The Teg Legacy or Crash Course By Prudence Walker Gary was two hours away from his mother ship, as he liked to call it when disaster struck. As he surveyed the damage the Mallee root had inflicted on his scouting vessel, he cursed volubly into the unrelenting heat that pervaded this desolate arid region. No, Gary wasn‟t some intrepid space farer lost among the stars. He only wished he was. No, Gary was stuck out in the sparsely populated region of Western Australia‟s desert, north east of Laverton looking at his small Enduro mini bike with its punctured front tire. A moment‟s explanation here, a Mallee root is the remnants of a small local eucalyptus tree that grows widely in Australia. The tree rots away or is eaten by termites while the root section remains intact and hidden under the red ochre sand. Any unwary tire passing in the near vicinity of a root usually causes unprovoked attacks as the shape of the root and the soft terrain cause it to flip out sharp points that will stab into the side wall of a tire and cause a puncture. Gary‟s mother ship was none other than a weathered, but reliable Holden station wagon that served as kitchen, bedroom and a garage for the mini bike. An avid science fiction fan, Gary was on a search for parts of the doomed US space station Skylab that ended its life in the desert of Western Australia. So armed with the latest model metal detector, he‟d set up a base and was bush bashing using the mini bike to extend his rather random search pattern. So far, he‟d found several old horse shoes one gold nugget that while fully acceptable, wasn‟t what he was truly after. The scattered remains of the Skylab were proving to be surprisingly elusive. He knew some of the larger sections that had made it to earth, had been recovered already, but all he wanted was a memento that wouldn‟t attract government interest in recovering for the US. If he was lucky to find several pieces, he knew several people who would pay a lot of money for them, more even than for any gold he might find. As the days of searching passed with little result, his path wandered away from where he had planned to search. Luckily, he knew exactly where he was, or rather his hand held Garmen GPS did and he knew in which direction he had to go to get back to base camp. The only problem, he was about 30 km away from camp with a whole lot of hot burning ground to cover dragging or carrying his mini bike and the detector. He made a choice, given the differences in price of replacing one or the other, and stashed the mini bike in a clump of salt bush. While he was relatively fresh, he decided to use the detector until the batteries died or he did. That brought forth a sobering thought. If he died, then there was no one left to look after his paralyzed sister, who was currently at a home for the disabled. One of his goals was to find souvenirs that could be used to support both he and his sister so they could stay together. Dragging his thoughts away from his personal family tragedy, he once again thought about getting out of his current situation. Checking the GPS and then taking a bearing with the sun, he set off. Taking a direct route, instead of the wandering one taken with the bike, he knew he could save time, plus not fall into the trap of following old tire marks in the desert, not that there were a lot of those in the first place. After an hour, swinging the detector, he‟d had enough and instead slung it over his shoulder after taking a drink from his canteen. The trouble with taking the direct route meant you couldn‟t take into consideration the changing terrain. The salt bush in the area stood around fifteen feet high and was dense enough to prevent Gary seeing the breakaways until it was too late. (A breakaway is where the land changes level and usually means a series of cliffs that could go for kilometers.) It was while he was scouting along the base of the breakaways seeking a viable route to the top, that he spotted something half buried in the scree. It was silvery in appearance and rounded like a nacelle. Gary‟s heart beat faster. Was this what he had been searching for? He scrambled closer unmindful of the scrapes and bruises his ankles sustained from the sharp boulders he was going over. He reached the object and reverently gazed at it, trying to ascertain its origin. It was about the size of one of those inflatable beach balls. Gary reached out and touched it, marveling at its silky cool surface that showed no blemish at all. He grasped it in both hands and pulled at it, expecting a weight from the buried portion. Unexpectedly it lifted with ease and the muscle he‟d applied made him tumble backwards as the object slid free and fell from his hands. Gary heard it tumble with a metallic clang as he bashed his head on the rocks causing him to curse. He rolled over and got to his knees, wiping some blood from a gash on his cheek. The object lay a few meters down the slope and its nature became clearer. It was some kind of helmet but a hugely oversized one. Gary could see the inner liner of it, but it appeared pristine, something it shouldn‟t be, considering where it had lain in the dirt. Gary approached it more cautiously this time, considering what kind of person it could fit. There was some kind of visor attached. As Gary lifted it up for a closer look, a light began to blink. Curiosity drove Gary to place it carefully on his head as he tried to see what else was visible. Although Gary was holding the helmet, it seemed to jump out of his grasp and he felt it shrink to fit his head. Then something weird happened that sent shivers down his spine. The helmet disappeared into thin air. He felt his head with his hands as is searching, but it had gone completely and all he could feel was his sweaty head. “What just happened?‟ He thought. „It couldn‟t be a hallucination brought on by the heat, I‟ve still got water,‟ he shook his canteen in reassurance and then decided to take a small drink. “Damn it, where did the bloody helmet go?” Gary shouted out in frustration. “Zzttrrfh… gyjuhjj… testing?” A distorted series of weird sounds began ending with a disembodied voice close to Gary‟s ears. “Who‟s that?” asked Gary, spinning around on the spot. “Do you understand me?” the voice spoke again, seeming to come from inside Gary‟s head. “Yes, yes, I understand but where are you?” Gary voiced frustrated by seeing nobody. “I am adaptation unit 4000 property of the Przotegzzyx…” the rest of the word sounded like a buzz to Gary. “I am the helmet you put on, using your biometric field, I topped up my charge up and went from standby mode to active mode.” the voice continued, answering the questions Gary had asked. You‟re a sentient helmet belonging to…” here Gary struggled to remember the name. “The Teg?” he managed. “Przotegzzyx…” the voice corrected, then sensing Gary‟s problem with the name, relented. “Teg will suffice,” it agreed. “And yes from your point of view I am sentient, although the Przo er… Teg would disagree.” Here, Gary was sure he could hear some emotion in the mostly monotone voice. “How come I can‟t see you or feel you if you‟re still on my head?” “Well, I‟m now point 356 degrees to the left of your plane of existence.” The voice answered as if that was sufficient explanation. “Point 356 degrees?” Gary asked to himself in wonder. What kind of weird measurement is that? Why not a whole degree?” he laughed, thinking what a surreal conversation he was having. “Well the Teg were paranoid about having their technology move too far away from their own plane, so they decided point 356 was just far enough away to remain invisible, while still being able to access the units abilities.” “What was that weird garble I first heard? And why does it sound like you‟re in my head?” “My translation centers had to be recalibrated for your language and at first I used sonic vibration to convey my words. I am now stimulating your auditory nerve directly so no one else can hear me speak to you.” “Not that there‟s anyone to hear you out here,” Gary pointed out. “True, but until my power levels rose, I had no means of determining that so I took precautions.” ”Can I call you anything other than adaptation unit 4000?” Gary queried. “Call me Ada,” the helmet replied after a delay. Gary chuckled to himself, thinking the voice sounded nothing like an Ada. This prompted Ada to ask what that noise was. “It‟s just a laugh…humour?” he added to further explain. Gary told Ada that her name was female and the discrepancy in the voice and the name was what made him chuckle. “Ah! Accessing now…hmmm, how is this?” Ada‟s voice changed, rising to a dulcet contralto. “Nice,” Gary commented, thinking it seemed familiar. “What were you accessing?” “What you call the internet. A fascinating system, but very open in terms of privacy,” Ada answered. “You can get into the internet out here? Sheesh I can hardly get a radio station unless it‟s after sunset,” complained Gary, feeling hard done by. “Oh I can get all the radio and television bands as well,” Ada said smugly, further disgusting Gary. Gary shook his head trying to think of his next question rather than discussing what seemed like trivialities. “Okay, what I want to know is how you got here and where is the Teg that was wearing you, plus what is it that you do?” Gary finally got out. “The Teg was killed when his craft disintegrated against these bluffs, after being attacked by a dinosaur some meaningless time ago.” “Hahaha,” roared Gary, nearly falling over on the uneven ground. “The Teg was disin-Teg-rated,” he mirthfully gasped out. “You are a funny species,” Ada commented. “I think I‟m going to like being with you,” she added with a touch of humour in her voice. What I do is help Teg fit into whatever environment they may find themselves, adapting their form so suit the local indigenous species.” A sudden thought quickly sobered Gary. “Are there any Teg still on earth or likely to come to earth?” “No, that‟s unlikely, the reason some Teg were exploring the universe for possible habitable planets, was that their sun was about to go nova. The Teg was never a space faring race, preferring to stay within their own system of planets.” There Ada paused, as she accessed the internet looking for information from observatories and the current star information. From what I can determine and the period of time that has passed, the home system is no more. Seeing that the Teg I was with was the only one visiting this system died here, it‟s unlikely any surviving Teg would venture this far.” Gary nodded, feeling much relieved. Wiping his brow free from sweat gathered there, he noted the blood on his hand from the gash he‟d sustained from his tumble. Reality intruded, reminding him of his current situation. He muttered under his breath about Teg artifact or not, he still needed to get back and it was going to be harder than ever now he‟d hurt himself. “I can help,” Ada broke in. “Huh? Oh, you can?” Gary asked, forgetting that Ada could overhear him. Gary looked at his blood stained hand and noticed one nail was torn. “Can you fix this nail?” “Watch,” Ada prompted. Gary held his hand out, palm down so he could watch whatever Ada was going to do. In a second not one, but all of his nails grew out, about 10 mm in length, repairing the broken one as well. Then the ends reshaped themselves into curved points and the nails changed colour, becoming a soft red. “Hey!” why did you give me girl‟s nails?” complained Gary, as he wriggled his fingers experimentally as if to check the nails were really attached to his hand. “I took a template from the person I borrowed this voice from,” explained Ada. “Are they not attractive?” “Sure, on a woman, but hardly practical on a man,” sighed Gary. Obviously Ada needed to learn more about the difference between men and woman and what was socially acceptable. “Okay, I can fix that,” Ada promised. Gary thought Ada meant she would remove the nails, but what happened next proved him wrong. Instantly his body changed to match the nails, becoming female along with a suitable change in clothing. “Ada!!” Gary shrieked, his new voice sounding ever so shrill in “his/her” ears. “What did you do? I‟m a girl, turn me back,” cried Gary, feeling very odd indeed. “No.” “Huh? What do you mean… no?” Gary‟s first impulse to feel this strange body and check out his missing mate seemed oddly restricted to plucking at her blouse and making sure her skirt was straight and that she still had her handbag. The sight of her feet encased in stockings and heels didn‟t send the alarm bells ringing like it should have done. The fleeting thought that they matched in with the rest of her apparel crossed her mind, which suddenly sent her more into panic as did the change in the personal pronouns she seemed to be using. “What have you done to my mind, it‟s full of girly stuff,” she gasped. “I‟ve given you the best chance of survival I can,” Ada replied, sounding rather put out. “How?” retorted Gary instinctively cringing from the feminine voice coming from her lips. The body you have is physically perfect and uninjured plus I‟ve tweaked it a bit, now you need to be a kilometer south of here for when the helicopter arrives.” What helicopter? You‟re not making sense.” Gary said exasperatedly. “The body you wear is that of missing actress/model Bethany Chambers. She was on location doing a suntan campaign for Coppertone when she did a runner. There is a search party out now looking for her. I contacted the film crew via the cell phone network and gave them your location a kilometer south of here. They should be here in about 15 minutes.” “So how does that help me? I end up back in Laverton with no car, no motorbike and no money. Oh and how do they know where to pick me up, in fact why not pick me up here? Also, why does the name Bethany Chambers strike a familiar chord with me? Am I going potty?” Gary tried laughing at her weak joke, but the girlish giggle that came out her mouth made her clamp her lips tight. Frustrated, she stamped her feet petulantly, as she started on her list of questions, not realizing how feminine she was acting. If you move now, I‟ll explain on the way,” Ada prompted. “How will I manage in these heels? They are not exactly appropriate footwear for the bush you know.” “Walk, don‟t talk,” Ada said cryptically. Gary or rather Bethany started to move down the slope, her slender body nimbly moving between the rocks with a grace that Gary could never have achieved. Spotting the metal detector, she went to pick it up. “Leave that,” ordered Ada. “Not on your Nelly I will. I paid 2000 dollars for this and I‟m not leaving it here.” Okay, but I could out perform it by some magnitude,” Ada offered. As soon as Gary/Bethany grasped the detector, it vanished. “What happened?” was Gary‟s familiar cry. “I placed it into p space where I am. I can retrieve it anytime and anywhere, as all points in p space are co-existent. The reason we need to be far away from this spot is because the Teg that crashed here was after the 30 metric tonnes of metal ore you know as gold. From historical documents I surmise it is what was called Lassiter‟s reef.” “Lassiter‟s reef is here?” “Yes, do I assume rightly that you wouldn‟t want undue attention brought here?” Ada continued. “TOO BLOODY RIGHT MATE!” Bethany exulted, scrambling down in a rush, still managing to hold her bag on her shoulder like it was glued there. In her rush she didn‟t question the curious fact that she had begun to identify herself as Bethany. If Ada was correct, then his financial troubles would be over, and he could get his sister every thing she needed. “To answer your other questions, I located our position using your Garmen device.” “But my GPS is turned off,” queried Bethany, as she started to run towards the spot Ada was directing her to. “Yes, but I just accessed the non volatile memory for the way points you‟d taken.” “I suppose you can do a better job than my GPS as well?” Bethany asked sarcastically. “Of course,” Ada replied, missing the point of the sarcasm entirely. “As to the benefits of masquerading as Bethany, I reported that you had been kidnapped by yourself. That is, by Gary Carstairs. And then you managed to escape while pretending a need to go to the bathroom.” “What!” Bethany screeched, pausing in her run. “How is making me a criminal going to help reunite me with my belongings?” “If you continue, I‟ll explain. I reasoned that they could find your car from the GPS you stole from Gary before you escaped, and that would lead the authorities to the bike. They would then return them to Laverton for examination. Meanwhile you can rest in ease courtesy of the company doing the ad campaign. Then you can report that it was all a stunt to get more publicity and then Gary can call in and retrieve his belongings.” Ada finished with a satisfied tone. “That could go wrong in so many ways,” grumbled Bethany. What happens when the real Bethany turns up?” “She accessed her visa card some hours ago in Kalgoorlie and I intercepted a cell phone call she made ten minutes ago. Apparently she‟s headed back to Perth because she couldn‟t stand the bush flies out here.” “Okay fine, but tell me why the flies aren‟t bothering me then,” Bethany pointed out. “Well, and this is coupled with the reason you can run in heels and feel familiar referring to yourself as Bethany and comfortable as a female. I enhanced your body. Flies are attracted to salt, sweat and sugars excreted by the body. Yours doesn‟t excrete any of those and to a fly or other biting insect, you‟re just as enticing as that piece of granite you‟re standing on. I‟ve also downloaded some wetware to your brain that was extrapolated from the traits of the original Bethany.” “What? You make it sound like you can just download files to my brain like a computer. Tell me that‟s not possible?” Bethany pleaded, feeling like a talking, walking Barbie doll with someone pulling her string. “Your brain is an organic computer and I have specialized processes that enable me to borrow traits from a subject and use them to enhance the Teg so they can act exactly the same.” “Well I don‟t want you doing that without my permission again,” Bethany insisted, trying to get some control over her life back. The whaap, whaap, whaap of chopper blades approaching cut off Ada‟s response, as a bright red helicopter hove into view. “Don‟t worry. I‟ll cue you with the right names and information if they ask awkward questions,” Ada promised, as the chopper blew up dust everywhere as it came down for a landing. Bethany clutched her handbag and held her skirt down as the rotor blast threatened to blow her skirt up around her waist. For the first time since her change, she was grateful for Ada‟s foresight in giving her the ability to cope with a skirt and handbag, so she didn‟t end up embarrassing herself by having her panties exposed to all the world. The chopper motor shut down and near silence returned, bar the whooshing of the rotor as it wind milled to a stop. Bethany waited, allowing those inside to make the first move. A dark haired guy in jeans and denim shirt scrambled out and ran over to Bethany. He grabbed her in a hug “Bethany, I‟m so glad to find you‟re alright,” he rejoiced, lifting her off her feet and swinging her around. “Who is this guy?” Bethany subvocalised. “This is Robert Farnshaw your agent, don‟t worry, he doesn‟t swing that way. There‟s a rumor that he already has a boyfriend,” Ada communicated directly to Bethany‟s inner ear ensuring that nothing audible could be heard by anyone else. “Come on girl, let‟s get out of this heat and dust before you lose that beauty and dry to a crisp,” Robert admonished, dragging her towards the chopper. Robert‟s comment about her beauty made her realise that she hadn‟t had time to check out herself out in a mirror yet. Being beautiful wasn‟t something she had considered to deal with, although knowing that the original was a model come actress it shouldn‟t have been surprising. Bethany, who was still somewhat distracted about how she would deal with male attentions, allowed Robert to buckle her into a seat in the back and tried not to panic as the chopper lifted off. The flight back was both scary and exciting, as she had never flown before. She was still uncertain what would happen when they got back to Laverton. Landing at the small country airport north east of town, Bethany wondered where the film crew was staying. The town wasn‟t exactly booming, having just one general store, a petrol station/garage, a pub and a few other small businesses. An air-conditioned Mercedes awaited them and the change in temperature made her shiver as she was assisted inside. The drive back to town took all of 5 minutes as she was fussed over and generally treated like a china doll. The car drove directly to the town‟s only camping ground, which at this time of the year was almost deserted. At least it had been when Gary had passed though a few weeks earlier. Now it had three large mobile home units parked there with another tractor/trailer unit emblazoned with the Coppertone logo on its side. Robert escorted her back to “Her” mobile home and left her to clean up and take a nap, saying there‟d be a meeting later with the director. Bethany stepped up into the air-conditioned interior of the home, marveling at the luxury it contained within. Feeling like an intruder, she scoped out all the cupboards and closets, trying to familiarize herself as to where everything was. Seeing a shower cubicle, she decided to take advantage of it. Even though her new body was only hours old and clean as regards actual dirt, in reality, Gary hadn‟t had a shower or a bath in weeks. Having to get your water out of tanks supplied by windmills, which pump water from the wells dug to supply the sheep and cattle, you learn to conserve water. Although they are dotted randomly around the countryside, the quality is dependent on the terrain and how deep the well is. How much you use, depends on how much salt you can stomach in your drinking water. Some can be just palatable, while others taste like seawater. Needless to say, it makes soap almost impossible to lather, therefore you tend to use it only for cooking or hot drinks like tea or coffee. Actual drinking water that‟s palatable is usually stored in 20 litre containers just for that purpose. Gary had 60 litres left in his car, courtesy of a recent run into Kalgoorlie, which has pure city water pumped uphill over 500 kilometers all the way from Perth, in two giant pipelines. Bethany went into the bedroom which took up all of the rear section of the mobile home, and there she saw herself in a floor length mirror for the first time. She was shocked to see a reflection that moved as she moved, yet was so different from her normal reflection as Gary. She‟d known she was blonde from the stray wisps of hair that she seemed to be constantly brushing out of her eyes, but that told only half the story. Unlike the fashion for models that are usually seen modeling clothes, she wasn‟t boyishly thin, no; she filled out her clothes in a very sexy feminine shape. Judging by eye alone, Bethany was about 5foot 8 inches tall with a figure Gary would have drooled over. Cupping her breasts and lifting them, she judged she was about a C cup or maybe even a D. a tiny waist which showed her exposed