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Authors: James F. David

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BOOK: Judgment Day
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CHAPTER 74 GOLD

The world's unmined gold reserves have dwindled to less than a billion troy ounces, half of which are in the Republic of South Africa. Still essential to commerce, and increasingly important in the manufacture of electronics, the world will soon be facing a gold shortage.


STRATEGIC METALS
, RON WOLINSKI

ASTEROID BELT

T
he swarm of objects orbiting between Mars and Jupiter is called the asteroid belt. Too numerous to ever count, more than five thousand of these objects have been catalogued, a few named. Long-range spectroscopic analysis from Earth orbit suggested some of the asteroids consisted of heavy metals, like gold. On its trips to the asteroid belt, the Fellowship had confirmed the presence of heavy metals in the field. They were looking for one of these special asteroids now.

The
Exodus
found a promising candidate after ten days. Core samples confirmed the gold content of the asteroid. Unfortunately, the asteroid was huge, nearly ten miles long. Changing its orbit would be like moving a moon. However, the asteroid had been battered from numerous collisions, so they searched for fragments.

Space was the perfect medium for radar, since there was nothing to interfere with the broadcast of electromagnetic radiation, and their Israeli-built radar could detect even small objects at great distance. The nearest fragment of the asteroid took a day to reach, the requirements of acceleration and deceleration taking the bulk of the travel time.

Primarily silicate, the fragment was a disappointment. A day and a half later they were disappointed again with a second fragment. Two days later they found what they were looking for, a chunk of gold ore about twice the size of one of their spheres. Bob Morton estimated it would produce more than five tons of refined gold.

Micah and Bob took turns in the spheres, boring into the rock, then blasting away chunks, preparing a flat surface. Then steel beams were attached to the rock with expansion bolts, explosively driven deep into the asteroid. More bolts in the beams matched a modified cargo module that was bolted to the asteroid. Finally, the nose of the
Exodus
nested against one wall of the cargo module. It took a week to get the little space-train ready, then with Micah at the controls, the
Exodus
began to push. The mass wasn't any greater than when the
Exodus
was fully loaded, but the physics were different, since concentrating the mass on the nose of the ship changed the center of gravity, making it difficult for Micah to shape a drive field that would propel the ship. After a few false starts, the
Exodus
began picking up speed, pushing the asteroid like a tug pushing a luxury liner. The gold asteroid was on its way to Earth.

CHAPTER 75 INTRUSION

The Bible and the American Constitution: that's all the government anyone needs.

-GEORGE PROCTOR

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

T
he Autumn Rest Cemetery sprawled over two hills northwest of downtown San Francisco. Crow owned the surrounding property and every year cleared another parcel to sell off as burial plots. Proctor and his people were hidden in one of those wooded areas across the main road from the facility, watching through night glasses. Based on information from the man who fired the missile at
Rising Savior
, Crow had become their number one suspect in the disappearance of Ruth Breitling and Autumn Rest was the property he visited the most.

It was nearly midnight and conditions were favorable. The grounds were patrolled by a private security company but they were predictable and easily avoided. Rachel Waters was not there, having left Autumn Rest four hours earlier. They were waiting only because she frequently worked evenings too.

"If she isn't back by midnight, she's not coming," Proctor said. "We'll wait fifteen more minutes, then we go."

Rich nodded, then whispered orders to the three men behind him. Ten minutes passed and then a car approached—a Porsche.

"That's her," Rich whispered.

Proctor had never seen Crow's assistant, although he had heard his men talk about how attractive she was. Training the glasses on her sports car he watched her pull up in front of the building. Leaving her headlights on, she stepped out and walked toward the door as if she was going to dash in to pick up something she had forgotten. When she did, Proctor closed his eyes, looking at her through his lids. What he saw horrified him.

"We go now!" he said loudly.

"What?" Rich said. "Let's wait until she leaves."

"I don't want her to get away," Proctor said fiercely.

Rich looked like he wanted to argue but he turned to the others. Signaling his men to follow, Rich led them through the trees and down a slight rise to the cemetery fence. They hopped a short decorative fence and spread out, ducking behind tombstones, circling around to a rear entrance.

They carried automatic rifles or nine-millimeter pistols with silencers. Guy also carried a .357 Magnum in a shoulder holster—he called it his "security blanket." Normally cautious, now Proctor urged the others on, moving them faster than prudent. They reached the back door undetected. With all of them flattened against the wall, Jim picked the lock, then on a count of three he pulled the door open and Rich and Nick entered, each pointing their automatic weapons a different direction. Now Guy hurried in, racing for the alarm panel. He had only seconds to disarm it. Well practiced, he quickly opened the panel, bypassing the timed switch just before the solenoid clicked, closing the circuit. Next he disarmed the system.

They had entered through a receiving area where several crated coffins were stacked in the middle of the floor. Jim and Nick led the way down the hall, moving slowly, noiselessly. The hallway branched and they started left but Proctor stopped them.

