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Apocalypse Copyright 2004 by C. Marvin Pate and J. Daniel Hays Requests for information should be addressed to:
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hays, J. Daniel, 1953- Apocalypse/ J. Daniel Hays and C. Marvin Pate. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-310-25355-1 (softcover) 1. Church historyPrimitive and early church, ca. 30-600Fiction. 2. Bible. 3. N.T. RevelationFiction. I. Pate, C. Marvin, 1952- II. Title PS3608.A983A66 2004 813'.6dc22 2003026921
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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Interior design by Michelle Espinoza Printed in the United States of America
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Chapter One ASSASSINS The sky had grown gray and angry, but no rain had yet fallen. The wind shifted to the north and gained velocity, causing the sails on the two short masts to flutter limply for a moment and then pop tight again.The ship groaned and creaked, then began picking up speed. Standing by the dual rudders at the stern, the captain, known simply as Heron, cursed under his breath and turned the ship slightly to the south, putting the wind behind him.
Heron, a Greek, had been on the sea since childhood. His matted curly hair and beard had once been the color of pitch, but now was more gray than black. He stood slightly stooped and his face was lined with wrinkles, proof of the harsh years he had known, both on the sea and in port. He was missing the first two fingers on his left hand, a stark reminder of his brawl with a Thracian sailor over a harlot in Corinth three years earlier.
Heron gave a shout, and the five-man crew sprang to life and began to pull down the mainsail and shorten the leading sail.The waves were growing larger by the moment, and one of them suddenly crashed against the back of the fleeing vessel, covering the captain with cold spray and foam. His curses grew audible. He lashed the rudder into place and quickly surveyed his ship.
The Orion was a medium-sized shipnot a giant like one of the monstrous Roman grain transports, but not a small coastal lugger either. She had two masts, one now naked in the wind and the other with a shortened but tight sail, straining against the gusting storm. She sat low in the water with a heavy load of Athenian wine, but she was a seaworthy vessel and she rode the big rolling waves well.The storm did not look serious.The captain was concerned not about safety but only about his schedule and the unpleasant task that lay ahead.
His two passengers were stirring, the older man walking slowly toward the bow and the young man hurrying nervously toward the captain. As the youth approached a wave crashed into the stern again, spraying both of them.
'Mother of Zeus!' cursed the captain.
The young man adjusted his wet cloak, wrapping it tighter around him to minimize the effect of the cold wind driving into his body. He was slightly taller than the captain, with green eyes and pitch-black hair, which was now blowing wildly in the wind.The captain knew only that the lad was a merchant's son, returning to Ephesus from delivering a load of wool to Athens. His father must be a fool, mused the captain, to send such a youngster by himself on such a mission. He found himself wondering whether the young man might have a bag of silver coins somewhere underneath that wet cloak.
'Captain,' the young man said,'I am not a seafaring man, but is it not a bit early in the season for storms?'
'Yes, lad, it is early, but this is not enough of a storm to worry about, although it may delay us a day or two.The Orionhas been through many a storm much worse than this. But mind you pay attention and don't get washed overboard.' At least not with your money still in your bag.
The captain eyed the lad, sizing him up. He was big and appeared strong, but with a babyish face. How old could he be . . . eighteen, nineteen maybe? Marcus and the others should have no trouble with him, if it comes to a fight, Heron concluded. And the boy may even have some real moneya bonus he hadn't originally counted on.
No, it was the other onethe senatorthat Heron was worried about. He glanced at the balding,middle-aged man at the front of the ship, apparently deep in thought and oblivious to the storm. He didn't look like much of a fighter. Still, a Roman senator! The gods were with Heron today. The senator was traveling alone, without slaves to attend him (or protect him). Another foolish man! And the storm was a stroke of luck. Passengers get washed overboard. It happens who can prevent it? Besides, as far as he knew, no one was aware that either passenger was aboard this particular ship. No one had been at the pier to see them off in Athensa boy returning home alone after a business trip and a fallen politician trying to sneak away quietly to the provinces. And the senator, no doubt, also had money with him. Even in his flight, he would take a considerable sum with him, wouldn't he? So with the boy's money and the senator's money and the one hundred pieces of silver that would be paid if the distinguished senator should happen to disappear on this voyage, it should be a very profitable trip indeed, not even counting the Athenian wine.
'Captain,'the youth asked,'who is the other passenger, if I may ask?'
'Ask all you want, boy,'Heron growled,'but I am not inclined to tell you. Ask him yourself who he is.'
Ignoring the captain's rudeness, the lad continued. 'I can't get any response out of him. I tried to engage him in conversation earlier, but all I got was a polite morning greeting.'
The wind seemed to be picking up, and the captain looked at the sails on his front mast. Amused, the captain could not resist playing with his young passenger.'What do youmake of him, boy?'
'As far as I can tell, he is not a merchant, or at least not a typical one. He appears to be Roman. His Latin is without accent. He bears himself as one noble born; yet he travels without an attendant. His clothes are expensive, but practical, made for travel. He also looks sad and weary.'
'You see much, boy,' muttered the captain. It's a shame, he thought, that the boy had to be here. He seems a decent lad. Still, it can't be helped. Business is business.
The captain's attention was drawn suddenly to the front of the ship, where the Roman stranger was growing animated, walking back and forth and peering off to the left, trying to see something out on the waves.The captain noticed a dark object out on the waves as well, probably a small boat, but he couldn't make it out for sure.
The Roman stranger walked quickly to the stern, his cloak flapping madly in the wind. Ignoring the young man, he approached Heron and said calmly,'Captain, there is a small fishing vessel struggling against the storm there in the distance to the left.They appear to be in some trouble. Perhaps we should draw near and see if they require assistance.'
'We don't stop for fishermen,' the captain answered with disgust.' They can look out for themselves.'
Having secured the ship to weather the storm, and seeing the Roman senator walk to the stern, the five men of the crew now likewise approached the captain and the two passengers. All eight men now stood in a circle at the stern of the ship in awkward silence.The wind continued to whistle through the empty rigging of the main mast.