This document is part of the Ocean Girl Archive — Last update: 2010-10-23 — sourcemeta

Author:Peter Hepworth

Ocean Girl – Season 3 – Treatment

The craft that brought Neri to earth still harbours two secrets.

One could betray her, the other could destroy the world.

Background to Ocean Girl 3

In “Ocean Girl 2” the enigmatic Neri, the girl from the sea, returned from the annual migration with her companion and mentor, Charley, the great Humpback whale.

But in her home waters, she was involved in an incident that was to have far-reaching consequences. She came to the rescue of Hellegren, the head of the sinister and powerful UBRI organisation. Hellegren repaid her help by briefly taking her captive. With Charley’s assistance, she managed to break free and escape, but Hellegren was now aware of the existence of this strange girl and her extraordinary powers.

Back on her hidden island paradise, Neri met up again with Jason and Brett Bates, her close friends from the ORCA underwater scientific installation. They agreed to help her on a quest spurred by the discovery that her blood wasn’t human – to find out the truth about who she really was and where she came from.

The search for clues resulted in the finding of the remains of a huge craft buried under the water and sand of a cove on the island, and the revelation that Neri was the last survivor of a disaster-struck interplanetary voyage. By way of a hologram retrieved from the wreckage, her long-dead father explained that their mission had been to watch over human colonisation of the sea. He also revealed that Neri had a baby sister, Mera, whom he had ejected from the doomed craft in a desperate attempt to save her life. Her fate was unknown.

Jason and Brett set out to find Mera. They finally located her, now grown to adolescence, in a forbidding institute for the study of exceptional children. To their dismay, however, they found that Hellegren, as a sponsor of the institute, had also taken an interest in the strangely gifted girl and intended to take her to UBRI for further examination.

Mera, having no knowledge of her true ancestry, was wary at first of the ORCA kids and the fantastic tale they had to tell. But at the last minute, she decided to trust them, and Mera was snatched from under Hellegren’s nose, to his anger and frustration.

Mera was reunited with Neri. It took Mera some time to adjust to the primitive life of simple harmony on the island, but eventually she grew to love it. Encouraged and instructed by her sister. Mera learnt to match her sister’s amazing physical prowess in the water, although she seemed unable to emulate Neri’s psychic ability to communicate with Charley.

However, their idyllic existence was coming under increasing threat from outside. Hellegren, putting the pieces of the puzzle together, was now determined to get his hands on both the girls. To that end, he installed spies on ORCA. He also began to silently follow the research vessel on which Jason and Brett’s mother, Dianne – along with her assistant, Winston – were surveying the sea floor for a suitable site for the proposed giant ORCA City complex. Neri was assisting them in this, a fact unknown to the captain, Sam, and several other “outsider” kids on board. When Hellegren’s men made their move to capture the girls underwater, Mera, in panic, made the psychic breakthrough that had eluded her, calling Charley to their assistance. But in the subsequent rescue, the girls were revealed to Sam and the “outsider” kids. One by one, however, they swore to keep the secret.

Neri and Mera were taken to shelter on ORCA. But with spies within the base, and an armada of UBRI boats waiting outside, eventual capture seemed just a matter of time. And, to complicate matters, two rescuers arrived from their own planet to take the girls home, explaining that the unique powers they both possess were urgently needed there. But to get home – which Mera, in particular, desperately wanted to do – they had to first get back to the island where the rescue craft was hidden, through the ranks of UBRI vessels just waiting for them to make such a move.

The kids devised an elaborate plan, drawing UBRI’s forces off on a false trail while Neri and Mera slipped, unnoticed, through the net. By the time Hellegren realised he had been fooled, a light blazing across the sky signalled that the girls were on the return journey to their own planet. Hellegren had to accept he would never get his hands on them now and tumed back, defeated.

But in a final twist, it was revealed that while Mera had gone. Neri, in fact, had made a last minute decision to stay – to be with her “family” and her beloved Charley, and to continue her father’s mission to watch over the oceans…

Ocean Girl 3 – Series outline

On Neri’s island, life has retumed to normal. Neri, having stayed to fulfil her father’s mission, spends much of her time with Charley, watching from a distance – the underwater activity as sub-marine labourers prepare to lay the foundations for the proposed ORCA City, a task that will take years to complete.

