I'm about to say something that well, I hope my readers with delicate heart conditions have their medication ready, because here's a shocking revelation: I like fan theories. Even if I don't agree with them (like I don't believe that Jerry Jenkins is a Poe, secretly lacing later books with subversive remarks about the PMD mythos), I still find them fascinating to hear about. It's interesting to watch people scramble to come up with elaborate rationales. Conspiracy theories are basically the same phenomenon as fan theories, but fan theories are better, because they involve entertainment and don't lead to actual people getting actually hurt, like PizzaGate* and the like.
In addition, I also enjoy creating fan theories. I am basically Homer Simpson: When I get bored, I make up my own movie. For the record, while I'd never suggest that anyone take life advice from Homer Simpson, trust me when I say that he was really onto something with mixing bacon and chocolate; it's a combo that just works on so many levels.
It is one of the things I like about comic books: the multiple continuities. People find that intimidating about comic books, but the beauty of the multiple continuities is, if you don't like one part, you can jettison the part you don't like and put in something from another continuity that you do like. Plus, it will in all likelihood, get retconned eventually, so you might as well hold onto the canon you do like. It's one of the reasons that while I thought Hydra Cap was a fucking stupid insensitive idea ("Y'know what sounds like a good idea? Let's take a character who was created by two Jewish guys to be one neverending Take That against Nazism from day one and have it turn out he was a member of a quasi-Nazi organization all along. That sounds like a good idea," said no one ever) at the same time, I didn't worry too much. No matter how much comic book companies may be like, "Oh we're totally not going to back down from this," they eventually will. Maybe it's because said idea is costing them sales or maybe they'll just create a new title, where that part of continuity doesn't apply. If the new title sells, while the other one doesn't, then the other one's continuity contributions will die an ignoble death.
Have to say, I was pleasantly surprised that they backed down from Hydra Cap so quickly. I thought they would limp along for a few more issues, before admitting defeat, but they retconned it in the next issue. As a service to my readers, who, like all creative and snarky people, probably struggle with self-doubt and deep-rooted self-esteem issues**, well, let's just say the guy who created Hydra Cap, tried to do a Take That against his critics. As you can probably tell, it was nowhere near as epic as the one done by the character's creators.
Every time you guys start to question your aptitude as a writer, be it of fiction, fanfiction, or dirty limericks on bathroom stalls (not judging any of y'all), click on the Hydra Cap Take That and take comfort that nothing you've ever created, however bad it may be, is nowhere near as cringe-inducing as that.
The long, belabored point is that the canon for the LB-verse is so bad, riddled with gaping plot-chasms, that making up a head canon becomes pretty much an act of survival. The beauty is that any canon you create for the LB-verse, no matter how nonsensical, it will actually make more sense than the actual canon, even if said fan theory is, "It's all the dream of some autistic kid shaking a snow globe."
As I've pointed out, even the "It was all a dream" theory makes more sense. Most of the time, unless properly utilized, the "It was all a dream" ending is such a cop-out because it means that nothing that occurred, actually mattered. Here, though, it would make complete absolute sense if this whole series was a dream created by Rayford, as he dozes off on a break. In his dream world, Rayford is the single greatest, most important human to have ever existed, unlike the real world, where he's a graying sky bus driver who can't get any respect, not even from his own kids. All the inconsistencies could easily be explained away by the surreal, incoherent nature of dreams.
Though I admit I am having some doubts as to "It's all a dream of Rayford's" fan theory based on a quote from the previous chapter.
“You know what I want?” Rayford said.
“Tell me, Dad,” Chloe said.
“I want a picture of the original Tribulation Force.”
Chloe rounded up Bruce and Cameron, and the three glorifieds posed behind Rayford’s chair.
The instantly produced photograph stunned even Rayford. It depicted three robust young people frozen in the prime of their lives and a long, bony man with drooping jowls, liquid eyes, and no hair, weighing barely over a hundred pounds, veins prominent on the backs of his hands, bundled in a sweater despite the desert heat.
