I said, blushing. "Just an old song my mom sings to me when I'm sick."
Great, I started singing for no reason and I just revealed personal information. He probably thinks I'm insane.
"If it's bothering you, I'll stop," I told him.
No, it's nice, he said, keeping his attention on Tobias. Tobias, what is your mother like?
Before Tobias could answer, Jake arrived with the box.
"Here's the box," he told the Andalite.
"I, um...was that your family? That picture?"
"I'm real sorry," he said.
There is something I may be able to do to help you fight the Yeerks.
"What?" Rachel demanded.
I know that you are young. I know that you have no power with which to resist the Controllers. But I may be able to give you some small powers that may help.
We all looked at each other, with Tobias being the only exception. He never took his gaze off the alien.
If you wish, I can give you powers that no other human being has ever had.
"Powers?" Jake asked.
"What kind of powers?" I asked, intrigued.
It is a piece of Andalite technology that the Yeerks do not have, the Andalite explained. A technology that enables us to pass unnoticed in many parts of the universe—the power to morph. We have never shared this power. But your need is great.
"Morph? Morph how?" Rachel asked, her eyes narrowed.
To change your bodies, the Andalite said. To become any other species. Any animal.
"Become animals?" Marco said, laughing.
I listened intently to what the Andalite had to say.
You will only need to touch a creature, to acquire its DNA pattern, and you will be able to become that creature. It requires concentration and determination, but, if you are strong, you can do it. There are...limitations. Problems. Dangers, even. But there is no time to explain it all...no time. You will have to learn for yourselves. But first, do you wish to receive this power?
"Yes!" I said, excitedly.
"Are you insane?" Marco asked.
"He's asking for our help. The least we could do is give it."
Plus, this one my chance to be a superhero and I wasn't going to throw it away.
"You're actually taking him seriously?"
"I know I am," Tobias said softly.
"This is nuts," Marco said. "This whole thing is nuts. Yeerks and spaceships and slugs taking over people's brains and Andalites and the power to change into animals? Give me a break."
"Yeah, it is beyond weird," Jake agreed.
"We're off the map of weirdness by this point," Rachel said. "But unless we're all just dreaming, I think we'd better deal with this."
"Maybe we should talk this over before we make any big decisions," Jake suggested.
"There's a secret alien invasion and we're the only ones who can stop it," I said, passionately. "What's there to discuss?"
I have to admit. I've never felt passionately about anything that didn't exist in the world of fiction. Maybe it was because, like Tobias, I felt the truth of what the Andalite was saying. Maybe I was excited at the prospect of all my fantasies becoming reality.
"He's dying," Tobias reminded us.
"I'll do it," Cassie said. I guess she also felt the truth.
"I think we should all decide together," Jake suggested. "One way or the other."
"What's that?" Rachel asked, looking up towards the stars. Far, far overhead, two pinpoints of bright red lights were shooting across the sky.
Yeerks. The Andalite said the word in our minds, and we could feel his hatred.