My apologies for the delay in updating, I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone who knows me
Obviously I've been preoccupied with RAFcon and such, but I did promise people in DC that I would get back to work on this. I'll try my best to stick with it, but don't expect fast updates.
As always, feel free to post comments and suggestions and I hope you all enjoy CHAPTER 6: The First Meeting(CASSIE’S POV)
It wasn’t that I minded checking on the animals for my dad, I love animals. In fact, I trust animals more than I trust some people. The only problem was that I couldn’t stop thinking about that poor Andalite. The way Visser Three just mutated himself into that hideous creature. The way he lowered him into those jaws of death and began to… I don’t like to think about it, but I can’t help myself.
The distraction of the morning feeding routine lasted only up until I had finished feeding the Red-tailed Hawk we have (he broke a wing when he was mobbed by some crows). Then it was back to thoughts of death and horror from the previous night. I needed something else to take my mind of it. I was considering taking my favourite horse out for a ride when I suddenly had a different idea. If what the alien had said was true, I didn’t have to ride on the back of a horse, I could become
Moments later I was petting my horse and feeling rather foolish. How was this even supposed to work anyway? I thought about my old childhood fantasy of becoming a horse, just like the way Native American shamans once claimed to summon ancient animal spirits to imbue them with speed and strength. Perhaps it wasn’t all myth and legend after all, if the Andalite was to be believed.
I noticed the horse become more passive than usual when I touched him, but soon perked up again as I broke contact. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I was lost in the thought of running across the fields with powerful legs and the wind rushing through my mane.
“This is stupid,” I said aloud. At least that’s what I meant to say. It actually came out more like “Hith ith huuhidd.” That’s round about the same time I realised my tongue was suddenly twice as long as it should have been and I started freaking out. I ran over to mirror above the sink in the corner and stared in horrific fascination at my reflection. My face! It had started to bulge out and grow fur!
My heart rate tripled in speed as I started to panic. What would I tell my parents? How could I ever show my face in public again? Jake would never want to ask me out now. All I’d wanted was to run like a horse and now- My face began to change again! Bulging out even further now as my ears began to slide upwards and fur continued to grow and spread across my arms and neck.
I turned away from the mirror before I had the urge to hurl up my breakfast. It was clear to me now that thinking about being the animal was the key to the changes, but I still had zero desire to actually watch it happen. It was incredibly gross. I made the mistake of looking down and saw my fingers all merge together before turning hard and hoof-like. I forced myself to look away again, but I could still feel the changes happening. Bones cracking and rearranging themselves, an itchy sensation covering my entire body due to the spontaneous eruption of body hair, and even my teeth growing larger as my jawline became stretched.
My clothes tore open from a massive increase in size and I found the extra weight forcing me onto all fours. I almost laughed at what Rachel would say about a waste of clothes, but since I’m not a fashion queen like her, she’d probably say the world was better off without my ill-fitting jeans and stained T-shirt. I did like those boots though…
A few minutes later, I realised that I’d stopped changing. A glance back at the mirror with one eye revealed that my transformation was complete. I had actually turned into a horse!
My excitement soon turned to panic as my newly enhanced nose began to pick up a series of worrying scents. There were other animals everywhere! Was that a wolf I could smell? I had to get out of there! I bolted for the open door and took off running across the wide open fields. (MIKE’S POV)
I made a careful note of the time before hopping onto the window sill and taking off again, back into the open air where my hawk body belonged. It had taken me longer than it should have to find my way home, but I still had plenty of time left in morph. The reason for my delay was that I kept getting lost and turned around on my way back to the Fortress (I’d decided I liked that name for my little house in the woods). It was almost like some unseen force had been drawing me away from where I wanted to go…
Ellimist. That crafty bugger must have given my new home the same defence mechanism as the Hork-Bajir valley. Come to think of it, that explained why it had taken me so long to get home the previous night as well. I have to admit, the Ellimist really does think of everything.
I’d been in Harris Hawk morph for almost a whole hour now, and it was still the coolest thing in the entire world. Now that I had dropped off my glasses back at the Fortress, I was really able to take my hawk body out for a test drive. Swooping between the branches of trees and soaring high up on the thermals, I started to wonder why I’d never tried sky diving. I imagine it’s a similar experience, minus the beak and feathers.
I was gliding over the open fields now searching for Cassie’s house, or at least her barn. Of course that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a bit of fun at the same time. I wanted to see just what the Harris Hawk was capable of.
Pointing my body downwards, I folded my wings and began to plummet towards the earth below at high speed, letting gravity and aerodynamics do all the hard work. The sight of the rapidly approaching ground terrified the human part of me, but my hawk instincts were keeping me calm and in control. I have no clue how fast terminal velocity was for a hawk a dive, but it was obviously far faster than anything I had ever experienced outside of being on a plane. I was breaking the speed limit and then some by the time I opened my wings and pulled up out of the dive, mere metres from the very solid ground below.
<HAHAAA!> I whooped ecstatically. <THIS IS AWESOME!>
There was a flash of movement as I saw a nearby deer practically have a heart attack before fleeing in terror for the safety of the forest.
<Sorry!> I called out to the rapidly escaping animal.
After regaining altitude and gliding just beneath the clouds for a few more minutes, I spotted a horse running across the fields. Even from this height, it looked too clean to be a wild animal, and yet it had no saddle or rider. It seemed to be heading towards a barn in the distance, with a house opposite. There was no doubt in my mind; I had finally found Cassie.