tanned tummy made her hips seem to jut out all the more in comparison. “38C, 20, 38.” Ada accurately informed her, obviously guessing the direction of her thoughts. “I‟m a babe,” Bethany breathed softly in wonderment, as she ran her hands down her form. “Are you going to have a shower or are you going to stand in front of the mirror for the rest of the day?” Ada prompted with a tone in her voice that sounded amused. “Huh? Oh yes,” Bethany said belatedly, dragging herself out of her reverie. Bethany undressed slowly, trying to watch herself in the mirror as she did so. It was like a fantasy come true, watching a gorgeous strawberry blonde haired goddess strip to her every command. As much as she hated the thought of being female, she was in love with this body reflected before her. Her skin was flawless, tanned all over without any bikini lines, obviously why she was selected to do the suntan ad. Looking at her crotch with its neat vertically trimmed section of hair, she was suddenly struck by the oddity that she didn‟t feel a sense of loss from her missing manhood. Maybe it was the different feelings coming from her new sex replacing the ones she was used to that prevented her from feeling that there was something missing. It was really mind numbing to get her head around the fact that although everything felt different, it also felt normal. She wondered how much of it was due to the memory download Ada had given her. Pulling herself together, she went into the shower cubicle and turned on the water. A quick check with some soap told her that it wasn‟t local bore water. So she hurried the shower, not wanting to waste the real water, which was limited by the tanks in the mobile home. Even though her shower was brief, it was long enough to find out that woman‟s erogenous zones were widespread and immersed her in a whole new level of sensation. She didn‟t orgasm, but she came close, and if what she experienced was any gauge, she was determined to go that little bit further when she had more time. She washed her hair with the shampoo the original had used, and although it made her smell feminine, she realised she had no choice if she had to pull off the deception. Later after drying herself and wandering into the bedroom with a towel arranged around her chest, she faced her next challenge, choosing something to wear. Ada didn‟t have to tell her not to wear the same clothes she‟d been wearing. Even though she was a novice at this girl stuff, Bethany knew better than that, even without the guide in her head. Ada tried suggesting some choices based on images she‟d discovered online of the real Bethany. But Bethany wanted to see if she could manage on her own using the wetware in her brain. By not concentrating on specifics and allowing for the weather conditions, she managed to select a sundress that was cool yet elegant. Part of her that was still very much Gary, cringed at the extremely feminine garment, but in keeping with her deception, she knew it was the thing to wear. Selecting appropriate underwear was less of a chore as most of her bras were the same style, differing only in colour and material. She decided to go with an under wire one made of satin with a tiny bow in the center. Panties were chosen for comfort seeing they wouldn‟t be seen under the dress and she choose a pair of heeled open toed sandals that would look elegant but allow air to circulate. Bethany thought that it hadn‟t been too hard until Ada reminded her that she was only half done. “You can‟t go out without makeup on, plus you need perfume and jewelry,” she pointed out. “Can‟t you do it for me? Give me a break; look at all those bottles and tubes of gunk. I‟d need to into a trance all afternoon to let your programming do its stuff. After all, if you can alter my body, surely a little makeup won‟t task your abilities,” she wheedled, hoping to get Ada to show off. In truth, she didn‟t want to tackle makeup just yet; it was just too girly to be putting it on herself, better it was done for her, so she could make excuses to fool herself that it was all Ada‟s fault. “Okay, but you‟ll have to spritz yourself with her perfume and I‟ll help select your jewelry,” Ada agreed. “There, it‟s all done, and I‟ve made it smudge proof so you won‟t need to redo it any time soon.” “Wow! Already?” said a surprised Bethany, as her face didn‟t feel any different. She checked in the mirror and confirmed it was true. “Well I cheated a little,” admitted Ada. “I coloured your skin with the correct pigment to emulate actual makeup, not that you need a lot anyway.” “It‟s a great job,” Bethany agreed, seeing her rosy lips and a hint of eye shadow as the more prominent features. She picked up a bottle of perfume called Shalimar, which she applied to neck, ears and wrists, on Ada‟s instructions. Jewelry provided more of a challenge, which Ada helped with. “Bethany, are you awake?” a voice outside, called warily. “Coming,” she cheerily called back, picking up her handbag without a thought. She opened the door, feeling the heat hit her like a wave. Robert was stood at the foot of the steps leading into the mobile home; his surprise was evident at her cheery demeanor. Bethany stepped down, losing her balance slightly. She felt the earrings swing against her neck, something that would always remind her of her new sex. Robert reached out and steadied her until she got her balance back, then released her immediately. Obviously the original Bethany either was less polite at being “supposedly” woken up, or she was really a bitch with a temper. She followed Robert to the main trailer unit, where he opened a door for her and indicated she enter. Inside, she found several people sitting in comfortable chairs around a table. One of them was obviously from the Australian police force; the other two were connected to the Coppertone agency from the logos on their shirts. „Here we go,‟ she thought worriedly, thinking they knew who she really was. “Hello Bethany, glad to have you back unharmed. We have filled Sergeant Caruthers here in about your abduction by this Gary Carstairs character, but he‟d like to go the details and get those way points you mentioned, from your GPS.” One of the Coppertone men explained. „That‟s Toby Arrnot, the company director of this campaign,‟ Ada silently informed her via the aural nerve. „To by ar not to be,‟ Bethany replied sotto voice, trying not to break into a giggle. “Miss Chambers, I‟m Tom Caruthers from the Kalgoorlie police. Can I call you Bethany? I just wanted to get my facts straight before we start a search for your abductor.” Bethany nodded her assent for him to call her by her first name, feeling somewhat better at his friendly tone. Feeling somewhat trapped by the story already circulating about her former identity, she just reiterated the story again while being silently prompted by Ada who kept the “facts” straight. After the officer left, promising to do his best to find her abductor, the other two men asked her if she could continue with the ad shoot, as it was almost complete. Ada prompted her to agree, even though she was unsure what was entailed and not even sure she could do it. With her agreement, the director asked her if she wanted to dine out with him in Kalgoorlie, seeing the company helicopter was on hand. Bethany agreed much to Ada‟s surprise, who thought she should lay low for a while. „Hey it‟s been weeks since I had a decent meal. I‟m not going to turn down the offer of a free steak dinner? do you.‟ Bethany retorted in a low voice that neither man could hear. „Besides, the original probably flew out from there hours ago,‟ she added questioningly. „She caught flight 34 from Kalgoorlie to Perth departing at 2.15pm and arriving at 3.30pm,‟ Ada quoted from her endless supply of information. „So yes she is out of your hair, but we should still be careful,‟ Ada added. “Hey, I‟m not going on a date or anything, it‟s just a welcome back treat, plus a few tinnies would hit the spot,” Bethany replied quickly, just in case Ada got the wrong idea. “Come along Beth, if we go now, we‟ll get the best selection,” the director prompted in a fatherly manner, interrupting her silent dialogue. “Am I dressed for it, or should I change?” asked Bethany, not realizing she‟s said it out loud. “You look ravishing my dear,” doesn‟t she Dennis?” he asked his assistant. She sure does, Mr. Arrnot,” Dennis confirmed with an American twang in his voice. „Don‟t worry, I‟ll help,” Ada reassured her, reminding her that she needed more dramatic eye makeup for an evening event. “I‟ll just get a wrap for the flight back,” Bethany said, as Toby escorted her outside. “Of course, I‟ll wait outside and call the driver to come to your door,” agreed the director, walking with her. Bethany grabbed a wrap and tied it around her waist as suggested by Ada. Who also changed her eye shadow to a more dramatic look suitable for an evening on the town. Ada told her wait for a minute or two to explain for the time taken to redo her makeup, before allowing her to exit the mobile home. Toby was standing by the open door of the Mercedes waiting for her. She got in, managing to do it elegantly with full skirts, prompted by the all knowing Ada, who told her to get her ass on the seat first and swing her legs in. (Just not in those exact words though.) Once in the air again, she felt butterflies in her stomach, but whether it was from the flight itself or the company she was in, sure tried not to speculate. She did love seeing the ground flash past, and often saw places she‟d searched over as Gary. The time flew, literally, and once they‟d landed, another car was waiting, having been arranged while en route. Kalgoorlie it like a city compared with Laverton, even though it only boasted having one set of traffic lights. The hustle and bustle seemed overwhelming to one who‟d been living alone for weeks on end. Toby had the driver take them to the exchange hotel, which seemed rather appropriate given the circumstances. Bethany did get her steak, but not the one she wanted. While Toby ordered a 450 gram tee bone steak with fries and salad, Bethany ended up with a petite fillet steak and salad with no fries under Ada‟s firm insistence that the real Bethany wouldn‟t order something that huge or that fattening. She also dipped out on the beer she wanted for the same reason. Settling for a shandy was the best she could do, and when Toby looked askance at her order, she said she needed something other than wine to wash the dust down. This seemed to satisfy Toby as he could certainly attest to the benefits of dust settling beer. Bethany did steal a few fries from Toby‟s plate, knowing this was acceptable under the rules. Toby didn‟t seem to mind and even gave her a piece of his steak after she mentioned it looked tasty. It was after 8pm by the time they finished. Toby looked at his watch and sighed. “We may have to stay here overnight, as it is too late to fly back now. The pilot has a curfew for flying past 8.30pm in the helicopter as it‟s not fitted out for night flying. Do you want to browse in the mall? I‟ll book two rooms here and we can go buy you something nice to wear in bed, my treat.” Bethany was silent for a moment, considering whether this had been planned from the start, but the look on Toby‟s face seemed to indicate there was no ulterior motive, so she agreed. She excused herself, heading for the restroom, while Toby arranged for the rooms. Going to the toilet for the first time was not without sage advice from Ada, who advised her on the correct action for wiping her bottom. Bethany redid her lipstick by herself and once again, she was good to go. She was surprised by the way other ladies at the mirror chatted to each other without the reserve shown by guys in toilets, who have an unspoken rule about talking to anyone who they don‟t know. Bethany managed to buy a nightie with a matching wrap in one of the shops in the mall, true it wasn‟t silk, but what can you expect when you shop at K-Mart. Toby had hovered near, but gave her space to browse the racks, which suited her fine as she felt like an intruder there as well. Ada assisted, which meant she was saved the embarrassment of getting someone to help her pick the right size. Toby seemed embarrassed at the necessity of shopping there, but Bethany reassured him that it was fine, which seemed to puzzle him, as he kept apologizing for not foreseeing the need to stay overnight. From this, Bethany figured out that the real Bethany wasn‟t so forgiving. Back at the hotel, Toby thanked her for a lovely evening, as they parted to enter their separate rooms. What made her respond by giving Toby a chaste kiss on the cheek before turning and unlocking her door, kept her thoughts occupied till she got into bed. Maybe it was part of the profile in the files that Ada had downloaded in her brain, but then if the real Bethany was such a bitch, surely that wouldn‟t be like her at all. She puzzled over it for a while until tiredness caught up with her and she fell asleep. Ada watched over Bethany‟s sleeping body, while still monitoring the net and the whereabouts of the real Bethany. So far, she had used her credit card to get a taxi from the airport, so it was assumed from the amount paid and the rates from the taxi company that she had traveled about 10 kms, which would have allowed her to reach her home in the hills of Kalamunda. What wasn‟t so good was the fact that she had tried to reach Robert, her agent. Luckily his cell phone was turned off and she‟d had to leave a message for him to call her. Ada set in place a call diversion, which would automatically route any calls made to Robert‟s phone direct to Ada‟s software, similarly, if Robert tried to call Bethany‟s phone it would be rerouted to the phone Ada had created for the faux Bethany. With this precaution in place, Ada resumed her scanning of the world‟s communication network. Bethany woke early, and got up to watch the sun rise. This body felt really different from her old one, more energy and zing. Now she‟d had time to relax and get some sleep after all that had happened, her mind felt clear and full of ideas. One thought that prompted a question to Ada, made her hold her breath in anticipation. “Can you fix seriously injured bodies? Not just superficial stuff?” She asked, thinking of her sister Amanda back in Perth. “How serious?” “Spinal cord injuries, I have a sister who is paralyzed,” Bethany answered, holding her breath. “I can, but I‟d have to be worn by that person,” Ada informed her. “Yes!” Bethany exulted, dancing a little jig there and then. Thinking about her old identity and the trouble he was in soon sobered her joy. At least Amanda should be spared any problems with the police, having been in the home for two years. She turned her attentions to getting a shower, determined to experiment while she could. Bethany met Toby for breakfast later that morning, as arranged the evening before. Her time in the shower with unlimited hot water meant she had explored her femininity to the ultimate degree. Experiencing female orgasms had floored her, literally. She‟d collapsed in the shower, ending up sitting on the tiled floor of the cubicle as her body became awash with more than the water streaming down over her body. She wondered if the feelings where that intense every time, or was it just because it was a new experience that she wasn‟t used to. Maybe it was because she hadn‟t had sex for a while, in any case, she promised herself another game of stink finger, just to see if it was as intense the second time around. She was rather quiet during breakfast, thinking about her sexuality and the way she‟d enjoyed being female so far. Toby must have noticed a difference in her from the way the original Bethany behaved. “Is something wrong? You seem self absorbed this morning. I doubt you listened to more than half our conversation,” he asked. “Sorry, I was a million miles away,” she opologized guiltily. “I was just thinking about when all this is finished,” she added half truthfully. “I‟m sure Robert has you booked solid for months yet,” Toby laughed at her seeming worries. Bethany nodded, silently as her thoughts went back to the subject foremost in her mind. Was she still Gary? The answer should have been clear-cut with a resounding yes, but with what she‟d experienced so far Gary‟s life style was looking a little shaky. Once the need to be Bethany was past and Gary sorted out how to recovery the gold Ada had mentioned, there was clearly a question of which lifestyle to follow. A fabulously rich girl with everything going for her, and guys willing to fawn all over her, or that of plain old Gary with money to burn trying to find some happiness? There was also the problem with her sister Amanda. It wasn‟t an easy question with a quick solution. It wasn‟t until they got back to Laverton that Ada told Bethany of the call her original had tried to make. At first, Bethany panicked and wanted to get out of this increasingly precarious situation. Ada reassured her, telling her of her redirects she‟d put in place. She seemed confident of fooling the original Bethany by simulating Robert‟s voice and mannerisms for when she tried calling Robert again. Robert met them in the car, as they got out of the helicopter, saying that he‟d got her message, but her phone went straight into the recorded message. “I‟m sorry, the batteries went dead just after I called you.” Bethany explained. “I just wanted to know if I could take a break after this shoot?” “Well we do have that swimsuit campaign to do before next month, but I guess there‟s room for some time out. I‟ll explain the kidnapping to them and say you want time to yourself,” Robert suggested. “Thanks, that will be great,” Bethany sighed in relief. “So what‟s on for today?” she asked, trying to get some idea of the days plans. Robert looked at Toby, who answered for him. “Actually there‟s not a lot left to do. We just need some closing shots to wrap it up,” he told her with a smile. What Bethany was dreading turned out to be a piece of cake. She had worried that if and when she had to take over the real Bethany‟s job, she would soon be discovered as a fraud. As it was, all she had to do was rub lotion onto her skin while wearing a bikini and smiling at the camera. For this she was grateful, assuming the hard work had already been done. That afternoon when the shooting was finished and everyone then dived indoors to escape the heat, she went into Laverton to visit the local office that served as the police station. There, she was told that Tom Caruthers was due back in about 10 minutes. When asked if she wanted to wait, she said she‟d come back later Bethany decided to cool off another way and went to the local watering hole. She got more than a few looks from the locals, half of which were aboriginals who must have got their social welfare checks that day. The women that lived in these remote towns were generally earthy types and didn‟t bother looking glamorous for their men folk. . Bethany was a model whose beauty stood out like a beacon. She ordered a schooner of beer and sat at the bar to enjoy her drink. Gary was used to being in these places and wouldn‟t have worried about the clientele. As she took her first sip of beer, savouring the crisp coolness, she became aware of the gazes directed her way. It was almost like a physical touch and the attention wasn‟t particularly welcomed by Bethany. Several bolder of the crowd came up to her, as if checking that she was real. Make that drunker than the rest, as their gaze turned to lustful leers as they figured she must be some high class hooker who just happened to breeze into town. Bethany realised that the original must not have left the camping ground where her mobile home was parked, preferring to stay there than going and mingling with the local population. Given the type of attention she was getting now, Bethany didn‟t blame her. “Do you want me to provide you with a self defense package?” Ada enquired, cautiously. Despite her negative opinion about being treated like a plain old computer that need an upgrade, Bethany decided to be prudent and accept whatever help Ada could provide. She felt knowledge of martial arts slipping into her memory, like a cool breeze passing over her skin. Her confidence that had taken a sudden drop once she‟d realised her new found vulnerability came back with a vengeance, as her awareness of what she could now do to protect herself, grew clear. As her personal space was invaded by one of the bolder men, she finished her drink and stood up preparing to leave. The man put his hand on hers, as she‟d placed her empty glass back on the bar stopping her from withdrawing. “Let me go,” she hissed, trying not to lose her temper. “Come on babe, I know what a Sheila like you wants,” he leered, suggestively. Her afternoon having a few quiet drinks now spoiled by this unwanted attention caused Bethany‟s anger to simmer for a moment before coming to a boil. “If you want to keep that hand, you‟d better remove it,” she threatened. The man laughed at her threat, turning to his mates who just egged him on in support. In a flash while his attention was diverted, Bethany twisted away out of his grasped and reversed her grip so that she had his hand in a hold that defied his delayed efforts to escape. With a move that had her turn into his body and putting her back against his chest, she forced him to the floor, in a compelling grip that threatened to snap his wrist, should he resist. Seeing their hero fall to the ground, the rest of the gang moved forward to encircle Bethany as she crouched over the guy on the ground. Releasing the man on the ground, she stood up and assumed a martial art pose that was unmistakable. Her expression showed her confidence at protecting herself. She couldn‟t resist doing what she‟d seen in several action movies. Her outstretched hand which was held in a vertical blade form, twisted palm up and she used her cupped fingers to wave them on, while she grinned. The mob stopped, unprepared for this slip of a girl, who oozed the confidence of a latter day Bruce Lee. The man by her feet scuttled outside and ran smack dab into Tom Caruthers. “Well what do we have here?” He asked, picking up the man and straightening the guys clothes. “There‟s a crazy woman inside, she nearly broke my wrist for no reason,” the man whined, trying to weasel out from any blame. Just then, Bethany backed out of the place, coming to a halt when she turned and saw Tom. As her eyes flicked to the man standing by him, Tom saw the man flinch away, even though Bethany made no aggressive move at all. Although Tom showed no expression, inside he was laughing at the sight of the heavyset man being scared by this slip of a woman, who was outweighed two to one. “I think you‟ve had too many drinks. I suggest you walk home before I bring you in for drunk and disorderly,” Tom ordered brusquely. The man started to protest, but then thought better of it as the steel in Tom‟s eyes turned to chilled gun metal. “Yes officer,” the man obeyed, turning and stumbling down the street. “You wanted to see me?” Tom asked, looking at Bethany appraisingly. “yes, I was wondering what you had found out so far?