|This article is written from a Real World point of view.|
When Marco runs into his old friend Erek he doesn't think too much of it. He's got a couple of more important things to do. Like helping to save the world. But then Marco finds out Erek's been hanging with some of the kids at The Sharing. And he starts to think that something just a little weird is going on.
So Marco, Jake, and Ax decide to morph and check old Erek out. Just to see if he's been infested with a Yeerk. The good news is that Erek's not a human-Controller. The bad news is that Erek's not even human...
Marco talks Jake into sneaking into an outdoor concert as dogs, while at the concert, they see a flyer for The Sharing and they recognize the person who was handing them out, a kid named Erek King. As Erek petted Marco, he and Jake discover something strange about him, which they later tell the others Erek had no smell. The next day after school, Marco meets up with Tobias, and they go out flying to spy on Erek, they find him being hassled by some bullies, which he's runs away from, but as he ran, he trips, sprawls into the street, and hits the side of a bus, and for a second, wasn't there anymore, but something made of metal was, then Erek reappears as if nothing had happened.
Marco goes home and immediately calls Jake, but instead of Jake, Tom answers the phone. He invites Marco to The Sharing and suggest that Marco bring his dad. Jake arrives and takes the phone, Marco tells him they have to get together right away. After hanging up Marco tries to calm down over the fact that the Yeerks were interested in his dad, and he would not let that happen. The Animorphs later meet up and head to the woods to find Ax, but Ax doesn't recognize the description, but he says it sounds like a robot that uses a holographic projection to pass for human, they would need a morph that has a different sort of vision that could see through the hologram, and Cassie figures out the perfect choice: a wolf spider, which Marco and Ax are chosen for.
They fly out towards a lake in the mountains where The Sharing is holding a water-skiing party. Marco and Ax morph, and with their spider eyes, they see through the hologram and they discover that Erek is actually an android. Just then, Marco gets snatch up and eaten by a crow, as he's dying, he thinks of his mother, which gives him the motive to demorph and burst out of the crow, where he falls, still in mid-morph to ground, but as he finally morphs out, he is discovered by Erek. Erek reveals that he knows Marco is one of the "Andalite bandits" that have been giving Visser Three trouble, and Marco figures this is the end, but Erek tells Marco to bring the others to his house for a meeting of allies, to join together to fight the Yeerks. Marco goes home, where during dinner, his dad tells him about about a new job with the military at a place called Matcom and how before Marco's mom's "death", they had perfect peace and love and how one night, she talked about not being taken away if you stay away from the military. Marco realizes it was then that she became a controller, and why Tom wanted Marco's dad to join The Sharing, the Yeerks wanted him.
The Animorphs arrive at Erek's house, Rachel (in grizzly bear morph) and Tobias stay outside as backup, while Jake, Marco, Cassie, and Ax (in human morph) enter where they meet Erek's dad, and he shows them down to the basement, which starts going down underground like an elevator, to a huge underground park filled with dogs and androids playing together, they meet with Erek and he explains everything, that he and the androids are called the Chee. They were created hundreds of thousands of years ago by a peaceful and highly advance race of dog-like aliens called the Pemalites, and the Chee, which means "friend" in the Pemalite language, were built to be companions, and they all lived together peacefully. But then they were attacked by an alien race called the Howlers. Because the Pemalites were pacifists, they couldn't fight back, and almost all of them were wiped out. The few surviving Pemalites and a few hundred Chee escaped and headed toward a planet much like their own- Earth, which they hadn't visited in fify-thousand years, but the Howlers had unleash germ weapons, killing the Pemalites. The Chee couldn't save their creators, so in order to keep part of them alive, they harbored the essence of the Pemalites into an Earth creature much like them- wolves. From that union, the happy-go-lucky domesticated dog was born.
