“I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my life.” Declan gazed with appreciation at the approaching island as the trawler moved steadily to the harbor. TheAurorawaited while theLeverandøredged along the end of the pier. When it touched the dock, the prophet jumped over the side and caught a tie rope. He slowly inhaled and shook off the weight of the outside world. For the first time since they had departed, he felt at ease.
Andre scanned the air for Panoplia and double-glanced at the sight of Malachi staring back at him. Before the Agabus could speak, the Messenger held up a hand with a small shake of his head, signifying it could wait. Andre nodded briefly and watched Malachi leave the harbor in the direction of the mountain. Movement on theLeverandørdrew his attention back to the dock as the interns and crew disembarked.
“You made it, Dec.” He grinned and gave his friend a hand off the boat. “It’s over.”
“Thank Theos.” Declan was truly grateful, and he shouldered his duffle bag before rushing down the pier to meet his family on shore.
Andre watched each intern step onto the pier before waving to Kirkeby with the go ahead to radio theAurorathat he was ready for them. Both vessels were tied between the moorings and emptied of their passengers and cargo. The trawlers carried meager catches after two days at sea. It did not take long for the harbor personnel, ships’ crews, and interns to unload.
Laken and Demi were on the boardwalk when Andre was released for the day. His aunt and uncle greeted him with strong hugs and many questions about the trip. “You look tired.” Demi brushed Andre’s hair out of his bloodshot eyes. “Didn’t you sleep?”
“Not really,” he said wearily.
“I brought your car.” She handed him the keys. “Will you be going right home?
“No,” Andre shook his head, “not ’til tonight probably.” He glanced around looking for Elder Ackers. He wanted to rush off to the mountain, but it would have to wait. “I have something I need to do.”
Demi nodded, “Your uncle and I have errands to run in the village until the girls are out of school. There is a dinner for the interns and their families at the bistro this evening. Meet us there when you can.”
Andre agreed and left them to drop his bag off in his car. Crossing the gravel lot, he found Ackers in Nord’s Bait Shop at the coffee counter talking to Bart Nord and Lynn Harada’s father, Carlos.
“Agabus,” he returned the greeting and turned on his stool as he set his cup of coffee on the counter. “How did the sea find you? I heard there wasn’t much cod to be had.”
“No, sir. Can I speak with you a moment?”
They walked outside as it began to drizzle. Ackers pulled up the collar of his coat and led the way to a private corner of the boardwalk beneath the cover of an overhang in front the side entrance to the harbor’s cool storage shed. “What can I do for you?”
“I received a vision while on theLeverandør,” Andre began, pulling the folded slip of paper from his pocket and handing it to the elder. “I was on deck when a wave hit the boat. It knocked me over and there was a Daimon…or a vision of one, I’m not sure. It looked the same as what I saw on Kaluma, and it hit me within the wave. I blacked out, and this is what I saw.” He gestured to the paper and waited with his hands shoved deep in his pockets while Ackers read the words.
The elder didn’t get far before his frown of concentration turned into an expression of alarm. He glanced up quickly, looking past Andre and hastily folding the paper again.
“What?” Andre glanced over his shoulder. He did not know what Ackers was looking at.
“You saw this—”
“Last night,” Andre cut him off and watched the elder carefully.
“Come with me, Agabus. You need to see this anyway.” Directing Andre away from the boardwalk, Ackers led him up the road to the Phulake Guardhouse across the highway from downtown Kentro. He pushed open the main entrance and drew Andre into the front office before a tall counter where one of the officers sat at a computer in front of a window overlooking the village.
“Are the interns in from their trip, Elder Ackers?” the Phulake asked without looking up from his screen.
“I need the records from this morning’s call from Kaluma,” Ackers ignored the question.
Looking up, the Phulake noticed Andre for the first time and immediately jumped out of his seat. “Right away, sir.”
Stepping through an open doorway behind the counter, he led them into a small, dark room and flipped on the light. On a row of flat desk space lining two sections of wall were a display of monitors and satellite equipment in which to receive video and auditory calls from outside the island. The Phulake officer sat before one of these and used the keyboard controls to bring up a recorded file from early that morning.
“It came in at five a.m. from the western United States,” he informed the Agabus. “The caller is Reverend Owen Emmerich—”
“Owen?” Andre had not heard that name in a long time, but he knew it well.
