Warren Murphy: Encounter Group

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  • Название:
    Encounter Group
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    Детективная фантастика / на английском языке
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    Английский
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Encounter Group: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Close Encounters Is it a space odyssey or a spaced-out hoax? The answer isn't clear, but this much is certain: a stranger from a strange land has come to earth and recruited a squadron of space cadets to launch a campaign against America's nuclear arsenal. The gravity of the situation prompts Harold W. Smith, director of the top-secret government agency CURE, to order Remo and Chiun to blast the scheme out of orbit. And it should be just a routine assignment for the world's top assassins. Only Chiun believes the alien is fulfilling an ancient legend of Sinanju, and he takes off to join the space colony. And all at once Remo finds himself not only at odds with his mentor, but single-handedly trying to stave off the war of the worlds!

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Encounter Group

The Destroyer #56

by Richard Sapir & Warren Murphy

Copyright © 1984

by Richard Sapir & Warren Murphy

All rights reserved.

Encounter Group

A Peanut Press Book

Published by

peanutpress.com, Inc.

www.peanutpress.com

ISBN: 0-7408-0579-7

First Peanut Press Edition

This edition published by

arrangement with

Boondock Books

www.boondockbooks.com

For Spencer Johnson, a friend for all the minutes

?Chapter One

Amanda Bull did not believe in Unidentified Flying Objects and never gave the subject any thought whatsoever. But on the day she married John Schutz, a high school science teacher from Georgetown, she took the first step toward contact with the alien force that would transform her into an instrument of destiny. She just didn't know it.

Had someone taken her aside that day and mentioned UFOs, Amanda would have snorted, "Flying saucers? You've got to be kidding. Only morons believe that crap. Besides, I'm getting married. The only saucers I'm worried about are the ones my husband's going to wash."

And so she wed. But not before taking her father aside to give him a long-overdue piece of her mind. Even though old Edmond Bull had supported Amanda right up to her thirty-third birthday— which had been two weeks before— while she attended an endless string of women's rights conferences, ERA rallies, and protest marches, and he never complained when Amanda refused to take even a part-time job so the old man wouldn't have to work weekends to make ends meet, Amanda Bull accused her father of being selfish, insensitive, a male chauvinist pig, and an oppressor of women.

After listening openmouthed to almost an hour of strident invective, 68-year-old Edmond Bull, who had single-handedly raised Amanda after his wife had died giving birth to her, stammered, "But— but, Mandy. I've never spoken a harsh word to you in my life. Why are you saying these terrible things to me?"

"Why? You ask why?" Amanda Bull screeched. "I'll tell you why. In 1977 I asked you for a lousy $210.55 to fly to Kansas City for an abortion rights rally and you refused me— your own damn daughter!"

"But, dear, I told you we didn't have the money. And you know how I feel about abortion. Your poor mother—"

"Don't you dare 'poor mother' me, you hypocrite. If you hadn't selfishly gotten her pregnant, my mother would be alive today."

"But, Mandy—"

"Forget it. I've been waiting years to tell you off to your face. Now that I have a politically conscious husband, I don't have to put up with your vicious antifeminism anymore. And after today, I don't want to see you ever again."

And with that, Amanda Bull, armed with the courage of her convictions and knowing that she would never have to rely on her father for support again, stormed into the Church of the Overpowering Moment, and married John Schutz, the only man who ever understood her, and whom she had met at an ERA rally two years before.

All through the ceremony in the converted grocery store, old Edmond Bull wept uncontrollably, and only Amanda knew the real reason for his tears, but she told herself that her father was merely paying the price for the way he and all his male ancestors had treated women. Actually she sort of liked hearing his sobbing. Screams would have been nice too.

John Schutz and Amanda honeymooned in Los Angeles, where a hooker tried to pick up John, prompting the newlyweds to demonstrate on behalf of that city's prostitute population, "who are being cruelly exploited by men offering large amounts of money for their services and then oppressed by the pigs simply for doing their work," as Amanda explained to her new husband. "If men offered fifty dollars an hour for office work, these women wouldn't have to walk the streets."

John Schutz agreed that it was a worthy cause— although he felt uncomfortable when two hookers in the protest line propositioned him and then stole his wallet when he declined their services. John Schutz was a feminist, too, and he understood when Amanda refused to make love on their wedding night because she was exhausted from demonstrating.

He understood when Amanda refused to wear her wedding ring because it "represented man's enslavement of womankind" but insisted that John wear his as proof of his commitment to her.

He understood when Amanda insisted that from now on, she would not use birth control because for centuries men had placed that unfair burden on women— forgetting that the prophylactic predated the Pill by several centuries.

But he had second thoughts when she announced that, in their marriage, she was to be addressed as Amanda Bull-Schutz.

"I think it would be better if you didn't, dear," John suggested quietly.

"Why not? And don't call me dear. It's degrading to my self-image."

"It's only an expression of affection, Mandy. But, really, don't you think Amanda Bull-Schutz sounds a bit... awkward?"

Amanda thought for a second. "Hmmmm. I see what you mean..." She paced the hotel room, which gave an excellent view of 23 cubic yards of California smog. She was a tall, willowy blonde with eyes the color of a gray cat's fur, and a clear, unblemished complexion. Her only visible physical flaw was the single dark hair that grew flat along the bridge of her patrician nose, just above the tip. Although the hair annoyed her, she refused suggestions to pluck it or remove it by electrolysis because she wasn't about to do anything of the sort "just to please men and their stupid standards of female beauty." She rubbed the bridge of her nose while she thought.

"All my married friends combine their married and maiden names," Amanda said.

"Under the circumstances, I think they'll understand if you drop your maiden name," John said.

"Don't call it a maiden name. That's disgusting," she said. "It's my unmarried name. And it represents my heritage as a woman. It represents the centuries of women who have borne me."

"Your maid— unmarried name isn't your mother's name. It's your father's name," John pointed out politely.

"Are you becoming one of them, too?" she snapped.

He wasn't sure who they were, but he knew he didn't want to be one of them, so he shrugged. "I won't think less of you if you just use your unmarried name," he said.

Amanda thought quickly. What would happen if she kept her name Amanda Bull and then met someone she'd gone to college with? They might think that she had not been able to snare a husband and was still single.

"No! No! It just doesn't work. It had to be hyphenated. It has to be Amanda Bull-Schutz. There's no other way."

And so she became Amanda Bull-Schutz. It was not so difficult when they were with Amanda's feminist friends, because they seldom smiled and never laughed even among each other. But when they were with John's friends, it was more of a problem. At parties, Amanda always introduced herself in a loud voice, as if her very loudness could drown out criticism. Most people waited until she was out of earshot before snickering, but others laughed in her face— and John's face, too. This only made Amanda angrier. And the angrier she got, the more determined she was to be accepted as Amanda Bull-Schutz. She took to introducing her husband as John Bull-Schutz.

John found himself losing his friends. Before long, the only friends he had left were Amanda's feminist friends, but after one of them tried unsuccessfully to seduce him, Amanda wouldn't allow her husband to attend any more rallies and blamed him for the incident.

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