The Alien

Free The Alien by K. A. Applegate

Book: The Alien by K. A. Applegate Read Free Book Online
Authors: K. A. Applegate
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     I said.
    
    I often go flying with Tobias. The bird morph I have is called a northern harrier. It is a type of hawk, about the same size as Tobias’s redtail. Tobias’s feathers are mostly brown and light tan, while the harrier’s are mostly gray and white.
    I controlled my excitement and worry, and focused on making the change.
    The harrier morph is always strange. For one thing, there is a great difference in size between an Andalite and a bird, even a large bird.
    The first sensation was one of falling, as I shrank rapidly.
    My stalk eyes went blind, and wings grew out of my front legs, which is very awkward. It causes me to fall forward onto the ground, since I cannot stand on my hind legs alone.
    Besides, my hind legs were busy shriveling down into the tiny, yellow, scaly bird legs. And my tail was shrinking and splitting into dozens of long tail feathers.
    Harriers also have mouths, like humans. Only, these mouths are useless for speech, and have very little ability to taste. On the other hand, they are wonderful natural weapons. They are razor-sharp, and curved down into a ripping, tearing hook.
    And the talons are excellent. I had long admired Tobias’s use of his talons. He can swoop fast and low, just a few feet above the ground, and snatch up a mouse or small rabbit with those talons.
    As I watched, the blue and tan fur of my own body was replaced by silvery gray feathers. The fur melted away to show the underlying flesh, and then the flesh became patterned with the millions of individual ribs of feathers.
    I was used to the mind of the harrier, so I had learned to control its instincts. Its instincts were more forceful than those in the brains of humans.
     Tobias said.
     I said a little grumpily.
    
    I checked. I opened my wings to their full three-and-a-half-foot spread. I flicked my tail feathers. I focused my laserlike hawk’s eyes on a far distant tree and was able to see individual ants crawling up its trunk.
    I listened to the forest with the harrier’s superior hearing. I could hear the insects beneath the pine needles. I could hear a squirrel chewing open a nut. I could hear Tobias’s heart beating.
    I turned into the breeze and opened my wings. I flapped several times and lifted my legs clear of the ground. The breeze caught me and I was off.
    Even with the breeze, I had to flap hard to get as high as the treetops. Tobias was already several dozen feet above me. But then, Tobias has had a great deal of practice.
    I swept just above the treetops, flapping and soaring. The sun was beating down on the treetops and heat waves were rising. I caught the updraft and shot higher. I was two hundred feet up in just seconds.
    I could see Cassie’s farm now. And as I circled to use the updraft for more altitude, I could see all the familiar landmarks: the homes of the others. The mall. The school.
     Tobias said.
    We reached the ocean. There were cliffs along the shore, and here the real thermals rose up. A thermal is an updraft of heated air. Flying into one is like flying into an elevator or dropshaft. The updraft catches your wings and lifts you up and up and up.
    It is a fantastic, giddy, wild feeling.
    I wheeled and turned to stay within the thermal,

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