Welcome to Wirrawee

Darkness, Be My Friend - Synopsis

This book starts with the surprising revelation to the reader as well as the main character, that the group has been asked to guide a detachment of New Zealand Commandos back in Australia and that they leave the next week.

For five months now, the group has been recovering in New Zealand after being rescued, along with a pilot, during an air raid on Stratton where the group had been imprisoned.

After a while in New Zealand, the group hears a rumour that some of the Australian refugees are going to be dropped back into occupied territory to work as guerillas. Lee suggests that they might be on the list to go back, but the others don't take much notice of him at the time.

They do notice however, when Ellie and Fi arrive home from a run one day to see Colonel Finley talking to the others and Homer blurts out that they are going back to Australia.

Not long after, we meet Captain Pearce, the leader of the New Zealand commandos that the group is meant to guide around Wirrawee for an attack on a major target.

Ellie is single out by Colonel Finley to provide intelligence important to the commandos' mission, but she is not told the full story for her own protection.

In what seems too-short a time afterwards, Ellie finds herself on a plane bound for Australia across the Tasman with the New Zealand soldiers, then on a helicopter heading for the drop zone with a talkative pilot named Sam.

Ellie gets to prove herself to the soldiers when she is asked to lead them to the track that leads to Tailor's Stitch. She does get a bit overconfident and it takes them longer to reach the track, but they do eventually make it.

When the group reaches the top of Tailor's Stitch, they are frustrated when Ian wants to wait until darkness to cross the exposed ridge down into Hell, but they see the sense of it.

Homer cracks it when Ellie is chosen to lead the soldiers down into Hell, then loses it again when Ellie and Lee are chosen to guide the soldiers back into Wirrawee the next night.

Of course, no one is perfect and the stress Ellie has been under contributes to an incident in Wirrawee with the soldiers. She is taken back to the bottom of the track to Tailor's Stitch for her own safety.

Four days later, the group decides to go into Wirrawee to look for the New Zealand soldiers and Lee, as they have heard nothing from them.

On their way into town, they are surprised by a group of children, which leads to Ellie and her friends being chased first by the colonists, then the enemy soldiers.

After spending many hours up trees to avoid the search, the group climbs down only to find that they are still being searched for.

Both Kevin and Ellie come up with the idea of using the horses in the paddock as a means of escape and a dramatic sequence follows.

The group is still being chased as they reach Wirrawee and they face a showdown with a group of soldiers at the lookout. They manage to escape due to Ellie's quick thinking of lighting a fire.

Still on the run, the group manages to find shelter the abandoned high school that they all used to go to. While Fi is on sentry duty later on, she sees someone outside and Kevin goes to check it out. The person turns out to be Lee, who has been hiding in the cemetery for a week and is on the point of collapse when he reaches them.

Just before he goes to sleep, he tells the others he has something important to tell them, but he is asleep before he has a chance.

What Lee eventually tells the group, concerns the fate of their families and also that Fi may have a chance to see her parents.

However, Ellie realises that there were two things that Lee didn't tell them. What happened to his parents and even more importantly to Ellie, what has happened to Corrie.

A heart rending trip to the cemetery follows, after which Ellie feels that she would rather face the enemy again than tell her friends what happened to Corrie.

It is Lee that has the next idea, to try and succeed where the New Zealand soldiers failed and attack the airport.

Knowing that a direct attack would surely fail, the group decides to split up, with Ellie and Fi going to the fuel depot and the others trying to create a distraction...

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