“Yes,” Ackers affirmed the connection. “Our missionaries are currently working in the region where Emmerich pastors a church. His congregation was providing accommodations for our young people up until they were scheduled to move south yesterday afternoon on a train bound for California.”
Andre stared at the elder with a growing dread slipping over him.
“Play the message,” Ackers told the guard.
The Phulake pressed a key and the video footage loaded. The face of Own Emmerich, the son of Dr. Dietrich’s old college roommate and lifelong friend, appeared.
“This is Reverend Owen Emmerich from Seattle Washington in the US. I just received word that your group of missionaries has been involved in an accident. The train they were taking to California was derailed not far from Portland, Oregon. I am about to leave to meet your deacon at the hospital in Portland but have been told that, other than a few minor injuries, all of your young people are fine. Several cars veered off the track, but apparently the one the missionaries were riding in did not suffer extensive damage. Several websites and news channels are covering the accident; I suggest you pull up a few if you want more information than what I can give you until I have reached Portland and speak further with Deacon Boyter. I will keep in touch…”
Andre stared at the screen as it froze on the familiar but aging face of Reverend Emmerich. He knew so much about his grandfather’s old friend, but had never met him in person. He had been very young the last time he had viewed a video message from the Reverend, and it was strange to see him now. Even stranger that he popped back into Andre’s life with such news.
“But they’re okay?” He looked at Ackers.
“Captain Barow was able to get a call through to the hospital in Portland a few hours ago,” the officer told him. “It took her several tries to find them, and when she did they didn’t give her much information. We’re still waiting for Emmerich or Boyter to call back.”
“Thank you.” Ackers nodded at the Phulake and led Andre back out of the room, through the guardhouse, and into the street again. He turned abruptly as soon as the door closed behind them, flattening the paper he still held in his fist. “The train.”
“I didn’t see a derailing,” Andre pointed out.
“No,” he agreed, “but it must be the same. And these others?”
“Soon to come, no doubt.”
“An explosion?” Ackers appeared distraught. “Do all of these refer to the Therapon missionaries?”
“I don’t know—” Andre responded, glancing suddenly at the mountain and remembering Malachi, “—yet. I don’t know yet. But I need to go.” He refused the return of the paper when Ackers held it up. “Keep it. Take it to Iasis and call together the Council and all the deacons. Do they know about the train?”
“Good, then tell them about my vision. I’ll find you later.” Without waiting for Ackers’ response, he ran through the rain to his car.Are you coming?He peered out his window at the overcast sky, as he accelerated away from the harbor. The Panoplia mutely followed, circling his car or flying on ahead to meet Malachi at the altar.
The four layers of clothing which had provided perfect warmth out on the sea were smothering and uncomfortable in Andre’s rush to reach the altar. A bitter wind circling the mountain was not sufficient in cooling the dripping sweat from his brow. Climbing to the rock shelf where the altar faced the northern horizon, he peeled off his wool overcoat and dropped it in the dirt. Unzipping his fleece jacket, he removed both along with his t-shirt, standing in only his thermal undershirt and a pair of work pants which still smelled strongly of the sea.
Malachi stood motionless near the rock wall. Andre met the Messenger’s gaze briefly before he knelt before the altar, breathing in deep with his eyes closed. The Panoplia stood in a semicircle behind him and waited for the prophet to finish his prayer. Not all were in attendance. Amnon was at Erotao as usual, and Shamira was guarding the cave.
When Andre finished speaking to Theos, he raised his head and opened his eyes, staring at the misty gray sky blending with a cerulean sea. “Tell me what it means,” he spoke.
Malachi stepped forward and stood at his shoulder, looking down at the boy with his arms crossed at his chest. “The train you already know. It has been fulfilled.”
“Are they okay?”
“Word will come, but ease your mind. They are not as harmed as they could have been.”
“Praise Theos,” Andre said above a whisper.
“Praise Theos,” the spirits echoed.
“What about the explosion? Was that part of the train wreck?” he asked next.
“No, that is still to come.”
“For them or for us?”
Malachi did not answer the question directly but went on with His Message as he was instructed to give it. “Each event within the vision must come about to prove our Lord’s Might. It is a trail of dominos leading one into another.”
“Ending in a victory for the enemy,” Andre concluded incredulously.
“There is no victory belonging to the enemy,” Malachi reminded him plainly. “Why did you come all this way if you do not wish to hear the Message?”
“Sorry.” Andre shut his mouth and listened.