Horse Cassie entered the barn and I descended and circled the area a few times, making sure that neither of her parents were around and trying to find a place to land. I soon found an appropriate spot and swooped in to land in the rafters. And that’s when things got awkward…
See I had been right about the horse being Cassie in morph. What I hadn’t counted on was that she might not have figured out the clothing problem yet. She had just demorphed and discovered her predicament (thankfully with her back to me) and was walking over to some kind of work station to retrieve a spare pair of overalls that had been left there. As it turns out, Harris Hawks can’t blush.
I had obviously noticed the night before that both Rachel and Cassie were rather attractive. Rachel was a given since the books basically described her as a model, which was true, but they really didn’t give Cassie enough credit in that department. And while I was technically the same age as the Animorphs now, I still felt creepy spying on a sixteen year old. One who could turn around any second. Plus Jake would actually murder me.You know what? I’ll come back later…
I took flight as silently as possible to avoid further embarrassment.
It was about midday and I was once again on my way to Cassie’s house to meet with the other Animorphs. Tobias had called me an hour earlier to tell me about the meeting (I had given him my phone number last night at the Mall). It was kind of unnecessary since I already knew, but it was nice of him just the same.
I flew on until I caught sight of Cassie’s barn, and spotted the other Animorphs. Jake, Marco, Tobias, and Rachel, were all standing outside the barn. Cassie was some distance away in horse morph, galloping through the fields at top speed. I carried on flying until I’d reached the others, before landing in front of them while Jake was reading the newspaper.
Rachel looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face.
“Weird bird,” she muttered.
<I’ll take that as a compliment thank you. Being normal is so overrated.> I told her.
“What the–” she started.
“Glad you could make it Mike,” Tobias said. “What kind of bird are you?”
<It’s a Harris hawk.> I answered.
“Aren’t you going to demorph Mike?” Jake asked me.
<I would Jake, except that there’s a cop car on its way here and I think they might question why I was naked after I demorphed.>
“Seriously a cop? I wonder what they want?” Rachel wondered aloud.
<No idea,> I lied. <But he’ll be here soon. I’ll keep a lookout from above and let Cassie know to demorph ASAP.>
“Sounds good, thanks Mike.” Jake said as I took to the skies once more.
“Great now the cops are involved? This is what I’m talking about; why do we have to deal with this?” Marco asked. “I say we just forget it. We never talk about it. We never morph. We just deal with our own lives.”
If anyone else had said those words, I would have argued with them. I made an exception in Marco’s case. He didn’t know the truth about his mother yet, and his dad would be devastated if anything happened to him. So when Tobias gave Marco a side-ways glance I spoke to Tobias privately.
<Marco isn’t a coward,> I told him. <He has his reasons.>
Tobias looked up at the sky at me with a puzzled expression on his face; then he shrugged.
I moved out of earshot after that, but it’s not like I didn’t know how the rest of the conversation was going to go.
<Cassie can you hear me?> I called out to the horse racing towards the others. I wasn’t yet sure what the range was for thought speech.
<Hello? Who is that?> Cassie asked. She came to a halt and began to look around for the source of my voice.
<It’s me Mike, from last night. Just warning you that there’s a cop about to reach the others so you better demorph now before he gets here.>
It quickly became apparent that Cassie’s talent for morphing was already starting develop. Her demorphing process certainly wasn’t attractive, but it was definitely smoother and more controlled than mine. I was also relieved to see that she had indeed solved the clothing problem. I’d already had enough awkwardness for one day.
<Wow, you can morph clothing? How did you manage that?> I feigned ignorance.
“It’s not that hard,” Cassie shrugged modestly. “Just takes a bit of practice. And it only works on skin-tight clothing. And don’t even bother trying shoes, I’ve already shredded half of mine. Rachel is going to end up dragging me to the mall to go clothes shopping again…”
<Cool, I’ll have to try the clothing thing later. I’m going ahead to check on the others, see you soon.>
I made it back in time to see the Controller policeman still talking to Jake and the rest.
“Can we help you, officer?” Rachel asked the Policeman in her best ‘responsible’ voice.
“We’re making some inquiries,” he answered. “We’re looking for some kids who were shooting off fireworks in the construction site across from the mall last night.”
Suddenly Marco started coughing for some reason.
“Something the matter with him?” the policeman questioned.
“Nope,” Jake told him. “Nothing wrong with him.”
“We want these kids,” Controller cop said. “We want them real bad. See, it was dangerous what they did. Could have been someone hurt. So we want to find the kids.”Yeah, so you can force one of your slimy brothers into our heads you filthy slug!
I thought angrily.
As the Controller went on to talk about the Sharing, it occurred to me that he was probably one of the guys at the construction site last night, laughing as Elfangor was murdered in cold blood. I was momentarily tempted to swoop down and give the guy a spare eye socket. The time for revenge will come,
I told myself. But not today.
“Well, you call me if you hear anything about those kids in the construction site. I should warn you – they may come up with some wild story to conceal their guilt. But you’re too smart to believe a bunch of crazy lies, aren’t you?”
“He’s a regular genius,” Marco said, indicating Jake.
The policeman got back into his car and took off. He did, however, glance back suspiciously as a bare-footed Cassie re-joined the group…