‟ she answered, looking back towards the door where the bar crowd were hovering around. “You have a little trouble with them?” He asked. “A little.” “Wait here, I‟ll be right back.” Tom then strode into the bar and started reading the riot act to those inside. In the nearly deserted streets, his voice was clearly heard from inside as he tore into them, for their behaviour. “You know you shouldn‟t have gone in there alone,‟ Tom said to her, once he returned outside. “Some of those men have been out in the bush for weeks. Seeing a beauty like yourself is like painting yourself red before a bull.” Bethany shrugged. “I only went for a drink, and I can take care of myself… (Now),” she added under her breath. “So I heard. I didn‟t know you were into martial arts?” he questioned as they made their way by to his office. “Well a girl‟s got to learn to protect herself you know?” She threw back as they entered the building. “Hmmm, strange it didn‟t come up on your profile, when I first checked you out when I got the message you were missing.” “Well a girl has to have some secrets. I wouldn‟t want to scare potential boyfriends away if they knew I could break their arms,” Bethany retorted. “Hey I wasn‟t implying anything,” Tom assured her, backing away from the subject. Inside Bethany‟s head, Gary was gagging. „What boyfriends? What am I saying?‟ Showing none of the internal conflict, Bethany squashed Gary‟s voice down. What Gary liked or disliked had to be put aside while she played this role. Tom wasn‟t just a country cop who could be brushed aside. He was savvy and quick to find any discrepancies, should she mess up. For now she had to be Bethany and let the personality overlay Ada had provided, control her actions and words. The Gary part of her grumbled, but accepted this with only minor reservations. “Well I found the car and the bike, but there‟s no sign of this Gary character,” Tom informed her, tactfully changing the subject. “Will you be bringing them here?” she asked, trying to sound disinterested. “No, I‟m sending them to Kalgoorlie, for fingerprinting and forensic examination.” This sent alarm bells ringing though Bethany. If they didn‟t find any evidence of her being in the car, then questions would surely be raised. At the least, there would be a delay before she could get her hands on it and at the worst they might start looking at his flat in Perth. His whole life as Gary would be under scrutiny. Bethany silently cursed Ada for putting her in this situation. Okay, so far it had been pretty interesting and an experience she‟d treasure for life, but she could see that coming clean about her so called abduction would lead to more complications. Ada might be powerful and all knowing, but she wasn‟t infallible. She needed a plan B. Returning as Gary seemed impossible at the moment. If she told them that the kidnapping was a hoax, she could end up in serious trouble, seeing how much time and resources were being used to find her supposed abductor. Gary was the one with the prospector‟s license that allowed him to fossick over both crown lands and farmers holdings. Tom‟s voice broke into her musings. “Was that all you wanted to know?” he asked. “Um yes thanks, I‟ll head back to my place,” she answered distractedly, not seeing the disappointment in Tom‟s eyes. She left the office and wandered down the street looking at the town with fresh insight. She saw the survey office and an idea came to mind. Walking into the survey office, she asked about the correct procedure to stake a claim, although she knew some of it, from her license, she needed to make sure that everything she intended to do couldn‟t be taken away from her, once she decided to staked out the reef. She‟d heard stories of claims being overstaked by aboriginals who‟d got wind of a claim. The original discoverer of the claim had flown to Perth to make his claim, but the aboriginals had found the pegs and overstaked it and then gone to the local survey office. Although a big stink was made of it. The aboriginals kept the claim and found a huge gold bearing area that was worth millions. Although she gave no details of a discovery or any location, the man in the office got the distinct impression that she had discovered a worthy prospect from the questions she asked. Bethany never saw the aboriginal that was hanging around the open doorway listening intently to the conversation. When she did eventually leave, there was nobody in sight. Stopping off at the hardware shop, she checked out the type of stakes that were available from the information garnered from the guy from the survey office. She made her way back to the unit in the camping ground, never realizing someone had followed her movements since she‟d left the survey office, nor was she aware of someone keeping her in view as she entered her unit. The next day was spent around the camp, as the others packed up the equipment prior to heading out. Bethany refused the offer of flying her home, as she wanted to stay around so she could go stake out the gold find. Obviously she couldn‟t tell the director that, so she said she wanted to drive back. When the offer of going back in the Mercedes was rejected due to her interest in doing the touristy route, she decided to see if there was a hire car service in town. “But you already hired our one and only car,” said a puzzled agent attached to the local garage. “We are still waiting on the car to be delivered back from Perth,” the man said. The original Bethany must have hired the only car available, which put a crimp in her plans. “Sorry, I had to fly back urgently as a roll of film was bad and I had to shoot it again,” Bethany lied calmly. “Is there any other vehicle available? A four wheel drive was what I was really after.” “There is one Landrover available in Leonora,” the man told her, after consulting his computer. “I can have it delivered to you here by this afternoon, if you like?” “Yes that will be fine,” Bethany told him, knowing Leonora was a slightly larger place and roughly an hours drive away. There seemed to be rather more aboriginals hanging around, as she left the car rental office, one of whom visited the rental place after she was out of sight. Later that afternoon she went back and picked up the 4 wheel drive and drove it back to the unit. She packed a few of her more practicable clothes and left the rest. She figured most wouldn‟t be needed as she planned to return to being Gary or at least some other male, if Gary was still being actively sought. Originally, she wasn‟t going to bother taking any of Bethany‟s clothes other than what she was wearing, but as Ada pointed out it would seem strange if all her stuff was left behind. The rest of Bethany‟s belongings were going to be flown back to her home in Perth with her agent taking care of all of that. Once she said goodbye to everyone, she drove back into town and went shopping. Along with food supplies and water she bought some survey pegs at the hardware store. She set off, wanting to get to the place where she as Gary had left his car originally. There was fresh water there in what was commonly known as a Gnamma hole, which is usually just a hole in the rock that can go down to anywhere from a meter to up to thirty meters in depth. The one Gary had found was just under a half a meter wide and went down twenty meters. It had been covered by a slab of rock of a different colour to prevent contamination by animals falling in and drowning, most likely done by the aboriginals that roamed this country. She set up camp once she reached her destination, not that it entailed much. She hadn‟t bothered with replacing the tent Gary had used to sleep in. things like that might have aroused suspicions. Not that she knew that it had been in vain at that point. Ada pointed out that if she remained Bethany, with her smaller body, she could sleep across the back seat of the Landrover. Never one for roughing in the ground on just a ground roll and sleeping bag, even as Gary, that seemed a good idea. Only the fire pit remained of Gary‟s gear. It had two metal rods spread across a narrow trench in which a fire was built, keeping it from spreading. She made a small fire and heated an opened tin of baked beans over it using the rods to support the can. A still cold pint carton of milk followed the beans, before she got ready to doss down for the night. Wanting to get out of her restrictive clothes, she opted for a short nightie that would make her rest comfortable. The first inklings of trouble came when a hand went over her mouth and she woke to the sickly smell of chloroform, before lapsing back to oblivion. Ada was aware that Gary aka Bethany had been subdued by a substance that rendered her unconscious by persons unknown at this time. She could have changed Bethany back to Gary and having done so, rid the body of the effects of the chloroform, but while this could be observed by others, it would surely make things worse. Anyway, Ada‟s logic was alien and not being alive in the same sense as humanity, she didn‟t have a sense of self preservation. She did however have a certain fondness for her activator, unlike what she felt for her previous Teg owner. Deciding to do nothing until circumstances changed and things became clearer, she remained dormant, watching the dark skinned men remove Bethany from the four wheel drive. Bethany came to, feeling groggy and with the start of a headache coming on. Trying to rub her head, she found that her hands were tied together. She opened her eyes realizing that she was in trouble, as she saw the group of aboriginals gathered around her. It was near dawn and judging by the different terrain around her, knew she was some distance from where she had camped. She couldn‟t talk as a gag had been placed over her mouth. Nevertheless, she mumbled into it. “You are approximately 15.34 kilometers due south of the campsite,” Ada answered, having deciphered her garbled, “where am I?” In other circumstances, Bethany would have asked if 15.34 k‟s was approximately, what would an exact distance have been? Another mumbled question evoked a new response from Ada. “Five indigenous natives used an aromatic sedative and then took you by a roundabout route to this place. No further activity occurred except one used a cell phone to call one Sam Bagalow and told him you had been captured.” Bethany dearly wanted to know why Ada hadn‟t done anything to help her escape or even to prevent her capture, but that would have to wait, as one on the group came over and pulled her upright. Her gag was removed and she spat on the ground, clearing her mouth. She was about to yell at him, when an oily voice behind her spoke out. “Hello Miss Chambers, so nice to meet you in the flesh as it were.” She turned, seeing a pudgy Italian with a moustache standing there. A white van parked nearby was obviously his ride. He was short and his once white shirt was stained with sweat under the arms. He looked out of place and uncomfortable in the already climbing heat of the day. “What is all this and why have you had me brought here?” she cried, starting to walk towards him. Two men stepped forward to restrain her, but the visitor waved them off. “We know that you are fronting for Gary Carstairs and his find. Very clever of you to stage a false kidnapping so you two could meet. Obviously, he hit pay dirt, from what my friends tell me,” he offered, pointing towards the group of aboriginals. “Like the police, we haven‟t yet located Mr. Carstairs, which is troubling my trackers. Seems he vanished into thin air. I‟m prepared to give you a considerable sum for your claim, then you won‟t need to soil those pretty hands of yours,” he suggested with a veiled threat. Bethany was in a quandary, obviously, she hadn‟t been careful enough to hide her interest in making a claim. That is, if it was even possible in such a small town like Laverton. That they knew the kidnapping was a lie was bad enough, but they now had her isolated from help. At least they hadn‟t found out about Amanda. “No price you could pay would be enough,” retorted Bethany with false bravado. “Ah! So it‟s that big is it? Well Miss Sun Tan girl, if money won‟t sway you, then maybe this will.” With that, he waved his hand in a beckoning gesture and two men pulled a struggling woman from the van, a hood covering her head. She was wearing a short skirt and she still had her heels on her feet. She struggled to maintain a balance on the uneven ground, as her hands were tied just like Bethany‟s. The men brought her nearer and Bethany began to see something familiar which filled her with dread. He fears were confirmed as the hood was lifted from the woman‟s face. “When we heard that you were involved, we stopped off at your home in case we needed something other than money to convince you to sell,” the Italian sneered. “We were in luck when we found your twin, so we drugged her and brought her here.” Facing Bethany was her original and the expression on her face at seeing a twin belied belief. The transformed Bethany knew she had to do something quick. Yelling internally for Ada to do something, she ran at the other Bethany‟s captors. She may have been in shock, but she thought quick on her feet, as the real Bethany stamped on one her guard‟s feet with her heel. “Bethany? It can‟t be. You‟re dead,” the girl shouted, to the faux Bethany. “Run!” the faux Bethany shouted at her twin, trying to sort out what the real Bethany was going on about, as she managed to give the other guard a shove that put him off balance. The real Bethany didn‟t need her advice. Having already turned and started towards the Mulga trees to her left. Ada warned the false Bethany that the other was headed into dangerous territory as there were several abandoned mineshafts in the trees. Bethany shouted to her twin. “This way,” as she made off towards the left of where her twin was heading. “Stay away from me you bitch, you can‟t be my real sister” was all she heard from her twin as she disappeared into the trees. Bethany was too concerned about escaping herself, to worry about her twin and her strange words. A quick glance over her shoulder showed that pursuit was slow to start. The Italian seemed content to let them run, as tied up as they were, knew they couldn‟t get far away, especially as his trackers were there to help. A high pitched scream that was suddenly cut off, filled Bethany with dread. She didn‟t stop running though even knowing the real Bethany could be dead. Once out of sight of her pursuers, Ada told her to stop. “I can hide both of us where I placed the metal detector, but only for about 30 minutes, then the power drain will force me to return to normal space.” “Is that safe?” asked Bethany cautiously, while still moving onward. It will be hard on your senses. I would advise you kept your eyes closed while there.” “Is there any other option?” “I could put you in the form of a wallaby and you could then outpace your pursuers,” offered Ada. “Um no thanks, I‟ll take option one,” shuddered Bethany, thinking about the problems that might incur. “Commencing transition,” warned Ada, prompting Bethany to close her eyes. What followed seemed to take and eternity. Being curious and despite the warnings Bethany peeked with one eye to experience the space she and Ada now occupied. After experiencing some mind numbing images that seemed to suck at her mind, she clamped her eyes close, determined not to risk seeing those twisting patterns of chaos again. „Think of something to occupy your mind,‟ cautioned Ada, sensing what Bethany had done by her flinch. She tried to puzzle out what the real Bethany was on about. It was almost as if she‟d had a twin sister who was now dead, but why called her Bethany, when she herself was the real Bethany. It made her head hurt thinking about it; instead, she tried thinking about something pleasant. Bethany tried remembering of being at the beach, but somehow the images she conjured up were decidedly wrong. Instead of them being of Gary ogling all the scantily clad babes, she saw herself as Bethany in a pale yellow bikini. Not only that, but she was the one being ogled, as she lay on her towel. “Where did she go?” demanded the now irate Italian, as he surveyed the ground Bethany last occupied. “first you let a slip of a girl get away from you and fall to her death in that mine shaft, and now the trackers you hired can‟t find the other,” he berated his men. “What are they doing now? The Italian said as the group of aboriginals gathered in a huddle. “I‟ll find out boss.” The Italian fumed as the aboriginals jabbered away then started to walk away. The man sent to find out what was happening returned fearful of his boss‟s response to his news. “It seemed the woman is a spirit and they don‟t want to anger her.” “WHAT? Get them back here, the woman is no more a spirit than I am,” the man thundered angrily. “They say they followed her to this spot and then she vanished into thin air. Her tracks end here,” the guard pointed to a spot in the dust. It was plain to even a non tracker that the woman‟s tracks just stopped. There were no trees around for her to have climbed into. The Italian‟s wrath grew with every second, as his frustration built. He stamped off to the van to call for more men. Bethany was glad to reappear back into the heat of the Australian outback, as Ada brought them back from the limbo they had experienced. Even the threat of falling into the hands of the Italian was starting to look good. There was no sign of the men near them and Ada scanned the area and announced it clear. Bethany backtracked a bit then cut across to head in the direction the original Bethany had headed. On the way they heard voices and realised that the men hadn‟t left, but had withdrawn back to the van and it‟s air conditioned comfort. Bethany eventually found the open shaft that her twin had fallen into, almost stepping in it herself. Looking at it with dread, she could see why one could fall in so easily. The shaft was about 2 meters across and lay flush with the surface. Peering down over the edge, Bethany could see the sheer walls going down vertically for about 30 meters before darkness obscured the view. “I detect life signs.” Ada announced her bombshell news. “She‟s still alive down there?” Bethany gasped incredulously. “Apparently,” Ada confirmed. We need to rescue her, but with those people nearby we can‟t hang around,” Bethany stated, feeling helpless. “You want to rescue her despite the fact she could expose you?” Ada asked curiously. “Of course, what kind of person do you think I am?” Bethany asked, dumbfounded by the question. “Obviously, one that has a higher moral character than most in your situation, Ada mused, adding this to her databank of information.” Bethany looked around for some sort of idea. The area immediately around the shaft was clear of debris, which probably was one reason for the fall as no warning of a shaft was in evidence until you were on top of it. Further away, Bethany could see old steel mine ropes rusting away on the surface. This gave her an idea. “Can you call the police and have them scare off the men and help me get her out?” “Already done, I put a call in as soon as you told me you wanted to affect her recovery,” Ada answered. “Now we need to lie low for 17 minutes, until they get the chopper here.” I didn‟t know they had a helicopter available,” Bethany mused, as she sort out a hiding place among the debris left by the miners. “They don‟t, but the helicopter that Toby hired was delayed in leaving due to a technical problem, so they commandeered that to fly out,” Ada explained. Once she heard the beat of the chopper blades, there was the sound of someone driving away, odiously the Italian had heard it too and wasn‟t about to risk being found in the area where a girl‟s body lay. The chopper circled the area and landed nearby. Bethany ran to meet it, waving her hands in agitation. “We flew over a 4 wheel drive vehicle several klicks back. Is that yours?” One of the officers yelled to her over the noise of the whirling blades. Bethany ducked her head and ran to the chopper, noting that the engines hadn‟t been shut off. “Yes, that‟s mine, but we need to get it here pronto. My sister is hurt and we need my vehicle to rescue her. “What about that other van we saw? The dust cloud is showing it heading away from here towards Leonora. “They are the ones that abducted my sister,” Bethany explained, not bothering to make up any fancy lies. Wait here, I‟ll drop off one of my men at your vehicle then we‟ll follow the van. I‟ll get an ambulance here as soon as possible.” “Okay, but I‟ll be over there by the mineshaft, my sister fell in,” Bethany shouted, pointing in the direction of the shaft. “The man nodded and signaled the pilot to lift off. Bethany just managed to catch his look as he turned away. He obviously thought her sister was dead, knowing how deep and treacherous these abandoned mines were. She crouched then ran back, getting a blasting from the dirt stirred up by the blades as they increased thrust. While Bethany waited for one of the officers to return with her 4x4, she looked around the mine area for things to make her plan work. Locating an oblong framework made from steel angle iron, she managed to drag it nearer to the entrance of the mine itself. There was a lifting bolt mounted on one end and it looked like it may have been part of a cage that the miners used to enter the mineshaft. It took all of her enhanced strength to move it, but finally it was in position. By the time she has checked out the lengths of discarded cable and selected which one she wanted, she could hear her Landrover coming. Jim Collins, the officer that had been given to chore to assist her, was young and inexperienced and Bethany had no difficulty persuading him to do her biding. It wasn‟t until long after, that she realised he was in awe of her and already half in love. “Tie this steel cable to this frame and then tie the cable to the Landrover.” She ordered, having outlined her plan. “But, this cable has been rusting out here for over fifty years,” protested Jim. “True, but it still has most of its strength. With the low rainfall and dry air, it only has surface rust, heck even the old tinned cans the miners used are still intact,” she pointed out. “I should be the one to go down there. If you get hurt, they‟ll tear me a new one for letting you do it,” Jim argued. “Look I know you mean well, but she‟s my twin sister. I know she‟s alive and whereabouts she is,” Bethany half lied, knowing only the first. Bethany loaded a pack from the truck with her torch, some rope, and a first aid kit along with Jim‟s police radio. Jim found a frequency on the scanner that Bethany had bought, so he could monitor her progress and when to lower or lift the frame. Bethany had also donned more practical clothes for the descent. Once she wedged herself into the frame hanging over the edge, Jim drove forward allowing her and the frame to descend into the shaft. At about twenty meters she saw some blood on parts of the old timber framing that jutted out into the shaft. There was a terrible stench that told her something dead was also in the shaft. Ada turned her sense of smell down with a small change, after she complained. Going deeper the shaft narrowed and the light grew dimmer. Bethany hoped there was enough rope to allow her to find her twin. She spotted something reddish just