My name is Rachel. I won't tell you my last name. None of us will ever tell you our last names. Whenever I do use a last name, it's a fake. Sorry, but that's the way it has to be. And we won't tell you the name of our town, or our school, or even what state we are in. If I told you my last name, the Yeerks would be able to find my friends and me. And if they ever find us, it will be the end.

I guess that's as good a name as any for what we are.

<Tobias! I just realized something.>

<What?>

<This isn't like being an elephant.>

Forget surfing. Forget skateboarding. Forget snowboarding. You haven't had a thrill till you've ridden the thermals a mile into the air and then gone hurtling straight down at maximum speed.

<I can't believe this!> I was really mad. <I'm an endangered species. I'm a bald eagle! What's the matter with those creeps?>

Zoom.

ZOOM!

"That ain't right. It ain't right that no bird should take my rifle like that."

Fortunately, after a few tries, we had all learned to morph some very minimal clothing.

My tongue grew fat in my mouth. My eyesight became faded and dim. The eagle's mind evaporated, leaving me all alone in my head.

My wings became arms. My talons became toes. The scaly yellow eagle legs became my own legs, only they were still all scaly at first.

"Nice look, chicken legs," Marco said. "Do those come in extra crispy, too?" I smiled at him. "You're not one to talk, Marco." I pointed down at the floor. See, his legs had changed back, but he still had huge osprey talons instead of feet.

"That was so absolute!" he said.

"I wasn't being sexist," Marco protested.

"It goes both ways."

We had all returned to our human forms, but Tobias was still a hawk. Tobias will always be a hawk.

We walked along the boulevard that goes by the construction site.

"We didn't lose, anyway," I said. The others looked at me like I was crazy. "Look," I explained, "I know we didn't save Tom, and we sure didn't stop the Yeerks. But we gave them a reason to be afraid, at least."

See, Melissa Chapman, Assistant Principal Chapman's daughter, is one of my closest friends. Or at least she used to be. The last few months, she'd been acting very strange toward me. Like she didn't care anymore

She has pale gray eyes and pale blonde hair and pale skin.

What he saw was me, halfway through morphing into an African elephant. I had about a third of a trunk and most of my huge fanlike elephant ears. My legs were like stumps. My arms looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger's, only gray. And my tusks stuck about a foot out of my mouth. Just to make things extra weird, I still had my normal hair and my normal eyes. Suddenly, the guy wasn't interested in hassling me.

"Melissa, I was thinking . . . maybe you'd like to walk over to the mall with me after class? I have to buy a new pair of sneakers."

You know that evil slug is right there in the Controller's head, attached to all his nerve endings. Controlling the human brain. Dominating it.

"Do you want to come over?" I said. "I got that new CD, if you want to listen to it."

"Oh, wonderful," Cassie moaned. "Please tell me he's been fixed, at least."

"We have a cat up a tree," Cassie said dolefully. "You know how hard it is to get a cat down out of a tree?"

"What I need is a mouse."

Acquiring is what we call it when we absorb a sample of the animal's DNA. The DNA is the stuff inside the cells that sort of serves like a how-to manual for making the animal.

You're not sure it's a good idea for Rachel to turn into a shrew in order to lure a vicious cat down from a tree so she can morph into that cat and sneak into the assistant principal's house?

And I wanted them. I know it's too gross, but I wanted to eat those maggots.

School? Yes. I remembered school.

Quite suddenly the shrew mind lost the battle for control. It was like a switch had been flipped. I was in charge

In my dream I knew: I was that shrew.

"Probably going off to kill your shrew," Marco speculated. The idea made me shudder all over again.

Tobias sent me a private message.

Cats are genetically programmed to be afraid of large birds

I'll meow if I need help.

Between your own natural attitude and the cat's 'tude

I headed at an easy trot
He was a dominant cat. Very dominant.
If this cat appeared, I would have to submit. I would have to make myself smaller and less threatening and accept his dominance.
<Just remember: It's fun being an animal for a while. Not so fun when it's permanent. The two-hour clock is ticking. Tick tock.>
We're still learning about thought-speech. We know there are limits on how far it can be "heard." But we aren't sure what the limits are.
The Council of Thirteen will hear of it
"What a ferocious little beast," Visser Three said approvingly. "See how he did not back away or run? I am many times his size and yet he struck at me. A pity that the species is too small to serve as a host."
Interesting. Claws and teeth and ferocity mixed with the subtlety to manipulate creatures larger than itself. A worthy creature
Killing a cat is seen as a bad deed
Don't forget, Iniss two two six, I gave you this Chapman body. I placed you in his head because I trusted you. I fed you his brain and made you my lieutenant. But I can suck you
It showed a human woman, pain-wracked, screaming, with the purple creature sucking on her head
He ... he morphed into a Vanarx. A Yeerkbane
"He showed me ... he showed how he de stroyed Iniss one seven four." Ms. Chapman looked shocked. "He used a Vanarx on an Iniss of the second century?"
t's just this square root stuff
I guess my own mom or dad could have said exactly the same things to me. "Dear." "Sweetheart." But the way they were said . . . There was something missing. Humanity. Love. Call it whatever you want. The words were right, but they were cornpletely wrong
Let me tell you something: Getting that big eagle body off the ground isn't easy. It is definitely work. I wondered if my human body got any of the aerobic benefits of the exercise.
Rachel, if the real Fluffer walks in while you're still there...
I decided that I don't care what it takes, or how many risks I have to run. I don't care what happens to me. I hate these Yeerks. I hate them. I hate them. And I will find a way to stop them
I mean, Cassie's wearing green patterned leggings and a purple stretch top, and Jake's got on those awful bike shorts, and Rachel is stylish, as always, in her black tights
Yes, but I really, really want it to be a comic book. See, in a comic book the heroes don't get killed

"What's the matter with combining green and purple?" Cassie asked Marco.

"It's a major fashion no-no," Marco said

"What are you going to do, turn into a flea and ride on my back?" I asked her. She smiled and gave a little shrug. "I'm just saying we should think about it.

It was a dark and stormy night.

Sorry, I've always wanted to write that. But it really was a dark and stormy night

"Be careful, Rachel," Cassie said. And then she stroked my back. I started to move away, but she kept her hand on my back for a few seconds. Then, smiling mysteriously, she stood up
Well ... I'm kind of on you.

My claws bit flesh. I saw three bright red tracks on the back of Chapman's hand.

I could smell the blood that flowed.

"Ahhhhh!" Chapman howled. He backed away

"Host rebellion," Ms. Chapman muttered under her breath. She seemed horrified and fascinated all at once. Then, suddenly, her left hand slapped her own face.

"Ahhhhh! Mine... mine... too."

"Stop it, Chapman," Chapman said. "Stop it or I'll break you! I'll leave you nothing but a shell! You cannot win. No host has ever succeeded in rebelling!" But the Chapman host wasn't giving up

You could feel the difference between a real Andalite and the evil beast that was Visser Three. It was like he glowed with some dark light. A light that cast a shadow over your mind
Do you think the Andalite mind that still lives in this body never resists?
<The only hope is for me to stay in cat morph,> I said
Marco had called them walking Salad Shooters
We made Visser Three nervous
He rose to his knees. Then slowly, slowly, he stood up. He was wobbling and swaying, but he was standing. "The girl is no threat," he repeated in a stronger, moreconfident voice. "But I am.
The time was now nine twenty-eight. I had about seventeen minutes before I hit the two-hour limit
I'm going to try a quick double-morph. Hope it works
The near-dead Taxxon screamed as his fellow Taxxons ate him alive
I saw a dark hole. I flew toward it in a single leap