A massive choir, dressed in their finest robes, stood behind Fortunato as he stepped into the pulpit. Leon looked even stranger than usual, now wearing a flat-topped hat. His outfit seemed to try to incorporate sacred symbols from every religion.
Wait...I thought Nicky had now instituted worship of himself...what's with this every symbol from every religion? That sounds like the EBOWF.
Leon's speech is basically "Your grace period has ended; now everyone has to get the Mark or die." Oh and everyone has to bow three times a day to Nicky. I bet the tribbles are going to do the usual cop-out by bowing to Nicky but claiming that in their hearts, they bow to Zod. Again, you gotta wonder what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would have thought of such logic.
But Leon's broadcast is interrupted by an angel who quotes scripture. The angel basically says "You take the Mark; you go to Hell" and you gotta wonder why it doesn't just say so in plain English rather than using all the scripture. And once again we get proof that Zod is capable of witnessing to His people in a way that doesn't involve killing them horribly but chooses not to most of the time because he's a colossal dick.
I've fast-forwarded through much of this chapter. I know I should apologize but it's basically just the characters reacting to the angel appearing on television. Again, the padding for this series is terrible and I find myself wondering do all Christian Fiction writers have such a lack of care for their craft? Because as anyone will tell you, Christian Fiction is just about universally terrible. Oh and don't bring up Tolkien or C.S. Lewis as counter-examples. For all the problematic aspects in their works, they both show much more love of the craft than anyone working today. Besides I'd rather hear about examples that are still working and writing today than people who died in the sixties.
Vicki goes out in search of Tanya's underground base.
The chapter ends with Token Jew showing up in Petra and the sky massing with fighter planes. But since we know nothing can happen to Our Brave Heroes before the three and a half years are up, I have a feeling we're in for more padding as Zod smites the GC. Woo....
Vicki is still creeping around through the woods, trying to find Tanya. As you probably guessed, she gets captured by a member of the Mountain Militia and is taken away. Now that I've gotten the Vicki part out of the way, let's get on with the rest of the chapter which is mostly characters reacting and praying.
The GC are making a sweep of the hotel rooms and given that's where Lionel and Judd are currently, that presents a problem. Lionel gives Judd two baseball caps which they put on their heads, rationalizing that it would hide their foreheads so no one could see that they didn't have the Mark. Yeah, because a Satanic NWO is just going to take them at their word that they have the Mark. Then again, knowing how utterly the GC suck at being villains, this ruse would probably work. If you're wondering how they escape the GC dragnet, here's how:
Judd opened Westin’s suitcase and threw some clothes around the room. The bed rested on a huge, square platform so they couldn’t hide under it. Lionel agreed the closet was a last resort. In the tiny kitchen was an empty space underneath the counter. “Scrunch up in there beside the little refrigerator,” Judd said.
Lionel did. Judd walked from the door to the bedroom and noticed Lionel’s shoes sticking out.
They further camouflage themselves by setting up an ironing board with some clothes on it. And it totally fools the GC. Sweet Zod, the GC are morons! Every time I think they couldn't be stupider, they have to go and top themselves!
All Sam and Chang do is pray and because of the skimpiness of this snark, I'll throw in a third chapter.
As Judd and Lionel hid in the first chapter, the phone rang. The GC pick up the phone. Westin is one the other line and now the GC know to look for Judd and Lionel. They speed off. After they leave, Judd receives a phone call from Westin. Apparently Z-Van is going to Paris, not the states, and is demanding Westin fly him there. Why Westin is still alive and well remains a mystery. After all, Z-Van has taken the Mark. He is a hardened member of the Legion of the Damned. Why would he decide to show mercy to Westin who refuses to give in and get Marked? Westin should be getting guillotined.
Judd tells Westin he'll find another way back to the states. His part in this chapter ends with Judd deciding to call a cab driver. Probably the same one who got him to Jerusalem in the first place.
So the bombs hit Petra. Admittedly at first I was a little excited that something was actually happening, but that quickly dissipates as the bombs harm no one and the chapter ends with this:
Flames shot high above him. This was a lake of fire the likes of which the world had never seen.
Suddenly, a few yards ahead, Sam saw a robed man stepping over burning bodies. White, yellow, red, and orange flames burst from his beard, his hair, and his robe. The man’s face was on fire, but instead of his skin melting and being consumed, he kept walking, as if he were walking underwater wearing weighted boots.
Mr. Stein! Sam thought. Maybe this is what we must go through just before we reach heaven!
But it was not heaven. They were still in Petra.
“Samuel!” Mr. Stein called, using Sam’s full name. As he came closer, the man smiled.
“What happened?” Sam yelled over the noise of the deadly blaze.
“Deliverance,” Mr. Stein shouted. “The Lord has seen fit to deliver us, not by stopping the flames, but by walking through them with us!”
I'll admit the writing isn't too bad in this section. The description of the flames works but all this is affected by the fact that the YTF hadn't suffered in the slightest. They haven't been tortured, scarred,or starved. The only member of the YTF whose suffered long-term consequences is Ryan. This section could work great if they actually had suffered and were now wondering what was next, but like I said, they haven't. That's why the Revelation of John has served to comfort so many; the Christians of John's time had actually suffered for their beliefs (and I don't mean, having a cashier wish them "Happy Holidays" suffering) so it would be comforting to them to believe that this would all pay off, that Jesus would triumph o'er every foe. Again, all the great Christian martyrs are shaking their heads in dismay at the characters of this book.