"You can remember,a single deluge only,but there weremany previous ones." Plato
A sudden hail storm sends students at Washington Polytech scrambling for cover. But one of the students, Lauren, wades through the downpour as the hail changes to rain. She approaches a teaching assistant who has taken cover in a breezeway. Lauren reaches for the woman's cigarette-and suddenly bursts into flames.
Frank travels to Washington Polytech where he interviews the teaching assistant. She describes her classmate as "mutant brilliant." The T.A. points out a set of armillary spheres, a model of the seven innermost planets of our solar system rendered in brass. She states that the Millennium Group member who interviewed her previously, Dennis Hoffman, thought he would be interested in the spheres. When Frank exits the room, he meets the mysterious Hoffman. He intones that on May 5, 2000-the day in which the seven innermost planets will align for the first time since the Great Flood--our planet will be ravaged by a cataclysmic event. He also believes the catastrophe will be preceded by abnormal weather patterns.
Watts tells Frank that Hoffman first approached the group years earlier during a cult investigation. He believes Hoffman is somewhat odd but harmless. Watts uncovers evidence proving Lauren is not her parents' biological offspring, yet, there are no papers documenting her adoption.
Cheryl Andrews performs an autopsy on Lauren's body. When traces of an accelerant are discovered, the cause of death is ruled as self-immolation. Andrews discovers an astronomical symbol carved into the flesh on her thigh. The mark is a symbol for conjunction, or aligrunent. When another girl, Carlin, a dead-ringer for Lauren, commits suicide by diving into a waterfall, Andrews discovers a conjunction symbol carved in her thigh as well. The women, it is determined, are identical twins born seven years apart. Andrews describes a technique used to create identical cattle in which a fertilized egg is divided multiple times in vitro. The technique produces twenty copies. Frank believes that someone, like Noah preparing for the Great Flood, is breeding identical offspring in preparation for May 5, 2000.
A tip from Hoffman leads the Millennium Group to The Atrium at Pocatello, Idaho. Ssomeone had made telephone calls to each of the twenty girls from a secret room in the Atrium's basement. The Group tracks the building's designer to a large remote house, and discovers the girls inside.
Despite Frank's objections, a police lieutenant, fearing a Jonestown-like massacre, places the girls in protective custody and loads them on a bus. Meanwhile, the girls' father, a man confined to an iron lung, explains his reasons for creating perfect children for the next millennium--to preserve what is good about humanity and remake the world in his own image. He reveals that he telephoned Lauren and Carlin and told them he was dying and wouldn't make it to the other side. Shortly thereafter, both girls committed suicide. Later, a power outage stops the iron lung, killing the man.
The bus driver, it is revealed, is also one of the Iron Lung Man's offspring. Police find the bus abandoned. The girls have vanished and Dennis Hoffman with them. Later, Frank realizes the Atrium is built on giant shock absorbers, and is itself a kind of ark. He knows where they will be on May 5, 2000.Read More