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Isaiah 64

Oh that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence,

As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence!

When Thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, Thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at Thy presence.

For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.

Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember Thee and Thy ways: behold, Thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those in continuance, and we shall be saved.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

And there is none that calleth upon Thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee: for Thou hast hid Thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.

But now, O LORD, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand.

Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech Thee, we are all Thy people.

Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.

Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised Thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste.

Wilt Thou refrain Thyself for these things, O LORD? wilt Thou hold Thy peace, and afflict us very sore? (Isaiah 64: 1-12)

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Isaiah 14

For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.

And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.

And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,

That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!

The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.

He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.

The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.

Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.

Hell from beneath [Or, The grave] is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.

All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?

Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.

Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;

That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.

But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.

Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned.

Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.

“For I will rise up against them,” saith the LORD of hosts, “and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew,” saith the LORD.

“I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction,” saith the LORD of hosts.

The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, “Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:

“That I will break the Assyrian in My land, and upon My mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders.

“This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.

“For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?”

In the year that King Ahaz died was this burden.

“Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice [Or, adder], and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.

“And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant.

“Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be alone in his appointed times [Or, assemblies].

“What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of His people shall trust in it.” (Isaiah 14: 1-32)

Mark 2

And again He entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that He was in the house.

And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and He preached the word unto them.

And they come unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.

And when they could not come nigh unto Him for the press, they uncovered the roof where He was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.

When Jesus saw their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”

But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,

Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?

And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, “Why reason ye these things in your hearts?

“Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee’; or to say, ‘Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk’?

“But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins,” (He saith to the sick of the palsy,)

“I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.”

And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

And He went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto Him, and He taught them.

And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, “Follow Me.” And he arose and followed Him.

And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and His disciples: for there were many, and they followed Him.

And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto His disciples, How is it that He eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?

When Jesus heard it, He saith unto them, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto Him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Thy disciples fast not?

And Jesus said unto them, “Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

“But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

“No man also seweth a piece of new [Or, raw, or, unwrought] cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.

“And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.”

And it came to pass, that He went through the corn fields on the Sabbath Day; and His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.

And the Pharisees said unto Him, Behold, why do they on the Sabbath Day that which is not lawful?

And He said unto them, “Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?

“How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?”

And He said unto them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath:

“Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2: 1-28)

Nocturne’s Reaping® : Dirge

Chapter 21

Nora was given a new outfit for the day. It was black in color and tighter than the one she already had. On the label, it read that the outfit was flame retardant. Nora laughed angrily to herself. What good would that do? If the plane caught on fire in space, there wouldn’t be anything they could do to stop it. She stared at the uniform for the longest time. At that moment, she couldn’t help but think about all the things she would never have a chance to do. The Administration didn’t give them much reason to hope otherwise. The recruits were told to clean their rooms. Why then? It was obvious — they were readying the rooms for their replacements. They didn’t expect Group B to return. Then again, why should they? Group A didn’t come back … alive.

“This is it — the end!” a voice called out.

At first Nora wondered whether she had really heard it. It was almost as though she could hear her own thoughts spoken aloud. Then, she realized there was a noise in the hall — a commotion of voices. Nora raised an eyebrow. Maybe it was the fact that she wanted to get away from the uniform, but she decided to go see what was going on.

“I want out! I want out of here!!” a hysterical girl was running down the hall.

A couple of other girls ran after her.

“Julie! Calm down!”

“No, I’m going to die!”

“Shh … stop.”

They held her down.

“I’ve got to get out of here! No, I have to! Let me go!”

Nora stood in the doorway. She stared at the scene blankly, too emotionally empty to react. Others had gathered as well. All the faces seem deadened.

“Remember what happened to that one guy?” one offered. “He’s dead now. You don’t want to cross these people.”

“What guy?!” Nora heard herself exclaim suddenly. “Was it the guy I was with — the one they took away?”

The three girls turned a shocked look onto Nora as though they were offended by her interruption. You’d think they’d be grateful to her for distracting the overwrought girl. But as time passed and no one bothered to answer her question, Nora grew frustrated.

“You heard what I asked!” Nora shouted.

“How should I know who he was?” one spat. “We don’t get into everyone’s business. We keep our attention on ourselves.”