below her, and she called on Jim to slow the descent. What she spotted was a dead kangaroo, a big red, one of the largest in Australia. It had stuck on a piece of iron jutting out of hole cut into the side of the shaft. It was obviously the source of the stink, but there was no sign of Bethany and the roo blocked the shaft completely. “She‟s in the side shaft,” prompted Ada. She had Jim stop the descent as she neared the dead kangaroo. She shone her torch into the side shaft seeing it sloped downwards on a slight angle. Telling Jim to hold it there, she managed to get off the frame and into the side shaft. She crawled in, seeing some blood trailing forward on the bottom of the horizontal shaft. She spotted her target about 3 meters in, huddled in a ball against a curve of the shaft. She tried telling Jim she‟d found her sister, but the ground completely killed her signal. She went and checked Bethany‟s pulse, finding it steady and strong. There was a gash on her head that looked like it had happened on the way down as there was no blood on the rocks where she lay, other than what had bled directly under her head. She figured out that the dead roo had fallen and had stuck further up the shaft where she had seen the dried blood. When the real Bethany had fallen, she must have landed on the roo and dislodged it, falling further down until it had struck the iron bar. Her impact had been softened by the animal‟s body and she must have bounced off and rolled down the side shaft. Bethany crawled back to the vertical shaft and let Jim know what was happening, and to wait till she could ascertain her sisters injuries. After Jim‟s reluctant assent, she went back to the injured Bethany. Carefully checking arms and legs for breaks, she applied a bandage to the head wound, staunching the blood loss. She could see bruising on her face which made her unrecognizable as her exact twin. She waited hoping Bethany would recover consciousness soon. “She may have some memory problems, with that blow on the head,” warned Ada. “She will be okay?” “I don‟t detect any major injuries,” Ada told her. While she waited for the injured Bethany to rouse, she couldn‟t help think of her own sister Amanda, and the tragic circumstances of her injury. Their parents had both been killed in the accident that left Amanda crippled. Gary had found her still crumpled in the wreck in much the same position as Bethany was in now. No one had seen the accident that took their parents lives. Only luck saved Amanda from dying of her injuries, as Gary followed their route up that sparsely trafficked road after them when they didn‟t return from their blackberry picking venture. He‟d called for help and tried to make Amanda comfortable, as much as was possible without moving her body. Tears fell from her eyes as she watched Bethany, hoping she hadn‟t suffered the same fate as Amanda. There was a moan and Bethany stirred, straightening out her body. “Bethany?” came from the injured girl with a weak voice. “Hi, you had a fall, but I think you‟ll be okay,” whispered the faux Bethany. “Can you recall your name?” she asked trying to see if there was any memory loss “Um Beth… no, it‟s Liz…yes my name is Elizabeth.” She answered, slightly more forcefully, shocking Bethany at her side. Bethany leaned back, trying to take in this new information. The person she thought was the real Bethany, was saying she was Elizabeth? Something was really screwy here. “Is that you Bethany? Elizabeth asked, opening her eyes. “I didn‟t mean to take your place, but I thought you were dead…” “Hush Liz, it can wait till later after we get you out of here.” Bethany insisted, trying to cope with this revelation. “Can you move? We need to crawl out of this hole.” Elizabeth stretched slowly, testing for any injuries. It seemed to Bethany, that all she had were some bruises and the wound on her head. Bethany guide Elizabeth to the exit of the tunnel, were she got astraddle of the iron frame. She took out the rope from her pack and then guiding Elizabeth onto the frame so she was sitting in front of her, she tied the rope around the frame, and around their bodies, making a crude barrier against falling out. Bethany radioed Jim to back the Landrover, and slowly they rose up the shaft. Bethany used her feet to keep them off the sides where they might get hung up. Nearing the top, she called a halt. The frame was just below the lip of the shaft and any more pulling might cause it to tilt and threaten them with a spill. In what seemed seconds, Jim was there leaning over the edge of the shaft with a relieved look on his face. “Okay reach up and I‟ll pull you up the rest of the way.” He told them quickly. With Bethany supporting, Elizabeth was soon on the surface and Bethany followed soon after. Jim fussed over Elizabeth, doing what his training recommended, using what bandages were available in Bethany‟s small first aid kit. The ambulance came 15 minutes later and both Bethany and her sister were bundled inside. Jim stayed with the Landrover, promising to bring it back to Laverton after he did his best to cover the shaft with whatever he could salvage nearby. The ride back was smoother than the Landrover, for which Bethany was grateful. Being a passenger is often harder than being the driver where you automatically anticipate the bumps. The attendant took Elizabeth‟s vitals and radioed them to an unseen voice. Seeing the ride was headed towards Leonora Bethany lay down on the other cot, waving off the attendant who seemed to be a mite too familiar with his hands. Although burning to ask Elizabeth questions, now wasn‟t the time and it seemed she was equally reluctant to start talking with the ambulance attendant in earshot. Elizabeth just lay back and tried to rest and Bethany followed suit, managing to get some sleep as the ambulance emerged from the bush tracks and hit the slightly smoother gravel roads. In Leonora Elizabeth was checked out and pronounced fit enough to leave after two stitches were used to close the head wound. Her nose was fractured but not broken and the sticky plaster over it contrasted with the darkening bruising around her eyes. All this coupled with the bandage around her forehead, made it hard to notice that she and Bethany were identical twins. It was while Bethany was in the room, as Elizabeth got dressed again, that she noticed something odd. Elizabeth had a birthmark on her left breast. Sure it was small and hidden by her bra normally, judging by her suntan lines, but that wasn‟t the interesting part. If she was a copy of Elizabeth, why didn‟t she have a similar birthmark? “I generated the body you‟re in from the pictures I gleaned from the net,” Ada informed her silently, after a sub vocal query from Bethany. “Bethany didn‟t have a birthmark.” She added, leaving out the obvious. “You mean I‟m really her twin and not a clone?” Bethany whispered a bit louder. “It would seem so, which means your clone is still out there,” Ada speculated. Bethany thought back to Elizabeth‟s comments when they first met. Obviously she was of the opinion that her sister was dead. She queried this with Ada. “I can‟t find any record of her death or even that she is or was missing. Looks like Elizabeth took care of that by impersonating her. Be careful asking questions, don‟t let on that you aren‟t in fact her sister,” Ada cautioned. Getting released from the small surgery that doubled as the local doctors office was hampered by the local law who seemed excited at having something special on their books, other than the usual drunk drivers and domestic disputes with some of the locals. Having a bona fide abduction involving a powerful crime lord was an excuse to pull out all the stops, especially as it might mean a promotion and a transfer out of the backwater town. The girl‟s finally got away about 2 hours later, giving only the minimum information they could get away with. Bethany did have to tell them she had found gold, (the reason the mob were after her for,) but she didn‟t elaborate on it, which only fueled speculation by the officers taking their statements. They did find out that those in the helicopter had caught the fleeing criminals. The driver in the van had been distracted by the chopper overhead and didn‟t see the small wash in front of them. Filled with soft gravel, they beached the van hub deep. They were all now in Kalgoorlie, waiting transfer to Perth. Bethany was in a quandary. Part of her wanted to resume looking for her gold, but with everything that had happened she knew it wasn‟t a good idea, as her movements would be closely watched. The other part wanted to go back to Perth with Elizabeth and find out more of what was going on. Her decision was made by Ada, who said going to Perth would put to rest most of the speculation, as she would be unlikely for to leave if the claim was of any major value. She could then find out about her true twin and organize a proper trip to locate and claim the gold. After a chartered flight to Kalgoorlie in a Cessna Skyhawk, they caught a flight to Perth. Arriving late afternoon, they were soon at the home were Bethany and Elizabeth lived. Coming from the harsh dry landscape of the Western Australian goldfields, where the land was dotted with Saltbush, Spinifex and the occasional gum tree, the house was a pleasant change. The bright flowers from the Wattles and Bottlebrushes lining the driveway contrasted and complimented each other, especially with the verdant green and red flowers from the Kangaroo Paws growing at their feet. Bethany thought the place looked nice, but not as fancy as she‟d expected, given the money models were supposed to earn. The house itself was tucked away on the back portion of the property, which gave it privacy, yet still allowed it to overlook Perth with some spectacular views. Inside, the decor was very obviously feminine based, with no masculine input. Bethany was relieved as well as curious. Where were the boyfriends this girl‟s should have had? Not that she wanted to go headlong into a romance with a strange guy. She asked Ada, as Elizabeth went and got two drinks from the mini bar. “Okay, now that we‟re alone, I think it‟s time to talk,” Bethany started, after accepting the drink from Elizabeth. “Why did you say that I was dead?” “Do you remember telling me that you‟d decided to leave that bastard Samuel effing Masters and that you were going to stop shooting up with the heroin that he and his gang were always pushing?” “No, not really, things were kind of fuzzy then,” Bethany ventured playing along. Bethany was shocked to hear her original was an addict, no wonder where some of her earnings had gone to. She waited, hoping Elizabeth would elaborate, after watching her sip her drink. “You‟d said you needed to get your life straight and apologized for making me sub for you when you were too spaced out to do your job. You went over to Samuel‟s place to tell him you were finished with him and his drugs. He drove round later, abusing me for trying to turn you against him. You were in his car when I saw you last. You looked like you were unconscious from an overdose. Robert just gloated, saying you‟d begged for it when you‟d gone over. But I knew he‟d given it. I never saw you again. Samuel told me you had killed yourself, but I figured you had died and he‟d got rid of your body. That was a year ago.” Here, Elizabeth broke into sobs, as she recalled those memories. Bethany couldn‟t help, but reach out and hug Elizabeth. All she could think of, was so say, “hush sis, I‟m here now.” Inside, her mind despaired. How was she going to break it to Elizabeth that her sister was in all probability dead? When she returned to being Gary, Elizabeth would lose her sister all over again. “You may have problem” Ada broke into her thoughts. “What?” Bethany said aloud, unthinkingly. Luckily Elizabeth didn‟t react, being too caught up in her emotions. “It seems that Gary Carstairs is being sought in connection to Elizabeth‟s abduction. According to the alert I got on the police channels.” “Whaaat?” Bethany hissed under her breath, remembering other ears were around. Checking the police computer systems, it seems that the Italian mobster has tried to shift the blame on your former identity, saying that Gary and Bethany had a falling out. The story he reported, said that Gary had approached you for some cash outlay so the claim could be worked properly, with a percentage going to you. You apparently wanted more and refused to fund it unless he gave you more. Gary then had Elizabeth kidnapped to force you change your mind. The mobster says he was just the middleman.” Ada reported. “What a load of…” Bethany didn‟t bother completing the rest, as Elizabeth stirred herself and looked curiously at her. “What happened to you, why didn‟t come home or contact us? I had to be you, as well as myself for mom. It was hard juggling between the two of us for a year. Samuel threatened to implicate me with your death if I went to the police. Not that I could, if I had, then it would have become common knowledge and your… my only source of income would be lost. I wasn‟t sure if you were really dead or not and if you were alive and I‟d reported it, then the drug scandal would still have killed your career. But by the time I‟d given you up for dead, it had been months and by my impersonating you in your job, I would have been jailed, as well as becoming a suspect in your death.” “I found a file on Samuel Master‟s computer,” Ada interrupted. “There‟s a jpg of a body belonging to the original Bethany. He or someone must have taken it just before they buried it in a sandy grave, that‟s shown in the picture. No telling where the location is and there‟s nothing else relating to your death. I‟ve managed to delete the file and added a search and destroy virus that will wipe any attempt to reload it.” “I‟m sorry. I nearly did die, they left me in a shallow grave and covered me up, luckily I was face down, and had an air space.” Bethany explained smoothly, giving no sign of the information Ada was feeding her. “When I came to, I managed to struggle out and lay on the surface, till the next day.” Bethany lied, feeling awful while doing it. With the change in circumstances regarding her identity as Gary, she didn‟t want to burn her bridges to her borrowed identity just yet. If and when the police tried to confirm what the mobster had lied about, it was going to look suspicious if she denied everything and then stake a claim to gold that supposedly never existed. It looked as if staying Bethany for the foreseeable future was going to her best option. “I was found by some real aboriginals and taken to their camp. I was delirious, and I think they knew I was on drugs. They never went to the police, probably because it didn‟t occur to them, but whatever, they nursed me back to health. I must have eaten all sorts of disgusting food. Seeing that Samuel thought he‟d killed me, I decided to remain dead, figuring you‟d just take my place in my modeling job. I went walkabout with the tribe until the lure of drugs was burnt out of my system.” Bethany explained, making up the story, while drawing on her experience as Gary. Getting another drink, Bethany walked over to the window and looked out over Perth before continuing her fabrication. Once I was able, I walked into the desert to find myself,” here Bethany laughed, knowing that Elizabeth could never guess just how true that was. I found something else Liz… I found gold, lots of it. But I need to give some of it to a sister of a friend who helped me out there.” Bethany stopped, turned away from the window and looked at her new sister. From the tears flowing from Elizabeth‟s eyes it seemed like she was totally taken in by her lies. Bethany felt awful knowing it was all a lie, yet the truth wouldn‟t serve any good purpose and would only end up hurting everyone. When Elizabeth ran and hugged her, something in Bethany snapped and tears flowed for her, for Elizabeth, and for Gary and Amanda. “Robert, your agent, rang me asking for you to contact him for some promotions. With you gone, I pretended to be you and he never guessed. At least I don‟t think so. I was a bit standoffish and pretended to get angry easily to stop anyone wanting to get really cozy to me. I think I overdid it a bit and got a rep as a bitch, but as long as it didn‟t stop the work coming, I think it helped e pull it off.” “Ah!” Bethany exclaimed softly. I wondered about that. Did you know I finished your/my Coppertone Campaign when you ran off?” “No, I did try to ring Robert to apologize, but couldn‟t get through. I thought I‟d blown it, but those flies were just too much. I nearly drowned in repellent and they still came and tested every bit of skin in case I‟d missed a spot. I was supposed to remain still and the camera couldn‟t see them on my back enjoying the shade, and I couldn‟t move to brush them off… argh! The last stroke was when I swallowed one and threw up trying to get rid of it.” “Been there, done that,” Bethany sympathized, knowing all too well the horrors of the bush flies. Bethany strolled around the house with Elizabeth in tow, using the get reacquainted with everything again excuse. “I kept your room exactly as it was,” offered Elizabeth, opening a bedroom door to show her. Bethany stepped in, checking out her room. It wasn‟t overpoweringly feminine, for which she was rather glad, but it wasn‟t anything like Gary had ever slept in either. She sat down on the soft bed and picked up a photo of Bethany and Elizabeth with an older woman, she assumed was the mother, going by the family resemblance. “Mother will be glad to see us, both of us. She was always complaining that she never got to see both of us at once. I‟m just glad in a sad way that her eyes are bad enough that she never spotted the difference when I substituted for you.” “When can we see her?” Bethany asked, thinking this would be a Bethany thing to do. “Anytime, you know she never stops us visiting.” “You have visitors,” Ada warned privately, just a minute before hearing authoritative knocking resounding through the house. “Sounds like the police are here.” Winced Bethany, moving to the door before someone outside, decided to knock it down. “Miss Chambers? Bethany Chambers?” The officer outside asked, when she opened the door. “Yes? That is correct,” she replied calmly. “I have reason to understand that you have had dealings with one Gary Carstairs, regarding a gold claim east of Laverton, which resulted in your sister‟s abduction by Carlos Salvatore on his behalf.” “I had dealings with Gary, yes, but the rest is a pack of lies. Gary wasn‟t involved in my sister‟s abduction. That was all the Italian‟s…Carlos Salvatore I take it, doing?” “That isn‟t what I was led to believe,” the office refuted, sounding very sure of himself. “So, you would take the word of a criminal over both mine and my sister‟s?” Bethany asked archly. The officer deflated somewhat and tried to bluster. Bethany cut him off and started telling him in no uncertain terms, what he could do with his accusations. “As a matter of fact, Gary approached me and offered the claim to me, saying he didn‟t have the resources to develop it. If it turned out to be a significant find, then I was to give a portion to his sister and get her out of the institution and get her back into a normal life situation. He had found enough gold to live on and was going to look for alternative ways to help his sister.” “He just gave up the rights to his find for nothing more than a promise?” the officer scoffed unbelievingly. “No, not just a promise. If the find is as big as he suspected, I‟m to set up a fund to help others with special needs. If you‟re wondering why me, I grubstaked him for several years when he had a theory as to the whereabouts of Lassiter‟s Reef.” “You‟re trying to tell me he found…that you know where…” the officer gasped in shock. Bethany silently cursed her slip of the tongue. If the media got wind of this, it would be a media circus and her every move would be under a microscope. To cover her lapse, she laughed out loud, to throw the officer off. “I wish, Gary was always a dreamer. I doubt there are more than few nuggets left, but I did promise to search, so that‟s what I‟ll do. If you thought you had found that mythical pot of gold, would you leave it unclaimed and return here?” She threw the question back in his face. She could tell from the expression on his face, as he considered her words, that she had scored a good point, as his disappointment was clearly obvious. “No I suppose not, but it would be something if it was true,” he offered wistfully. “Yes it would, so you see your information is incorrect. If you wish to question my sister about the abduction itself, then do so. Of course she doesn‟t know about my dealings with Gary as I‟ve been out of touch with her for some time.” The officer accepted and was led inside, where Bethany told her what the officer wanted. Bethany went and got another drink, but stayed within earshot as the officer asked his questions. Elizabeth was annoyed at having to repeat herself all over again, and it showed in the shortness of her answers. Finally, the questions were over and the officer left. He didn‟t bother to resume any questioning with Bethany, as Elizabeth saw him out, so she assumed he was satisfied with the information supplied. Bethany excused herself, saying she was going to get a shower to refresh herself. While there, she sought solace for her decision to remain Bethany with a few self generated orgasms. When she emerged, much refreshed as well as sated, she passed Elizabeth heading for her own shower. The grin on her sister‟s face told her that she hadn‟t been as quiet about it as she‟d hoped. “Looks like you need to get a new boyfriend,” Elizabeth giggled, undoing her clothes as she went. “No, I need longer lasting batteries,” Bethany threw back, hiding her repugnance at the thought of having sex with a guy. Elizabeth‟s reply was another giggle as she slipped into the bathroom half naked. Bethany hoped that the sight of a half naked woman evincing no sexual interest was the familiarity of seeing the almost identical image in a mirror, rather than that her sexual arousal, might lead in a different direction. “I called mom while you were playing stink finger,” shouted Elizabeth, from the shower. “She invited us for dinner, so you‟d better look your best. The luggage from the shoot came the other day; it‟s still in my bedroom. Wear the cream outfit, it was one I loved.” “Yes motheer,” Bethany shouted back, altering course to her sister‟s room. Looking at the outfit Elizabeth had suggested, she could see why her sister loved it, but something told her to look in her sister‟s wardrobe anyway. There, she saw a watered silk dress in lilac that would hug her curves, yet still allow her freedom of movement. Once she took it of the hanger and held it against her body, she knew hat she was going to wear. Let Elizabeth wear the cream outfit if she loved it so much. “What am I doing?” she asked Ada quietly. “Why do I feel this is what the original Bethany would do, borrow her sister‟s clothes I mean?” She fingered the fabric gently wondering what it felt like to wear. “I feel…I don‟t know, but it definitely isn‟t me, that is Gary,” she stumbled to explain the weird way she was