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Authors: Robert Muchamore

Dark Sun

Robert Muchamore
was born in 1972 and spent thirteen years working as a private investigator. The CHERUB series has won numerous awards, including the 2005 Red House Children’s Book Award. For more information on Robert and his work, visit www.cherubcampus.com.

Praise for the CHERUB series:

‘If you can’t bear to read another story about elves, princesses or spoiled rich kids who never go to the toilet, try this. You won’t regret it.’
The Ultimate
Teen Book Guide

‘My sixteen-year-old son read
The Recruit
in one sitting, then went out the next day and got the sequel.’ Sophie Smiley, teacher and children’s author

‘So good I forced my friends to read it, and they’re glad I did!’ Helen, age 14

‘CHERUB is the first book I ever read cover to cover. It was amazing.’ Scott, age 13

‘The best book ever.’ Madeline, age 12

‘CHERUB is a must for Alex Rider lovers.’

Travis, age 14

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The CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore:
1. The Recruit

2. Class A

3. Maximum Securit y

4. The Killing

5. Divine Madness

6. Man vs Beast

7. The Fall

8. Mad Dogs

9. The Sleepwalker

And coming soon
. . .

10. The General

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cherubWBD-ttp.qxd 18/10/07 10:53 Page 1

Robert Muchamore

A division of Hachette Children’s Books

Copyright © 2008 Robert Muchamore

First published in Great Britain in 2008

by Hodder Children’s Books

The right of Robert Muchamore to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

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All rights reserved. Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form, or by any means with prior permission in writing from the publishers or in the case of reprographic production in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency and may not be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. A Catalogue record for this book is available from the British Librar y

ISBN-13: 978 0 340 95679 3 (home)

ISBN-13: 978 0 340 95680 9 (export)

Typeset in Goudy by Avon DataSet Ltd,

Bidford-on-Avon, War wickshire

Printed and bound in Great Britain by

Bookmarque Ltd, Croydon, Surrey

Cover repro by Saxon Photolitho, Nor wich, Norfolk The text paper within this book was donated by Abitibi Consolidated and Paper Management Services Ltd The paper and board used in this paperback by Hodder Children’s Books are nat ural recyclable products made from wood grown in sustainable forests. The manufact uring processes conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin. Hodder Children’s Books

a division of Hachette Children’s Books

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338 Euston Road, London NW1 3BH

An Hachette Livre UK company

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CHERUB is a branch of British Intelligence. Its agents are aged bet ween ten and seventeen years. Cherubs are mainly orphans who have been taken out of care homes and trained to work undercover. They live on CHERUB campus, a secret facilit y hidden in the English countryside.

Quite a lot. Nobody realises kids do undercover missions, which means they can get away with all kinds of stuff that adults can’t.

About three hundred children live on CHERUB

campus. Among the agents are fifteen-year-old JAMES ADAMS and his t welve-year-old sister LAUREN. Their friends include BRUCE

NORRIS, ANDY LAGAN and Lauren’s on-off

boyfriend ‘R AT’ R ATHBONE.

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Cherubs are ranked according to the colour of the T-shirts they wear on campus. OR ANGE is for visitors. RED is for kids who live on CHERUB

campus but are too young to qualify as agents (the minimum age is ten). BLUE is for kids undergoing CHERUB’s tough one-hundred-day basic training regime. A GREY T-shirt means you’re qualified for missions. NAV Y is a reward for outstanding performance on a single mission. The BLACK

T-shirt is the ultimate recognition for outstanding achievement over a number of missions.

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1. R ANCID

July 2007

Honeywill Communit y School was a dump, but it was the last day before summer holidays so at least everyone was happy. Teachers who hadn’t cracked a smile since September let classes play Nintendo in the sun, the headmaster was bounding around in sunglasses and tennis shorts. Kids even took beatings with good grace, knowing their next appointment with the bullies wouldn’t be for at least six weeks.