One of the workmen spots a movement in the corner of his eye, and calls to a companion on their underwater communication system. They go to investigate. There is no sign of anything. Must have been a seal, they decide – but even then, where did it vanish to? They shrug it off and retum to work. We close in on a hole in a coral cliff face…

…which leads through to a little underwater cave with an air pocket inside. This is a hidey-hole that Neri has recently discovered. It will serve as another meeting place for Neri and the boys between ORCA and the island. And it is the base from which she continues to monitor the goings-on in the sea outside.

But other things are also on Neri’s mind. The ritual marking off of days on a crude calendar suggests that she is counting time, keeping track of something that is happening in the world outside her paradise…

It is the retum of the Bates family, coming home to the ORCA base after an absence on the mainland for a compulsory holiday break. They are returning early. Dianne has recently been appointed Environmental Protection Officer for the ORCA City development, and an emergency has arisen. It has been discovered that the chosen site will impinge on the breeding ground of a rare fish species. The developers want to proceed anyway, some of the scientists are making vociferous objections and she is being called in to settle the matter as quickly as possible.

Jason has also been given a promotion, of sorts. lie has been accepted into the ORCA Cadet Training Scheme, a program where promising teenagers are groomed for future career paths on ORCA City – from advanced diving techniques to Bridge Duties to flying helicopters. Jason is really looking forward to the experience – but both he and Brett are looking forward even more to being reunited with Neri.

It is obvious from the moment that the Bates family step out of the ORCA turbolift and head for the dive prep room that things have changed on the underwater installation. The scientists and administrative personnel are being replaced and outnumbered by hard-hat types, underwater building workers and engineers. As base for the men and women who will undertake the lengthy foundation work for ORCA City, it has lost some of the more refined atmosphere of the laboratory and taken on more of the air of a construction camp.

The shift in emphasis has taken its toll on their old friends, too. All the familiar faces have been shipped out, their quarters appropriated as accommodation for the steadily-growing labour force. But the boys have no time to lament the fact, as Jason has to get suited up to accompany his mother on an inspection of the disputed breeding ground.

While they are out there, an underwater construction accident puts Jason’s life in peril. He is left alone. running short of air, as the only witnesses race to get equipment and assistance to free him. Neri comes to his rescue and swiftly takes him to the nearest source of air, her secret little cave. As he recovers, search parties in the sea outside puzzle over the whereabouts of the boy, who seems to have mysteriously disappeared from the face of the earth. When he later reappears from nowhere, with an empty air tank, Jason has to do some fast talking to explain his absence.

Back on ORCA, the Bates family and Winston get the shock of their lives when they come face to face with the last person they ever wished to encounter again – Dr Hellegren. To their dismay, they discover that the UBRI organisation have successfully bid to become major developers in the ORCA City project. It is very worrying turn of events. Hellegren himself may be only a casual visitor to the base, but there will now be a permanent UBRI presence to contend with on ORCA. And that means continuing and unrelenting danger to Neri.

Jason and Brett slip away and hurry out to the island to be properly reunited with Neri. As they re-acquaint themselves with the island. Neri expresses her concern about the activity near the fish breeding ground. It is clear that her father’s mission to guard against destruction as humans colonise the seas is of paramount importance in her life now, and she feels she now carries the burden of his responsibility. Jason and Brett assure her that they – and Dianne – will do all they can to assist.

As they stroll around the island, they find themselves near the bay when: the submerged wreckage of the space craft lies. Brett sighs that he’s always wanted to get inside it again, really have a good look around this time. However, Jason points out it’s impossible. The only entrance they ever located – the one out under the water – has been crushed and permanently sealed. Neri looks out to sea wistfully. Who knows what other mementos of her past may lies inside the craft, if only they could get to them? But Jason is more concemed with the present than the past at the moment. With UBRI now stationed so close. Neri will have to be more careful than ever.

Indeed, at that moment, Hellegren, reminded of the past by his encounter with the Bates, is still cursing having let Neri and Mera slip through his lingers. He has no way of knowing that Neri did not return to her home planet and is still, in fact, on the island. His temper isn’t improved when Dianne, covertly aided by Neri and the boys. successfully fights against UBRI’s plans to build over the fish breeding grounds, and the site has to be slightly realigned at large expense to UBRI. Hellegren is fuming as he sets off on a mysterious errand – the nature of which we will discover later.

Neri and the boys celebrate the victory with a feast on the island. But the triumph is tempered with a note of caution. With their old friends gone, there are only three of them now and the odds seem to be stacking up against them. Nevertheless. they renew their old allegiance to each other and swear to stick together, come what may.

As the boys settle back into ORCA life, Jason makes a new acquaintance on board. Sallyanne is an open, no-nonsense country girl with a self reliant air and laconic sense of humour. She is on the Cadet Training Scheme with Jason and they rapidly become good friends in an easygoing, jokey, brother-and-sister sort of way.