acting. “It‟s the program I used to help you. I took all the information I could find about Bethany, from her early school days to interviews just a few months back, and condensed them into a persona generating program.” “A few months ago? But the person giving those interviews wasn‟t Bethany, it was Elizabeth, how was that going to help build that persona thing?” Bethany pointed out, looking in the closet for a suitable set of shoes for the dress. “Who better? If you were a famous model…?” “Which I am,” laughed Bethany, interrupting Ada. “Which you are,” continued Ada, without a pause. “Would you tell the media all the personal details of your life that matter to you? Now I‟m not talking about details that are already public knowledge. I‟m talking about the stuff that maybe only your sister would know.” “I guess not, I‟d probably gloss over that and make up a few juicy lies to feed them,” Bethany replied, seeing a glimmering of what Ada was leading to. “Exactly, but Elizabeth being interviewed, and wanting to keep up the masquerade, and trying to fit into her sisters shoes as it were…” “Like I am,” grinned Bethany, interrupting again as she looked down at the pair of borrowed shoes on her feet. Ada chuckled at Bethany‟s quip. “She would be more honest, giving out details only she knew, that would convince everyone, including friends and family that she was in fact Bethany.” “Ah! So she might have said she borrows her sister‟s clothes or had a favourite dress she always borrowed?” “Yes, so if you relax and let the persona help you, it will help you make fewer mistakes.” Bethany thought about that as she took her borrowed outfit and went to her bedroom. An army recruiting slogan echoed in her mind, only the words had changed to suit her situation. “Be all the sister you can be.” Having already decided to continue her role as Bethany, she would try not to get bent out shape if she acted more like Bethany as time went on. “I see time away hasn‟t changed your habits,” Elizabeth grinned, as she walked into Bethany‟s room still clad in a towel and rubbing her hair with another. “I might have known you‟d borrow something I‟d just bought,” she sighed. “I‟m sorry, but your wardrobe was open and this just called to me.” “Me too, that‟s why I bought it. I just never thought my sister would be wearing it before I did,” Elizabeth sighed wistfully. “I can take it off if you want, I didn‟t mean to upset you,” Bethany offered. “NO! You can keep it on, I just realised how much I missed you borrowing my stuff.” With that, Elizabeth came and hugged her long lost sister, shedding a few tears along the way. “You can borrow my cream suit if you want,” Bethany consoled, returning the hug with enthusiasm. “Now you‟re talking, sis.” The meeting with “her” mother went off without a hitch, at least she never saw through her deception. „Mind you, that might have been because her vision wasn‟t what it used to be, thought Bethany. Heather Chambers had cataracts, yet she could still see a little and her manner as so cheerful, you would think it never bothered her at all. She welcomed both into her arms and only got them mixed up at the start because she knew that the dress that Bethany had borrowed was Elizabeth‟s. Once the meal was finished, Ada dropped a private bombshell to Bethany. “I can cure her vision problem,” she announced silently. “How?” Murmured Bethany, behind her screen of a napkin. “We don‟t want to tell her about you, it would only raise more questions, and I don‟t want to hurt this family.” “I can send the actual occlusion into p space, leaving her lens clear, and we don‟t need to reveal the true nature of her cure. If I send only a portion of it over a period of several sessions the body should regenerate the missing fluid and the cure will seem to be working. If you take both of her hands, I can work though you. All you need to do is say you learned some aboriginal magic while you were away on your ad campaign.” “Magic?” Bethany questioned, unsure of how that would go over. “Look around you, her walls are filled with mystic talismans from all over the world. Surely she must have some element of belief if she collects all that.” Ada prompted. “Mother? I have something I want to try.” Bethany started, trotting out her plan to affect a cure. Even though it sounded unbelievable to her, Heather ate it up. So it was with some props like lit candles and other esoteric items, that the first treatment began. All it took was for them both to hold their hands together, while Elizabeth looked on with an expression of disbelief and anger at the farce. That all changed, when pleading exhaustion 15 minutes later Bethany broke away and Heather opened her eyes and exclaimed. “It‟s working! I can see much more than I did. It‟s not completely fixed, but much of the blurriness has gone,” she rejoiced, giving Bethany a hug of thanks. “We will try again in an hour, as it might take several more treatments,” Bethany cautioned. Elizabeth couldn‟t believe anything so simple looking could have done any good. Her anger at her sister for giving what she thought was false hope to her mother was replaced instantly with curiosity and not a few questions. Bethany fielded them off adroitly, saying it was a type of psychic healing with no real explanation, other than the recipient must believe. When Elizabeth persisted with her probing, Bethany stood up and told her flat out that either the ancient lore she had learned had helped, or she must have been imbued with magical power from an alien device found in the outback. This stopped all the questions, as there was no doubt which choice Elizabeth chose to believe, but being Elizabeth, she threw a parting shot. “So, can you use this magical device for other things?” she joked. “You‟ll never know,” grinned Bethany evilly. Elizabeth stuck her tongue out at her sister, before turning to her mother to confirm this miracle. While her sister talked to her mum, Bethany stretched her body and wandered round the room, taking note of everything. “You took a chance then you know,” Ada‟s voice sounded in Bethany‟s head. “I can see the way you manipulated your words so the truth was ignored for a more logical, if unlikely explanation.” „People believe what they want, but given a choice will nine times out of ten, choose the simplest answer,‟ Bethany whispered. Having recovered her energy an hour later, Bethany began another treatment. This time when Ada took a bit more of the occluding tissue and sent it away, there way nothing but a look of hope and excitement showing in Elizabeth‟s eyes. Ada advised Bethany to wait a week before trying another treatment, so the eye could recover the missing tissue through normal regeneration. To sayHeather was grateful was an understatement. Even though she knew it wasn‟t the final treatment, she could see much better. Bethany advised her to keep it quiet as the cure wouldn‟t work for everyone and she didn‟t want to be the center of attention for a miracle cure that she couldn‟t duplicate every time. Elizabeth was quiet on the ride home and Bethany saw her sister glancing sideways at her as she drove. “What?” she finally asked, wondering if her makeup was smudged? “Oh nothing,” her sister blushed, seeing she‟d been caught. “Nothing phooey, has my mascara run?” Bethany prompted, turning to face her sister. “I guess you have changed, while you‟ve been away, it‟s just I don‟t see it,” Elizabeth finally admitted. “Should I have grown some horns or be surrounded by some sort of mystical aura?” “No nothing like that, it‟s hard to explain, but even though we got on well together before all this, you just seem nicer now somehow,” “Thanks sis, maybe I‟ve grown up a little.” Elizabeth reached out one hand and took her sisters hand and held it all the way home despite some shaky gear changes using the other hand. The next few days were spent at home, mainly to familiarize herself and clean up the place from damage caused by Elizabeth‟s abductors. Heather had visited again and had another treatment that rid her of the remaining cataracts. Her vision wasn‟t yet perfect, but Ada assured Bethany that Heather‟s vision would return to normal as the lens reformed its proper shape after having some of the volume inside removed. This gradual return to full sightedness would help if and when Heather was questioned by her doctor. Bethany used the time to make some discrete inquiries into setting up a team that would help stake her claim and then protect it as work began to recovery it from the ground. She had Ada check to see if there was any police presence surrounding her true sister Amanda, at the institution. “There does seem to be someone assigned to that duty,” Ada informed her, after checking computer logs in the police headquarters. Bethany decided to go out on her own and scout around. Elizabeth had just gone out to get her hair done, so it was an ideal opportunity. She had found out that she now owned a muscle car. It was a two door Holden Monaco GT in red. Apparently it was an image thing. Elizabeth had her own car, a blue Holden Estate, the one they had gone to her mothers in. It was a slightly more sedate car, as it hadn‟t been modified like the GT. Gary had never been one for messing with engines, if it ran then you left it alone. Getting into the drivers seat of the GT and starting it, nearly sent her into orgasm, as the deep throbbing beat of the V8 vibrated her whole body. She revved it, hearing the low throaty burble turn into a roar that nearly deafened her. She took it gingerly at first, never having experienced anything with so much power before. She could see why people loved these beasts as she gradually gained more confidence. Just a quick stamp on the pedal would send the car surging forward, pressing her back into the seat from the acceleration. Soon she was speeding along above the speed limit in her new toy. “Slow down, there‟s a police unit ahead operating a radar device,” warned Ada. Bethany giggled. “I have my very own radar detector,” she enthused, slowing down the beast just in time. Avoiding the police was easy, but someone else soon had their eye on her and made a quick call on their cell phone. “Boss, I thought you might want to know. Someone‟s driving the Chambers GT. It‟s not Elizabeth, I saw her at the hairdressers not 5 minutes ago.” “I know boss, but the chick driving it is her clone.” “I know that, but there seems to be another.” “Okay boss, I‟ll follow her till you catch up.” Bethany drove on, unaware of the danger until the ever alert Ada filed through the millions of cell phone calls. “I think we may have caught some unwelcome attention,” she warned, before replaying both sides of the conversation. Being a cell phone call and knowing that scanners could be listening in, the conversation Ada had monitored mentioned no actual names, nor was any incriminating information given out, but the tone itself seemed threatening and the general conversation fit the present circumstances to a tee. The clincher came when Ada through some means known only to her, accessed the number the observer had called. It matched that of the former Bethany‟s boyfriend. Nervously, Bethany drove along, keeping an eye out for her pursuers. A brown nondescript Ford that had been following her for some time without suspicion now became a prime suspect, until another newer BMW took its place Ada advised that she head out into the country away from most of the public traffic. “Isn‟t that the opposite of what I should be doing?” she asked. Normally, but I thought that you‟d like to eliminate the threat once and for, not have it linger.” “Sure, but?” If we avoid a confrontation now by going into somewhere public, they get the advantage.” Ada calmly offered. “”Huh?” Bethany asked “They will have time to plan another attack when you least suspect it. By letting them follow now, they will be caught off guard without the chance to plan something devious if you prove to be Bethany. At this point, there‟s some doubt to your actual identity and it will be least likely to end in violence till they prove it conclusively. Stop at that park up ahead and walk to the pond.” Bethany did as asked, even though she was nervous about the whole thing. Ada sensing her state of mind, assured her that she was safe from any attack, although she neglected to say why that was so. She walked to the pond, noticing that the BMW had parked behind her and three men got out. Two remained alert at the car, while the third moved in her direction. Ada, using her 360 degree vision told Bethany that it was Samuel Masters then kept her apprised of his position. Bethany turned as he got within a couple of meters of her. He gasped as recognition awoke fear in his eyes and he turned several shades paler. He looked her over from head to toe, trying to discover anything that would deny her of her identity. His eyes strayed to her hands and in particular, a diamond ring that Ada had supplied her with, when he generated her form. “You are dead. I buried your body, and I took back my ring… that ring.” He choked out, pointing to the ring on her finger. Bethany realised that when Ada created her, it must have been from data that had her still wearing Samuel‟s ring. Prompted by Ada, she spoke, following her lines. “Am I dead?” “You can‟t be her I checked my farm only last month. I even threw a rose on your grave.” He shouted angrily, reaching out for her. Bethany twisted away and quickly ran to a small copse of trees that would screen her and the pursuing Samuel from his bodyguards for a few precious seconds, until they caught up. Once she reached the trees, she slowed, allowing Samuel to catch up. As he reached out to grasp her throat in a choke hold, Ada sent him into p space, leaving her standing there alone, with just the memory of his hands touching her. The two bodyguards followed their boss into p space after grabbing her to force her to tell them what she had done with him. “What will happen to them?” she asked, thinking of the time she experienced p space, as she made her way back to her car. “I don‟t suppose you want them to remain there permanently?” Ada asked already knowing the answer. “No, I don‟t want them dead, although they deserve it,” muttered Bethany. “With no warning to close their eyes, what they experience will overload their senses. I don‟t think they will be sane when I allow them to return.” “Will they be able to see each other in p space?” Bethany wondered, voicing her question to Ada. “No, it doesn‟t work like that. Think of it as having no lateral dimensions, instead objects are stacked one upon each other separated by time, rather than space. Your detector is in the same volume of space as the others but separated by a time coordinate. I can retrieve any item in any order it wish.” “You mean it‟s like a filing cabinet, except there‟s only one extra deep drawer with each item stored in a separate folder so there‟s no contact between them?” Bethany asked. “That‟s an excellent analogy, I must remember that, but now we need to go farming,” Ada replied, giving her direction‟s to Samuel‟s farm. Bethany drove east along narrow roads that eventually turned to rutted dusty, bone shaking torture tracks. Ada had located the farm through her net access, telling Bethany that it was imperative to find the real Bethany‟s body before she released any of the others from p space. “They might reveal her location inadvertently, if they ramble madly. And we need to get to her before any police get wind of it. Besides I suppose you prefer to have her buried properly, even if it‟s not official.” It wasn‟t too hard to find where the body lay buried. A four wheel drive jeep was located in a farm shed and the keys were found in the homestead that Bethany entered via a carefully thrown rock. Using the information Samuel had blurted out, they followed the most recent tracks made by the jeep. Ada helped by using her HUD to show the ground in an enhanced mode that highlighted the tire tracks made by the jeep. Once the area they were traveling over matched the picture that Ada had retrieved off Samuel‟s computer, they slowed down. Bethany stopped and got out, scanning closely for any sign of a rose left on the burial site. “Over there,” Ada prompted, having spotted it with her superior senses. Bethany stood next to the rose, as a few tears fell, at the thought of the wasted life lying just under the sand at her feet. “I‟m not touching her,” she protested, when Ada suggested placing her into p space. “Just place you hand on the sand,” Ada reassured her, after checking that a body lay there. “I‟ll send the sand and the body, so you won‟t have to see anything unpleasant.” After it was done, Bethany used the spade on the back of the jeep to fill in the hole created by the body‟s removal. She was quiet on the ride back to the city, and after putting the car through a car wash to rid it of the reddish dust that clung to the sides and rear of the car, she drove home to do the same to her body. Elsewhere three men appeared out of thin air, to fall to the ground, as normality rushed in at them. One of the goons remained unconscious and was eventually found and placed in hospital and from there into a homecare unit where he did little more than vegetate. The other goon became a religious nut, claiming he‟d seen god. He confessed to all manner of crimes and was eventually put away in psychiatric care. Of Samuel? No one knew what he thought. He‟d managed to get in his car and drive off. The police later recovered his body from the wrecked car that had careered off the steep and treacherous zigzag road that wound down from the escarpment to the valley below. Whether it was deliberate or just another statistic of that particular road, no one would ever know. Elizabeth was still out. She‟d left a message, saying she was going shopping and for Bethany to ring her on her mobile if she wanted anything special. Ringing her sister, Bethany found out when Elizabeth was due home and what she‟s planned for dinner. She had avoided telling Elizabeth an outright lie by saying she‟d been driving around seeing the sights, when asked what she‟d been doing most of the day. Bethany was in the kitchen helping towards dinner, when her sister arrived with arms full of groceries. “There‟s more in the car,” puffed Elizabeth, glad to dump the bags of tinned goods on the bench. Bethany went out to bring in the rest, jokingly asking if the stores where now empty. “No, I ran out of money,” she flipped back, having already surrendered Bethany‟s credit cards back to her sister. Bethany was going to retort, but saw that her sister was being serious. “I‟ll settle up later,” she promised, knowing how awkward it is to admit being broke. “I forgot to transfer some my…your earnings to my account,” Elizabeth blushingly explained. If you work out what you earned as me, I‟ll transfer that into your account,” promised Bethany. Elizabeth shrugged, not seeming too concerned about it, with her sister back in charge things could go back to normal with Bethany becoming the breadwinner for both her and their mom. Bethany could see she needed to get the gold find sorted out, but first she needed to see her real sister. After dinner, Bethany asked her sister if it was okay if they had an extra guest staying with them, as she planned to bring Amanda back the next day, keeping the promise she‟d made to her brother Gary. Bethany found it strange referring to her former self as a separate person, but looking down at her body, made the separation easier as there was nothing left to show the association with her former identity. “She can use the spare room,” Elizabeth agreed easily, showing no reluctance to having a stranger coming to stay. Bethany had not mentioned who it was that was coming, just in case Amanda needed a secret identity. The next day, Bethany drove to the institution where Amanda was being looked after. Before entering, Ada changed Bethany‟s looks with a little of her morphing magic, so the police presence wouldn‟t recognize her and start opening a new can of worms. They had debated going in as a nurse, substituting Bethany for a nurse coming off duty, but Bethany pointed it out that questions could be asked if she suddenly returned and there was the possibility of her being ordered somewhere else in the institution. Bethany or rather Gary remembered the name of one of Amanda‟s old girlfriends. Ada soon had her profile located and minutes later, an exact copy of Julie Rembrandt walked into the main entry of Harroway House for the disabled. As a friend, of Amanda‟s, she was allowed entry and told where to go, without much fuss. When she mentioned wanting to visit Amanda, Bethany saw the receptionist look over to a man in a dark suit. Although not in uniform, it was plain he was watching everyone entering and he gave Bethany a cursory look before dismissing her and nodding back to the receptionist, who then gave the block and room number out to her. “There are camera‟s in reception and in the hallways,” Ada warned. “Any in the rooms? What about intercoms?” Bethany asked, as she walked down towards her sister‟s room. “There are intercoms, I can‟t be sure if they are being monitored all the time. I would suggest caution.” Amanda was sitting in a wheel chair when Bethany entered the room. She was knitting what looked like a scarf, from where Bethany stood. Amanda turned and gave a smile to what she thought was her old friend. Even though Ada had checked and found no camera surveillance in the room themselves, the intercom on the wall was enough reason to be cautious in what was said. So rather than explain anything right there, Bethany wanted her sister in a place where she could explain freely. “Buttercup? I have a message from someone close to you,” Bethany/Julie began, knowing that buttercup was Gary‟s pet name for his sister. Bethany then asked Amanda to trust her, whispering that Gary‟s life depended on it. Of course Amanda knew of the police‟s interest, having been heavily questioned several times about Gary‟s whereabouts. “I want to take you to see him, but without the police knowing or following,” Bethany/Julie assured her. “I have a plan, but you need to be blindfolded to do it. It‟s sort of like a magic trick so things will get quiet all of a sudden. Promise me, no matter what you feel or sense, you‟ll not touch the blindfold till you hear me tell you to.” “I promise,” Amanda agreed, as her friend took out a blindfold and fastened it over her eyes. With Julie using Gary‟s pet name for her, she knew Gary must be somewhere close. Ada sent Amanda into p space as soon as the blindfold was secure. Bethany then walked calmly out of the place without any problem. After Bethany returned to her car, Ada removed the Julia disguise. Bethany then drove over to a seldom frequented fishing spot on Swan River. She figured, correctly that it would be empty since it was a workday. Checking that the area was clear of any visitors and she was completely alone, she had Ada bring her sister back from p space. Ada brought Amanda and her wheel chair back from the silent world of p space and her blindfold was then removed by Bethany. “Who are you, and where is my friend Julie?” How come you are using Gary‟s pet name for me?” demanded an angry and confused Amanda. “What I‟m about to tell you will seem bizarre and