Do you really think the fantasy of a guy with Rayford's ego, would have him not be the pinnacle of physical fitness/attractiveness?
So the canon I'm going to go with for this last chapter, is based on one suggested by Spiritplumber in the comments of the previous chapter:
“REHEMA, I need you to call my wife and assure her and the others that I am well. And, of course, I need to know the same is true of them.”
“And why would you think I would do that for you?”
“Because I would do the same for you. You are a mother. You have family. You may see yourself as an operative of the rebellion, but-”
“Bullshit. You wouldn't lift a finger for me. We looked into you, you know. A century ago you had every opportunity to stop Carpathia and didn't lift a finger to.”
“I tried to shoot him!”
“After years of flying him around. All you had to do was crash the plane. You had literally hundreds of opportunities. I love my son. More than you can imagine. Certainly more than you love the Ken doll that yours has become, or you would be single-handedly storming the Ultimate Temple to get back the childhood that was denied to him. You? You love only yourself. Here I am, ripe for conversion, and the only argument you can come up with is self-preservation. Have you ever considering doing what's RIGHT for once in your life?”
“You're mad! I AM doing what's right!”
“No, you're doing what your boss told you to. You're - what was the expression? Just following orders.”
“So are you!”
“No. Satan is, as you pointed out earlier, in no position to order anybody around. And that's just how I like it, me. We are doing this for the sake of humanity, and we are doing this because it's the right thing to do. Oh,and one more thing.”
“Sandwich? Spiked. Enjoy your LSD trip. It should last long enough to prevent you from going to Siwa even if you figure out how to leave. I'll enjoy mine, but then again, I've got a clean conscience.”
Rehema took a swig from the water bottle, threw the rest of it roughly in Rayford's direction, and sat down against the wall waiting for the acid to hit.
Basically that's my headcanon. All the events of this chapter exist in the head of Rayford as he trips out in a prison cell, while the TOL with combined help from the League of Awesome take back the world.
Okay, done talking. I'll get to the actual book. Just try and convince me that the "This is all a dream by Rayford while he's tripping balls" theory doesn't make more sense.
THE EARTH teemed with billions of people, and the end of the Millennium was vastly different from the beginning. That was no surprise to Rayford, who kept up with the news, often sitting before the television with Chaim Rosenzweig. “We don’t have one trained soldier,” he said. “And we don’t need one. Not a hair on the head of a believer will be harmed by the biggest fighting force the world has ever seen.”
I have to question how exactly the earth is teeming with billions of people. We can talk about how nearly every event of the Tribulation would be an extinction-level one, but Ellanjay don't know/don't care, so we'll somehow assume that there was some population left behind after all this. Obviously those over the "You Must Be This Tall To Get A Free Pass" line who didn't say The Prayer, were pitched into Hell at the end of all this. So the vast majority of the population are, to use the books' words, Glorifieds or Naturals. Glorifieds, despite being kept perpetually at prime reproduction years, no longer have any desire for sex. Heck, they probably lack the ability. No matter how many oysters or blue pills they eat, they're still as impotent as a Nevada Boxing Commissioner. I suppose I should apologize for making you think about the genitals of LB-verse characters, but I won't.
But okay, it is revealed that Naturals like Kenny and Kat, who were safely under the "Free Pass" line at the time TurboJesus showed up, are still capable of physical desire and reproduction, with last week's chapter proving that Kenny and Kat produced a whole passel of K-slaves, who in turn, produced a their own. For the record, if any of my readers wants to take on the task of coming up with names for all the K-slaves, well, I would be like, "Seriously?! Don't you have anything better to do, like at all?" but I would still be willing to listen. I just assume that Kenny and Kat are basically the LB-verse equivalent of the Duggar family, except everyone's name begins with K; hence why I refer to the kids as the K-slaves.
Still even assuming a good population of Naturals, the rest of the chapter seems to imply that they are vastly outnumbered, meaning that the TOL, in addition to distributing a Manifesto dripping with Strawman Has a Point, they also devoted a good portion of their time to sex, lots and lots of raucous headboard-banging sex. They did what they could to produce enough children and raise them to be hardened eeeevil heathens, and said kids, in turn produced their own and on and on and so forth. Though the "Outbreed the unbelievers!" strategy sounds like something the RTCs would utilize more than the heathens.