"Which way is the lobby?" he whispered.

"Sir, we want to avoid the lobby. There are windows there."

"She can't get away," he said without explanation.

"That way," Rich said, Proctor moving off at a noisy pace.

Proctor hurried down the hall and through another doorway. Now the walls were paneled with mahogany and he hurried on. Another corner and then he burst into the lobby—she wasn't there. Hurrying to the door he saw her pull away.

"We should have come in the front," he said, cursing himself.

"Why did you want her so bad?"

"Because she's not human," Proctor said, then turned away.

With his special sight, he had seen her for what she really was—leathery skin, wings folded against her back, horns, and tail. He had never seen anything like her—it terrified him.

The others were whispering behind him, startled by his words.

"Search the building," Proctor said.

Starting back down the hall he was grabbed and held from behind.

"She rearmed the alarm when she left," Guy whispered in his ear.

Down the hall Proctor could see the winking red eye of the motion sensors.

"We've already triggered the silent alarm," Guy said. "The security car will be here in minutes."

"Guy and Jim, you wait for the guards and neutralize them. Rich and Nick, come with me."

He led the way down the hall, opening and closing doors recklessly, gambling there was no one else in the building. There were offices, storerooms, a print shop, embalming room, gaudy chapels, and a crematorium, but no sign of Ruth Breitling. Finally, Proctor found himself in the storeroom, where he met Rich and Nick.

"If she's here, we're missing something," Rich said.

Thinking of the presence of the demon, Proctor was convinced Ruth Breitling was nearby. By taking Ruth, they had devastated Ira and weakened the Fellowship. The demon wouldn't leave such an important lever unattended.

Closing his eyes, Crow started back through the building. Working through the rooms systematically again, he studied the walls through his eyelids, looking for a sign. Room after room was clean, nothing to indicate a hidden passage or door.

"Here comes security," Jim shouted from down the hall.

Frustrated, Proctor hurried toward the lobby, Rich and Nick following closely. Halfway down the hall he saw one of the panels was outlined in red. Proctor tapped on the panel and then on the one next to it. Stepping back, Proctor kicked the panel with all his might, splitting the panel in the middle.

"Quiet down there," Jim shouted. "The security guards are here."

Ignoring the warning, Proctor kicked the panel again and again, shattering the wood and revealing a stairway.

"Freeze!" came the shout of one of the security guards.

Proctor turned slowly, watching two guards through his eyelids. They

were side by side at the end of the hall, walking slowly forward, guns pointed at Proctor. Then Guy and Jim stepped up behind them, pressing pistols against their heads. The guards surrendered immediately and his men ordered them to the floor to be cuffed, gagged, and blindfolded.

With the guards secured, Proctor stepped through the wall and headed down the stairs. There was a faint glow in the basement that suddenly went out. Proctor closed his eyes, seeing in the dark. Halfway down the stairs he slowed, gun in hand, studying the bottom. The stairs ended in a large space with three connecting rooms. Flashlights shone behind him, his men trying to light his way.

"Turn off those lights!" Proctor ordered.

Suddenly three shots were fired, the slugs hitting just below Proctor's feet.

Keeping his back to one wall, he inched down the stairs, his men feeling their way behind him. At the bottom Proctor stopped, studying the three doors at the bottom. All three were closed. Through his eyelids, Proctor could see that one glowed in a red outline, the other two were dark. He could see the outlined door was open a crack. Proctor passed his .38 automatic to Rich.

"Give me Guy's Magnum," Proctor said.

There was whispering, then Guy's .357 was passed to Proctor.

"Come out of that room or I'll shoot," Proctor shouted.

Proctor waited thirty seconds, then repeated the warning.

Taking aim at the door, Proctor fired three rounds in quick succession, stitching a line waist high from where the crack in the door began to the far edge. There was no scream, just a loud thud as a body hit the floor. Boldly, Proctor walked across the open space, seeing through his eyelids. Magnum still in his hand, he kicked the door open. The door rebounded when he did and he wedged it with his foot. Leaning in, he saw a body on the floor, blocking the door. He shoved the door hard, the body moving aside as he did. There was a large gaping wound above the man's right eye, gore sprayed across the floor.

Proctor's men pushed in around him, fanning out, looking for more guards and for Ruth. Proctor scanned the room with his closed eyes, horrified by what he saw. Then he reached for a light switch and turned on the lights so his men could see what Crow really was.

When the lights came on Proctor's men froze in disbelief. The walls were painted with scenes that could only be from hell. Naked men and women being tortured—eyes gouged out, limbs chopped off, people being

burned alive, some skinned, many crucified. In the middle of the chamber was a large stone table, stained dark brown. The stain continued down the sides to the floor, where it spread out like frozen flames. Every man there was a hunter and knew what dried blood looked like.

