Kingdom come the final v.., p.22
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       Kingdom Come: The Final Victory, p.22
 

         Part #13 of Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye
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  “For You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord shall enlighten my darkness. His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

  “For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places.

  “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your gentleness has made me great. You enlarged my path under me, so my feet did not slip. The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, the Rock of my salvation! Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name.

  “He is the tower of salvation to His king, and shows mercy to His anointed, to me and my descendants forevermore.”

  And when Cameron and the children and all the staff looked up from their prayer, David had disappeared from their midst.

  TWENTY-SEVEN

  ASIDE FROM having been born in the old United States of America and carted about by his globe-trotting parents during the Tribulation, Kenny Bruce Williams had spent nearly all his ninety-seven-plus years in Israel. Others he knew, especially his extended family, loved to travel. But he had never seen the appeal of being away from the very country in which the King of kings and Lord of lords physically resided and presided.

  On the other hand, despite the anxiety over working undercover, Kenny had found Paris interesting. None of the historical landmarks remained, of course, but attempts had been made to reproduce some of the more familiar—like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and even some of the great cathedrals.

  The prospect of going to Amman intrigued Kenny, if for no other reason than that his friends Bahira and Zaki had grown up there and had vague memories of the culture and the food. He didn’t expect to experience much of either, but perhaps something in his travels would somehow find its way into his work with the kids at COT.

  On the plane with Ignace, Lothair, and Nicolette, Kenny for the first time became aware of the stares and glares of people—mostly naturals, some glorifieds—who must have recognized the alternative clothing of the TOLers for what it was.

  Kenny had known so little negativity in his life—of course, he barely remembered much of the Tribulation, as it ended with the Glorious Appearing when he was still about four months shy of his fifth birthday—that it had been his practice to catch people’s eyes, even strangers’, and smile. That would not do now. His pretend compatriots were rebels, misfits, outcasts. They kept to themselves, looking serious, or if they did meet someone’s gaze, they proffered a hateful scowl. Kenny found that nearly impossible, so he just kept his eyes focused on the floor most of the time.

  Ignace, who sat next to Kenny, spent most of the 2,100-mile flight scribbling on papers he had apparently received from the leaders of various TOL cells around the world. But every time Kenny glanced toward them, Ignace covered them and shot him a look.

  Finally, with about twenty minutes to go until touchdown, Ignace packed up his stuff and leaned over. “Here’s the deal with Amman: We’re fairly new there, so even though we’ve got two of our brightest recruits in that office, not much is happening. They use the name Theological Training Institute as their front, but free speech is virtually unheard of in Jordan, so these guys lie low and do most of their work over the Internet. They’re building a database of people who are at least intrigued, so we want to find out how that’s going. Truthfully, we had been steering them toward hosting secret parties where kids who are fed up or questioning the status quo can come and feel like they’re really rebelling. We told Mudawar—he was a recruit from my own international blog and is our top guy there, really gifted—to offer them contraband stuff.

  “But the more Lothair and I think about your idea, about taking the high road, the more sense it makes. I mean, I didn’t sign up Mudawar, and he didn’t sign up his assistant, based on dope or booze or women or anything like that. Like you said, we appealed to their minds. And that is the kind of recruit we want. So once we’re through with all the formalities and we get their progress report, you give ’em your pep talk, okay?”

  Kenny nodded. This couldn’t be worse. All he had intended with his little speech two days before was to allay their suspicions. He had done it so well he had inspired them to a better approach for recruiting. He sure didn’t want to be responsible for their amassing a higher class of dissidents.

  Cameron and Chloe sat in the office, poring over employment records. “Strange,” Cameron said. “You realize that this Qasim Marid has been gone all three times we had the Bible heroes here.”

  Chloe leaned to look at the records. “That’s some coincidence, Cam.”

  “It’s got to be more than that. What are the odds? It’s almost like he doesn’t want to be here when they are. But who wouldn’t want to hear those guys?”

  “Hey,” she said, “what did you do with the master list?”

  “Which?”

  “The printout with all the staff names and addresses.”

  “You know I don’t go into the files, Chlo’. You’ve got it backed up on disk, right?”

  “Of course, but no one else is supposed to have access to the hard copy. Oh, Cam, we’re not going to have start putting locks on the doors, are we? Not after almost a hundred years with no mischief.”

  Abdullah was amused by Mudawar and Sarsour. For the first time since he had met them, they looked clean and tidy. Oh, Mudawar was still oily; it was as if he couldn’t help that. But his hair was combed, and his fatigues, like Sarsour’s, were clean and crisp. They had spent the entire previous afternoon cleaning up the offices, and now they scoured the suite, making sure they hadn’t missed a thing. Every sheet of paper tacked to the wall hung square. Every stack of books or papers was neat and straight.

  Abdullah knew he had endeared himself even more to them by helping with the cleanup. “A suggestion?” he said.

  “Sure, what?” Mudawar said.

  “You don’t want it to look artificial. I mean, you want your mentors to believe you actually work here, right?”

  “Yeah, so? We’re not going to slop it up just so it looks lived in.”