“Then, you don’t even know that it’s true.” Nora accused.

“Julie saw it!”

“Yeah.” Julie stammered between sobs. “He was shot down near the gate. When he tried to escape from them, they shot him.”

The words seemed to change Julie’s mood from frantic to resigned. As for Nora, she felt a lump grow in her stomach. It was as though she had been punched in the gut. She could feel herself begin to falter. Could it be Jack? Could he be dead? She told herself that they didn’t know the identity of the man. But who else could it be? Nora wasn’t aware of anyone else who was missing. Nora thought to ask them for more details, but the three girls, including the one who had just regained her composure, were in no mood to talk to her anymore. Nora could sense it would take a long time for her to get on those girls’ good sides, which was probably the only way they’d be willing to help her out now. And there just wasn’t time for that. Not to mention, Nora was beyond having the energy to deal with people at this point. If these girls couldn’t understand that and stop playing these emotional games, then Nora would just have to let it go. It couldn’t be helped.

Nora, therefore, concluded she would probably never find out whether the dead man was Jack or not — she’d most likely be dead by the time she had a chance. And yet, even though she wouldn’t live long enough to fully grieve his loss, she felt a crushing sadness in potentially outliving him. She hadn’t really thought there was anything he could have done to save her. She had just thought that he could save himself, her parents, and her brother. Now, that hope was gone, and only the emptiness remained.

Then, the loud speaker delivered a warning to everyone that there wasn’t much time left. Nora would have to go change into her uniform right away. She headed back into her room. But then, she suddenly felt rather foolish as she considered putting the outfit on. Why go along with their plans to kill her? Then again, what was the alternative? To wait there for them to come for her with no means of protecting herself was pointless. She’d die anyway. The question was would they make an example of her before she died in order to strike fear in the others. Perhaps, she’d just get shot as Jack … Nora clenched the fabric with her hands. Then again, the Administration had to have realized that some recruits might find it preferable to take their chances here. The Administration would want to remove that as a possibility in the minds of the recruits. They’d have to make death here seem worse than death out there in space.

And what was it that one instructor had said? Nora would have control and have a say in what happened to her. He implied that by living in the moment she could stay alive and just keep staying alive. Nora knew instinctively that was a lie — and yet, it was a lie that would get most of them in those planes despite what happened to Group A. But what could get Nora in the plane now? Fear of reprisal? No. The fact was she wanted to stay alive as long as she could. Despite everything, Nora seemed incapable of completely giving up. If she remained in her room, she’d be pretty much choosing to die. Plus, she wanted to finally get out from behind these prison walls.

“If for only a moment …” she mumbled to herself.

It was strange. Everyone seemed to enter the corridor en masse that day. Nora looked around her and observed that the others seemed rather skittish, as though they were waiting for something to happen — something that would give them the opportunity to flee — but nothing happened. Nora figured this anxious anticipation allowed them all to think that they weren’t just going along with each step — steps that brought them closer and closer to death. No, instead they were waiting for that one last opportunity — an opportunity that would never come. And they all seemed to realize the inevitable eventually. At different times, that look of hopeless horror crossed their faces one after another. Nora already had that moment when she concluded Jack was most likely dead. Now, she was a numb observer going through the motions.

Still, even in this detached mood, she was surprised when a man she had never seen before sat beside her in the auditorium.

“Hi.” he said.

The awkward man slid his hands upon his legs.

“My name’s Ned …”

Nora avoided eye contact with him.

“What are you mad or something?” he asked her.

Nora looked over at him with irritation. The least she figured she was entitled to was being left alone with her thoughts.

“I thought you might be. No one wants to partner with me, not after only having a crash course. Bad choice of words, I guess.” He paused. “You know, after trying to get out of Group B. Big help that was.” he whispered this last part.

Nora looked at him with recognition as it dawned on her that he was the one Jack had switched with in order to get into Group B. She had never asked Jack whose name he was using. Nora wondered how the Administration had found out. Had someone turned this guy in, or had he opened his big mouth to the wrong person?

“So, Mrs. Grafton said you should take me on as your partner. Actually, she was the one who pointed you out to me. Anyway, she said you were guilty unlike the others. I just hope you know what you’re doing.”

He laughed. Nora blinked.