totally unbelievable,” Bethany began, pacing back and forth before her sister as she struggled to get her story in order. Having decided it was necessary to reveal all to her sister if she was to help cure her, Bethany started telling her all that had befallen Gary in third person, believing that telling Amanda she was actually Gary would be too much for Amanda to take. At first, Amanda thought she‟d been kidnapped by a weirdo, but as Bethany got into her story, her demeanor changed and Amanda started to see little mannerisms and way of speech that reminded her of Gary. It was hard to believe the tale that the gorgeous girl in front of her was explaining. In spite of the evidence of her own eyes and ears, Amanda felt that somehow Bethany was Gary. Bethany was only three quarters of the way though her tale, when Amanda stopped her and demanded an answer to a question. “Are you Gary?” “Yes Buttercup, I am Gary,” Bethany answered. Amanda was almost sure she believed it was Gary despite the appearance that said otherwise Amanda wanted concrete proof to chase away the last doubts. “Okay, if you‟re Gary, then you‟d know this. What did we go as on our second ever Halloween night?” “Sheesh sis, that was a long time ago,” grumbled Bethany, racking her brains for the answer. “True, but I don‟t think Gary would ever tell anyone the answer either,” Amanda admitted, thereby giving Bethany the clue. Thinking back, Bethany recalled the time Amanda convinced Gary to trade costumes as a joke, forcing him to go out as a cute angel, while Amanda went in his batman costume. It had been fun at first fooling people. They were pretty much the same size and being young weren‟t expected to have shapely bodies. What caused Gary the most embarrassment was being made up by their neighbour, after she thought Gary needed to look prettier for her boyfriend, aka Amanda. Needless to say, Amanda held that over him when she had unpleasant chores to do, resulting in him doing them for her. Luckily she stopped teasing him and they became closer as a result. “You went as Batman and I went as a fairy princess and the neighbor added makeup to my face,” Bethany whispered, blushing at the memory. “You are Gary! Give me a hug please,” Amanda cried, holding her hands out from her wheelchair. “Well at the moment, I‟m Bethany Chamber‟s sis,” she laughed, giving her sister a hug and a chaste kiss. “And with makeup on as well,” Amanda giggled. “And a whole lot more,” Bethany added, laughing at the irony. Bethany then continued with all the details up to using Ada‟s p space to spirit Amanda away from her home. You were Julie too? Amazing, but why didn‟t you just return to being Gary to explain all this?” “I can‟t sis. At least not yet and maybe not ever. Even though we might seem to be alone, I can‟t take the chance someone might be in a position to see if I‟m under any kind of surveillance.” “Not ever?” Gasped a shocked Amanda. “I have made a promise of sorts to my twin Elizabeth, and I need Bethany‟s influence to get the gold claim started. I need money, lots of it to do what I want and nobody‟s going to loan Gary any, even if he didn‟t have the police after him.” “You‟re going to use a famous model and her feminine wiles to get a loan?” giggled Amanda, savouring the irony. “Of course,” Bethany shamelessly admitted, striking a pose and batting her luscious lashes. Amanda laughed, and Bethany joined in, before sobering with another thought. “Sis we can cure you and have you walking again, but unless we change your appearance the “cure” will raise questions we can‟t possibly answer.” “I will walk again?” Amanda asked happily, seemingly not catching the changed appearance bit. “Yes, Ada says she will have to be worn to effect the cure.” “Koolies, just don‟t turn me into a guy okay?” Amanda enthused, showing she hadn‟t missed anything Bethany had told her. “No way, that would be just too confusing,” grinned Bethany. “We need to go somewhere better than this. I feel too exposed here, but I didn‟t want to leave you in p space too long in case you thought I‟d abandoned you.” “What about going to your new home?” No sis, Elizabeth doesn‟t know I‟m not her real sister. I don‟t want to let her in on what I‟ve told you, it would crush her.” “Aaah!” Amanda replied, conveying understanding, far beyond the simple sigh. Understood sis…I can call you sis? Or Beth?” “Sure, I don‟t mind seeing Gary sure as hell doesn‟t fit anymore.” “I know, why don‟t we go to that cave we found as kids,” Amanda suggested. “Great idea sis.” Bethany agreed, already planning ahead. Bethany bundled Amanda into the car minus the wheelchair that was hidden in the bushes nearby. Amanda was a bit reluctant to dump her only means of transport for so many years, till Bethany pointed out that the cave could only be accessed along the beach. “I‟m not pushing a wheelchair in soft sand,” Bethany pointed out. With Amanda safely buckled up, they drove to the beach where as kids they ran freely in the sand and surf. Once again, Amanda was tucked away in p space, while Bethany temporarily regained her manhood, becoming just another Speedo (Australian male swimsuit) clad swimmer running along the shore. Gary/Bethany felt strange being male again. Maybe because the body Ada generated, was bulkier and more muscled than Gary‟s original body. Going from a slender supple female to the bigger heavier male, felt uncomfortable and Bethany nearly had Ada change her back to a female, any female. Realizing it was just for a few minutes made it bearable, but Gary/Bethany realised that the time spent in a female body had irrevocably changed the way she saw her body image. She still saw herself as female, even though her body was temporarily male. Shaking her head from the conflicting sensations, she tried to concentrate on the task ahead. The cave, set back into cliffs was empty, as was the beach around it. Bethany once inside, had Ada return her to her now familiar female body. She looked down at her body, realizing that she now looked at it as her own. Once Amanda was released from p space, and Bethany sat her down on an outcropping in the cave, the work began. Bethany had Ada return the few degrees back into the same dimension, becoming visible for the first time since Gary donned it. Amanda giggled at the sight of the helmet, which still looked oversized for the head wearing it. “It reminds me of the helmet in that movie Spaceballs.” Bethany grinned, slowly removing the helmet from her head. Bethany realized how much she relied on Ada‟s help and advice and felt a reluctance to relinquish it. Steeling herself, after all, she was only giving it to her sister who she loved more than anything; she placed it on Amanda‟s head. Ada must have sensed Bethany‟s reluctance and decided to remain visible for the duration of Amanda‟s rebuild. Amanda had stipulated that she wanted to be similar in build to Bethany, as her body had gained weight due to the inability to exercise properly. Bethany was spellbound, as she watched her sister transform under Ada‟s manipulative powers. Not only was her body changed, but her clothes as well. Ada even provided a purse from which a hand mirror was produced, so Amanda could see the results. For the first time in years, Amanda stood up, reveling in the simple task of admiring her form while standing up. Amanda had Ada adjust her new body slightly, until it became more like Bethany‟s without becoming a clone. Now they looked like sisters or maybe cousins, a fact not lost on Bethany. “My long lost cousin?” Bethany asked, when Amanda announced she was happy with her form. “Ada says you do have a cousin in America, but her names Mandy,” Amanda grinned. “Do you think I‟d make a great Mandy?” Here Amanda twirled, gleefully relishing being able to do it again. I guess Mandy‟s close to Amanda, in case I make a slip of the tongue, but won‟t being a relative be a bit awkward if Elizabeth or our mom start questioning you?” “No, Ada says… well let her tell you herself,” the newly christened Mandy said, holding the helmet back out to Bethany. “Mandy has never traveled out of the states and her face is similar enough to pass for the one Amanda‟s now wearing. I have reproduced her identification papers and a passport, along with everything else needed to keep her disguise intact.” Ada informed Bethany, once the helmet was placed back on her head. “So you have finally decided to go with being my cousin Mandy?” Bethany asked, double checking her sister‟s decision. “I think so, at least this way I can keep a close eye on you,” giggled Mandy. “I can‟t wait to take you clothes shopping.” “Oh no, the dreaded shopping gene,” wailed Bethany theatrically. “I‟m doomed… doomed, I tell you,” placing the back of one hand against her brow, like some of the actresses used to do in the old movies. Mandy just laughed. “Don‟t worry Cuz, I‟ll teach you everything you ever needed to know about shopping.” “Cuz?” Bethany asked, before slapping her head. “Oh yeah, I forgot about our change in family relations,” she added, ignoring Mandy‟s comment about shopping. “At least I‟m still related,” Mandy pointed out. “It would be harder trying to be a total stranger.” “True…” Bethany agreed, her voice trailing off as she wondered whether they could pull this all off. Both girls walked barefoot from the cave and strolled back along the beach to the car. Brushing the sand from her feet, Bethany put on her shoes and started driving back home. Mandy remained barefoot, even after they had arrived, enjoying the sensation coming from her feet as she walked inside, holding her shoes. Elizabeth was out when they first came back, but arrived later around noon, bringing several French sticks that were still warm and a hot precooked chicken in a foil bag. Elizabeth was pleasantly surprised to see Mandy, especially when she learned she was her cousin from the states. She scolded Bethany for keeping her a secret and over a lunch of chicken on sliced French stick, tried her best to extract every scrap of information, from her newly minted cousin. After lunch, Elizabeth wanted to take Mandy to meet her mother if she was agreeable. When Mandy expressed her desire to meet her aunt, Bethany mentioned quietly to Ada whether that was a good idea. “I gave your sister a pocket history of Mandy and her closest relatives, in case this might be needed. Before you ask, yes it was a memory dump, so she can recall it at will. I know you didn‟t want me doing that sort of thing to you without your permission, so I did ask Amanda and she agreed to it,” Ada explained hastily. Bethany stayed home, letting her „sister and cousin‟ visit Heather on their own, explaining that she wanted to get things started on the gold find. Gary had come to know a few reputable people in the business and Bethany was soon sounding them out, while hinting she had a substantial find to develop. Agreeing to a meeting with one of them, Bethany felt relieved to be finally doing something. It was soon cut short as Ada interrupted her thoughts. “It looks like we have stirred a nest of hornets getting Amanda out of that place.” The police channels are full of talk about it and the police have issued more warrants for Gary‟s arrest.” “What!” “They seem to think you were behind her apparent disappearance, even though your whereabouts are still unknown,” Ada relayed, keeping track of all police communications. “They think you took her out of there from under their noses.” Bethany laughed wryly, knowing how true that was, but annoyed they were blaming Gary without any evidence. “I suppose they are looking for Julie as well now?” “Well they have located her, but because we knew she was in New Zealand, visiting a sick cousin, and she had the perfect alibi, the police think the last person to visit Amanda was disguised. One officer laughingly suggested that it was probably Gary in disguise.” “Smart man, we should send him a prize.” “It probably wasn‟t a smart idea to tell that officer who visited, your intentions to get Amanda out of that institution as suspicion will fall on you,” Ada pointed out. “True, but then I‟m only human. I make mistakes,” offered Bethany. “Well I do have one thing in my favour should they come calling. I can say my plans Gary‟s sister, would only be undertaken once the claim produced some results. Besides, they can search all they want, now Amanda is now Mandy.” Bethany made a call to Elizabeth on her cell phone and asked to speak with Mandy, as she had yet to get one of her own. Once Mandy was on, Bethany warned her that the police might come visiting and to be on her guard. Mandy thought it was all a bit of fun, like being a spy, knowing with her looks and the ability to walk again, she would never be discovered. Bethany hoped her sister/come cousin continued to have fun being a sort of Mata Hari. When the inevitable happened, it was the same officer who visited before, who knocked on the door. Of course Bethany acted surprised at this extra visit, grumbling about having thought everything had been sorted out last time, as she invited him inside. Both Elizabeth and Mandy were still at Heather‟s, so that added complication was avoided for the moment. Bethany pretended to be shocked when Officer Benson, as he introduced himself, revealed that Gary‟s sister Amanda was currently missing. When asked since when, Bethany questioned why they thought she was missing as it hadn‟t even been a day. “Surely she might just have gone out?” Bethany pointed out. “How come are you involved so soon?” she asked suspiciously. “We had her under police surveillance in case her brother contacted her. He is now the prime suspect in her disappearance.” “Sounds more like she was under house arrest, by the way you are acting, and if Gary is the prime suspect, why are you coming bothering me. I just wanted to help his sister if and when this gold claim proves worth while.” Bethany argued. “Well you did mention wanting to take Amanda out of there. We are just following up any leads we can at this stage,” Benson admitted. “Well don‟t bother me then, I haven‟t seen her yet. So find her, I have a promise to keep,” Bethany demanded, ending the discussion. The officer got up, seeing this was just another dead end. After all, the camera never showed Bethany visiting and the hope that she was involved somehow seemed remote, given her attitude. Things settled down after the police lost interest, at least they never bothered Bethany and Elizabeth again about Amanda. Bethany wasn‟t fooled that the police had forgotten them, but were probably waiting for something new to crop up. “What happened to the rest of the ship the Teg was piloting?” Asked Bethany, as she planned for getting the gold out. She was going to hire bulldozers and was suddenly worried what else might be uncovered in the search for the lost gold of Lassiter‟s reef. “It is long gone,” supplied Ada reassuringly. All Teg ships have a self destruct, should they be critically damaged and the metals which form it are readily decomposed in the presence of oxygen. Once the ablative fields which shield the skin from damage or the atmospheric effects which the engines produce, collapse the hull degrades to dust in about ten days.” “It‟s that reactive? I would have thought it would have been the complete opposite. To think that a primitive dinosaur took out a futuristic space craft is incredible.” Laughed Bethany. “Well, the pilot was an idiot, and the dinosaur luckily broke an essential part of the craft. The reason the hull is volatile, is because of the paranoia of the Teg. They feared having their ships falling into the wrong hands. It‟s hard to examine a crashed ship if the metal is dissolving rapidly.” “And you survived how?” Bethany asked, intrigued. “Remember, I was 0.356 degrees to the left of this plane of existence, so I didn‟t suffer any damage in the crash. I survived, due to my maintenance programs and solar power provided enough power to provide protection fields against oxygen degradation.” “So you do have a weakness?” “If you mean, can I be destroyed, then yes.” Admitted Ada without any hesitation. “I can‟t imagine what you went through all that time. I‟m surprised you didn‟t go insane with boredom,” Bethany muttered. “I probably would have, had I been awake,” Ada laughed. “Once power drops below a certain level, my higher functions cease. It‟s just like you going to sleep; I didn‟t sense the passage of time after the Teg crashed.” Having satisfied herself that her worries about uncovering a crashed space were unfounded, Bethany set about organizing a BBQ for dinner. She soon had a few chicken drums immersed in a bowl with a soy sauce and honey marinade, while others were liberally coated in powdered paprika for a slightly different flavour. She was preparing a desert when Elizabeth with Mandy in tow arrived home. Elizabeth checked what her sister was doing with a look of surprise, but didn‟t say anything, until she saw the pie Bethany set into the oven. “Wow, did aliens clone my sister?” Bethany saw the expression on her face. “What?” asked Bethany, wondering what she‟d done to have her sister say that? “You usually let me do the cooking and I‟ve never seen you make a pie before,” Elizabeth pointed out. “Well, I learnt a lot while I‟ve been away. I just thought I‟d help out,” Bethany replied. Mandy wasn‟t surprised; after all, she knew Gary was a good cook even before he became Bethany. Elizabeth grinned, saying she didn‟t mind her sister taking over the cooking duties. Bethany threw a wadded up hand towel at her in response, saying the duty would be shared. While Bethany went out to start the BBQ, the others showered before dinner. Mandy was finished first and joined Bethany out on the patio. Bethany told her what had happened that day, adding her thoughts that they hadn‟t seen the last of the police just yet. Then Mandy said something that shocked Bethany‟s world and made her examine just who she had become. “It‟s a pity you didn‟t make me into Bethany then you could have returned to being male again.” Bethany froze as her sister‟s words reverberated in her mind. Damn, why hadn‟t she thought of that solution? Ada could have given her sister a download of Bethany‟s mannerisms and filled her in on her life to date, while he could have returned to being male, even if it wasn‟t as his former identity. Mandy saw the stricken look on Bethany‟s face, as she realised her missed opportunity. “Sis, take over for me please, I need some time to think,” Bethany urged, handing Mandy the tongs. Mandy nodded, wondering why Bethany seemed upset. She watched Bethany walk out to the edge of the property and disappear down one of the many tracks that led into the bush surrounding the house. Bethany walked away from her sister going down a track that soon swallowed her from sight. Trying not to think about the thing on her mind, she found herself approaching a rocky outcrop that overlooked the surrounding bush. The track went past it and down a steep slope that led somewhere into the valley below, but Bethany didn‟t have suitable footwear for climbing up or down such a track, so she walked out to the edge of the outcrop. Even though there was a sheer drop of several hundred meters, she felt no vertigo as she looked over the edge. The view out towards Perth city center was magnificent with the airport lying between her and the city, but she looked out sightlessly as her thoughts were directed inward. Finally she spoke out loud to Ada, trying to clarify her thoughts into actual words. “What‟s happening to me? Did you program me to accept being female and to choose that over returning to a male form?” she blurted out. “No I did not. I did help you to use that body in a way that would appear feminine, to give you the same mannerisms Bethany would use, but I didn‟t change anything about your mind.” Ada assured her. Bethany trusted Ada to tell the truth, so the implications of Ada‟s denial weighed on her mind. If Ada hadn‟t influenced her to remain female, then it was obviously something she herself had chosen, at least unconsciously. „Did this mean she preferred being female?