All the displays had been torn off the walls in Greg’s second-f loor form room. He stood on a chair, leaning out of the classroom window with his school tie fixed around his head like a bandana
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and all his shirt buttons undone. Lunchtime was in full f low on the concrete playground below: girls chatting in huddles, boys playing football and a massive queue at the water fountain because it was the hottest day of the year so far.

‘Smell that,’ Zhang said, as the over weight Chinese boy thrust a clear plastic t ub up towards Greg’s nostrils.

The stench hit Greg like a fist. He recoiled violently, jumping off the chair and almost sprawling out as he backed into a metal paper basket.

‘You
know
it’s bad!’ Zhang grinned, swinging the pot back towards Greg’s nose.

‘Get off!’ Greg shouted, coughing and retching as he scrambled away bet ween desks. ‘Is that your mum’s cooking?’

Zhang shook his head as he placed the lid back on the tub. ‘It’s coleslaw from the school canteen. Says use by November fourteenth, but I just found it at the back of my locker.’

The third boy in the classroom was a skinny lad called George and he was cracking up laughing.

‘Shut your mouth, stick boy,’ Greg shouted.

‘Unless you want me to rub your face in it.’

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But now that the lid was safely back on the coleslaw, Greg saw the funny side himself and he smiled even more when he saw the mound of junk Zhang had cleared out of his locker: text books covered in mud where Zhang had dumped his football boots on top of them, food wrappers, dirt y tissues and a bottle of correction f luid that had leaked over his exercise books and dried into a hard white lump.

‘Animal,’ Greg snorted. ‘Is that a locker or a TARDIS? I don’t even know how all that junk fitted in there.’

Zhang’s bulky frame swaggered across the room towards his t wo mates. ‘Greg, your locker’s neat because you’ve only been at this school for half a term.’

George shook his head. ‘No Zhang, his locker’s neat because he’s not a revolting fat slob.’

Zhang didn’t like being called fat and stepped up to George to face him off. ‘You want a slap?’

The pair had been best mates since nursery school, but that didn’t mean Zhang wouldn’t get physical if George mouthed off.

Greg tried to prick the tension. ‘You’re such a
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pair of tarts,’ he sneered. ‘Go on, snog and make up like you always do.’

Zhang took a step back before turning around and staring Greg out, but he wouldn’t have dared do anything: Greg was only average height for a Year Eight, but he was sturdy and biceps bulged under his rolled-up shirt sleeves.

‘Oh Greg, I forgot,’ George said, as he scooped the last of the junk in his locker into the open mouth of his backpack. ‘I’m getting dragged to some barbecue at my aunt’s house on Saturday, Zhang’s f lying off to China on Sunday – so if we’re gonna have the X-box sleepover, I’m afraid it’s tonight or not at all.’

‘Oh,’ Greg said awkwardly, running his hand through a tangle of dark hair.

‘You can still come, right?’ George asked. Greg shrugged, pulling a little Nokia out of his pocket. ‘Sure, I guess. I mean . . . I’ll just text my dad to make sure, but there’s nothing else going on, so I can’t see why not.’

‘Cool,’ George said, slamming the door of his locker before wiping his brow on his sleeve.

‘I take it my cousin Andy can still come?’ Greg
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asked. ‘I know you’ve never met him, but he’s the biggest laugh, I swear.’

‘More the merrier, I say,’ George answered, before making a big huffing sound. ‘I don’t mind the sun, but it’s just
too
hot today!’

Greg laughed. ‘This is nothing. When I lived in Australia you’d get days like this in
winter
.’

Zhang tried to copy Greg’s Australian accent.

‘When I lived in Auuuuuustralia it was four hundred degrees in the shade. It was so hot the koala bears dropped out of the trees ready-cooked.’

‘Don’t mock the accent,’ Greg smirked. ‘It drives the chicks wild.’

‘No accounting for female tastes,’ Zhang said.