Brett, being the gregarious soul he is, quickly becomes the heart of another gang. His fellow members are Cass, a fiery and rebellious young American girl recently arrived on ORCA, and Tommy, an incurably enthusiastic dreamer and junior entrepreneur whose grand schemes always seem to come unstuck, somehow. This disparate trio are bound for many adventures together, but at the same time Brett has to stay on his guard to prevent his two companions from becoming aware of Neri’s existence – not always a simple task.

But these friendships are just at a fledgling stage when an event happens that will alter the course of Jason, Brett and Neri’s lives and eventually catch up their new pals in its repercussions:

A tropical cyclone lashing the area shifts the sands on the beach where the space craft lies buried, exposing a small section with a grille in it. As Neri and the boys examine it in wonder, they realise that although the craft is lilled with water there is room for them to squeeze through the narrow opening. Once again, they are going to be able to enter the world of Neri’s past!

The opening episodes of “Ocean Girl 3” centre on the entering of the space craft – and what they find inside.

After shoring up around the grille to stop the beach sands from covering it over again, Neri and the boys start to pump out the water with equipment “borrowed” from ORCA’s stores. To their delight, it works, and when the pumps are sucking nothing but air, they proceed to climb through the grille and down into the bowels of the ship.

Neri, Jason and Brett find themselves in a sealed section towards the stem of the craft. From the remains of alien equipment around, the boys speculate that it was some kind of navigation deck – it certainly suggests that the purpose of some of this stuff was to establish bearings of one kind or another.

They move on, searching, until they come to a chamber at the end. They peer in – and gasp.

There at the end of the chamber is what appears to be a strange, coffin-like casket. They approach warily and see that it has a transparent lid. They brush away the wet sand and seaweed obscuring it – and Gnd themselves looking not at some decayed body but at a handsome young man in a state of perfect preservation, not dead but apparently deeply and peacefully asleep.

They realise that the casket is some kind of suspended animation chamber, intended for use in the long journeys through deep space. And this boy must be a native of Neri’s planet who has been in an artificially-induced sleep for all the years since Neri first arrived on Earth as a child. With all his processes slowed, he has aged very little in that time.

It is obvious Neri’s father had no idea of his presence – there would have been a rescue attempt, or at least he would have mentioned it to her. The survivors from the bridge assumed that everyone at the stern of the craft had perished, which they had – all except this boy.

After several failed attempts, Neri works out how to open the casket. The young man wakes and steps out to confront what is – for him – a strange new would.

At first, he is a little disorientated and bemused. His first stumbling few words are in an alien tongue that the boys can’t understand and that Neri has long forgotten. Encouraged by Neri to speak “earth words”, he responds in very faltering English. It transpires that all the youngsters on board were given basic schooling in it on the long flight to Earth. He even remembers a little girl who used to interrupt the classes with her childish prattle. It was Neri. and the boy is surprised to realise that little girl is now the young woman standing before him. But then he calmly accepts it and takes it in his stride. It is a strange quality that Jason and Brett are quick to note about this young man – that while he carries a sense of wonder with him, and will fleetingly register surprise or puzzlement or fascination, he appears to lack any deeper or lasting “human” emotions. It is something that will change in time with exposure to the human world, but for the moment, there is an odd “disconnected” quality about him.

The boy introduces himself as Kal. He is caught off-guard when he finds out that Jason and Brett are really “Opal people” – this is the first time he has actually ever laid eyes on one. But then a look of excitement and anticipation comes into his eyes as he heads out with Neri for his first look at the outside world.

Neri and the boys find they have inherited quite a handful with Kal. He is quick to learn new words and phrases. can swim almost as well as Neri, and displays a startling ability to do quantum physics and advanced mathematics instantaneously in his head. However, when it comes to more earthly things, he is literally like a babe in the woods. He has no practical knowledge of how to survive on the island or how to recognise its dangers and pitfalls. Neri spends a good deal of time trying to keep him out of trouble.

There are other things about him that cause the boys some confusion. His attitude to Neri is deferential from the outset. He explains that on their home planet, females – being bearers of life – are naturally deemed superior. When he builds his own nest, he insists on putting it at the foot of the tree, since it would be wrong for a male to be higher than a girl. To two modem teenage boys like Brett and Jason, this attitude leaves them scratching their head – better keep him and his weird ideas away from the world outside, they agree.