‟ Oddly this thought didn‟t seem as repugnant as she thought it might be, had she been asked when she was still Gary. She sat down with her legs hanging over the edge of the rock and thought back to the very beginning of all this. While the thought of ever being female hadn‟t entered Gary‟s mind, he had wondered what it was like to be one. Now that she had gained that knowledge, life as Gary was looking decidedly second rate. It wasn‟t that being Gary was bad, but that Gary had never stood out. He was average in height and looks and was never the brightest in school… school? “Ada? Did you make me more intelligent than I was?” Bethany asked, realizing that there was a discrepancy in the way she thought from how she used to, knowing Gary had an IQ of 100. “Well Bethany was known to have an IQ of 115, so I tweaked it up a bit to 125, admitted Ada calmly. “Ah hah!” exclaimed Bethany, confirming her sudden realization as to why her thinking seemed clearer. So that was another plus in her change of gender. Becoming Bethany, had made her the center of attention, something Gary never experienced. Being a famous model and having people fuss over her and do everything they could to stay in her good books, was novel and not without a certain feeling of power. As far as the sexual side of things, she had been lifted to greater heights of pleasure in her short time as Bethany, than had Gary in his whole life, and this was solely via self masturbation. So far the pluses to stay female outweighed any that being Gary might have. Also there were practical considerations as well. Gary was on the run from the law and unlikely to be seen without risk. To have to become some strange male instead was hardly any different to becoming Bethany in terms of getting used to a new body. Being Bethany at least, gave her a history that could be verified and so far she‟d pulled it off without a problem…well only a few problems. She wondered what her sister‟s response would be when she told her that Gary might not be coming back. A 747 announced its desire to take to the air, bringing Bethany back to the here and now. She watched it rise in the foreground, heading over the suburb of Belmont and starting to turn towards her, heading on its journey east. “Bethany! Where are you?” came faintly from behind her. Mandy‟s voice called again, sounding a little nearer. Bethany sighed, knowing she had to tell her sister her decision to remain as Bethany. She stood, looking down at the sheer drop and drinking in the solitude that would soon be broken. “Bethany where are you…Bethany!” the last was squealed out in shock as Mandy finally saw her sister and where she was standing. “Come look,” Bethany urged, not turning from the view. “Careful, that looks dangerous,” Mandy warned, as she approached her sister cautiously. Bethany laughed, turning to take hold of Mandy‟s hand and pulled her close. “Isn‟t the view great?” Mandy didn‟t answer for a second, her attention was on her sister‟s face, searching for the reason Bethany had suddenly run off. “Are you okay, sis? Why did you run off,” she asked before looking at the view mentioned. “I‟m fine now, but I have something to tell you, something that… oh crap,” she broke off, before turning and starting to walk back. “Sis!” wailed Mandy, running after Bethany and pulling her to a stop. “Whatever it is that is troubling you, remember this, I love you, whether as a brother or a sister,” she got out, intuitively sensing what was on Bethany‟s mind. Bethany turned and hugged Mandy, tears flowing as she struggled to find the words and the strength to admit she loved being Bethany. “Sis… Gary is dead,” she finally ground out. Mandy nodded, her own tears stopping her from saying anything coherent. Instead she hugged her sister, silently mourning the loss of her brother, yet rejoicing in the fact her sister was alive and well. “I think I knew already sis,” Mandy finally managed to say. Bethany let go of Mandy, holding her at arms length while she looked at her sister‟s face in surprise. “How?” Mandy gave a short laugh. “Feminine intuition.” “Phooey,” grumbled Bethany at her sister‟s glib answer. “No really, I noticed how comfortable you are. Not many people would have the guts to change gender and then excel at being a totally different person.” Mandy explained further. “Well it wasn‟t exactly my idea in the first place,” Bethany looked up and nodded her head indicating Ada‟s invisible presence. “And I had help,” she added. “True, but you made the decision to remain female and that counts just the same. I‟m going to miss Gary, but no one else is likely to miss him.” Mandy reflected. “On the other hand, if Bethany disappeared again, she would be missed far more and by a lot more people. Elizabeth and Heather would be heartbroken, and I would miss the opportunity of teaching you the art of shopping,” Mandy pointed out, giving Bethany a pout when mentioning shopping. “I‟ve changed my mind, save me from shopping,” wailed Bethany theatrically, pretending to shy away in horror. “Oh you! You‟re no fun,” Mandy grumped stamping her foot before the two dissolved into laughter at the others antics. “Hey who‟s looking after the BBQ? I‟m so hungry, I could eat ewe,” punned Bethany with a giggle. Elizabeth, and if it gets burnt, she‟ll lambaste ewe you,” Mandy threw back as she turned to run back home. “Sounds kinky,” Bethany laughed back, following her sister‟s footsteps. “Where were you?” asked Elizabeth, when they both got back. Watching Elizabeth basting the chicken drums and turning the lamb kebabs over made the two in question, exchange a look and their stifled giggles delayed answering. “Oh I was at the lookout,” answered Bethany finally. “I needed to think about something without any distraction.” “You aren‟t thinking of leaving again?” asked a suddenly worried Elizabeth. “No sis, just the opposite. I‟m here to stay,” Bethany answered to a relieved Elizabeth. “Here, let me take over, while you get the salad out. “Nice kebabs sis,” she added using the tongs to turn them again. “Thanks, I made them this morning, but obviously you didn‟t see them in the refrigerator.” “Well if there‟s too much left over, we can always reheat them,” Bethany commented sagely. The three girls busied themselves, working like a team. For Mandy, it was like old times when she used to help Gary at family BBQ‟s. The thought brought forth a few tears, as she mourned the loss of her parents. Whether it was because she was now female and therefore closer to her sister, or the often touted feminine intuition kicking in, Bethany sensed what the odd tear meant in Mandy‟s eyes. She reached out a few times and gave her sister a hug of support when Mandy passed by bringing the wine. “I miss them too,” Bethany whispered out of earshot of Elizabeth. Having put on some music, Elizabeth joined them outside to await the end of the cooking and the start of the eating. Mandy had drunk several glasses of wine and she was reveling in her newfound mobility, and was slowly dancing to the music in a world of her own. Elizabeth got up and joined her, dancing next to her, but without contact. Bethany smiled, watching them, as she turned off the gas, and started piling a dish with the cooked meat. “Thaank you both, thaat was great,” slurred a slightly tipsy Mandy, giving the others a hug. Bethany helped Mandy to her room, and seeing she just collapsed on the bed, made the decision to undress her and pull a nightie over the woozy Mandy. Seeing her sister‟s new body naked, drove home another point in her transformation. Mandy had a great body, one Gary would have drooled over, but while Bethany could appreciate that same beauty, it failed to arouse her sexually. “Poot,” Bethany muttered, knowing what the implications her observation meant for her future. The next few days were spent doing the touristy thing with Mandy, who was their supposed visitor from the states. Mandy gushed at everything, everywhere they went. It wasn‟t hard to pretend to be surprised at anything as her prior invalid status had precluded going everywhere she had wanted. Mandy made the most of it, keeping her promise or threat (depending on the individual point of view) of taking Bethany into as many clothing stores as they could fit into a day. Bethany of course protested, albeit not very convincingly. She could see the fire in her sister‟s eyes the more she resisted, as Mandy urged Bethany to try just another skirt or dress on. In fact, Bethany enjoyed all the fuss and who hah, but didn‟t let on lest Mandy lost some of her enjoyment trying to make her sister uncomfortable with some of her selections. It wasn‟t that Mandy was being nasty; she was just teasing the former male mind that was now housed in a totally different body. Bethany gradually allowed herself to become enthused, so that she could fully know how the genuine pleasure she felt from trying on the sexy clothes. Finally, Mandy slowed in her headlong rush to have Bethany try on every single garment Western Australia had to offer, or so it seemed. While supposedly, what clothes they did buy were for Bethany, knowing her sister, and given that she was the same size physically, Bethany knew Mandy would be “borrowing” her new purchases very soon. As the day grew older, Bethany and Mandy grew together, forming a much closer bond than she had as brother and sister. Because the day was spent shopping, Elizabeth suggested they eat out for dinner, a suggestion that was agreed on with alacrity. Sizzlers, was crowded, but being a family restaurant, they hadn‟t needed to dress up, or book a table. They just turned up in the clothes they‟d been wearing shopping and waited in line. Being the place it was, Bethany and her sister‟s went up as many times as their stomachs would allow refilling their plates from the excellent smorgasbord selection. The day was topped off by a soak in the Jacuzzi at home, as no one felt up to a fashion show with the new purchases bought that day. While relaxing and letting their meal digest, Bethany mentioned that soon she would be heading out to Laverton again. “I‟d like both of you to come, but I need to warn you about the conditions,” Bethany cautioned, hearing both of their desires to participate. “It will be hot, dusty and probably noisy as well, once the machines start excavating, not to mention the flies during the day. I will be renting a mobile home with aircon and full facilities, but one can‟t stay inside all day,” she warned “We still want to come,” chorused the two sisters, looking at each other in agreement. “When will you starting?” Elizabeth asked, thinking ahead. “I was hoping Tuesday. The RV will arrive tomorrow and the others will meet us at Laverton on Thursday.” “The others?” Mandy enquired curiously. “I‟ve hired a firm to do the actually work and provide the security and handle the filing of the claim, once we discover the lodes exact location. They will bring in the machinery once the paperwork‟s done. We need to stay on site and protect it from claim jumpers.” “Wow! We will need to go shopping for clothes then,” Mandy enthused, rubbing her hands together. Bethany and Elizabeth groaned and attacked Mandy in the tub and dunked her several times in protest. Laughing, Mandy attacked back and soon all were completely soaked with their hair wet and bedraggled looking. “Don‟t you every get tired of shopping?” “Nope, anyway we need clothes suitable for the bush, unless you want to go round in that sequin number you bought today.” Mandy pointed out. Several days later. “Here you go, I must say, I‟m glad you‟re driving this monster sis,” said Mandy, handing Bethany a cold can of Coke. Bethany took her eyes off the road for a second, as she accepted the already opened can and gave Mandy a smile. “Oh it‟s not too bad once you get used to the size. Power steering helps too,” she added with a grin, as she negotiated past a wheat harvester moving along the highway in the same direction. “Well I‟m glad I don‟t have to park it. In town it would take up three parking spaces,” Mandy pointed out. She sat down in the swivel seat next to the driver and locked it in the forward facing position as per the regulations while the RV was in motion. “How‟s Elizabeth?” Bethany inquired, knowing she‟d experienced a bit of motion sickness earlier in the day. “Oh she‟s sleeping now. I think those pills she took, finally kicked in.” “Good, the last thing we need, is the smell of vomit on board.” Laughed Bethany, wrinkling her nose at the thought. “So where are we headed for tonight, sis?” “Well I planned to drive till dark. We should be past Coolgardie then and on our way north to Kalgoorlie. It doesn‟t really matter where we stop, seeing we are self sufficient.” “This is so exciting. I haven‟t been on a trip like this since I was 10 years old and we all went up to Carnarvon.” “Well once we become rich, you will be able to travel the world if you want,” suggested Bethany. “Not if I have to drive one of these brutes,” giggled Mandy. “Wait till tomorrow, when we lose the sealed roads. I‟ll be glad of the extra padding I gained, when we hit the corrugations,” laughed Bethany. Mandy eyed the extra padding mentioned, realizing what a change her new sister was experiencing. “Maybe it will be enjoyable, like a vibrator,” Mandy blurted out before blushing furiously. Bethany laughed, seeing her sister‟s discomfiture. Yes, tomorrow was going to be very interesting indeed. Refueling at Bodallin, some 60km past Merredin they made a real sight as they stretched their legs. Elizabeth had woken and decided to use the restroom rather than use the toilet onboard. Bethany grinned as Mandy flirted with the young pump attendant, as he tried to keep his eyes on all three of near identical looking girls. “You know, when I asked you to get us some pants, I didn‟t mean hot pants.” Bethany whispered in Mandy‟s ear, as the attendant eyes tried boring holes in them. The pants in question left nothing to the imagination and were hardly longer than bikini briefs. Gary had pyjamas pants that covered more than these. It was just as well the RV had sheepskin covers on all the seats to stop people getting their bums boiled from the intense heat the Australian sun generated. It also stopped the itchy sticky feeling you get on long journeys when wearing such skimpy pants. “Well you did say you wanted something easy to move around in,” giggled Mandy, not at all repentant, as she bent over to tie up an already secure lace on her boots. “You‟re such a tramp, are you sure you‟re my cousin?” Bethany returned with a grin. “Well I‟m not the one that chose the pink pair to wear,” giggled Mandy. “Harrumph, well I figured if wore those, men wouldn‟t be checking out my tits so much,” argued Bethany, trying to excuse her choice. “Oh! Suure sis, I might but that, if your stretchy top wasn‟t pink too, and didn‟t have „Girl Power‟ emblazoned on the chest. “Um well they matched, and anyway you bought them,” challenged Bethany, trying desperately to weasel out. Mandy just giggled, not bothering to reply. The pump attendant chose then to ask to check their oil, to which Mandy replied that he could check under her hood anytime. Bethany pulled her sister aside, allowing the young red faced man access to the engine compartment inside the front of the RV. “Stop that, you hussy, can‟t you see he‟s having a hard time dealing with you.” “Hmmmm, hard…” Mandy moaned in a Homer Simpson takeoff, checking out the man‟s pants. “Sheesh, I can‟t take you anywhere,” admonished Bethany, dragging her sister reluctantly into the service station, where she told her to pick up some chocolate covered ice cream blocks out of the freezer compartment. Of course Elizabeth had missed most of this, so when she finally got back into the RV and handed her ice cream, she was regaled of Mandy‟s antics by Bethany. She laughed, siding with Mandy, saying a girl has to do what a girl has to do. She then made suggestive movements with her tongue as she licked her ice cream, which made them all laugh. They were still some distance from their destination of Coolgardie when 5.30 rolled around. Bethany‟s assumption they would reach there, was based on driving a car, but the RV was slower and took more care to drive. They had reached Southern Cross and checked out the town for a place to set up for the night, but Bethany wasn‟t impressed with the choices available. As the day was still hot, they decided to drive on towards Coolgardie and find a spot on the side of the road. It was an hour later when they found a rest area somewhere between Yellowdine Karalee that took them out of sight off the main road. The road to the rest area was little more than a track and ended in a clearing among gum trees and brush. Elizabeth and Mandy piled out, thankful to stretch their legs. First, Bethany went and changed out of her pink hot pants into more practicable jeans like the others were now wearing, before joining the others outside. Mandy had found a wooden picnic table made of halved coppered logs, and was sitting there in the half shade waiting for the others to join her. After Bethany stretched her legs walking around the perimeter of the clearing, she went back to the RV and brought out three cans of beer, and took them to the table where Elizabeth had joined Mandy. After wetting their whistles, Bethany headed back inside to start dinner. Bethany had made a stew prior to leaving. Something she used to do as Gary when he was heading out into the outback. With no refrigeration, Gary would freeze a stew and would have it the second night. All meat had to be processed like bacon or sausages or (cringe) in tins, if one wanted to have meat at least once a day. That problem was taken care of as the RV had both a fridge and a freezer, which ran on either LPG or electrical power. Still the stew was handy, requiring no lengthy preparation, other than heating. Bethany was making thickly sliced toast on which to add the beef stew, when she heard a vehicle draw up next to them. She just managed to serve Elizabeth her meal when she heard knocking on the door and a voice call out that it was the police. Telling Mandy to take over cooking her own toast, Bethany went to the door and opened it. “Hello miss, I‟m office Stevens, from the Coolgardie road patrol. I check all rest stops between Kalgoorlie and Southern Cross as part of my patrol. Are you stopping the night here?” “Yes, we plan to head to Laverton tomorrow. We just drove from Perth this morning,” Bethany affirmed. “Is there a problem Officer?” “Not with stopping here. I‟m glad to see people using their heads when traveling long distances. It makes my work easier… hmm something smell great,” the man added, sniffing the aroma of stew drifting out of the RV. “Plenty for another plate.” Mandy‟s voice called out, from inside. The officer looked hesitant, desire warring with his responsibility. “Surely, sharing a meal would be okay,” encouraged Bethany, thinking it was the polite thing to do, then moving back and gesturing for the officer to enter the RV. “I really shouldn‟t, but that smells great, the man said, following her inside. “If you get into trouble, tell them you have to strip search three dangerous women,” teased Elizabeth, moving to make room for the officer to sit beside her. The officer blushed, making him look even cuter. Even Bethany thought so, before catching herself and trying to deny it. “I hope I don‟t need backup,” quipped the officer, introducing himself, as Tim Stevens. Elizabeth made all the introductions while Bethany made more toast and got out an extra plate. Instead of a beer like the girl‟s were drinking, she offered a can of chilled coke, that the officer gratefully accepted. “There is one thing you need to be aware of,” Tim told them, accepting his plate of stew from Bethany with a smile. “There are two escaped prisoners on the loose somewhere in the area.” “Prisoners?” questioned Mandy. We had caught one of two men involved in a rape case in Coolgardie and were transporting him to Kalgoorlie to be flown to Perth. The van transporting him was rammed off the road, presumably by the other one that had eluded capture. He must have lain low and followed the van, before making his move. The driver was knocked unconscious and when he came too, the prisoner was gone.” “Oh dear, so do you think we are in any danger?” asked Elizabeth holding her hand to her mouth. “It‟s unlikely, they are probably headed into the bush, at least that‟s what the tracks showed. If you like, I can check back here on my return run, although it might be around 3am. Just make sure you lock the doors.” “Thank you, we would appreciate that, just in case,” offered Bethany. Once the officer had left, Bethany was teased by Mandy about whether she thought he was cute. Put on the spot, and having Elizabeth interested to hear her answer, Bethany couldn‟t just ignore the question and to deny it might raise questions with Elizabeth. “He was cute in his uniform, but then I guess most men in the police force look better than the average Joe blow. I expect Mandy likes all men in uniform,” giggled Bethany, trying to move the target to her sister. “I bet you just wanted to rip his shirt off and ravage him,” retorted Mandy, not falling for her sister‟s ploy. Bethany couldn‟t help, but blush. The truth be told, she did find the man to be attractive, something that she hadn‟t counted on happening so soon. „Maybe it was pheromones or something,‟ she thought, trying to justify her reactions. “I‟ll take those plates and wash them,” Bethany said, not deigning to answer her sister‟s question with anything verbal. Mandy and Elizabeth looked at each other, knowing by the blush and the abrupt change in subject what Bethany‟s answer was. Mandy loved her sister/cousin Bethany, and her teasing was done to get her sister to admit to her awakening feelings of attraction to the opposite sex. She knew that it was an uphill battle with Bethany having been male for so long. She went and hugged her sister, grabbing a pot towel and drying the few dishes. That night, after everyone was bedded down, and conversation had died away, Bethany thought back to Mandy‟s question, trying to come up with an answer. She drifted off to sleep, with the issue still unresolved. “BANG, BANG, BANG.” Bethany woke suddenly as the knocking on the door continued. She glanced at the luminous dial of the clock next to her, seeing it was 2.45 am. She stumbled out of bed, straightening her nightgown, before walking to the door. “Tim you‟re early,” she mumbled as she unlocked the door, trying to get the wool out of her sleepy brain. “Well lookie here, aint we a sight for sore eyes,” growled a threatening voice. Instead of seeing the expected if somewhat early Tim, Bethany saw two men she‟d never seen before. She tried closing the door, but a foot prevented it from closing and a hand pulled her from the RV. Suddenly, it was like a switch being thrown. Bethany‟s mind became crystal clear as she realised these were the two men wanted by the police. She had to prevent these two entering the RV at all costs, as her sisters somehow were still asleep and helpless. “Don‟t go in there, you might wake my husband,” she hastily improvised. “Whatever you want, you can ask me,” she added, trying to smile seductively. The two men stopped and looked at each other and nodded, pulling her further away from the RV. “Well we will deal with your husband later,” one of the men said menacingly. “For now, we‟ll just see what you have to offer,” he added with a nasty grin on his face. With that, he tore here gown from her body and threw it on the ground. Both men whistled softly, eyeing her naked form with lust. Bethany didn‟t show the terror she felt and just managed not to scream. She knew if she did, both Elizabeth and Mandy would wake and become extra fodder for these two creeps. Ada made a few suggestions, which Bethany intended to follow as the men pulled her further away. The moonlit night helped her to avoid the worst of the rough ground underfoot as she was hustled out of sight of the RV. Once she thought they were far enough away, she stopped still. The unexpected resistance brought the two men to a halt, despite the increased force they exerted, trying to move her. “You want here then missy?” The taller one asked, dismissing the improbable situation that she was actually stronger than the two of them. “You might say that,” she said in a calm voice, belying the fear inside. “Well Hurry up and get your pants off, I‟m getting cold here,” she added as sexily as she could. Bethany then knelt down between the two men and licked her lips suggestively. The two men stared surprised, but not wanting to question the gift horse, soon had their pants around their ankles. They shuffled closer to her as she reached out to grasp their erections, one in each hand. She ran her hand up the cocks to grasp them around the base and cupped their sacks as well. “Well boys, I see you have been naughty, just how many women have you forced these into?” She invited, licking her lips and making kissy noises, showing none of the revulsion she felt. “Oh lots,” both agreed, seeing she seemed turned on at the thought. “Well then, I‟m going to make sure no others will suffer that fate,” she said, allowing Ada to do her thing. Ada sent the organs cupped in Bethany‟s hands into the same void, where Bethany‟s metal detector had been stored. Somewhere in p space, two pieces of flesh appeared, destined never to be reunited with their owners. The two men didn‟t scream as their organs uncoupled from their bodies, in fact, they didn‟t even realise they were missing, as Ada made sure the nerve endings continued to send the same signals they had been sending. Bethany had time to cup the crotch of both men giving Ada time to work on sealing the major blood vessels preventing any blood loss, other than some seepage from the capillaries. Ada smoothed the ends of the urethras, leaving just holes for urination. Ada then altered something in the two men‟s Hypothalamus and Pituitary glands, which would have some strange repercussions for them both in the near future. She hadn‟t had time to discus this action with Bethany, but had thought it made a suitable punishment. The men still unaware of their dickectomies, grinned at each other. “Hurry up girl, get sucking on it, before I do something drastic,” one of them threatened, looking down at her face. “Suck what?” She asked, lifting her blood stained hands away, with their Ada enhanced nails that now looked like talons. The two men both looked down where their manhood used to hang, as Bethany stood up and gave them both an evil looking smile while licking her lips. Both men cried out fell to their knees reaching for their missing manhood‟s. At first they thought the woman had cast some kind of illusion on them, as they could swear that they could still feel their missing organs, despite what their hands and eyes were telling them. Once they saw their hands being covered with the slow oozing blood, they knew their greatest fear was realised. “You‟d better go before I do something else you might regret.” Bethany stated coldly, as she looked down at the men before her. Ada made Bethany‟s skin glow with a super luminescence, that gave her slender body an eeriness that belied description. The two men felt their blood run cold at the sight. They shied away, scrambling to their feet before stumbling away in shock. They ran, struggling to get their pants up before the she demon standing in the moonlight acted on her threats. She knew both men would soon seek help and thus be captured as the area of the men‟s groins while not bleeding a lot was still a raw wound that would seep blood till extra surgery closed the skin together. She felt some regret at having to take the matter that far, but it was only what they deserved, and she knew all the women they had raped would agree with her. She walked back to the RV, hearing the faint cries of the men fade away. She then started to tremble in reaction, as she gathered up her torn nightgown. Ada sent the gown into p space and then clad Bethany‟s body with an exact replica. Bethany climbed back into the RV and locked the door, marveling that the others were still asleep. „The fresh air and the long journey has made them sleep soundly,‟ Ada offered, noting Bethany's look and guess her thoughts. Bethany nodded and poured herself a glass of Brandy from the mini bar, before she went to her own bed. She tossed and turned, trying to get back to sleep, her mind running over possible alternatives to what had just happened. The next she knew, it was morning, having finally fallen asleep. “Wakey wakey, chimed a cheerful Mandy, dumping a hot cup of coffee in her hands. Mandy sat on the bed and grinned at Bethany. “Guess who I saw last night?” She asked smugly. “Two rapists?” Bethany retorted, hoping she was wrong. “No silly, Tim called around about 4 am. I was going to wake you, but you looked so peaceful. He didn‟t stay long, just letting us know that the men they were after had been seen by a trucker and were subsequently captured by a search patrol.” “Great,” Bethany responded trying to sound enthused. „Why didn‟t I wake up?