“What? What do you mean by partner?”

“We’re going to be in the same plane.” he stated as though it were obvious.

“You don’t mean those tiny planes they’ve been bringing in? You mean the bigger ones Group A had during their test run, don’t you?”

“Who knows.”

Nora looked forward. She felt sick. Earlier that day, when she happened to see some even tinier planes being brought into the complex, she had assumed it meant that she’d have one of her own. Now apparently, it wasn’t enough for her to be most likely sent to her death; she’d probably be crammed into a miniscule plane with this man as well. Back when he was still here, the possibility of being with Jack had made her feel better regardless of how small the plane turned out to be — but this guy? That same feeling she had had in the coffin at the lake came back to her. If that experience was supposed to make her brave, it failed. If it was meant to paralyze her with fear, it was working. Nora wrung her hands.

“Why?” Nora uttered, referring to having to partner with Ned.

“I guess if one of us can’t manage the controls the other one can maneuver the ship …” Ned said, answering the wrong question.

“Yes … but you don’t know what you’re doing.” she argued, as though convincing him would do her any good.

“Hey, it’s not my idea either. I’ve heard you’re no prize. Maybe I should be the one to act superior with you. But seriously, after the position your boyfriend’s plan put me in I figure your helping me is the least you could do. I’d probably be an ace right now if I had had the training.”

An awkward silence ensued. Occasionally, she could feel him staring over at her. Fortunately for Nora, the meeting began soon afterward. She never thought she’d be glad to see Mrs. Grafton take the stage, especially since Mrs. Grafton had plotted to pair her with Ned.

The meeting was actually rather short. There was a certain rushed quality to it. It mostly consisted of a role call. Within it, the names of the partners were listed. Nora’s name was coupled with Ned’s. Surprisingly, one person wasn’t given a partner. Nora grew annoyed. Why couldn’t she be alone? She would rather be alone.

“Oh, that’s right,” Nora thought, “the whole thing is a punishment.”

But then, why send out Ned at all? Nora glared at Mrs. Grafton briefly. Mrs. Grafton did seem to occasionally look up in Nora’s direction. Maybe it was just Nora’s imagination, but Mrs. Grafton seemed to be smirking. Eventually, Nora grew tired of her fruitless efforts to intimidate the woman and looked down instead. After all, what difference did it make?

“You’ll be given the pilot suits and the helmets in the locker rooms near the control tower. You will be escorted there now.”

Male and female guards came forward, and the recruits began to file out of the auditorium. It wasn’t as though the recruits needed the escort. The recruits all knew where the locker rooms were; they had been there that first day to change into their first uniforms. But that obviously wasn’t the point. They were prisoners, and they weren’t going to be let out of the Administration’s sight. Maybe there was another reason for Ned being assigned to her. Maybe Nora’s piloting instructor had told Mrs. Grafton that Nora might crash on purpose as that one crew from Group A likely had. And maybe that was why they weren’t going to be allowed a test run today — it was seen as too great of a temptation. Then again, it wasn’t as though they could stop them from doing whatever they wanted once they took off. Or, could they? Nora was sure she would find that out soon enough.

Suddenly, she could feel that Ned guy staring at her again. He was walking in the boy’s line next to her. Nora gave him a side glance. He looked away. Nora couldn’t handle the awkwardness of this partnership. If Nora weren’t on the verge of tears, she might laugh at how unbearably absurd this situation was getting.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2016

 

Nocturne’s Reaping® : Dirge

Chapter 20

There was one more thing Jack had to do before trying to breach the security at the Installation. He remembered Nora asking him to get word to her parents. Going there alone was a risk, however. Jack was concerned that Nora’s parents would think he was up to something — that maybe he had done something to Nora. Ideally, he would want to bring Nora to them, so that she could talk with them herself. But he and Nora might need to hide out for a while — if he was able to get Nora out of there safely. And he just knew if he didn’t seek them out before retrieving Nora, she would feel compelled to go to them in order to reassure them. That could be a disaster. At least right now they weren’t looking for Nora, and, therefore, probably weren’t looking for her family either. If Nora did escape, that would surely change. There was another advantage Jack could think of to going to see Nora’s parents before heading to the Installation: it would give those in charge of the Installation time to be alerted to the goings on in town and possibly send some of their security guards to see what was happening in the underground. Yes, it was decided; he would do this thing for her.

