Lionel talks to Foreign McForeign about how Judd feels obligated to stay. Foreign McForeign acknowledges that maybe he's struggling with his own issues related to his son's death. He decides he doesn't want Judd staying out of guilt and promises to go talk to him.
Vicki's section begins, again, with a lot of summarizing. I'll sum it up for you: the new believers are oohing and aahing as Vicki and the others walk them through the prophecies. I would give my right boob to see a character, in response to the walkthrough, go, "Hey wait a minute, you go to this verse in I Thessalonians while ignoring all the other verses in the chapter then jump to Daniel than back to another...how is this a straightforward reading of the Bible?" But something tells me that will never happen so I guess I can give up on my dreams of being an Amazon.
Vicki launched into lessons correcting Cyrus’s teaching about the end of the world. The people were glad they could read the passages themselves rather than being told what to believe.
That sound you hear is me headdesking. Thing is, the militia heretics may have left Cyrus's teachings behind, but they've only traded one cruel interpretation of God for another. Like I've said before, Ellanjay keep insisting that Cyrus's militia is totally wrong but frankly, with the exception of their Hindu beliefs, they're basically RTCianity scrubbed with a dirty sponge.
But in the midst of all this, Vicki receives a phone call from Judd. Again, more attempts to pair them together even though they haven't been on the same continent for several books and only recently have they given more than a passing thought to each other. But fear not, fellow readers, we don't have to suffer through pages of characters confessing their love for one another: that would actually develop character in a more subtle approach than their usual sledgehammer approach. Instead we get, everybody say it together, Exposition!
I'll take you through this as quickly as I can. Judd asks that they pray for Chang. I wonder if Vicki knows anything about Chang. Again, I'm forced to conclude that RTCs share a hive mind like the Borg. Chang's worried about his parents because the GC are rounding up all the Jews and Unmarked.
Vicki talks about how she's been thinking about leaving the hideout she's currently in and going to the other Wisconsin hideout. Judd says she's should come to France. Vicki's like "I promised Cheryl I'd be there when she had her baby," which makes me raise an eyebrow. Just how much time has passed in the LB-verse? Because it seems not too long ago she was only three months along. But I'm not going to waste too many brain cells on this question. Let's move on.
Maybe the writers anticipated my critique about how this conversation is entirely exposition and very little character development, because it ends with Judd professing his love for Vicki. Vicki hangs up and calls the other Wisconsin hideout, which is in Avery, and asks if she could come stay with them. But as they talk, Vicki hears a rumbling sound and the windows shake. She looks out to see a mushroom cloud and turns on the television to hear that Chicago has been nuked. Me, I'm like, hello, they've already nuked Chicago in one of the single digit books and it didn't affect anything so why is everyone so shocked?
The chapter ends with Vicki receiving a phone call from Chloe.
The bulk of the next chapter is taken up with the conversation between Vicki and Chloe. I swear Ellanjay must get a hard-on whenever they hear a phone ring. And now I've filled your heads with that imagery, let's move on.
Chloe basically says that the tribbles made it out of Chicago safe and sound, which isn't surprising: RTCs aren't allowed to die by nukes or radiation poisoning, only in manly martyrdom scenes that give them a chance to grandstand before getting killed. Steve Plank is dead, but given that he's an adult character who never appeared or was mentioned before this point, I ask why did the writers put that in? The readers have no reason to care. I know, aunursa, he matters more in the adult books, but I'm a firm believer in the fact that a good series stands on its own. If you have to read a whole bunch of supplementary material in order to understand what's going on (like say the sixteen book adult series) then your series sucks. Of course, the fact that both series (16 adult books, 40 kids) are so damn long speaks either to Ellanjay's incompetence as writers or their avarice or both.
Chloe talks about how angels blinded the GC so they couldn't see them take off. Again, for all their boasting, RTCs are sure terrified of death even though by their own philosophy they have no reason to be. If the GC shot their planes out of the sky, they'd all go to heaven and get the Super Special Awesome Upgraded bodies, right? The angels should be out there witnessing and performing miracles for the undecided.
They talk some more about Our Buck's brother, a passage I'm going to ignore since I've forgotten much of the stuff with his brother. I'll sum it up: Buck's brother is dead.
Then Vicki asks a surprising question, saying, "Is it wrong to start a family during the tribulation?" I say this is a surprising question, because it's the first instance of any RTC considering that the End of Days may not be an ideal time to raise a child. I've said it before and I'll probably say it again, why didn't Zod just make everyone sterile during this seven-year window? The only thing I can conclude is because he likes killing children in horrific ways but heaven forbid you suggest any of the characters get an abortion. Zod can kill any number of sentient beings he likes but humans are forbidden from aborting the unborn, even though by their own theology, don't the RTCs believe that no sin is a deal-breaker so long as you confess and ask for forgiveness? Therefore, theoretically the characters could have abortions, confess, and remain free and clear in Zod's eyes, right?
Sorry to go so long on the same point, but stuff needed to be said. Anyway, here's Chloe's response.
Chloe laughed. “I suppose there were people who thought the times were too tough for romance. And some said it was foolish to bring up a child at this time. Tsion quoted a famous author who said, ‘A baby is God’s way of saying he wants the world to go on.’ I’ll admit I wasn’t ready for marriage at the time of the disappearances, but believing in Christ changed me. It made me more mature.”
First of all, that Tsion quote might apply if YOU WEREN'T LIVING IN THE FREAKING END OF DAYS! THE WORLD ISN'T GOING TO GO ON! IT HAS LESS THAN THREE YEARS LEFT TO LIVE!
Secondly, yeah, I've seen selections from the adult books, I know about the "more mature" Chloe. She goes from being a Stanford grad who somehow made her way across more than half the US during the Rapture, when the roads were filled with wrecked cars and planes, to being a whiny brat who throws flowers in trash and sulks and snipes at her love interest rather than confront him when she thinks he's cheating on her.
Vicki's like, "So you don't have any regrets?" Chloe's response:
“About marriage? None. Things are hard at times. Buck and I butt heads, and it would be easier to make decisions on my own instead of being accountable to another person, but I can’t imagine life without him. We’re a team. Why do you ask?”
When exactly have she and Buck butted heads post-marriage? From what I can tell, following marriage, she becomes a proper submissive Stepford wife, just like Mrs. LaHaye, who believes so strongly that women shouldn't have careers and should be devoted solely to their husbands that she moved a thousand miles away from her husband. Then again, if I was married to Tim LaHaye, I'd do the same.
Vicki brings up Judd and is like, "What if this distracts me from serving God?" Chloe says, "If God's calling you to be together, it could make you both even more effective." Vicki then asks about all those verses about staying single, but Chloe quotes Proverbs and says that marriage is set up by God and if he means for it to happen with you and Judd, it will."
We then end this long conversation about marriage and get into more exposition. Vicki tells her that Judd's stuck in France. Chloe tells her that she might be able to get a flight out to him, but said flight will take him to Petra then to the US via South Carolina.
Judd has apparently decided that he'll go back to the US with Westin and Lionel. That is all that happens in his section.
The chapter and this snark ends with Vicki and her crew noticing armed figures approaching their hideout. I'm going to assume this is Cyrus and his band of merry men. If you don't mind spoilers, I've already peeked ahead: Cyrus dies unsaved so we're spared yet another conversion scene. Wanna bet that once he's dead, his children, Ty and Tanya, don't give a single passing thought to the fact that he's in Hell? Just like any compassionate RTC...