They have been sent to determine whether a cult, The Survivors, is associated with Help Earth, and as such are sent to a "recruitment hotbed" area. The "family" starts going to cult meetings, and are eventually accepted into the commune. Her attempts to warn the mission controllers fail, and she ends up having to stop the attack herself. In the lull that follows, James, Rat and Lauren attempt an escape. However, they are captured and locked in a room full of toddlers by a sadistic overseer. When they manage to overpower her, Lauren points out that they need to take the kids with them or risk them dying.
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As Abigail turned and hurried away, Dana gave them her sweetest Survivor smile. Instead of going into the shower, Dana locked herself into a toilet cubicle. She sat down and slid the radio out of its bag. It was flexible, less than a millimetre thick and five centimetres long. She folded open a narrow sheet of instructions: Ultra low power, multispectrum transceiver. Range: under 2km. Solar panel recharge: 12 hours. Conserve power by leaving the unit off when not in use. Keep transmission time to a minimum.
Dana scrunched the instructions up and popped them in her mouth. She felt miserable as she slipped off her trainer, peeled out the insole and hid the radio beneath it. Most of his roommates had been at the school for years and had only received a standard dose of a dozen licks on a couple of occasions. After a morning of lessons, a poor excuse for lunch and the afternoon service, James was hitting his stride and felt a lot more confident as he walked down a sunlit path for his second day of work and met his boss, Ernie, along the way.
You could have put him on a Survivors poster: handsome and bronze-skinned with a bushy moustache. Ernie drove a delivery truck which took letters and parcels to a post office in a one-shop town a hundred kilometres to the east.
The sacks of mail ran down a metal chute from the adjacent offices. James and Ernie grabbed the sacks two at a time and hurtled them into the back of the truck. As they jiggled and clattered over badly cracked tarmac, James sat in the passenger seat, watching the plume of dust they were throwing up in the door mirror. Eve and Dana were still in school uniform as they sank on to the foam cushions.
Our ceremonies are always conducted by women. After the dark time, girls such as yourselves will become the bedrock of our new civilisation: mothers, wives and leaders. But we have found a special project that suits both of your talents. It will only take a few days, but it will get you both noticed at the highest level inside the Ark.
She found it extraordinary that someone as bright as Eve could have mastered all the manipulative skills of the cult, without being able to see that she was being manipulated herself. Nevertheless, Dana was intrigued and felt slightly excited herself.
The Ark under construction in Nevada will cost seven billion dollars and the planned arks in Europe and Japan will require the purchase of huge tracts of land in countries where space is precious.
Before I can continue, you must swear to absolute secrecy. Ween shook her head. But the request came directly from Susie Regan: two girls, strong athletes, and strong swimmers. So it surprised Lauren that she found herself liking Rat. Rat was good-looking apart from the squashed nose, obviously clever and the way he stood up for himself against the odds made him seem heroic and vulnerable at the same time. Above everything else though, Rat was a good laugh. As Lauren worked efficiently, delivering messages, mastering the photocopier and generally being an obedient little Survivor, Rat constantly mucked around.
Two staplers became yapping dogs that skidded around a desktop farting and humping each other. Rat demonstrated his toughness by betting Lauren that he could put the tip of his tongue on the hot bulb inside a desk lamp and hold it there for ten seconds.
He lasted less than three before sprinting off to the water cooler in agony. You just take it out to the residence, knock on the door of his room and wait by his bed while he deals with it. Rat, who appeared to have intimate knowledge of every underground tunnel and room inside the Ark, drew the quickest path from the office to the residence on the back of a compliments slip.
The journey involved taking a spiral staircase two floors below ground level and then heading several hundred metres along a cramped passageway that had condensation on the ceiling and patches of mildew on the walls. The door took her into the luxurious ambience of the residence. There was none of the woodchip wallpaper, growling air vents and acres of magnolia paint that dominated the rest of the Ark.
The broad corridor was lined with white marble and the air was scented with vanilla. At one edge, there was a twenty-centimetre gutter into which water trickled and fresh white flowers bobbed around in floating glass pots. Lauren saw that Rat had drawn a left-facing arrow, followed by a long curve, on his set of directions.
The curve was an upwards ramp. One side was fronted with floor-to-ceiling glass and overlooked an outdoor spa. The other was hung with large paintings. His white gloved hands were joined behind his back, except when he leaned forward theatrically to allow her through one of the solid maple doors.
Several turns and five doors took the pair into a darkened room. The curtains at two giant windows were closed.
There was a bed in a gloomy corner, containing a breathless man, who sat up dressed in silk pyjamas. Then he looked at Lauren. Lauren was surprised that Regan knew who she was, and must have looked it. She hated this, because his face was covered in bristles and his pyjamas smelled vaguely of sick. But all she could think about was the smell and the miserable, wasted lives of thousands of Survivors around the world. Once Lauren had fetched them, Regan pushed the glasses up his nose and began slowly pulling the letters and cheques out of their slots.
He signed his name with a trembling hand and shooed Lauren away when she leaned in to steady the signature book. A side door opened without a knock and Susie Regan stormed to the bedside. She snatched the signed letters and began inspecting them. Is that what I deserve? Do you want to see me spending the rest of my life in squalor? I want joint control over the companies. How many times do I have to say it? Eleanor is my daughter. The letters fluttered out in all directions and the binder hit a vase of flowers.
Lauren jumped back as it hit the ground near her feet. She expected the vase to shatter, but it bounced off the floor and the water inside began pouring out. After standing the vase up, Lauren instinctively grabbed a handful of disposable tow els off the cabinet and crouched down to mop up the water before it spread.
Get out of here, you foul brat. As she reached for the doorknob, Susie came charging across the floor and grabbed Lauren by the neck, clawing her with painted nails. And when he does, he brings them to me.
If you spread around what you just saw here, I will find out about it. The agents would then tail her to wherever she ended up and keep watch from a position close by. Eve always acted confident around the mall: efficient nods, tight-lipped smiles and a purposeful walk.
But the sudden absence of routine turned her into a wreck. She kept asking Dana questions: what kind of food would they find in the airport, whether aeroplanes had toilets on them, if the take-off would make her sick.
Before leaving Kerry said to James that when he gets back they will try again on their relationship after he is done with his mission to infiltrate a cult. They have been sent to determine whether a cult, The Survivors, is associated with Help Earth and as such are sent to a "recruitment hotbed" area in Brisbane. The "family" starts going to cult meetings, and are eventually accepted into the commune. There, she and Eve, another cult member, are told that they are to participate in a Help Earth mission to blow up an oil tanker. Australian oil tankers are alerted about an attack, but in her discovery that the target is across the sea in Indonesia she attempts to warn the mission controllers, which fail, and she ends up having to stop the attack herself. She overpowers the other members of the boat, except Eve who escapes on a dinghy but is later found dead washed up on a beach after the mission.
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