Nora had given Jack her parents’ address. It was in the middle-class area of town. Jack did his best to clean himself up in the street. Yet, he didn’t want to return to his old dwelling. Not only might his stuff have been disposed of, but it would also be a place they might look for him.

Jack waited while a man let himself into the building. He then slipped in behind him. Once he got to Nora’s door, he rang the doorbell. There seemed to be silence inside. Had they moved? Had they been taken by the Administration? No, they were probably just out. Jack turned to leave. He decided he would wait near the elevator for them. Suddenly, the door slowly opened. There was a woman standing there, staring blankly at him. He could see that there was darkness behind her.

“Yes?” she asked.

“Hi.” Jack said. “I know your daughter Nora … from school.”

It wasn’t a complete lie. They were in a sort of school together. Jack planned to explain the circumstances, but he didn’t want to freak out the person he assumed to be Nora’s mother in the meantime. Besides, he didn’t want to get into the whole situation while standing in the hallway. A light suddenly appeared from behind her.

“Won’t you come in?” Nora’s mother offered.

The light allowed Jack to see that she had been crying. Something about the woman’s demeanor unnerved him. Even so, Jack stepped inside despite his hesitation. Nora’s mother then proceeded to shut the door behind them. Jack almost felt as though he knew Nora’s mother. Some of her mannerisms reminded him of Nora. He was sure Nora would hug her if she were there. Of course, if Nora were there chances were her mother wouldn’t be crying.

“So, you know Nora from school?” Nora’s mother asked.

“In a matter of speaking …” Jack started.

Nora’s mother’s forehead crinkled. Jack then noticed she was standing directly in front of the door. He realized she was attempting to block him in.

“What do you mean by that?” she asked, her voice shaking. “Do you know where my daughter is?”

This wasn’t going well. Jack had wrongly assumed that Nora’s mother had thought he was harmless, and that’s why she let him in. Instead, it was clear now she wanted to confront him. Jack wished he had followed his first inclination, which was that Nora’s family had every reason to distrust him. Either way, Jack decided that the truth, as incredible as it was, was his best option. There was a strong possibility she wouldn’t believe it, but he hoped she’d realize that what he was about to tell her was really what had happened.

“I met up with Nora in the neighborhood you used to live in. We were taken to the same place. It is an installation outside of town. They are training us to pilot planes in order to take on the nebula reapers.”

“You expect me to believe that?!” Nora’s mother demanded.

“She wanted me to tell you. She has had you on her mind. She’s been afraid to tell them she isn’t one of the underground. She’s worried that something will happen to you and the rest of your family. Anyway, she is in Group B. Group A didn’t make it. You may have noticed the debris, which broke off in the atmosphere.”

A flash of recognition crossed her face.

“And Nora?”

“She’s still alive. I’m going to try to keep it that way. I’m going to go back for her. It won’t be easy, but I’m determined.”

Nora’s mother considered. She seemed to be conflicted. Finally, she said, “And what do I do?”

“Find a way to keep your husband and son alive. Nora is going to want to be reassured that you are safe. That’s why I’m here. Of course, she’s going to want to see you soon if she can. But if that isn’t possible, she needs to know you’re going to be all right. Otherwise, I’m not sure I can convince her to stay away until its safe.”

Jack hesitated.

“The fact is you may need to leave this colony on your own if you can.” he decided to add.

Jack thought Nora’s mother was going to ask him how she was supposed to do that. He was surprised to find out that she knew what he was talking about.

“My husband heard from someone that there was a program.” Nora’s mother spoke lowly. “There is a rumor that a test ship with a small group of passengers actually escaped. Under the circumstances, I didn’t want to hear about it. Now, you’re saying it’s true?”

Jack raised an eyebrow. He had heard that some powerful people were being evacuated, but he thought that move was just precautionary in case something else unforeseen were to happen. Why not — especially if they were willing to pay in interplanetary currency for the privilege? Interplanetary currency had become a rarity on the colony, but some still existed. Now, it occurred to him that there probably was no other plan. They weren’t even going to try to stop the reapers from coming. There wasn’t much time left, and most everyone on Colony 52 was going to die. That was the secret they didn’t want anyone else to know.