But, after a settling-in period on the island, Kal starts to grow increasingly curious about what lies beyond its boundaries. The prospect of him let loose in the outside world is a real worry to Neri and the boys. He has no practical knowledge of human beings and therefore no inbuilt defence against their darker side. Unlike Neri, whose father took great pains to warn her about humans, Kal is a total innocent where they’re concerned, and any attempt to set him straight just seems to go in one ear and out the other. On top of that, some of his more unusual traits he has obviously done a lot of theoretical study about the planet Earth. and a simple word is enough to cue off an encyclopedia-like definition of the subject from him – are bound to attract notice. Neri tries to find diversions on the island that will keep his attention occupied there.

In the meantime, life continues on board ORCA. The ranks of kids aboard are constantly being swelled by new arrivals, bringing their own stories, concerns and problems with them – from the hulking bully who has to be outwitted to the handicapped girl trying to find acceptance amongst her peers to a kid living with a guilty secret. In the confined world of ORCA, the boys and their friends inevitably find themselves getting caught up in these stories, as, indeed, does Neri – she can still slip on and off board in the disguise of her ORCA uniform. although she must take special care now, with UBRI personnel lurking around ever comer, and the chance of encountering Hellegren face to face an added danger.

Hellegren, however, has his hands full with other matters for the moment. Lt Borg brings him some intriguing news from UBRI’s geomonitoring department. A search through old records has turned up evidence of objects hitting the earth some years ago, possibly small meteors, possibly something else. It is intriguing, and Hellegren gives approval to follow it up before leaving again on another of his mysterious errands. This time, the reason for his journeys is revealed. It is his daughter, Greta, who is about 13 or 14 years old and boarding at a very exclusive girls school. It quickly becomes apparent why Hellegren has kept her existence from his colleagues – he is not a man who wishes to display any vulnerability and this girl is his Achilles heel. She is clearly the apple of his eye, the only person for whom he seems to feel genuine affection. Greta is unhappy at the school and wants to leave. He finally capitulates and allows her to come home to live with him – a move that will have far-reaching consequences.

On the island, the space craft proves to contain a final revelation – one that will come to dominate Neri’s life and set her and her friends off on a quest that will be a central thread for the series.

Joining Neri and the boys in further exploration of the craft, Kal comes upon his parents’ private records. What he learns from them takes the whole group by surprise. For they contain information that most of the space travellers – including Neri’s father – never knew about their mission to this planet:

In the years before the mission, concern was growing about the future of the Earth’s oceans. Speculation that the situation could already be critical by the time the advanced craft could be built, launched, and reach its destination, a decision was made to send ahead, in a series of unmanned capsules, the parts of powerful device just perfected on Neri’s planet. Each capsule was directed to land in an area away from human habitation to avoid detection – with its vast uninhabited spaces, Australia was ideal. This device, when assembled, had the power to alter sea levels, divert currents, influence tides – change, in fact. the very nature and motions of the oceans themselves.

Its intended use was benevolent. In the event that it was found mankind had already committed major damage to the oceans, the device would allow the visitors to manipulate the seas to negate damage and restore the harmony of nature. But the rulers of Neri’s planet were also aware that the incipient power of the device could be a temptation, even to some of their own people. So the device was split into separate sections and its existence kept secret from all except those whose job would be to locate the sections and reassemble them again. Kal’s parents were in charge of this task. When they died, the secret died with them – until now.

The records also reveal that when the device was retrieved and assembled, its use was to be entrusted to only one man – Neri’s father. And Neri, as inheritor of her father’s mission, feels it is her spiritual duty to find this machine herself lest it fall into the wrong hands. Jason and Brett readily volunteer to do all they can to help her in the quest.

A search through the craft locates what must have been the scanner that would pinpoint the location of the capsules once they had landed, but it has obviously been smashed on impact beyond repair.

Despite the disappointment, Jason and Brett try to reassure Neri. They know the sections of this fabulous device are out there somewhere. All they have to do is work out a way to track them down. It doesn’t really make any difference if it takes them months, even years – because nobody else on Earth even suspects they are there.

However, at that moment, Hellegren is stalking up a red dust slope in an isolated area of the Outback, summoned by a small group of UBRI minions. He reaches a crest and looks down into a crater below. There sit the remains of a peculiar capsule, and inside it, some strange piece of apparatus, the like of which he has never seen before. He doesn’t know what it is, but he feels there is something strange about it – very strange indeed. He will not rest until he works out the answers.

And so, Neri’s search begins for the pieces of an alien device so powerful it is capable of controlling the oceans themselves.