  “No, I’m just saying that when they arrive, you shouldn’t be standing around like you’re posing for school pictures. You should be on your way to or from some important project.”

  “Good idea. Look alive when they get here, Sarsour. Don’t act like you’ve got nothing else to do.”

  “But I don’t. What’s more important than entertaining them?”

  “Just look busy! And you, old man—I haven’t decided exactly what to say about you yet, so blend into the woodwork unless spoken to. Understood?”

  Another young man and young woman—whom Ignace identified as TOL operatives from Az Zarqa, northeast of Amman—picked up the Jospin brothers, Nicolette, and Kenny at the airport in a plain white van. Kenny was struck by how the colleagues greeted each other. He detected no warmth or enthusiasm. It was all business.

  “By the way,” Kenny said, “I might as well head straight back to Israel from here. I’m not much more than forty miles away. What would be the best way to get there?”

  The driver said, “I can run you there. We have business in Beersheba anyway.”

  “Really?” Kenny said. “Another cell?”

  “The only one in Israel. They’re pretty squirrelly about it, as you can imagine. Right there in enemy territory.”

  “Well, you can drop me close to my home, but needless to say, I can’t draw any attention to myself.”

  “That goes double for us,” the driver said. “We’ll just drop you where you tell us.”

  When Abdullah heard the loud knock, he and Mudawar and Sarsour immediately rushed to the TV monitor to get a look at the visitors. “There are the brothers,” Mudawar said, “and that must be the girl they’ve told me about. I don’t recognize the others.”

  “Should I open it?” Sarsour said.

  “Take a breath, man,
” Mudawar said. “Don’t look too anxious.”

  Abdullah froze. What could he do? Where could he hide? Unless his eyes were deceiving him, that was Cameron and Chloe’s son, Kenny! What could this mean? He rushed back to his desk, swept his Bible and papers and other personal effects into his bag, and moved quickly to the front door. When Sarsour opened it, Abdullah stepped behind it, and as the others were going through the introduction formalities, he slipped out.

  He bounded up the stairs to the street and headed back to his apartment, fearful beyond all reason.

  Minutes later he was pacing in the small place with Yasmine pleading with him to sit down.

  “I can’t,” he said. “I cannot. I have known that precious boy since he was born! What am I supposed to do with this information? Ask his parents? Or would I be telling them?”

  “You had better be certain first, Abdullah. You have no doubt?”

  “It was him all right. I caught a live glimpse of him too and heard his voice. There is no question.”

  “Strange.”

  “It’s worse than strange, Yasmine. It’s catastrophic and has dire implications.”

  “Ask Bahira and Zaki. They’re his friends.”

  Abdullah reached the message systems of both kids’ phones, informing him they would return his call at the end of their workdays. “Yasmine, what was the name of that infiltrator? He will know. Perhaps Kenny is in league with him.”

  “Yes, that has to be it!” Yasmine dug around until she found the contact information for Qasim Marid.

  Abdullah phoned. “I have a very delicate question for you, Master Marid. Is there another infiltrator from Millennium Force?”

  Qasim sounded wary. “An infiltrator where?”

  “You tell me. Within TOL, of course.”

  “Why do you ask? Of whom are you speaking?”

  “Sir, please! If you know, just tell me.”

  “Well, first I must swear you to secrecy.”

  “From whom?”

  “From everyone! Your friends, even your children. May I count on you for that?”

  “If it will ensure the safety of the person in question, certainly.”

  “I have your word you will speak of this to no one until further notice?”

  “Yes, yes, of course!”

  “We, shall I say, had another infiltrator, yes.”

  “What a relief! Was it—?”

  “Please, do not mention names other than in person. The bad news is that this infiltrator, I have just learned, has turned.”

  “Turned?”

  “He is full-fledged TOL now. He has entirely bought into their philosophies.”

  “Oh no!”

  “It is sad but true, sir. I am in the midst of damage control now. All I can do is all I can do, and I must tell you, that you are aware of this is a great complicator. Please reassure me that you will not share this information with a soul until you hear back from me.”

  Abdullah could barely speak. “You have my word,” he managed.

  The Amman office of the Other Light looked efficient enough, Kenny decided, even if the occupants seemed quirky. For as bright as Ignace had made them out to be, they seemed obsequious. The top guy, the pudgy Mudawar, acted the sycophant around Ignace, having to stop and catch his breath, he spoke so quickly.

  Ignace had paused during the tour and stared at a clean desk in the back of the third room. “Someone work here?” he said.

  “Oh, uh . . . yeah . . . I mean, no. No one. Well, sometimes if we have special projects, you know. I’ve been known to work here if I need room to spread out. And you have too, haven’t you, Sarsour?”

  “What?”

  “Worked here, right here where this extra space is. We like to keep it free for . . . you know. You have, right? Worked here?”

  “Not in a long time. Not since—”

  “Well, I settled in there recently for one of my all-night newsletter-writing stints. And I know Sarsour has worked there too . . . at least he used to, before. Recently.”

  Finally Ignace’s entire entourage crowded into Mudawar’s office, some in chairs, some sitting on the desk, others leaning against the wall. Ignace asked Mudawar to give them an update on their recruit list and strategy, then reminded him that “Kenny here is one of our only two operatives embedded near Jerusalem. We’ve got real potential for a cell in Beersheba, but that’s going to take time.

