Rayford could not see far in the raging firestorm, but every huddled pilgrim around him was also ablaze. Abdullah rolled to one side and lay in a fetal position, his face and head still cocooned in his arms. White, yellow, orange, black roaring flames engulfed him as if he were a human wick for a demonic holocaust.

It was four in the morning in Chicago, and Buck sat before the television. Leah and Albie joined him, Zeke having gone to collect Enoch. "Where's Ming?" Buck said.

"With the baby," Leah said.

"What do you make of this?" Albie said, staring at the screen.

Buck shook his head. "I just wish I was there."

"Me too," Albie said. "I feel like a coward, a traitor."

"We missed something," Buck said. "We all missed something." He kept trying to call Chloe, only imagining what she was going through. No answer.

"Do you believe this guy?" Leah said. "It's not enough to massacre a million people and destroy one of the most beautiful cities in the world. He's chasing it with a missile."

Buck thought Leah's voice sounded tight. And why not? She had to be thinking what he was thinking, that they had not only lost their leadership and seen a million people incinerated, but that everything they thought they knew was out the window.

"Get Ming, would you?" he said. "Tell her to let Kenny sleep."

Leah hurried out as Zeke and Enoch walked in. Zeke plopped onto the floor, but Enoch stood fidgeting. "I can't stay long, Buck," he said. "My people are pretty shaken."

Buck nodded. "Let's all get together at daybreak." "And--?" Enoch said.

"And I don't know what. Pray, I guess."

"We've been praying," Albie said. "It's time to reload."

As the Tribulation Force in Chicago watched, the fighter-bomber pilot acknowledged to GC command that he had a visual on the missile originating from Amman. And from the right side of the screen came the thick, white plume trailing the winding projectile as it approached the flame and smoke rising from Petra.

The missile dived out of sight into the blackness, and seconds later yet another explosion erupted, blowing even wider the fire that seemed to own the mountainous region.