“Maybe my husband can find someone at work with connections to help her.” Nora’s mother whispered to herself.

“But don’t they already know she’s missing?” Jack put forth.

“Yes, but maybe they don’t know she’s there.”

Jack swallowed.

“You’ll have to make that decision, but I agree with Nora now. I no longer think it would have helped if she had spoken up about who she is.” Jack informed her. “The people involved in this scheme have too much to hide to just let her go. I doubt anyone but those at the top could retrieve her now.”

“But how can I trust you — someone I don’t know — with something so precious to me?” Nora’s mother’s voice shook. “I guess I don’t have a choice — do I?”

“No, just get out of here if you can — and don’t reveal what I’ve told you to those people. If you have trouble leaving for yourselves, do it for Nora. You know that she’ll struggle with leaving here with me unless I can honestly tell her that you’re going to try to go. Like I said, your safety has been on her mind all along. You’ll have to leave me to take care of Nora.”

“You have to save our daughter.” she told him. “You told me that she’d have difficulty leaving here without us. We feel the same way about her.”

“I understand.” Jack assured her.

“God bless you.” she said, reaching out her hand to touch the sleeve of his shirt. “Tell Nora we love her, and we miss her.”

Finally, Nora’s mother stepped aside and allowed Jack to leave.

Jack nodded then looked straight ahead before heading out the door. He made his way back to the street. He was moving so fast that he was breathing heavily. He was glad that he had gone to Nora’s apartment, yet terrified it had taken too much time to convince Nora’s mom. Still, he had to try to get Nora’s family to leave the colony if they were able. What he didn’t want to tell Nora’s mom — what occurred to him during the conversation — was that if he didn’t get to Nora in time she’d be used to distract the nebula reapers long enough to save the lives of the people on the next ship going out.

“They didn’t need to know that. And her being able to help save them is what Nora would want.” Jack mumbled to himself as he trudged along the dark, dismal streets. “If she has to die, she’d want it to be for a reason. But I’m not about to just let that happen.”

Jack felt even more desperate to get to Nora as soon as possible. If the Administration was up to what he thought it was, the people in charge there would be pushing to send Group B out as soon as possible. It all made sense now. Group A’s mission was never to stop the nebula reapers. They had been sent out to gather information and facilitate one test run of the escape plan. Now, the Administration could be more confident about the success of future escape attempts for the powerful of Colony 52. How else could the Administration have had the clout to change the pattern of the atmospheric regulator? And if he was right that there was no plan to save the colony, it meant that the force field they were using to keep the majority of the nebula reapers out really was only temporary.

It all made sense. They had had to activate a second shield around the planet to keep the nebula reapers out after the first force field, which had contained the nebula reapers, had been destroyed. Colony 52 was dependent on supplies from other colonies. Therefore, Colony 52 was most likely cut off from those supplies at this point. Even if they could get supply ships through the force field, who would volunteer to pilot those ships now?

No, this planet was dead. It just didn’t know it yet. Jack was frustrated with himself for not putting it together sooner. All the stress and chaos had interfered with his ability to think things through. Jack then forced himself to shake off that feeling.

“It isn’t helpful,” he told himself.

He had to focus on the mission at hand. Would it be possible to sneak Nora on that plane with her parents? He knew he didn’t want to be here when the force field failed or the supplies ran out. Yet, there didn’t seem to be much hope for him. Even so, perhaps Nora could be saved. But for that to happen, he’d have to get to her in time.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2016

Acts 12

Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.

And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of Unleavened Bread.)

And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.

And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that is was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.

When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent His angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.

And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.

Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.

And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.

And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.

And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.

And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.

And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

But the word of God grew and multiplied.

And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry [Or, charge], and took with them John, whose surname was Mark (Acts 12: 1-25).

Romans 8

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

That the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.

Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.

And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit [Or, because of His Spirit] that dwelleth in you.

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

The Spirit Itself [Or, Himself] beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope,

Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Itself [Or, Himself] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because [Or, that] He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written, “FOR THY SAKE WE ARE KILLED ALL THE DAY LONG; WE ARE ACCOUNTED AS SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER.”

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8: 1-39).