Director Caleb Dean of the Texas Intelligence Agency stood ahead of a massive screen and scanned the sea of operatives and analysts crowded into the situation room. His bronze hair was combed back and he was dressed in a black suit. His voice boomed when he announced:

"Analysts have confirmed the authenticity of this most recent video. These are Egyptian Christians."

Tyrone Woodson raised his dark eyes to the screen. An image appeared of a row of men dressed in orange jumpsuits down on their knees. Behind them stood a row of men dressed entirely in black, each with a lengthy blade in his hand.

"This is the price of apostasy!"

Each blade went to the throat of a man on his knees, and then –