The Chee want to save Earth because humans and dogs depend on each other. Erek tells the Animorphs about how he and some of his friends have infiltrated Yeerk organizations. The Yeerk's technology isn't sufficient to distinguish them from humans, allowing them to easily enter undetected. These Chee have taken in the Yeerks willingly, keeping the parasites captive while providing their own Kandrona Rays to it as well as tapping into its memories. When the time comes to return to the Yeerk Pool, they simply project a holographic parasite leaving them and "struggle" like an average host. They also learn that the Yeerks are working on a master computer that could infiltrate and rewrite all of the software in Earth's computers, allowing total control of all of Earth's computers. The heart system is a Pemalite crystal, a powerful computer processor that the Yeerks obtained from a Dyang trader, and the crystal could even rewrite the Chee's pacifist programming and allow them to fight. Unfortunately, the crystal is highly guarded by Hork-Bajir, and is in a room of total darkness and wires, the slightest kind of light or touch of the wires would set off the alarms. Marco says he'll do it, because the company his dad is working with is run by the Yeerks, and if they get the crystal, they won't infest him. Now they just need to figure out a way how they can navigate the defenses, and Cassie knows how they can do that: morph into bats.
Marco later gets a call from Erek, saying that the Yeerks are beefing up security and they must strike tonight. They fly out in their owl morphs to the Matcom building, where Marco and Ax (in spider morph) and Jake, Cassie, and Rachel (in cockroach morph) travel through the air ducts and almost get burned in the furnace, but finally get into the room where they demorph and morph into bats. They use echolocation and easily pass the defenses to get to the crystal. Unfortunately, they can't navigate back with the crystal, so they decide to risk it and burst through the door in their battle morphs, setting off the alarms, and alerting many Hork-Bajir and human-Controllers with rifles. Marco sees Erek outside seconds before the fight began.
They have a violent and bloody battle where the outcome is likely the Animorphs will lose and die. As Marco is starting to die, he still sees Erek outside. Suddenly, he wakes up outside, back in human form, and sees the others are okay. Jake tells Marco he was dead, but Erek gave him an electric shock to restart his heart. Marco see's Erek crying, they explain to Marco that Erek saved them, he used the crystal to rewrite his programming and he killed all the Controllers. Marco tries to comfort Erek, but Erek couldn't handle living with the memory of the bloodshed because, unlike humans, the Chee never forget. Erek gives Marco the crystal saying he changed his programming back, he will never fight again, but he will help the Animorphs fight the Yeerks, just not with violence. A few days later, Jake and Marco are at the beach throwing a frisbee with Jake's dog, Homer. Marco takes out the crystal from his pocket and wondering what to do with it when Homer and two other dogs snatch it and they take it out into the ocean where its gets dropped washed away.
- Erek King (First Appearance)
- Visser Three
- Elite Guard Hork-Bajir-Controllers (Death)
- Various Human-Controllers
- Howlers (Mentioned Only)
- Mr. King (First Appearance)
- Maria/Chee-Lonos (First Appearance) (Only Appearance)
- Various Chee (First Appearance)
- Pemalites (Flashbacks Only)
Contributions to the Series' Story Arc
|Morpher||Morphs acquired||Morphs used|
|Jake||Bat||Golden Retriver, Peregrine Falcon, Fly, Great Horned Owl, Cockroach, Bat, Siberian Tiger|
|Rachel||Bat||Bald Eagle, Grizzly Bear, Great Horned Owl, Cockroach, Bat|
|Cassie||Wolf Spider, Bat||Wolf Spider, Osprey, Great Horned Owl, Cockroach, Bat, Wolf|
|Marco||Irish Setter, Wolf Spider, Bat||Irish Setter, Osprey, Wolf Spider, Great Horned Owl, Bat, Silverback Gorilla|
|Ax||Wolf Spider, Bat||Northern Harrier, Wolf Spider, Human, Great Horned Owl, Bat|
- The cover quote is, "Fear has a new name.... Yeerk."
- The inside front cover quote is, "Along came a spider...."
- It's revealed that dogs were the result of wolves being infused with the essence of the Pemalites, done by the Chee.
- According to the Anibase, when Animorphs first started, a contest was held where the winner would get his or her name in an Animorphs book. The winner was a fan named Erek King, and the character the winner was named after became one of the most major secondary characters in the series.
- This book features Marco with a new hair style, this is because Editor Tonya Alicia Martin called K.A. Applegate and said, "We have this really cute Marco model, but he has short hair." So Applegate agreed to give Marco a trim and had fun having the other characters tease him about it throughout this book. Marco continued to keep his hair short throughout the rest of the series.
- This was the 1st of 4 books showing Marco morphing into an insect, the next 3 are The Reunion (Cockroach), The Other (Bee) and The Revelation (Ant).