My name is Kilohana and that’s about all I can tell you. I have to keep things pretty secretive for now because everyone’s life depends on it—yeah, even yours. Hopefully someday—hopefully soon—that will change, but for now you just have to believe me. It’s a tall order but you need to know what I know.
It was starting to get hard to keep track of everyone—and I was really trying! Kioshi had taken off to do some scouting, I had Gil in my lap—she was a cat—and I could see Katherine across from me in the cabin on her own bed. Everett and Tyrel were there somewhere but I couldn’t see them. That either meant they were spiders or hiding…
Man! What a way to start a Saturday.
As if that wasn’t weird enough suddenly Kioshi’s voice was in my head. I could still hear his accent and the way he paced his words even though I wasn’t really ‘hearing’ anything. I wondered if I would ever get used to thought speak.
[I can see inside the tent! There are drums marked… hazard—hazard… biohazard! That’s it. Yes. There are big drums marked biohazard. I can see four but do not know how many more there are. I don’t know what is in them but I am certain it is bad.
Most of the other students are in a large field. I can see a few patrols—three of them—with a few adults in each of them. They are keeping a good eye on the campground.
The medical tent is surrounded by buildings—I am not sure if that will help us. It backs up to a store, a cabin and another building.
Should I get a closer look?]
Kioshi was right—none of that sounded good. I was torn between really wanting to know what was going down in that tent and really not wanting to know at all. Though since I had eaten some of the breakfast I was lucky that I did know… otherwise I might have walked right in and been yeerked.
“Well, that’s not good.” I could hear Tyrel’s voice from near Katherine’s bed. That meant he wasn’t in a morph. I craned my head to try and see under her bed but couldn’t find him.
“It’s gotta be the yeerk pool,” Katherine said as she shook her head. Have you ever heard the expression that the gears are turning in someone’s head? Well, I could see it happening with Katherine. I could tell she was already trying to put pieces together and find a way to get us out of this mess. We were lucky she was with us on this.
I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, sitting and listening. I gave Gil one last scratch behind the ear and set her down. I had acquired the same cat and as Gil padded off I decided to try and morph it as well.
I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate.
I figured it would be an easy morph. I had always kind of liked cats—they were graceful and sure of themselves but also misunderstood and amazing hunters. I knew more about cats than about spiders or owls and had more experience with them too. I couldn’t have one of my own though because my grandma wasn’t a big fan.
I lived with her now, had for a year or so. I used to live with my uncle—he raised me after my parents died—but when he got married I was kind of the third wheel. It wasn’t all tragic, not really, just one of those things. He took care of me and I wasn’t neglected or anything but I always had that nagging that he wasn’t my real dad. I didn’t remember my real parents as they’d died when I was just a baby, but I could tell my uncle wasn’t them… just something I knew, yanno? His wife and I never really saw eye-to-eye. She was nice enough but I think she wanted her own kids and I was kind of in the way. So we talked about it and I got shipped off to live with my grandma in the US.
My train of thought derailed and all I could think about was how much my grandma would protest me being a cat. I don’t think she’d have worried about anything else—not even the gross morphing—I think she just would have told me to get out. ‘No cats,’ I could hear her shout, ‘not in my house!’
I shook my head and decided to forgo morphing—for now.
[I think I should go scout too,] Gil said as she leapt up onto her bed. [I feel like I can do more as a cat than he can as an owl.]
[That m-might be a good idea,] Everett agreed, [and you m-might not stick out as much.]
[At the very least I’m not nocturnal, owls are all nocturnal.]
“And just how do you know that?” Tyrel grumbled from under the bed. I still couldn’t see him.
[You don’t know what I study,] Gil snapped back playfully.
“I don’t know what you study? You sure about that… customer?”
My attention was snagged away from the conversation by Katherine. She had been searching in her bag and dumped a ton of stuff out on her bed. I watched as she searched through the objects curiously. I was about to ask what she was looking for when she found it—a small silk bag, like the one headphones come in.
She pulled the small button out of her pocket. The button was this tiny little… button that the dying andalite had given Kioshi. None of us had any idea what it was but with the way our hands had hurt earlier we may find out. All we knew was that it was important and we couldn’t lose it. I smiled a little was Katherine wiggled and pushed and eventually got the button into the pouch.
[Well, at the very least as a cat I can watch Kioshi’s back,] Gil said pointedly.
[Would the yeerks know owls are nocturnal?] Kioshi pondered.
[I dunno, but they seem to have at least some of the knowledge of their hosts. None of them are out there like idiots, they all blend in really well,] Gil paused to lick her paw. If I didn’t know any better—and if I couldn’t hear her—I would have thought she was just another cat!
I turned back to Katherine as she held the pouch in front of her to inspect it. She nodded and almost smiled, then she made a couple very animated expressions, turning her head a little. I had no idea what she was doing. She frowned and did it again.
“… you know, for the button thing?” She said quietly.
[What d-did you say, Katherine?]
“I was uh—trying to talk to Kioshi?” Katherine tilted her head down towards the floor.
[Kioshi, d-did you hear K-katherine?]
[K-katherine he di-didn’t hear you.]
“But I heard him? When I was an owl I—” Katherine’s eyes grew wide, “ooh.”
“Oooh, that explains a lot,” Tyrel mumbled, still under the bed.
“Yeah, yeah it does,” Katherine agreed. “So we can hear each other all the time but we can only talk to each other when we’re morphed.”
“That kinda complicates things too,” Tyrel stuck his head out from under the bed.
“We should all learn Morse Code!” I suggested.
“Look I already hafta learn how to be animals, I ain’t got time to learn Morse Code too!” Tyrel growled.
“Everett, tell Kioshi I have a way for him to carry his button,” Katherine interrupted.
[Ki-kioshi, Katherine says she has a way for you to carry the button.]
“They’re gonna notice an owl with a pouch, yanno,” Tyrel sighed, propping his chin onto his hand.
“Maybe, maybe not. They’d have to notice the owl first and if they do we might have other problems, pouch or no pouch,” Katherine glanced down at Tyrel like it was commonplace to talk to the person under you bed.
My knees began to bounce. I wished I’d been able to morph the cat earlier…
[Do we think that is really necessary?] Kioshi questioned.
“Plus it would be easier than putting it on a cat—the cat doesn’t wear a collar. If the cat suddenly showed up with a collar it would be super suspicious.”
[I’m going to do a sweep,] Kioshi reported back. He sounded a little tense. Katherine nodded and Tyrel sighed.
“He can’t see—Everett, tell Kioshi to go ahead,” Tyrel mumbled.
As Everett conveyed the message I glanced down at my phone. We had gotten word from Tyrel that things were supposed to start going bad two hours after breakfast—and we had about thirty minutes until then. I put a hand on my stomach and frowned. I felt fine… but I still had half an hour. I tried to keep a positive attitude as often as possible but I felt fear starting to creep in. What was going to happen to me? Was I already yeerked and didn’t know it?!