‘The meat-heads they go out with . . .’

‘Just because Amy blew you out t wice,’ George grinned, as he strolled towards the window.

‘Oh and you’re
such
a stud,’ Zhang replied. George stood on the chair by the window and leaned out to cool off in the breeze. He heard a distinctive laugh in the playground below and looked straight down.

George turned back inside. ‘Zhang!’ he yelled eagerly. ‘Gimme that coleslaw. My sister’s standing
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right
under this window.’

Greg and Zhang rushed over, dragging chairs behind them.

‘Nice,’ Zhang grinned, as the three boys leaned out and stared down into the sunny playground.

‘Your sister’s
so
fit.’

‘Eww,’ George shuddered. ‘You wouldn’t fancy her if
you’d
seen her in the bath, shaving her hairyarsed legs.’

‘Face facts,’ Greg said, shaking his head. ‘If Sophie was anything other than your fifteen-yearold sister you’d be perving at her the same as everyone else.’

‘It’s personalit y that counts,’ George noted. ‘And she’s a grade-one pain in the butthole.’

‘You know what I don’t get?’ Greg said, looking across at Zhang. ‘How does George, with his Twiglet arms and legs, get to have a
total
babe for a sister?’

‘Shut up,’ George ordered.

Greg and Zhang did shut up. Not because

George had told them, but because he’d popped the lid off Zhang’s tub of eight-month-old coleslaw.

‘That’s
so
rank,’ Greg moaned.

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‘It’s bubbling,’ George said, trying not to breathe.

‘The tub is actually warm!’

‘Lob it then,’ Zhang said impatiently. ‘What are you waiting for?’

Greg looked across and saw doubt all over George’s face.

‘Do it,’ Zhang urged. ‘Remember: Sophie lent her ex-boyfriend half your PSP games and you never got ’em back.’

George shook his head and moved to put the lid back on the pot. ‘Better not. If my old lady found out she’d make a misery of my whole summer holidays.’

‘You chicken!’ Zhang t utted. ‘I
knew
you’d bottle it.’

As George lined up the lid to pop it back on, Zhang reached over and batted his arm. The coleslaw shot up out of George’s hand. He tried catching it but the pot glanced off his fingertips and headed for the ground.

Greg looked down and got a surprise:

Sophie and her gaggle of mates had scattered to avoid a football rif ling across from the adjacent Astroturf.

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‘Watch where you’re kicking that, you knob!’

Sophie shouted.

George, Zhang and Greg watched open mouthed as a bare-chested Year-Ten boy charged in to grab the football. The tension made it feel like slow motion: Sophie and her friends moving away, the coleslaw pot spinning in the air and the beefy Year Ten running in to retrieve the ball.

‘Zhang you
idiot
!’ George gasped. The t ub of rancid coleslaw hit the Year

Ten’s neck as he scooped the football off the concrete. The brown mass erupted, spattering down his bare back and up as far as the top of his shaven head.

Upstairs, the three boys dived away from the window, but in his haste George forgot to duck and whacked the back of his head on the frame.

‘You moron!’ George shouted to Zhang, as he jumped down off the chair. ‘That was Thomas Moran. If he finds us we’re dead.’

‘Who’s Thomas Moran when he’s out

shopping?’ Greg asked.

George anxiously rubbed the bump on the back of his head. ‘Just one of the hardest kids in Year
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Ten, that’s all. Him and his mates are all rugby players.
Big
rugby players.’

‘Maybe they didn’t see us,’ Greg suggested.

‘They might not even know what window it was thrown from.’

Zhang crept up to the window and peeked out.

‘They saw us!’ he gasped, before ducking back down. ‘Sophie and all her mates are pointing up. Moran and another big dude are sprinting towards the main entrance.’

George was waving his bandy arms around,

working himself into a complete state. ‘Why did you hit my arm you idiot? Those guys aren’t gonna take prisoners. If they catch us, they’ll kick our heads in.’

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