  “Kenny has interesting recruitment ideas I wanted him to outline for you, not because you need it, necessarily, and certainly not because you’ve been doing it wrong. If anything, you’ve been going about this better than we have, and we didn’t even know it until Kenny pointed it out.”

  Mudawar was beaming. “Really?”

  “Yes. Kenny?”

  “Well, I was just mentioning to Ignace and the others that it seems to me the best strategy for recruiting the young disaffected of our world is not through this bait-and-switch technique of luring them to parties and illicit activities and substances. We want them for their minds, and so that is where we ought to be aiming. . . .”

  Within minutes everyone was furiously taking notes, and Kenny was having a major crisis of conscience. He knew he had to keep this up to avoid giving himself away, but he would never forgive himself if his counsel had the effect TOL so desired—building a better, smarter network of brighter adherents.

  TWENTY-EIGHT

  KENNY COULD not have been happier to be getting home a day earlier than he expected, and he knew Ekaterina would be pleased too. His hope was to surprise her and be waiting at her home when she returned from work.

  Imagine his surprise when her parents greeted him with less than enthusiasm. They appeared grim, preoccupied. Kenny remained upbeat, exulting over the change in his schedule that allowed this. “Is something wrong?”

  “Well, we don’t know,” Mrs. Risto said. “Ekaterina sounded rather upset, said Mr. Steele had called an emergency meeting of some little group of yours and asked her to be there.”

  Kenny almost blurted the name of the Millennium Force, but he was surprised enough that Raymie would have invited Ekaterina. What in the world was up, and why hadn’t he heard directly from Raymie? Raymie knew that Kat knew about the Force, because Kenny had told him himself.

  “Do you know where they’re meeting?” Kenny said.

  The Ristos shook their heads. “We don’t appreciate this, you know,” Ekaterina’s father said. “This whole period is supposed to be a time of peace and tranquility. I don’t know what this little group is all about, but it can’t be positive if it has to have emergency meetings that its members—specifically you—know nothing about, and that an outsider—specifically Kat—is asked to attend, and which upset her so. She’s enough on edge because you were gone. Now what is all this?”

  “I don’t know, sir, but I’ll find out. Kat’s peace of mind is my top priority too, so I’ll get to the bottom of this as fast as I can.”

  On his way home, Kenny tried calling everyone, starting with Ekaterina. Her phone immediately went to her message system, as did Raymie’s and Bahira’s and Zaki’s. Finally, as he was entering his own house, Kenny reached his mother.

  “Oh, Kenny! Where are you?”

  He told her. “What’s going on, Mom?”

  “I wish I knew. It’s like our office has been vandalized.”

  “What do you mean?”

  “Well, those silly things like the phony personnel report on Kat and the ridiculous note about you could have come from anywhere within the interoffice mail system. But someone walked off with our employee list, and now we’ve gotten another crazy report.”

  So the list Kenny had seen in Paris had not been the result of a computer hacking; someone had provided the actual printout. He didn’t even want his mother to know that yet. “What crazy report?”

  “Oh, it’s so upsetting, I’m not even going to try to tell you about it except in person. Can Dad and I come see you tonight?”

  “Well, sure, but
right now I’m looking for Kat. She’s supposed to be meeting with the Millennium Force, but I don’t know where.”

  “You don’t know where? Just call Raymie and—”

  “ ‘C’mon, Mom, you don’t think I’ve thought of that? Now what’s this report?”

  “Like I told you, it’s not something I want to talk about over the phone.”

  “Just tell me what it’s about.”

  She hesitated. “Well, it’s about you. But that’s all I’m going to say for now.”

  Kenny dropped his stuff in his room and noticed something strange. The chair before his computer was out, away from the desk. He tended to be fastidious about stuff like that. He always pushed the chair back in and left the mouse in the same position. It looked skewed too.

  Great; now I’m imagining things.

  He tried calling everybody again. What were the odds they had all turned their phones off without it being on purpose? They didn’t want to hear from him! Why? They couldn’t have known he was going to be home earlier, or he would have been invited to the meeting. Wouldn’t he?

  Frustrated at being so helpless, he struck out for the Valley Bistro. The Force didn’t always have its meetings there, but it was worth a shot. At least it was a place Kat would know how to get to, and maybe they made it easy for her.

  Kenny arrived to find them in the back room with, of all people, Qasim Marid. In an instant, Kenny knew something was terribly wrong. Raymie was pale and appeared grim. Zaki looked shell-shocked, as did Bahira. Qasim appeared stunned to see Kenny, but of course Kenny was most curious about Ekaterina. Her face was red, her eyes puffy. As soon as she saw him, she gathered up a sheaf of papers that appeared to be the same as everyone else’s and bolted from the restaurant.

  Kenny followed, but she was sprinting. “Kat!” he hollered. “Wait just a minute!”

  She stopped and whirled, pointing at him. “I don’t want to talk to you, Kenneth Williams. I don’t ever want to see you again.”

 
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