‟ She asked Ada sotto voice. „You needed sleep, so I turned your audio receptors down, don‟t worry, I was fully aware of the officers return and would have woken you had there been a need,” Ada answered. “Great…” grumbled Bethany under her breath. „I wish you had done the same with the two rapists.‟ „Officer Tim was driving a vehicle whose engine sound I recognized. I also monitored his radio call a few minutes earlier to say he was going to check some women overnighters. The other two men approached on foot with no prior warning,” Ada stated defensively in a tone of voice Bethany recognized. „I‟m sorry Ada, I didn‟t mean to accuse you of anything, I‟m just upset.” “Apology accepted,” Ada responded in a lighter tone of voice. “Talking to Ada?” asked Mandy, seeing her sister‟s eye grow distant. “Sorry sis, just getting some updates, nothing to worry about.” Mandy nodded, but sensed there was more to it than her sister was telling. Maybe later she could coax the details from her. “Did Tim mention anything else about the two men?” Bethany asked as Mandy got up and started to head to the kitchenette. “Yeah he did, apparently someone had attacked them. Probably in revenge, so Tim reckoned. He was a bit evasive as to what had happened; saying nice ladies needn‟t know those kinds of details. You weren‟t involved in anyway?” she asked, catching Bethany by surprise at her intuitiveness. “Who me?” offered Bethany, trying her innocent look. “Yes you,” Mandy prompted, sensing Bethany was indeed involved. She didn‟t press, as Bethany remained silent, but made a mental note to ask her later. Bethany got up and had a quick wash. Even though Ada kept her skin clean and fresh smelling, she still liked to wash and bathe herself as a matter of routine. Elizabeth woke then, getting her own morning cup of coffee from Mandy. “I didn‟t know we had maid service,” she giggled, poking fun at Mandy. “Oh yes, she rotates her duty with two others maam,” Mandy replied, making her meaning clear. “More shopping? Asked Bethany, looking at Mandy, who returned a puzzled look. “For a maid‟s uniform,” explained Bethany, straight faced. Elizabeth chuckled, to which Mandy just poked out her tongue before joining in. Breakfast smells started permeating through the RV as Mandy started cooking bacon and eggs. Bethany went and helped, while Elizabeth got dressed. Bethany getting a few minutes warning from Ada, promptly stopped what she was doing and went and put some makeup on. Mandy looked at her in surprise, before guessing what was happening. She looked chagrined, having to stay at the cooker, while her sister got beautiful. Of course Elizabeth had no clue when a knock on the door, heralded the arrival of Tim, once again checking in on his morning route. While Bethany answered the door, Mandy moved to her bag and quickly wiped some lipstick on and checked on her hair. “Still on duty? Asked Bethany, as she opened the door to Tim‟s smiling face. “Actually my shift is over, but before I went home I thought I‟d check you out… um I mean check that you were okay,” he blushed at his badly put words. I think I liked the first version,” Bethany laughed, feeling strange sensations fill her body. “Come in, we are just having breakfast, and your welcome to share.” “Hmmm, that smells great,” offered Tim as he entered on her heels. “You certainly know when to visit,” Mandy chuckled, adding more bacon to the pan. “Well we in the police force are trained for it,” returned Tim with a laugh. Elizabeth scrambled to get her own makeup on, while Tim was distracted up front. “I hope you ladies had a safe night,” Tim opened, as finally the food was dished out and everyone was seated. “Slept like a log,” opined Elizabeth, tucking into her breakfast with gusto. Anything happen in the night? Questioned Bethany curiously. “Curious you should ask that,” Tim replied. “We caught the two men we were after. “Boy, they must have been stoned out of their minds, in light of their stories,” Tim answered between bites. “What stories?” asked a curious Elizabeth. “Well, they were seen running along the road about 5 kilometers east of here, heading back to Coolgardie when they were spotted by a patrol car heading west. Strangely, they just gave up when the car reversed direction. Once in custody, they began ranting about seeing a vampire that ate their dicks off.” Here Tim laughed. “Wow! Some story, if they were on drugs, does that mean they were addicked?” Mandy quipped. “More like dedicked,” Tim answered, with a grin. “So it was true? Someone cut their cocks off?” gasped Elizabeth. “Apparently, there‟s a rumor that one of their victims go hold of them and castrated them both. I didn‟t see them personally, but I heard whoever it was made an excellent job of it.” “Did the men describe their vampire?” Asked Bethany, holding her breath for the answer. “Well I heard it was some kind of a glowing creature with teeth and talons, but then the men just clammed up after being questioned. I think the scorn heaped on them by the officers made them realise how redickulous it sounded,” Tim explained, grinning as he emphasized the word ridiculous. Bethany sighed; she was in the clear so far. With the attraction she felt for Tim, she didn‟t want to have anything jeopardize their burgeoning friendship. Suddenly realizing where her thoughts were headed, she excused herself abruptly and went outside to think. She walked out in the morning‟s clear crisp air, trying to get her head around the fact she found Tim attractive. Rationally she could argue that it was just a normal female/male reaction, but the thought that she was actively thinking of some kind of future with him, had caught her unawares. She was so deep in thought that she missed Tim‟s approach from behind. “You okay? You seemed upset. I hope I wasn‟t the cause.” Tim asked concernedly, as he came up to her side. “No, it‟s not about you,” she answered not so truthfully, turning to face him. “It‟s about me.” “Anything I can do to help?” “Yeah, become my security man in a project I‟m starting. I‟ll make it pay ten times your current salary,” she laughed more than half seriously. “Sounds tempting,” replied Tim, wondering why this woman stood out from the rest he had known. Even Elizabeth, her twin in looks, didn‟t have the same indefinable quality that made her stand out. “What exactly is this project?” he asked in more than idle curiosity. Bethany laughed, as she turned and started walking back to the RV. “You‟ll soon find out, along with the rest of them,” she threw cryptically over her shoulder. “It will be the biggest thing to happen in Australia in decades.” She added, catching his interest further. Tim was intrigued. Bethany‟s offer was certainly attractive. He could leave the department if he chose to forgo the police pension the force supplied its members. Being young, that day seemed far away and didn‟t really figure into his plans for the immediate future. Having Bethany for a boss would certainly be an attractive option. He followed her back, deciding to wait and see what developed. After finding out that the girl‟s would be in the Laverton area, Tim said his goodbyes, knowing that it shouldn‟t be too hard to find them in a small town like that. Bethany was the last to say goodbye, and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “Remember my offer,” she called, as he started to walk away back to his vehicle-. “I will,” she heard as he got into his 4 wheel drive. The rest of the journey took longer than Bethany would normally expect. The RV wasn‟t exactly suited for the rough dusty roads and the corrugations set their teeth rattling, and made talking almost impossible as every loose item vibrated and shook. Anything that wasn‟t securely fastened down inside threatened to either fall off or shake to pieces and keep Mandy and Elizabeth on their feet rescuing their belongings. Finally, Bethany had to slow right down, which didn‟t make the occasional traffic coming up behind very happy. Strangely, none of the drivers that eventually made it past their plume of red dust seemed to make a fuss when they caught sight of Bethany at the wheel. Whether it was because of their “ah it‟s a women driver,” or the fact she was wearing a tight skimpy top, that made them mellow out, she wasn‟t going to speculate, either way she was grateful. Reaching Laverton in the afternoon meant nothing much was moving due to the heat of the day. Needing nothing in the way of fuel or groceries, having refueled at Kalgoorlie and topped up the tanks with the last place that had good Perth water, they decided to get a drink. They pulled up at the pub, and went in. If Bethany‟s prior experience in the place had made an impact, twins and a near look alike made a much deeper impact. The people inside went quiet as the trio entered and found a table. Mandy and Elizabeth looked around in interest, while Bethany went back to the bar and ordered Vodka, lime and lemonades for all of them. The noise in the bar slowly regained its former volume, as the locals speculated on reason three citified women where here in their town. Luckily, (for the men) no one bothered the girl‟s or made any attempt to interrupt their conversation. Finishing their drinks, they went back to the RV and drove to the same camp, where Bethany had stayed for the photo shoot. The plan was to stay there tonight and wait the arrival of the crew coming tomorrow to manage the gold mining. After making dinner and showering, they settled in for the night. With nothing other than the pub for entertainment in the town, the girl‟s watched TV using the small satellite dish Bethany had requested be fitted to the rear of the RV. The arrival of the convoy of large vehicles was soon the buzz of the town, especially with the earthmoving equipment on some of the truck and trailer units. While most of the local attention was focused on the large trucks, two four wheel vehicles slipped away to meet up with the girls at the camp. Bethany then climbed aboard one of them, leaving Mandy and Elizabeth with the RV. Bethany told the driver where to head, while the other vehicle followed in their wake. Eventually, Bethany stood upon the spot where all her adventure had started. Ada then aided her to show the location of the gold and suggested locations for the pegs to be placed to give them adequate clearance from possible interlopers. The team of men in both vehicles had their orders, and didn‟t raise any objections to her decisions on the placement of the claim pegs. Once the claim was pegged, GPS positions were taken and entered down. A Sat phone call was then made; transferring the information back to people ready at Perth and the claim was lodged, notarized and settled. Bethany was then taken back to town, leaving all, but the driver to guard the claim pegs. After a restless night filled with strange dreams of gold poachers with Tim defending the claim single handedly, Bethany woke to the insistent knock on the RV‟s door. “You might want to cover up a bit,” warned Ada, sensing that Bethany hadn‟t considered her scanty attire. “I‟ll be there in a moment,” she called out to the person outside, as she grabbed her robe and fastened it around her. The others were just stirring as she went and opened the door. “Hello miss, is Bethany Chambers available? We need her signature to sign the authorization allowing us to begin the fencing on the claim she‟s lodged. “I‟m Bethany Chambers, she replied to a surprised man in overalls and work boots. She then took the paperwork from him as he gawped at her body for a moment before schooling his expression back into a professional manner. “I‟m sorry for the look, I wasn‟t expecting someone as young and se… um, attractive as you.” He apologized, blushing over his runaway tongue, as he accepted the signed forms back. “When are you heading out there?” she asked curiously. “Right away, miss Chambers.” “Okay, let them know, we‟ll be there in… an hour and a half,” she paused, making a rough calculation. “Right, will do,” the man said, moving to head back to his truck parked just outside the grounds. By the time the girl‟s had all woken and had breakfast, it was approaching 9 o‟clock. Bethany was itching to get on the road and head out to their claim, so she bitched a bit about the others apparent slowness. “Sis the gold will still be there, no matter what time we arrive,” Mandy pointed out. “Yeah, as the owners of the gold, we should make a good first impression,” Elizabeth added, while putting on her makeup. “Sorry girls, I‟m just rather nervous,” explained Bethany by way of apology. Bethany did concede that Elizabeth was right in a way and put on some lippy herself. Not all that fussed about bothering with makeup, she had let Ada do her thing when it was needed while at the shoot. When they got underway with Bethany driving again, Ada unknowingly tweaked Bethany‟s makeup attempt, adding a little blush and straightening the bleed over of lipstick on Bethany‟s lips. She also enhanced the eyes with a little colour. Because this wasn‟t actually makeup, but the skin being tinted from within, Bethany never noticed the changes. Even the lipstick changed, becoming no more than a protective layer that just looked wet. The lips became the colour of the lipstick which would never need touching up, not that Bethany would remember instinctively to do that. The waxy coating that gave the lips its gloss would be exuded from the skin all day, protecting them from drying out in the heat. While the RV would normally be too wide to negotiate the windy bush trails leading to the claim, the arrival of the heavy equipment before them had cleared the route from the overhanging trees and bush. The broken and sawn branches lay everywhere along the sides of the track, as they slowly edged the RV over the worst of the ruts. It looked like a bulldozer had been used in places to allow access for the heavy equipment. They had smoothed out the banks of wash outs, caused by flash floods that had cut across the track. This made driving the RV across much easier. Their eventual arrival caused a stir. The track ended in a hastily erected gate that had a guard on it. Fencing had already been erected on both sides of the gate on its way to totally encircle the claim. At first, the guard refused them entry, saying it was now private property. He was eventually convinced that they were indeed the owners, apologizing profusely when Bethany showed him the proof of just who she was. Bethany drove the RV to a spot where there were some trees high enough to give some shade. There were already some portable living units for the men placed nearby. A generator was being set up to supply power and cables were already being strung to power up the living quarters. Two men walked over, as Bethany shut off the engine and got out of the RV. “Hi, I‟m Stewart Granger, the manager of this site and this is my second in command, Isaac Smith. I take it that you are the lovely owner, Miss Chambers?” “Call me Bethany please,” she replied, shaking the proffered hand. “I take it that you will want power hooked up to your vehicle?” Isaac asked, signaling to the men working on the generator supply. “Yes, but only after the rest has been hooked up, we are self sufficient at the moment,” offered Bethany with a smile. The men gave each other a quick glance. They seemed impressed that the young owner and her companions, who had just joined her, were so accommodating. After further introductions were made, the two men left to continue setting up the camp. “Wow! This is some set up, the fencing alone is going to cost a bundle, do we really have enough to cover all this?‟ asked an impressed Mandy. I called in some favours and used all our funds for this. The house and everything we own is up on the block till we see some returns.” “We could lose everything?” cried Elizabeth, only now realizing the scale of things. “Sis, trust me, we won‟t lose anything.” Promised Bethany, hoping Ada was correct in her assessment of the size of the lode. More trucks bringing assembled units came trundling into the camp area. One was a kitchen set up, to provide all the crew with meals. A refrigerator unit was setup next to it, containing fresh meat and everything else one would need. Later, two more units providing seating for dinning and entertainment would be set up alongside. Feeling somewhat useless, as the manager seemed to have everything under control; Bethany decided to walk to where the gold Ada promised, was located. Elizabeth and Mandy decided to bring out collapsible chairs, placing them in the shade by the RV so they could watch proceedings, while enjoying a cold drink. Bethany scrambled to where she had found Ada. Ada then retrieved the metal detector from p space, so Bethany could feel like she was doing something useful at last. Giving Bethany only a general direction, Ada guided Bethany towards the gold. Hearing a detector locate something positive, had always given Gary, (now Bethany) a thrill in the past. To find something under the red dirt and rock and then to catch sight of that yellow metal, when you scratch away the surface, will always make the heart race. This time was no different. As soon as the detector bleeped its message, Bethany crouched and started to examine the dirt. Ada provided a trowel from another of her resources, making it appear in Bethany‟s hand. “Thanks,” Bethany muttered, digging at the soil with urgency. Bethany gasped, as her trowel hit something with a metallic clink. She uncovered the object with a reverence, as if it was the Holy Grail itself. A nugget as big as her fist lay there, seeing the sunlight for the first time in ages. It was combined with quartz, but she estimated there was at least half a pound of gold in it, as she hefted it in her hand. She held it reverently, not because of its worth, but what it meant in terms of their future. She didn‟t even question just how different that future would be from what Gary could ever have imagined. She looked around seeing the bluff before her with different eyes. Something about it looked odd. She was used to seeing the white and ochre colouration of the breakaways in the region, but the ochre looked more… she moved closer coming within feet of the massive wall in front of her. The detector sounded its alarm and it wasn‟t anywhere near the ground. „Could it be?” She thought, bringing the coil up from waist height and moving it over the cliff face. The detector howled continuously and she dropped it in shock. Placing her hand over the ochre rock, she realised it was no rock. As the dust of centuries was brushed away, the dull gleam of gold shone through. The white in the cliff face was quartz and it was embedded with large areas of gold. She prized a few pieces away with only her hands. This was unexpected and posed new problems. She sat and thought, wondering what to do next. Gold in the ground was one thing, but this was another. She had been expecting to have the machinery turn over the dirt and process the dirt in the usual fashion, not have it showing on the surface where just anyone could pick a piece off and keep it for themselves. She posed the question to Ada. “Well checking everyone leaving with a metal detector could solve it, but it wouldn‟t stop someone from throwing bits over the fence to friends or for later retrieval.” Ada advised. “True, we need to make sure everyone is trustworthy, but that is one hell of a task and not exactly 100 percent accurate,” Bethany accepted. “If you spoke to each and every person here while holding their arm, I could detect skin resistance changes that would indicate lying,” Ada proposed. “That would work. I could introduce myself to each of them and ask a few questions,” mused Bethany, feeling a lot happier. She gathered the pieces of gold and placed them out of sight into her pocket, hoping the sag wouldn‟t be noticed. She picked up the detector and carried it back to the RV. Showing the girl‟s the nuggets first, caused them to gasp in wonder, relieving any doubts that the find was real. Talking to the men proved relatively easy. She commandeered the office unit set up to manage the job. Stewart was inside at the time and invited her to sit. She shook hands with him again, letting her hand linger on his wrist as she asked if she could trust him. Getting prompts from Ada as to his truthfulness, she showed him the nuggets and explained her problem. “I‟m prepared to give each and everyone a generous bonus above what you will normally be paid, if everyone does their job and doesn‟t try to steal from us. She named a ballpark figure hat made Stewarts eyes boggle. “Miss, I would do my job anyway, without the bonus.
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