Daily for the past three years, the news had abounded with stories of millions of adherents to the Other Light, growing bolder by the minute. Their printing presses and electronically transmitted messages blanketed the globe, recruiting new members, amassing a weapons stockpile and training a fighting force a thousand times bigger than had been aggregated for the Battle of Armageddon a millennium before.
Rayford was amazed that God allowed such a brazen, wanton act of defiance on the parts of so many as they symbolically thumbed their noses at Jesus and the earthly rulers He had chosen from the ages. Even in Israel, tanks rumbled through the streets, uniformed soldiers marched, and missiles and rockets were paraded before the faithful.
Because we all know that RTCs are appalled by violence and don't have a collective hard-on for the military***. It's why they are among the loudest of voices, protesting Putin's invasions and the way he runs roughshod over the rights and lives of his people. They are opposed to oppression regardless of whatever reasons are used to justify it, and they aren't obsessed with projecting an air of hypermasculinity.
Though, spiritplumber, you have earned the right to strut to whatever music you like, because your headcanon of the TOL being the Kids Next Door is totally canon.
Television broadcasts from around the world showed the same and worse— what seemed like entire people groups dressed in the all-black uniform of the fighting forces of the Other Light. Of course they were all younger than one hundred and thus relegated to the status of children— rebellious, articulate, passionate, defiant, furious children. But they were also brilliant and had written songs and poems and speeches anticipating the day their leader, the Other Light personified, would be— in their words—” foolishly released” by his captor.
"They use their innate capacity for language to express their views in hopes of better being understood and showing support to those who believe as they do. They really are monsters!"
And like I said, the TOL is totally the Kids Next Door.
That became obvious soon enough when the countless followers of the Other Light announced that their centuries- long project to manufacture weaponry unlike anything that had ever been seen on earth had resulted in all that could be seen, blotting out much of the landscape of Israel and surrounding the City of David.
For a thousand years there had been no wars or rumors of wars, no nation rising against nation; now TOL had emerged with a highly organized, trained, precision-tuned army of hundreds of millions. It finally became obvious that God had released Satan, according to the Scriptures, when the warriors from all over the world, “whose number is as the sand of the sea,” were finally in place, gathered for battle.
If anyone wants to do some fanart of this, I am totally on board. Me, I can't draw decent stick figures. Remember, no matter how bad your stuff may be, it won't be as bad as the actual canon, so go nuts. Create fanfiction, fanart, and even dirty limericks about the LB-verse.
Of course, Ellanjay do what they can to milk the suspense, pretending like this all matters, despite being as choreographed as a WWE match. Though that feels unfair to the WWE. While it is all choreographed, the athleticism demonstrated by the wrestlers is very real. They did have to go through quite a bit of training to be able to do all that without getting hurt. Like clowns in a circus, it takes a lot of training to look gracefully ungraceful and do all those falls without actually breaking something. And the WWE, no matter how bad it may be, it still has better writing than anything in the LB-verse.
“And now,” he shouted, somehow able to be heard for miles, “I come to claim what has been rightfully mine since the dawn of time: the very throne of God!”
Yeah, tell me that line doesn't sound like the setup to a WWE match. I don't really follow WWE that closely, but if any of my readers do, feel free to figure out which wrestlers would play Satan and TurboJesus.
Satan is all, "Charge!" TurboJesus goes "I AM WHO I AM!" and zaps the TOL into Hell. He pauses to gloat over Satan for a bit, before punting him in as well.
A seam in the cosmos opened before Satan. Flames and black smoke poured from where the Beast and the False Prophet writhed on their knees screaming, “Jesus is Lord!”
Satan cried out, “Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord!”
Jesus closed His fingers and Satan was thrown into the abyss, the seam sealing to muffle the screams of the three who would be tormented day and night forever and ever in the lake of fire and brimstone.
