Chapter OneThe Rescue
Vicki Byrne heard rumbling outside the bowling
alley and desperately wanted to make a
break for the motorcycle. But she couldn't
run. At least a hundred people inside needed
* * *
She and Conrad had seen Global Community
guards nearby. Demon locusts buzzed
around the specially equipped vans. The
guards inside wore protective clothing.
People whimpered and cried as the pastor
tried to calm them. "No matter what
happens, we trust in the Lord!"
Conrad ran to the front of the building.
"I don't see anything in the parking lot!"
"They must be around back!" someone
Vicki took the microphone and explained
what the kids had heard from Carl Meninger,
their friend working as a Global Community
Peacekeeper. "The GC has discovered where
believers are meeting. They want to make
examples of us and a group in Maryland."
"Are they going to kill us?" a woman said.
"We don't know," Vicki said, "but we have
to get out of here."
Someone banged on a metal door in the
Conrad shouted, "The white vans are still
on the hill."
"Then who's at the door?" Vicki said.
Someone shouted and pounded on the
door again. Vicki thought she recognized the
* * *
Judd Thompson Jr. couldn't believe his eyes.
Lionel Washington and Sam Goldberg stood
by an empty box in the airplane. Beside it
stood his friend Nada.
"How did you get here?" Judd said.
Nada stared at him. "Aren't you happy to
Judd glanced at Lionel and Sam. "Of
"I stowed away in a box of pamphlets,"
Nada said. "I wanted to be with you when
you meet your friend in New Babylon." Nada
explained how she emptied a box of
pamphlets and marked it "Main Cabin."
The plane dipped and lightning flashed.
The pilot, Mac McCullum, spoke through the
intercom. "Better buckle up and hang on."
Nada sat by Judd. "You look angry."
"I'm not! I'm just concerned. You've put us
in a bad situation."
"This is Nicolae Carpathia's plane. We were
only cleared for three people in New Babylon.
When four of us get off, we could be in trouble.
Or we could put Mac in a tight spot."
Judd explained what Mac had said about
Judd's friend Pavel. Their visit had been
cleared because "it's his last wish that I visit
"Pavel is dying?" Nada said.
"What's going to happen when we get
The plane dropped suddenly and Judd felt
his stomach surge.
"Sorry about that," Mac said on the inter-com.
"This is a rough one. Stay in your
"I have to talk with you," Judd said.
Mac came on the intercom. "Wait till we
get out of these clouds, Judd."
Judd looked at Nada. Could Mac hear
everything they were saying? Could he also
hear Nicolae Carpathia when he was on the
"I'll let you know when it's safe," Mac said.
Lightning flashed again. Nada whispered
"What did you say?" Judd said.
Nada turned. Her eyes were red. "There's
another reason I had to come with you."
"What?" Judd said.
Nada put a hand to her forehead. "I can't
go home. I'm running away."
* * *
Vicki ran to the back door. Conrad and the
pastor told her to stop, but she ignored
them. The door wouldn't open.
"What are you doing?" Conrad shouted.
"Hang on!" Vicki said, finally opening the
Sunshine poured in and Vicki saw her
friend Shelly. Behind her was Pete's huge
truck and trailer. Pete ran to meet them.
"The GC are on the hill behind us," Vicki
"I saw 'em when I drove in," Pete said.
"How many people you got in here?"
Vicki showed him, then started to introduce
the pastor. Pete cut her off. "No time to
chat. That guy back at the gas station, Roger,
told me on the radio that there's a couple of
huge transport vehicles headed our way."
"They're going to arrest us?" the pastor
"Not if I can help it," Pete said. "I'll back
the truck up as close as I can to the door and
you get the people in a single file. If we work
fast, we can get everybody in without them
knowing what's going on."
Conrad raced up. "The vans are pulling
out. Coming our way."
* * *
"Nada!" Judd said. "You can't run away from
"To be with you," Nada said, "I have to."
"Wait. Back up. Start from the beginning."
Nada took a deep breath. "I told my
mother you and I were getting more serious.
She was excited for me. She likes you a lot.
Nada looked away. "She said he likes you
as a person but doesn't think we should go
further with our relationship."
Judd frowned. "He's entitled to his opinion."
"But he said if you return to Israel, we can't
be together. I was afraid I'd never see you
Judd pulled Nada's head to his shoulder
and brushed her hair with a hand. "You
should call your folks and tell them-"
"No!" Nada said, jerking away. "They'll
make me come back."
"They'll blame me," Judd said. "Neither of
us wants that."
Nada stared at Judd. "You're scared of
him! You care more about what my father
thinks than you do about me."