Sitting high on a pedestal was a small statue of Satan, standing on cloven hooves, watching them with painted red eyes. Slowly, every man in the room turned to the statue, locked in a stare with the master of the underworld. In the light of day the statue would have been a laughable object of ridicule, nothing more than a childlike representation of the Devil. But here, in this den of horrors, it wasn't just a statue, it was Satan in all his terrible majesty, reigning over his basement kingdom. George Proctor felt the same evil, and the same nearly paralyzing presence. Then he closed his eyes, seeing the statue's head turn slightly, so that it was face-to-face with Proctor, Satan's lips curling into a cruel smile. Proctor returned the smile, then blew the statue into a hundred pieces with the .357.

The boom of the gun in the small basement temple sent every man to the floor, cringing in shock. With a deep feeling of satisfaction, Proctor turned and left the room, studying the other two doors. Now one of them glowed red. Walking to the door, he could see it was sealed with a large steel bolt. Sliding the bolt out, Proctor pulled the door open, flipping a light switch as he did.

The interior was lit by a single bulb, the walls painted with the garish horrors of the chamber with the statue. There was a cot along one side. Huddled on the cot was a woman, cowering against the wall, blanket wrapped tightly around her. It was Ruth Breitling.

"Ruth, I've come to take you home," Proctor said.

Ruth stared at Proctor, eyes blank, her body trembling in fear. Then slowly, her eyes brightened and her mouth began to move.

"George Proctor," she whispered in a hoarse voice. "God answered my prayer."

Then she ran to him, holding the blanket to her body as she did, nearly tripping over it until she wrapped her arms around him, crying on his shoulder. Rich came around behind Ruth, pulling the blanket the rest of the way around her, covering her back. After a minute Proctor pulled her arms from his neck. Sobbing uncontrollably from joy, weak from the abuse she had suffered, she let Proctor support her and lead her from her cell and up the stairs through the shattered mahogany panel.

"Someone's coming," a voice called. "It's a Porsche."

Proctor stiffened and pushed Ruth toward Rich. Ruth clung to Proctor.

"This is Rich," Proctor said softly. "He's a God-fearing man."

Ruth hesitated, then accepted Rich as her new guardian.

"Take her home, Rich," Proctor said.

"No!" Ruth said suddenly. "I can't go home."

"Ira is waiting for you, Ruth," he said.

"I can't face him. Please don't take me home—not yet. Please."

"All right," he said, again pushing her to Rich. "Get her to the airport. We'll take her to the compound."

With Ruth safely on her way, Proctor turned, whispering a prayer as he prepared to meet the demon.

Rachel Waters hadn't bothered to turn the lights on and was hurrying down the hall toward the hidden stairway when Proctor stepped out, blocking her path. She froze, sizing him up, eyeing the .357 in his hand—seeing in the dark as well as he did. Closing his eyes, Proctor could see the demon again, like a hologram surrounding the human form inside. Was she possessed, or had the demon taken human form? Would it die if he shot it? Could a demon die?

He blocked her view with his body, letting the others retreat behind him, hurrying to the rear exit. The demon looked past him, her red eyes looking for Ruth. Realizing that Ruth was getting away, the demon stepped toward him.

"Don't move, demon!" Proctor warned.

Stopping midstep, she looked at Proctor with new interest, her eyes like molten rock.

"My name is Rachel Waters, George Proctor," the demon said.

Opening his eyes he said, "I know your human name. What's your real name? Or don't demons have names?"

The Rachel Waters form smiled at him; a patronizing smile.

"You fundamentalists see demons everywhere. Everyone who doesn't share your narrow-minded view of the world must be demon-possessed."

Closing his eyes again Proctor said, "I can see your true form, demon—your tail, horns, wings, the claws on your hands."

Now the demon lost its smirk, studying Proctor's closed eyes. Then she stepped left and forward, the demon aura mimicking every move of her human body in perfect synchrony. He followed her movement with his gun. Still watching his closed eyes, she stepped back and right, and again he followed her with the gun. Now the demon looked perplexed.

"You're imagining things, Mr. Proctor," the Rachel demon said. "You're hallucinating."

Opening his eyes and pointing the gun at her head he asked, "If I shoot you, will you die?"

"Of course I will, I'm human."

She remained calm, but there was a touch of concern in her voice. Whatever a bullet would do to her, she wanted to avoid it.

Sirens sounded and once again the the human form of the demon became confident.

"The police are coming," Rachel said. "You won't get away now."

Proctor had rushed to face the demon, now he didn't know how to deal with it. He had prepared all his life for a showdown with human oppressors, not spiritual foes. Should he kill the demon's host? Would that send the demon back to hell or free it to occupy another host? Or should the demon be excised from the innocent host by the power of the Holy Spirit? The time wasn't right for this, but he was here and the demon was afraid of the gun. Deciding he might not get another chance, he closed his eyes to see the evil he was trying to excise, aimed the gun at Rachel Water's head, and pulled the trigger.

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