Judd hears about how Z-Van has taken the mark. Lionel asks whether it's really safe to travel with Z-Van, but Judd, given that Lionel's currently holding the YTF's single braincell, gives this headdesker of a response.
“I don’t know that the mark means he’s under any special mind control. He’s just made his final decision.”
And that final decision means he's sworn allegiance to the father of all lies aka Satan. And given his allegiance, along with the fact that you flat-out told him in the last book that you're followers of Token Jew, WHY IN ANY DEITY'S NAME ARE YOU GUYS NOT CURRENTLY GETTING YOUR HEADS CHOPPED OFF!
I mean, there's stupid and there's Ellanjay's particular brand of stupid.
Judd also states that he wants to be in Israel when Nicky comes to the temple. Why? Because the authors need someone to be there to witness it all go down because that's all the protagonists of an Ellanjay novel are allowed to do. I'm assuming we're getting close to the pig-riding scene. I for one am breathless in anticipation.
Judd goes to meet with Chang. Chang is like "Look at what they've done to me!" and he and Judd talk. Also apparently they have heard of that verse from Romans but apparently don't see the contradiction between it and the whole "getting the Mark damns you forever" shtick, cause they quote part of it in one of Chang's responses.
“The Bible says nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. God says we’re hidden in the hollow of his hand and that no one can pluck us out. But it also says those who take the mark will be separated from God forever.”
HOW IS IT THAT THEY DON'T SEE THE CONTRADICTION?
Okay, the all-caps was a little much. I'm going to calm down and quote Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Anyway then Chang talks about being bi-loyal: able to live among the Satanists but also be a faithful follower of Token Jew.
Meanwhile, Vicki and the others are working on their Great Escape and yes, I'm calling it that just so I have an excuse to post that link, because really the escape is terrible. It could be foiled by your average five-year-old.
Basically Colin is going to pose again as Commander Blakely and take Vicki inside as a prisoner. Why is Vicki going inside? To his credit, Colin has his doubts.
When they were finished, Colin looked at Vicki. “I’m not comfortable taking you inside the facility. I’ll go in alone as Commander Blakely and take my chances.”
Vicki shook her head. “I can get inside, identify all the believers, and get out.Plus I can tell them what’s going on. It’ll lend credibility to your story.”
“If something goes wrong …”
“You won’t be able to get me out. But it’s the same for you. I don’t want to have to go back to Wisconsin and tell your wife we let you die here.”
Next chapter, apparently Vicki is posing as a Token Jew follower-turned-rat, which should immediately raise the guards' suspicions because there's no such thing as a Christian turning traitor to save their own skin. It's unpossible!
There's a lot of Exposition! about the guillotines mostly about how there's a lot of resistance in the United Asian States. Also they've arrested and killed a bunch of believers from Greece but given that we don't know anything about them, it barely registers.
Vicki comes across some believers trying to convert a girl named Cheryl and decides to take a stab. I can't help but note that so far her conversion record is better that Judd's but then again that's because Vicki actually tries to convert people while Judd just thinks about it.
So Vicki leads Cheryl through The Prayer but in a surprise move, nothing happens. Usually when The Prayer is uttered it equals instant convert, but this time it doesn't work.
Vicki glanced at Cheryl’s forehead, but there was no mark of the believer. “You still have questions?”
“How did you know?”
Vicki smiled. “It’s written on your face.”
A yes, that filthy whore and her stupid questions what with wanting to know how this all ties into a God of Love and all that. Vicki just smiles, knowing that soon Cheryl will be roasting on a spit.
I'm guessing Ellanjay put that little thing in there as an attempt to prove that The Prayer isn't spell-casting but it totally is. God wants to save you but his hands are totally tied unless you utter The Prayer with the right sort of sincerity. But if you do it with the right amount of sincerity, you can circumvent His plans to see you burn. So basically it's spell-casting, just a very inefficient form of it.
So Vicki walks around pointing out believers, thus saving them from the GC, and condemning all the others to Hell. But that's callous, you say? Well don't worry; according to the text, Vicki feels really bad about it. Not bad enough to witness to them like she did with Cheryl but still bad.
Oh and the chapter ends with the shocking reveal: Cheryl converted. Woo...Guess they didn't want the readers asking too many questions regarding her fate.