Judd shook his head. "I just want to do
this the right way. Your dad changed his
mind once about me. When he sees how
much I care about you, he'll change it
"You don't know my father," she said. "He
can be so stubborn."
Judd smiled. "A family trait?"
Nada opened her mouth wide and
punched Judd in the shoulder.
* * *
Vicki helped people onto the truck. Pete told
them to move to the front and sit in tight
rows. Some panicked and pushed their way
"Where are you taking us?" an older man
"Away from the GC," Pete said.
Locusts buzzed at the back door but apparently
flew away when they realized the occupants
Conrad returned. "Can't see the vans.
Probably take them five minutes to get past
Vicki nodded. As people hurried past she
said, "Stay calm." She noticed a woman with
a small electronic device. "What's that?"
"I record the meetings," the woman said.
"I play it for people who can't get here."
"Can I have it?" Vicki said.
"Trust me," Vicki said.
The woman handed over the recording
and Vicki raced to the office and put it into
the machine. A man's voice came through
the speakers. "Before we get started, we
want to let anyone who wants lead us in
"Perfect," Vicki said. She turned up the
speakers full blast and found the switch for
speakers outside the bowling alley.
When she reached the back door, Pete
was closing the truck. "Let's get out of
* * *
Once the plane made it through the storm,
Judd headed to the cockpit.
"How were you able to hear us?" Judd
Mac stared at him. "Can't tell you. Let's
just say the conversations back there are
relayed to the rest of the Tribulation Force."
Judd explained the situation with Nada.
"The GC let you come because of Pavel's
condition," Mac said. "Carpathia has no idea
the cargo hold is jammed with Ben-Judah's
studies in different languages. An extra
person is gonna raise a red flag."
"Why do they have to know?"
"Cargo's one thing," Mac said. "Human
beings are another. If the guards notice Nada,
we could be in trouble."
Judd scratched his head.
Mac said, "What kind of ID does she
Judd went back and got it from Nada, then
showed it to Mac. "Her brother was with the
GC in New Babylon. Killed in the earthquake."
"You serious?" Mac said.
"He was a Peacekeeper in Carpathia's main
Mac flipped a few switches and pulled out
his cell phone. "What was her brother's
Judd told him and returned to his seat.
A few minutes later, Mac called Judd and
Nada forward. "I got through to one of my
superiors, one of the few who hasn't been
stung yet. I told him I'd located a family
member of a deceased GC worker who
wanted to pay her respects. They're putting
you up in the main complex. Who knows,
you might even get to meet Carpathia
* * *
Vicki sat next to Pete as he pulled the truck
out of the parking lot.
"So far so good," he said as they chugged
onto the road back to town.
"What about all the cars in the parking
lot?" Vicki said.
"I bet the GC will hang around and wait
for people to come back."
"And then nab them," Vicki said. "Guess
we just lost our motorcycle."
Pete gave a low whistle. "Up ahead."
Coming around a curve in the distance
were the two vans, colored lights swirling on
top. Between them was a huge bus with the
Global Community insignia on the side.
"Stay calm," Pete said.
The first van passed going far over the
speed limit. The wind from the bus nearly
drove Pete off the road. The second van
slowed and blocked the truck.
"Let me handle this," Pete said.
"I should warn the others," Vicki said.
"Some of us could get away."
Pete put a hand on her shoulder.
A GC Peacekeeper stepped out of the van
and was swarmed by locusts. The man
slapped them away from his white protective
suit and motioned for Pete to roll down his
Pete didn't seem nervous. "What can I do
"You just came from that bowling alley
"Me and my little sister got sidetracked.
Had to turn around."
"Where you headed?"
"Got a delivery in town," Pete said. "Hope
we make it before the load goes bad."
The man moved back, swatting at locusts.
"What kind of load-"
"Sure was a wacky bunch back there,"
Vicki interrupted. Pete gave her a look.
"What do you mean?" the man said.
"I heard all this preaching and hollering,"
Vicki said. "You need to put those people
away before they hurt somebody."
The Peacekeeper looked toward the bowling
alley. Vicki noticed through her outside
mirror that the other van and the bus had
reached the parking lot. Several officers in
protective gear pointed guns toward the
A radio squawked from the other van.
"They're here! We need backup!"
The Peacekeeper rushed back to his van
and sped away.
"Good work," Pete said.
"Thanks," Vicki said. "Wonder how long
it'll take them to figure out it's not a real
"Hopefully long enough to get these
people to safety."
Pete took the curves at full speed and Vicki
wondered how those in the back were holding
"Up there!" Vicki shouted, pointing. The
ramp to the highway rose in the distance.
She jumped in her seat. "We've made it!"
Pete put up a hand and shook his head. A
siren wailed behind them. Vicki's heart sank
as she checked the mirror.