It is no simple task. Although Neri, Jason and Brett suspect that the capsules were all targeted to come down within a contained area, they have no way of knowing exactly where the landing zones were. It is not until Brett, aided by Kal, correlates an old report of a strange light seen in the night sky with the arrival of one of the capsules that they begin to make progress. They realise the capsules were visible for a short time as they entered the earth’s atmosphere, and begin to sift through past sightings of comets, space junk falling, and UFO’s. It is a painstaking business, but they feel time is on their side, since they are the only ones in the know. It is not until they actually locate the first site in the red Outback dust and find that the part of the device has been removed that they realise they have a rival.

Unknown to them, Hellegren is pursuing the matter from another angle. Having examined the object, he has come to the conclusion that it is not of terrestrial origin. He even guesses that it is somehow tied to Neri although he still believes that she has gone, retumed to her planet. And when he stumbles on the object’s extraordinary effect on sea water, he begins to guess at its possible purpose – and that there are other sections of it to be found before the device is complete. Despite its original purpose. Hellegren knows that to control the sea is potentially to control the world – and from then on, he is determined to gather all the parts into UBRI’s possession. He believes they can be located the same way they found the first one – by sifting through old records for instances of objects impacting on the planet.

So, using two different methods, the opposing sides begin to engage in battle, a race to be first to each of the priceless pieces of the device. There will be delays, times when neither side seem to be able to make any progress. There will be frustrations, when clues lead up blind alleys. There will be moments of triumph and despair, when one side gains a piece of the prize, only to have the opposition devise a way of snatching it from under their noses. But the permutations of the search will form a continuous story thread throughout the series.

And something happens on board ORCA that will build the sense of urgency in the quest. Against Dianne and Winston’s protestations, the UBRI developers use a massive amount of explosives to blast an obstruction on the ocean floor. UBRI insist that no damage has been done, but Neri senses instinctively that some bad chain of events has been set in action. Something will go wrong in the sea, she predicts – and the search for the device that may be the only remedy becomes of even greater importance to her.

Simultaneous with these developments, the drama of day-to-day life goes on in ORCA:

Brett, Cass and Tommy enrol together to get their diving tickets. This results in adventure and action, from a near-disastrous accident while “cramming” for their exam to Tommy’s crazy scheme to locate a sunken treasure ship reputed to have gone down in the area centuries ago. It will also introduce them to Dave Hartley, the charismatic Dive Master and First Officer. whom Brett will eventually come to ear-mark as a potential new father, much to Dianne’s consternation, The trio will also be involved in the everyday issues of all young people, from disputes with parents to peer group pressure, both personally and through the other kids they encounter who pass through ORCA.

Jason and Sallyanne begin their ORCA Cadetship, a task that will take them into new and different areas of the ORCA would. Dave Hartley is one of their supervisors, and although he and Sallyanne have their clashes, he develops into somewhat of a mentor for Jason. He senses a potential for leadership in the boy, and Jason begins to spend a good deal of time up on the Bridge with him when not occupied with school work or in other cadet areas. Jason, of course, still gets away when he can to help with the search and to visit Neri – in fact, he begins to get a little touchy about the amount of time Kal gets to spend with her in comparison. The irony is that at the same time, Sallyanne is carrying a large but undeclared torch for Jason – a fact of which he is totally oblivious.

Dianne and Winston face a crisis when Winston is threatened with the sack – given Dianne’s new role on ORCA, it is considered useless to have an assistant who cannot dive with her. Winston has to undergo a crash swimming program and then enrol in the diving course alongside Brett and the other kids. He manages to get through it – though not without incident – and joins Dianne in her battles against the special interest groups on board. And it is only with Neri’s coven help that they are often able to frustrate and defeat them. They also continue working with Charley, adding to their whale “dictionary” whenever time allows.

Meanwhile, out on the island, Neri does her best to keep Kal’s interest in the outside world curtailed. But, inevitably, his curiosity gets the best of him and he slips away to ORCA, finding entry via the diving chamber. By the time Neri, Jason and Brett realise it he is already aboard! Fortunately, Brett manages to smuggle him into their cabin and get him into one of Jason’s uniforms before he attracts too much attention. But once Kal is on board, there is no stopping him. And the boys quickly realise that he is even more of a problem than Neri ever was.

