"I want him alive," Rod Adams hissed to Malcomb Evans. "That Judas will pay for this!"
The Prophet nodded agreement. "We'll just tell the media that Scott Wilson lost his mind. But sooner or later we'll find him. Then you can have your revenge."
"He can't last long with The Christians," Adams predicted. "They'll think he is a spy."
"True," Evans answered with a sneer. "I think Mr. Wilson is a most unpopular man right now."
The first six months in "the Fellowship," or Christian underground, was the hardest for Scott. All he knew about his location was that it was an abandoned bomb shelter somewhere in the Middle East. He was amazed at their organization and technical expertise. He volunteered to tell all he knew about the WEC, Rod Adams' power, techniques, and supplies.
One by one, leaders of the underground were brought to him to ask their questions. At first their identities were kept secret. In time he was allowed to learn who they were. Many had been leaders in the brilliant Israeli government before they had become Christians. Scott could tell by their questions that these people had an impressive array of knowledge.
Scott had one great sorrow: the fate of his daughter, Kathy. Michelle and David were there with him, but Kathy had disappeared completely. "We know that she didn't receive the mark, Dad," David explained to his father, "but she hasn't shown up in The Fellowship yet either."
Scott knew David's information was accurate. The Fellowship had its own very effective sources of information, its own computer network, and even some secret links with the files of the WEC. Thanks to Scott, they would soon have access to much more of the world organization's information.
The Fellowship had its own very effective sources of information.
"That must mean she's with the refugees," Scott reasoned. The refugees might mean any of hundreds of groups of non-Christians who had organized for survival without having the mark on their right hand or forehead.
"Here's some good news, though," David continued. "Nancy Taylor has become a Christian."
"Hey, that's terrific!" Scott replied.
"Praise the Lord!" exclaimed Michelle. The expression did not seem strange to Scott.
"What about Brian, David?" Scott's question was loaded with concern.
"I'm sorry, Dad, but he received the mark."
"Maybe he'll change his mind."
"I doubt it. The Bible says that everyone who has the mark is doomed," David explained. While he was speaking, Nathan, one of the Messengers, entered the Wilson's cubicle. He had been assigned to Scott to tutor him in his new-found faith.
"Let's ask Nathan," David suggested. "He understands these things."
"What's your question, Scott?" He was used to his student's inquisitive mind and was very pleased with his spiritual progress.
"It's about the mark," Scott offered. "Can't a person ever change his mind about it?"
"So far there have only been a few cases of surgical removal, and there's serious doubt about the sincerity of those who have done it. They have been kept like you, Scott, but they don't seem to have the same faith. Frankly we suspect that they're spies."
"But things have gotten so bad, why don't more people see what Adams is doing?" Scott referred to the cruel dictatorship of his old friend. Rod Adams now had absolute control.
"Nothing can change their minds, Scott. They hate the way things are going, but since they made their choice to worship Adams, nothing makes them repent. They can see the miracles the two Witnesses do or listen to our sermons and just ignore the truth."
"Listen, Scott," Nathan changed the subject, "Today you can go with us if you want."
Scott was elated. This meant that they had begun to really trust him. "Of course I want to go!" He felt like he had forty years earlier when his father had told them they were going to Disneyland.
"Where will we go?" he asked.
"We're meeting the Two Witnesses at an abandoned quarry not far from here. They say there is a large community of fugitives there. We will give them the Gospel in the morning. Then we'll pick up food in the afternoon.
Scott knew it would be dangerous, but he was glad to be going.
Scott knew it would be dangerous, but he was glad to be going.
At the quarry, Scott and the others in the small band of believers met the Two Witnesses. It was an exhilarating experience for them to watch the Witnesses perform the miracles of calling fire down from heaven and turning water into blood. After a demonstration of their powers, one of them preached to the refugees who had gathered in the quarry.
"How many of you are ready to repent of your sins and declare yourself for Jesus Christ today?" he asked as he brought the short blunt message to a close. Many of the refugees responded. It was no surprise to the Christians, for many refugees were open to the truth. They were just waiting for someone to explain the Bible and what was happening to the world.
The Christian caravan moved carefully that afternoon toward an obsolete railroad warehouse where one of the refugee groups had food to trade for the electronic gear the Christians produced in their secret factories.
"What kind of food do these refugees have?" Scott asked.
"Dried fish and seaweed," Nathan answered. "We can hardly even get that now that the Indian Ocean is dead. As they carefully made their way along the old dirt trail, Scott asked Nathan to explain what had happened to the ocean. With vivid clarity he remembered the night it happened. He and the others in the shelter had felt the impact, even though they were thousands of miles away.
"A gigantic meteor struck near the center of the ocean," Nathan explained. "Astronomers had seen it coming for weeks and warned that it could break off part of the Earth or move us out of our orbit. Fortunately the ocean cushioned the blow enough to spare us total destruction, but the force of the collision destroyed all life in the ocean, and the waves generated by the disaster flooded the entire east coast of Africa and the southern half of Arabia and India."
A gigantic meteor struck near the center of the ocean.
"That's horrible!" Scott exclaimed. He had heard about it at the time, but there was so little information then. Rod Adams and the WEC ignored it completely. His curiosity not yet satisfied, Scott asked, "Did it affect other countries too?"
"Yes, Indonesia was totally destroyed. So were parts of Australia and the Philippines."
"You know the 'Second Trumpet' in The Revelation?"
"Yes," the Messenger replied.
"Is that a prophecy of what happened?"
"It is, " Nathan assured him, "and there are worse things still coming according to the Bible."
"I know," said Scott, almost in a whisper.
At that moment, a scout shouted a warning that soldiers had found them. Gunfire began as the soldiers launched their ruthless attack. One of the Witnesses invoked fire from the sky to stop the advancing enemy. But at the same moment, another band of soldiers appeared directly behind the group. The Witnesses and Nathan were invincible, a supernatural protection bestowed by God, but the other Christians were in grave danger. Scott's group sheltered themselves by dropping to the bed of their old pick-up truck. One man from the truck ahead of them had been shot and was struggling on the side of the road. In moments the soldiers would be there to kill their wounded victim.
Scott courageously rolled over the side of his moving vehicle, dropping close to the injured man. He quickly dragged the man into a ditch on the side of the road. The air was full of deadly projectiles, but only one of them reached its target, ripping into Scott's left leg.
For the moment they were safe. The Witness' fire finished its work and the Christians were able to go back for Scott and the other man. Little was said at the time, for such hardships had become commonplace for them. Much good would come from the event, however, for Scott had proven where his allegiance was. He could now be trusted completely.