Call of the Alphas #1
The first novel in a new fiction series based on the hugely popular online game, Animal Jam, enjoyed by over 65 million users! Learn all about the origin of the Animal Jam home called Jamaa, a lush natural environment, and its brave, adventurous animal leaders called the Alphas.
Welcome to Jamaa, a peaceful place full of forests, canyons, and beaches where all kinds of animals have adventures together! But did you know that Jamaa wasn't always so peaceful? A long time ago, evil phantoms wreaked havoc and destroyed the land. Luckily, brave animal leaders called the Alphas came to the rescue. They battled the phantoms and restored Jamaa to its natural state. Now Jamaa is back to its old self and ready to be explored by you and all the other Animal Jammers!
Fans of the popular Animal Jam game (as well as newcomers) are sure to love Call of the Alphas, which expands the online world. And readers will be given exclusive access to new online adventures through a special code in the text!
Excerpt from Call of the Alphas #1
A long time ago . . .
All across the land, the animals of Jamaa were celebrating.
In Appondale, the hot sun beat down on several elephants rolling around happily in the mud pool. Around them, giraffes stretched their necks to reach the leaves at the top of the highest acacia trees. Cheetahs raced across the grass, chasing the elephants in game after game of tag.
Shimmering snow fell gently on Mt. Shiveer, covering the ski tracks the penguins and pandas left on the slopes. In a cozy hut near the top of the mountain, snow leopards and arctic wolves toasted their friendship with steaming mugs of hot cocoa.
The normally quiet Sarepia Forest was alive with music as bunnies thumped their feet in rhythm while lions provided a bass line. Raccoons danced and twirled in the clearing, and soon even the wolves gave in and joined the frolicking.
In Kimbara Outback, kangaroos cooled off in the clear streams running out from the great reservoir, laughing and splashing one another. Nearby, some koalas napped while others leisurely munched away at an all-you-can-eat eucalyptus-leaf buffet.
Horses galloped up the rocky trails of Coral Canyons to join the foxes and lions around a crackling campfire. The sun began to set, causing the mesa surrounding them to glow red and orange. A few eagles soaring overhead dipped lower to listen as the foxes told tale after tale.
Although they celebrated in different ways, the animals were all rejoicing for the same reason. They enjoyed a deep connection to their land and strong friendships with one another. And to strengthen this, each species had just received an incredible gift from the guardian spirits of Jamaa: a Heartstone.
“Your Heartstone contains the essence of your species,” Mira had told them, spreading her great heron wings and ruffling her blue-gray feathers. Her eyes shone with pride, and her long beak curved in a gentle smile. “It contains what makes you special . . . the secret of what makes you who you are.”
“They’re beautiful,” said a panda, his eyes wide with awe.
A raccoon nodded in agreement. “But what if we lose them?” she fretted. “How can we keep them safe?”
Zios answered, his expression radiating warmth. “Mira and I have a place in mind to store all the Heartstones together.” The guardian spirit looked down at the animals through his golden mask.
“All together?” asked a wolf, arching his brow.
Mira nodded. “They’ll be safe there. We promise.”
The animals agreed, and so the two guardian spirits of Jamaa hid the Heartstones beneath the Lost Temple of Zios, an ancient temple that had stood in the jungle for as long as anyone could remember. And for many years afterward, animals across the land continued to live in peace and harmony.
But as time went on, seeds of suspicion began to bloom in their hearts. The cheetahs became convinced the tigers envied their speed. The nervous raccoons told themselves the wolves looked rather shifty. The foxes’ tall tales began to irritate the lions, who were starting to think foxes lied a little too naturally. Soon, not a single species trusted another.
The wolves were the first to remove their Heartstone from beneath the Lost Temple of Zios. The others soon followed their example, bringing their Heartstones to their individual villages, and the camaraderie between the animals of Jamaa was lost.
It was during this time of division that a new threat began to creep its slimy tentacles into Jamaa: a horde of evil Phantoms. They were led by the cruel Phantom Queen, and no one in Jamaa had ever seen such vile creatures. The Phantoms spread filth and pollution all over the land, and as they did, rumors about their intentions began to spread as well.
“They’re poisoning the water,” one monkey informed another over a murky watering hole. “To make us sick.”
“They’re polluting the air,” a kangaroo croaked after a long coughing fit. “To make us leave.”
“They’re not just ruining our environment,” a tiger realized somberly. “They’re making it hospitable for themselves. They want to take over Jamaa.”