Neri was at least theoretically mindful of the need for secrecy and guardedness. Kal is like a Labrador puppy in a butcher’s shop, eager to see and sample all this strange civilisation has to offer for himself. He marvels at the unfamiliar and oddly primitive technology’ he puzzles aloud at the unfathomable social behaviours he observes around him; he is an innocent, blundering his way around a strange and fascination new world. And between the three of them, Neri, Brett and Jason have the unenviable task of trying to keep him out of trouble.

Gradually, under their guidance, Kal begins to adjust to some of the vagaries and rituals of the human realm. But, as a consequence of this, he also finds himself exposed to human emotions. At first, they simply bemuse him but, as time goes along, he begins to show signs of responding to them. Unlike Neri, who sampled emotions but simply shrugged them off as silly and superfluous. Kal, immersed in human culture, begins to develop embryonic emotions of his own. At the start, they are affable, simple, almost childish ones – friendship, sharing, loyalty – he still has no real understanding of human deceit or cruelty. But this vulnerability to emotion will be something that Hellegren will later exploit with almost catastrophic results.

For the moment, however, Hellegren has his hands full with the search for the alien device and his relationship with his daughter. He has gone to some pains in the past to conceal the true nature of his work from Greta, and still continues to insinuate that he is just a benevolent scientist striving for the good of mankind. If pressed, he becomes deliberately vague, using the old aduIt excuse that she is “too young to understand" the details. But Greta is a highly intelligent and curious girl, not to be fobbed off so easily. She sets out to satisfy herself as to what he really does down at UBRI – and subsequent revelations of the truth shatters her belief in her father. When she becomes aware of the existence of the device – and of his plans for it – she is confronted with a huge moral dilemma.

And, at around the midway point of the series, several key events happen that radically alter the scheme of things and send the story spinning into the second half:

  • Tommy and Cass stumble on to the truth about Neri. Tommy’s first reaction is to think there is a million to be made out of this discovery, but since she has saved them from a very sticky situation, he bows to Brett’s plea for silence, as does Cass. Brett, for this part, is rather glad to have these two extra hands to enlist in Neri’s quest for the alien machine.
  • Locating a piece of the device at the bottom of the deep-sea trench, Neri makes a dive that is dangerous, even for her, and retrieves it minutes before a UBRI diver in full pressure suit arrives. The frustrated Hellegren is left even more determined than ever that he – and only he must have possession of the whole thing. He is now prepared to entrap his ORCA rivals and eliminate them from the race forever.
  • Greta makes the hardest decision of her young life and warns the ORCA kids by giving away her father’s plans. This saves the ORCA forces from the UBRI trap, but when Hellegren learns what she has done, he reacts to what he sees as her ultimate betrayal by casting her out of his house and his life. From now on, he declares, he has no daughter.
  • The immature but developing emotions in Kal show signs of taking a new turn when events confront him with the fact that, in some aspects, at least, Neri favours Jason over him. He makes a show of not caring, but there is a hint that, for the first time, a darker emotion has been touched in him – jealousy.
  • Neri’s worst fears start to become confirmed when Winston’s equipment begins to pick up some strange signals from the sea floor. Winston speculates that the massive explosion UBRI detonated has disturbed an ancient fauIt line which could expand and eventually have disastrous repercussions not only locally but around the world. UBRI laugh it off as bunkum, but, to Neri and her friends, if Winston is right, then the device they seek may be the only way to save not only the oceans, but the planet itself.
  • Hellegren stumbles upon the truth – that Neri did not return home. She is still out there somewhere!

After the initial shock. Hellegren puts the revelation into perspective. He is not going to waste his own time in pursuit of Neri again – he tried that once before, and despite having the entire forces of UBRI at his command, it got him nowhere. Besides, he is now much more interested in the device than the girl, extraordinary as she may be. Just as his interest in Charley was superseded by his discovery of Neri, so now his determination to capture the Ocean Girl has given way to his obsession with having this ultimate machine of power in his possession. He deputes Lt Borg to set up surveillance in the seas around ORCA to try to spot Neri, but his main force remains concentrated on the search for the still-missing pieces of the device.

When the gang find out the Greta has been thrown out of home by her father, she is taken in by the Bates family on ORCA. Dianne doesn’t miss the irony of playing mother to her arch-rival’s daughter, but appreciating the sacrifices Greta has made on their behalf, warms to the girl.

So, the central band of “Neri’s army” finally starts to take shape – Brett, Tommy, Cass and Greta, assisted by Jason. As the search continues to heat up and gain momentum, this little band are pitched against the might of the combined UBRI forces. Most times, they appear hopelessly outnumbered. But with a little luck and a lot of daring – Neri slips on board a UBRI boat at sea to snatch a just-retrieved section of the device from right under their noses; she and the gang conduct an audacious raid on UBRI headquarters itself – they manage to keep neck and neck with their rivals.