Congratulations, Ellanjay, you have successfully created a final battle even more disappointing than the one in Breaking Dawn and that takes some doing.
For those of you too lazy to click on the link, yet not too lazy to read on through, the final confrontation is between the Cullens and the Volturi. The Volturi are like this super vampire council and are all mad because they think the Cullens have created a vampire child (i.e. turned a kid into a vampire). The kid is actually a human-vampire hybrid, but let's not get into that.
Anyway, we get all this buildup to the confrontation, the Cullens preparing and recruiting other vampires to fight with them, yet when the big confrontation comes, here's how it goes:
Volturi: You created a vampire child! That's against the rules!
The Cullens: But she's not a vampire child!
Volturi: Oh, then we've got no beef with you.
After which, they leave.
But again, even that is still better than KC and when you manage to be worse than a Twilight novel, you need to hang your head in shame.
[TANGENT] Though I can't judge Twilight fans too harshly. I was outside the target demographic when that series came out, but I freely admit that if I had been part of said demographic, aka between the ages of 10-15, I would have eaten that shit up with a spoon. Obsessive love sounds romantic, not scary as hell at that age. Part of growing up is acknowledging that you had crap taste as a kid. [/TANGENT]
After all this, it's mostly a bunch of biblical copy-and-paste which I will ignore. Quoting the Bible doesn't automatically make your shitty writing deep, people!
But I will quote this part:
Arrayed before Jesus were three great books: the Book of Life, containing the name of every person who had ever lived; the Book of Works, containing every righteous or evil deed they ever committed; and the Lamb’s Book of Life, containing only those who had trusted in Christ for their salvation. Rayford’s glorified mind allowed him to understand that he was, of course, listed in the Book of Life, but he had been forgiven for any misdeed associated with his name in the Book of Works. And that he and everyone with him in the beautiful city of God were listed in the Lamb’s Book of Life, while all the desolate souls hovering about the throne were not.
Uh, who exactly are the desolate souls in this scenario? Because the TOL were all zapped into Hell, while the RTCs got into Heaven. So who would be the desolate souls hanging around? I thought maybe they could be people who were bad and didn't say The Prayer, but not too bad. The kind of people who Kick the Dog, but stop short of the crossing the Moral Event Horizon. But that would go against what Ellanjay have already established that they believe that all crimes, regardless of devoting yourself to charity work but not saying The Prayer or being Genghis Khan, to be equivalent. Heck, you can basically be Genghis Khan, yet be completely off the hook, so long as you said The Prayer.
Anyway, everyone goes inside and Ellanjay copy-and-paste their description from Revelation. If you want to save yourselves some money, read the last few chapters of Revelation and save yourself some money.
And that's it. Like I said, I don't know really know what I plan to do next. I want to rest on my laurels for a bit, but I am more than willing to hear some suggestions.
*I am so sick of the trend of adding -Gate to the end of every scandal. It's just so played out. In any case, the original Watergate was referring to an actual place, the Watergate Hotel, the trend makes even less sense. One of these days we will have a scandal about an actual gate and if we keep up with this trend, we'll be forced to discuss something called GateGate. If we must borrow from twentieth century political scandals, why not use -Dome in reference to the Teapot Dome scandal? Adding -Dome to the end of anything automatically makes it sound more badass, like we're in a "Two men enter, one man leaves!" kind of scenario. Henceforth I decree that all scandals have -Dome at the end, rather than -Gate, with the exception of GamerGate which will be called Pathetic Shitstorm because that's what it was.
**It seems to be a requirement for the job, unfortunately. Being creative and being sane seldom go together. It's even worse if you're funny. Nearly every comedian worth a damn has issues out the yinyang.
***As always said hard-on applies to drooling over fancy toys that cost a shitton of taxpayer money and don't really do much in a war where the enemy fights primarily via asymmetric warfare or guerilla warfare. Also, said hard-on means that while they support the troops in the abstract, they most definitely don't intend to do something silly like fund VA hospitals and other services to take care of wounded vets when they come home.