Before long, the Phantoms set their sights on the Heartstones. Not only did they take over the animals’ villages and steal the precious jewels, the Phantoms turned their power to a darker purpose: using each Heartstone to trap its entire species.
One by one, the animals vanished: the kangaroos, the lions, the raccoons, the elephants, the cheetahs. And with every disappearance, all the other species withdrew even more, trusting no one but themselves.
Although Mira and Zios were powerful guardians, even they could not stop the Phantoms’ progress. And before they knew it, there were only six Heartstones—and six species—left in Jamaa.
Mira soared through the sky, surveying the land she loved in dismay. Most of Jamaa was polluted almost beyond recognition. The crisp, fresh air of Sarepia Forest was now heavy with gray smog that caused the giant green trees to shrivel and turn brown. The clear waters of Crystal Reef were murky and muddy, and the majestic glaciers of Mt. Shiveer had begun to melt.
Worst of all, the sounds of life that once filled every corner of the land were all but gone. Mira’s heart ached as she remembered the splashing dolphins in Kani Cove, the galloping horses of Coral Canyons, and the peaceful sloths that used to inhabit the lush jungle surrounding the Lost Temple of Zios. There had been so many wonderfully different species, all sharing Jamaa and living in harmony.
“It’s hard to believe this is the same land,” Mira said when Zios appeared at her side. “How can we possibly reverse all the destruction the Phantoms have caused?”
“I don’t think we can,” Zios replied, his voice deep with sadness. “At least, not while the Phantoms continue spreading their pollution . . . and stealing Heartstones. I fear they will soon be the only creatures left.”
Mira sighed, contemplating the barren land below them. “We can’t allow that to happen,” she said determinedly. “There are still animals in Jamaa. This is their rightful land.”
“It is,” Zios agreed. “But you know they’re in hiding. Their only concern is protecting the Heartstones.”
Mira arched her slender neck, the sunlight making her feathers sparkle. “I know the Phantoms are powerful. But, Zios, we accomplished so many incredible things when the species all lived and worked together, remember?” She sighed wistfully. “There was no challenge that couldn’t be met. If the remaining animals could unite once more, the way they used to . . .”
Zios knew what Mira was thinking. “They just might be able to take Jamaa back from the Phantoms,” he finished. He closed his eyes and concentrated, then turned to his companion. “I think you’re right, Mira. It’s our best chance—and theirs. We must try.”
And so the two guardian spirits of Jamaa called the remaining six species of animals together: pandas, monkeys, koalas, bunnies, tigers, and wolves. Volunteers from each species gathered at the Lost Temple of Zios, pawing the ground, peering out from the bushes, hanging from branches, eyes darting around suspiciously. The animals were eager to reclaim their land, but their mistrust of one another was obvious. Especially when it came to their Heartstones.
Zios solemnly moved from one group to the next, collecting the Heartstones. Although the species were reluctant to part with the precious stones, one by one they handed them over to the guardian spirit Zios. Only once he had stored them in a safe place did the animals turn their attention to Mira.
“Animals of Jamaa,” the heron called, her voice ringing around the clearing. “We know you have your differences. But it is time to set those aside, for you have a common foe.”
A few of the animals murmured in agreement. Others looked more doubtful, but listened intently.
“The Phantoms have poisoned our land,” Zios rumbled. “But it’s not too late. It is possible for us to defeat this enemy . . . by working together.”
A high-pitched, hissing laugh caused all the animals to startle and look around. A Phantom appeared from behind a wilting silk-cotton tree and glided through the clearing. He had four spindly tentacles on each side like a spider, and the pupil of his eye was extra tiny and beady. Several of the animals growled and glared, but the Phantom responded with an evil sneer that caused even the wolves to fall silent.
“My name is Leach,” he said, his voice slithering in and out of their ears like a snake. “And this is Stench.” A second Phantom appeared behind the bunnies, sniggering when they jumped in fright. Stench had two large, lumbering tentacles that seemed too big for his body, and several smaller tentacles that waved uselessly on top of his head. He tried to glare at the animals as menacingly as Leach, but one tiny tentacle fell limp in front of his eye. Stench batted it away with a bigger tentacle and accidentally poked himself in the pupil.
“Ow,” he mumbled. A few bunnies tittered, and Leach’s eye narrowed.
“We have a message from the Phantom Queen,” Leach announced, his voice soft but menacing. The giggling stopped abruptly. “She knows what you are planning, and she knows you will not succeed.”
Stench continued, “You believe we Phantoms are the problem. But the truth is, Jamaa’s problems began before our arrival. They began . . . with you.”