Neri leads the quest with an increasing sense of destiny as reports begin to trickle in from local and overseas sources that strange things are beginning to happen in the sea, signs that something has gone wrong and the situation is slowly worsening. Neri is finally confronted with the fact that failure in her mission could mean the destruction of the oceans, and the Earth – with cataclysmic flow-on effects throughout the galaxy. A bomb is ticking and time is starting to run out…

All this continues to take place against the daily life on board ORCA.

Neri, Dianne, Winston and the boys cannot afford to abandon their united fight against those happy to despoil the sea for the sake of profits. Dianne is rather surprised to find that she has an ally in the shape of the Dive Master, Dave Hartley. As time passes Dave begins to show more than a professional interest in Dianne but runs up against a brick wall after a series of unfortunate experiences with men (Sam, for instance, eventually ran off back to his true mistress, the sea), Dianne has sworn off them for life. However, in a reversal of previous scenarios, both Jason and Brett really grow to like Dave and don’t actually object in his interest in their mother. Brett even tries a little matchmaking – with predictably disastrous results. Eventually, Dianne will thaw to Dave, but there will be rocky patches along the way.

There is even a moment of what appears may be a romance for Winston, when an old heart-throb from his university days makes contact again. Who should turn up by Lt Borg, claiming she is there to renew an old friendship but actually, of course, attempting to prise from him any information he has about Neri. When Brett finally places where he’s seen her before and alerts that she is from UBRI, Winston gives Borg her marching orders, but we see a more vulnerable side of Winston revealed. And a very sinister aspect of Borg – just which woman’s hand is it that locks the diving chamber door, leaving the kids outside with the options of running out of air or risking fatal bends in a dash to the surface high above?

Jason and Sallyanne continue to find themselves embroiled in the problems and responsibilities that come with cadetship, including ORCA emergencies, duties that turn out to have unexpected dangers, and the dilemmas of command. On top of these, Sallyanne comes to suspect that Jason’s friends-only attitude to her must mean that he is interested in another girl – but who is she? Sallyanne determines to find out, the very last thing that Jason wants.

Brett and his gang have enough problems of their own, like any young teens their age. They also can’t help getting embroiled in the lives of the other kids constantly passing through ORCA.

And steadily, working together as a team now, at the same time they continue the search for the remaining missing sections of the device. The search takes them to a variety of locations by different means, from canoe to horseback to trailbike. And all the time, the presence of UBRI is a constant menace hovering in the background.

When they find another piece of the machine. Neri takes it to place with the others. For security’s sake, only she, Jason and Brett know where they are being stored – in the underwater cave.

And then, disaster strikes., Lt Borg sights Kal at sea and reports to Hellegren that there is another of the Ocean People existing. Kal is lured into an ambush and captured.

Hellegren is intrigued by the latent possibilities in his strangely unworldly captive. It is not just that the boy provides a possible means of getting their hands on the parts of the device in the ORCA kids’ possession. Kal is obviously so emotionally malleable that Hellegren quickly senses he can manipulate him with ease. Here is a chance to shape a being in his own image, fashion a “son" to compensate for the daughter who he feels betrayed him. And use him to gain the ultimate victory over his rivals.

He skilfully begins to awaken Kal’s immature darker emotions – greed, envy, lust for power. Why shouldn’t he, as a male, be the one in charge, rather than Neri? The island should be his, not hers. And she would be his to command if Jason hadn’t stolen her affections. Hellegren promises Kal can have all this – and much, much more. They can have control of the world between them. All he has to do is listen to what Hellegren tells him, and obey it to the letter. With no knowledge of how to cope with the unfamiliar feelings being aroused. Kal begins to listen to Hellegren…

When they realise Kal is missing, Neri and the gang scour the area for any signs of him. But he seems to have disappeared into thin air. They are left worried and mystified.

Kal reappears as mysteriously as he left, claiming he just went adventuring and lost his bearings. They are so relieved that he is back that no-one questions his story much.

So they continue as before, unaware that Kal has been turned against them by Hellegren. Even Neri is oblivious to the fact that one day when she goes to check on the parts of the device they have gathered, he follows her. It is not until UBRI divers raid the cave, guided there by Kal, that they realise they have been betrayed.

Now Hellegren has all the pieces of the device in his hands except two – the triggering device and the control.