“The vision you received does not show all that will come. It was given only as a forewarning so that you may not be taken unawares. The scheme is much larger than you. It is far greater even than this island. You have only to play your role and wait upon the Lord. When action is necessary, you will be made aware. In the meantime, do nothing to alter the course already set.
“You have great faith, Agabus. Do not abandon it. Pursue peace and be content. Encourage your countrymen and give them the Words you have been given. Do not be so quick to anger with your people. They do not see what you See. A fear grows among them even as we speak. Only a few remain to beseech His Protection. Go and ease their minds before they act upon their trepidations.”
“Can I ask one thing first?” Andre opened his eyes again.
“He is always listening,” Malachi assured him.
“Restore Costa,” the prophet pleaded. “Heal him and bring him home.”
“Your Father hears your request,” the spirit messenger gave him hope. “Now go.”
Andre returned to Kentro and parked around the corner of the bistro in Metoche. He edged through the crowd gathered in the restaurant and nodded at his family when they waved him over to a table along the far wall. His classmates were there with their own families along with the elders, komers, and several of the deacons. He sought out Komer Turay first, found Calloway, and met them both near the bistro counter to speak with Elder Mathis.
“Why aren’t all the deacons at the Sanctuary?” he asked with an effort to maintain an even tone of voice, void of anger as Malachi instructed.
Turay glanced at Calloway and stammered slightly. “We were waiting for your word, Andre—Agabus. Many of the deacons wished to hear from you in regards to the missionaries. What do you know? What are we supposed to do?”
“Deacon Boyter contacted headquarters on Kaluma,” Elder Mathis informed Andre. “They have left the hospital and returned to Emmerich’s church in Seattle to recover.”
“How are they?” the prophet asked.
“A few bumps and bruises, one concussion, and a sprained wrist,” Mathis said. “But that’s all. Mostly they were shaken up and tired. Many of them want to come home.”
Andre digested this information and caught the sidelong glances between the three men standing before him. “What?”
“We think that they should.”
Andre wasn’t sure what the head elder meant.
“We have decided to bring them home early. Captain Barow is arranging to have them flown from the states as soon as possible.”
The prophet stared at them in disbelief.Too late, Malachi, he thought bitterly. Their fear had already forced their actions. “Is that really necessary?” He struggled to find words which wouldn’t sound disrespectful.
“We believe it is,” Mathis continued to speak for everyone. “If your vision holds true—”
“Of course it will,” Andre snapped. “Why should that matter?” The volume of his question got the attention of half of the people sitting nearby, and they turned to watch in curiosity. “How can you make a decision without first hearing an interpretation?” He turned an accusatory glare on Ackers who looked stunned by his reaction. “Did you tell them where I was going?”
“I…I didn’t know. You didn’t tell me.”
“You couldn’t haveguessed?”
“Andre—” Mathis reached for his arm before the Agabus abruptly moved it out of his reach.
What good was a prophet if they didn’t utilize him? “Call Barow and tell her not to bring them home,” he told them.
“It has already been decided.” Mathis shook his head. “Therapon is not a requirement, it is voluntary. The volunteers are scared, tired, and they want to come home. It is not your place to decide.”
Andre nearly argued the point but managed to hold his tongue. He glanced around the still and silent room of people and could sense their mixture of confusion and fear. His evident frustration wasn’t helping. As much as it made him sick, he was given a Word and he had to give it. Finding Jora in the room, he met her gaze and held it while he spoke. “Theos wants us all to be diligent,” he said. “I saw a vision last night. The form of a Daimon tried to attack me before I saw a train, an explosion, and a blinding storm.” He paused as a low rumbled of exclamations rippled through the crowd and the feeling of fear intensified. “I’m not finished,” Andre raised his voice in annoyance. “I saw two of our people leaving the island, one by boat and one by death. These things are supposed to happen so that Theos may prove what we already know. He is powerful, and he does not want us to be afraid. We will see and experience these things, but we can’t let fear cloud our minds.” He looked at Mathis when he said this and couldn’t help but feel vindicated by the man’s uncomfortable appearance.
“Bring them home if you think it’s right, but it’s not going to stop the vision from happening. It’s already started.” Andre ignored the collective frowns of disapproval he received from the elders. “You’re right,” he muttered sarcastically, “it’s not my place to say. You’re the leaders. I’m just the prophet. What do I know?” He walked away and left the building by the rear exit to avoid the stunned expressions on the faces of his countrymen.