Mira and Zios exchanged a worried look. But before they could respond, a koala piped up.
“He’s talking about the wolves!” he cried accusingly. “We all know the wolves are responsible for letting the Phantoms into this land to begin with.”
A tiger tossed his head. “That may be so, but you koalas and your laziness helped the Phantoms take over, despite the valiant effort of my species to defend our land.”
“You tigers are so arrogant. You don’t know what the rest of us have done to try to protect Jamaa,” a monkey called out from where she dangled from a particularly high branch. “Although at least you’re willing to fight. Unlike the bunnies, who just turn their fuzzy little tails and run.”
The bunnies hopped up and down and shook their fists angrily. The tigers pawed the ground. The wolves huddled closer together, hackles raised and teeth bared. Mira and Zios looked on helplessly.
Leach cackled and hissed. “Quite an army you’ve put together, oh great guardian spirits of Jamaa,” he told them, his eye flashing darkly. “Now, let’s see how they fight.”
Suddenly, the leaves rustled and the bushes shook. The bickering animals fell silent as a blue-white electric glow began to grow all around them.
“Attack!” Stench bellowed, flapping his lumbering tentacles and nearly knocking Leach over. Dozens of Phantoms emerged from the shadows and swarmed into the clearing. Chaos erupted.
Overhead, the monkeys frantically began to build a net from leaves and vines. “Hey!” one yelped as a koala snatched the vine from his hands.
“We should use these as lassos!” the koala cried. “That would be much more useful than a net!”
Their argument was drowned out by the mighty roars of the tigers, who charged headfirst into battle without looking to see what the other species were doing. The wolves prowled around on the outskirts, watching and waiting.
“Join us, you cowards!” one tiger called. “Or do you not know which side you’re fighting for?”
“It’s foolish to engage with an enemy you know little about,” a wolf replied with a sneer. “But go ahead with your blind attack so we can learn what doesn’t work.”
A few pandas surrounded one of the Phantoms. “Maybe we can talk about this,” one began, paws raised in a peaceful gesture. But with lightning-fast speed, several bunnies hopped into attack mode, waving sticks and leaping between the pandas and the Phantom.
The Phantoms saw the divisiveness between all the species and used it to their advantage. Their tentacles twirled rapidly, and they hacked at the vines until they fell, tangling the koalas and monkeys in their own lassos and nets. They allowed the tigers to chase them over to the wolves, and then levitated into the air, watching as the two species clashed with each other. They burned the leaves of the silk-cotton tree until the bunnies couldn’t see through the smoke, causing them to surround the pandas instead.
In all the confusion, no one noticed Leach slipping into the entrance of one of the stone buildings. He soon emerged carrying a gleaming jewel. The sparkle caught Mira’s eye, and she gasped.
“He has a Heartstone!”
Her otherworldly cry seemed to almost shimmer in the air, rising like a song above the sounds of battle. Snarling, a wolf leaped toward Leach just as a monkey swung down and snatched the Heartstone. Leach shifted nimbly out of the way, and the wolf tumbled to the ground with the monkey in his paws.
“Get off, wolf!” the monkey cried, dropping the Heartstone and leaping back up into the trees. Suddenly, a blinding light emanated from the center of the turmoil. Shielding his eye, Leach slipped back into the jungle, followed by Stench and the rest of the Phantoms. Confused and frightened, the other animals fled in different directions.
When the sounds of the stampede had faded, the bright light dimmed and disappeared to reveal Zios standing guard over the Heartstone lying in the grass. He examined it as Mira joined him.
“The tigers,” he said gravely. “This is their Heartstone. The battle was just a distraction. Leach must have intended on stealing it while the others were fighting.”
Mira’s feathers rustled in the breeze. “Fighting against one another instead of against the Phantoms,” she replied. “Leach was right. The problems in Jamaa began before the Phantoms arrived, when the species stopped trusting one another. And they still don’t trust each other. If we’re ever going to restore this land, they must regain that trust. But how will we ever do that?”
“They need to see proof,” Zios replied thoughtfully. “Proof that they can put their faith in each other. Proof that they’re stronger when they’re united. They need leaders.”
Mira continued Zios’s train of thought. “Six leaders, one representing each species, all working together and combining their powers. And then, if they can convince the other animals to join them . . . ,” she said, a smile forming.
Zios’s eyes glimmered. “Then surely they can drive the Phantoms out once and for all!”
Mira stretched her wings gracefully. “What are we waiting for? Let’s find the leaders who will save Jamaa!”