The gang are in a seemingly hopeless position when help arrives in a most unexpected form. Lights are seen playing in the night sky over the island, a strange craft lands, a figure moves through the darkened rainforest, and Neri wakes to find herself looking into the face of her sister. Mera, returned from the stars to offer assistance in their hour of crisis. Neri stares at her for a moment in disbelief before the two sisters embrace in joyful reunion.

The last section of the story brings all the elements to a head and pushes them inexorably to a final climax.

In the secondary strands, Jason and Sallyanne pass their probation and graduate as full cadets. Cass comes to terms with her teenage rebellion, and Tommy learns that wealth and fame are not necessarily guarantees of happiness. With Brett and Greta, we even get a lighthearted hint of a first real boy-girl relationship to come. Dianne finally capitulates to Dave’s attentions, and she and Winston triumphantly make their first tentative but real contact with Charley, making her dream of some day talking to whales a reality.

But it is the central story that increasingly dominates the state. With Mera’s help, the gang have a few victories, but Hellegren seems to have all the counter-moves. And when the triggering device for the machine falls into his hands – it is activated by the pitch of Charley’s whale song – he cannot resist the impulse to try it out, even without the controls. He unleashes a reaction in the surrounding ocean That threatens to destroy ORCA itself.

When Hellegren beats them by a whisker to the last piece of the device the controls – it seems all is lost. But Kal, once an eager convert, is growing steadily disillusioned with the difference between Hellegren’s promises and the reality of the naked display of power and ambition he sees around him. He begins to understand that what Neri told him about the darker side of human beings is the truth.

And time is rapidly running out. Around the world, the oceans are beginning to go out of kilter, rising and falling unpredictably. production giant whirlpools and tidal waves that threaten the land masses themselves.

The climactic sequence comes when Hellegren, now with the device complete, goes to give it a final test of its powers. They know from the previous occasion that all life in the water in the immediate vicinity of where the device actually touches the sea is under threat of extinction the power generated so near the source makes it unavoidable, if regrettable. As the gang of kids make a desperate and doomed attempt to try to intercede, two figures appear in the water nearby. Neri and Mera, both prepared to risk themselves in an attempt to stop what is happening. It appears, however, that Hellegren is prepared to sacrifice them, if necessary.

But then a third figure swims out to join them – Greta. If her father is going to use the device, he will have to destroy her, too. Lt Borg urges him to throw the switch, but even Hellegren hesitates. Even to this cold and ruthless man, it is one thing to cast his daughter out, but quite another to destroy his own blood. It goes against the deepest of human impulses, and even the worst of the species can not deny that powerful protecting urge. Lt Borg, however, has no such qualms, and is quite prepared to throw the switch herself. But in the moment’s hiatus, Kal makes a decision. He tears the control and triggering device from their mountings – suffering bolts of power through his body in the process and hurls them out to sea, where Neri and Mera catch them and dive deep. In the confusion that follows, the ORCA kids make off with the rest of the device. Hellegren is robbed of ultimate power, the victim of being a human being.

Out of Hellegren’s reach, the device is hastily reassembled and used to calm and heal the out-of-kilter oceans, as it had been intended to do. Peace and balance are brought back to the sea just in time.

A semi-conscious Kal is brought back to the island. Neri silences his feeble attempts to explain and apologise – he simply fell prey to the dark side, something humans do every day. That is exactly the mission she inherited from her father – to watch that the dark side of humans didn’t take over as they move in to the sea. But Kal cannot survive here, and Mera says she will take him home. And this time, she wants Neri to come too, at least for a short while. After deep thought. Neri agrees. She feels she has fulfilled her mission now. Humans have been shown first hand the dangers of abuse and how close they came to catastrophe. If they have not learned their lesson by now. then perhaps they never will.

Neri says they must take the device with them too. Humans cannot continue to rely on outside sources to save them from their own stupidity. They must accept that the fate of the oceans, and the planet. lie in their own hands.

She will not be gone for long, Neri says. And if they really have urgent need of her again, she will hear Charley call, even over the immense distance – because she will hear it in her heart.

Brett suddenly pipes up telling Neri that he wants to go with them. Things have been pretty exciting here ever since they net, but to travel on a starship, to go to a new would – that would be the ultimate adventure! Neri looks from his pleading fact to that of Jason, who clearly doesn’t want to leave her side, and finally to Dianne, agog at the thought of the scientific wonders to be encountered out there in the universe.

And so, on a dark and misty rainforest night, Winston stands and watches as the Bates family, late of the ORCA Research Centre (Australia) wave goodbye to him and head off with Neri into the stars – and the unknown.