After waking up, Vicki is introduced to a guy named Chad Harris, who recognizes her from when she crashed the gala broadcast. We'll eventually get his story aka his conversion in the second chapter, but in the mean time, there's a lot of talking. It turns out that they traced where Jim got the uniform for this whole half-assed Commander Blakely scam and the guy that gave it to him is in a lot of trouble. The guy isn't a believer and Jim, in a surprising show of compassion, doesn't want to let the guy hang, so Jim's considering turning himself in.
Then because this is an Ellanjay story and we can't go too long without a news broadcast or a telephone call or email, they turn on the news.
A picture showed several people standing in front of a fire, with what looked like a huge church in the background. Vicki inched closer and saw it was the Vatican.
“These are photos of Global Community officers destroying paintings, sculptures, icons, and even old Bibles,” Conrad said. “The directive came from Leon Fortunato himself.”
Mark shook his head. “That stuff is priceless.”
“A spokesman said they destroyed everything that paid tribute to the impotent God of the Bible,” Conrad said.
“Pretty soon they’re going to see he’s not so impotent,” Vicki said.
Now this is, I'll admit, a not a bad idea with the GC committing genuine evil (though you know the only evil part is they're destroying Christian artifacts. If it was a Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist shrine, they wouldn't care) but once again, they missed the mark on the motive. Calling God "impotent" after he's repeatedly slaughtered all sorts of civilians...yeah, a better thing for Leon to do would be to use it as a means of stirring up people against an enemy. Sort of like what Hitler did with Kristallnacht or all those Nazi book-burnings.
Judd is talking with Chang on the phone. Apparently he has his own quarters now so Chang no longer has to worry about his parents listening in. But given that the quarters are GC-owned and operated...yeah, Chang, I'm not sure you're really free and clear here. David Hayseed will soon be leaving (he's a believer and you know about the Mark thing) and his new boss will be :drumroll: A guy named Aurelio Figueroa. I have no idea what ethnicity they're trying for (it's clearly one of their half-assed attempts at a foreign name) nor do I know if he appears in the adult books. Though I'm sure aunursa will fill me in.
Then Judd hears Nicky over the line and for the sake of making this a little more amusing, I'm going to imagine his voice sounding like Daffy Duck. Because the dialogue is freaking terrible.
Judd heard several keyboard clicks, then the unmistakable voice of Nicolae Carpathia. “Now when I spoke the other day of a host of enforcers, I wanted you to gather that I meant the very core of my most loyal troops, the GCMM. They are already armed. I want them supported! I want them fully equipped! I want you to marry them with our munitions so their monitoring will have teeth. They should be respected and revered to the point of fear.”
“You want the citizenry afraid, sir?” another man said.
“Walter! No man need fear me who loves and worships me. You know that.”
“I do, sir.”
“If any man, woman, young person, or child has reason to feel guilty when encountering a member of the Global Community Morale Monitoring Force, then yes, I want them shaking in their boots!”
You can also picture Nicky speaking in the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition voice. Whatever helps you get through this.
The guy Nicky's talking to is named Walter Moon. He's the new supreme commander and the proud owner of one of the few normal names in this series.
The chapter ends with a Vicki section. Vicki talks with Jim who tells her the sad news: Natalie is dead after refusing the Mark. Me, I'm glad because that's one less character for me to keep track of and berate for their stupidity. Also, Jim plans to turn himself in to save that guy I mentioned earlier. Like I said it's a rare show of compassion but really the Tribbles should be lining up for martyrdom. After all, death's a win-win situation in this series. The characters have received absolute proof of God and the afterlife so why not? The only answer to that question is, "Because Ellanjay need some characters to be alive in order to passively witness what's about to happen."
Next chapter, begins with Vicki grieving. It's not too badly written; again, I applaud the moments when Ellanjay actually allow the characters to feel something.
“God, I don’t know why you let this happen. You saved people before, you helped us get out safely, but you let Natalie die. Why? I don’t understand.”
Vicki buried her face in her pillow and wept. She wanted to blame someone for Natalie’s death, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that the girl had died because of Vicki’s choices.
Meanwhile, Judd and Lionel talk with Westin basically saying since Z-Van's taken the Mark, you better get out of there. Westin admits that he'd always suspected that his time with Z-Van would be short. We then get a little bit of a moral quandary.
Westin frowned again. “Is it wrong to take an airplane like this?”
“You mean steal it?” Judd said.
Westin nodded. “We could really use this thing for the Young Trib Force.”
Lionel sighed. “Maybe if we were running for our lives, but I don’t like just stealing the plane because it’s here. God can take care of us some other way.”
Uh, Lionel, let me break it to you: you are currently running for your lives. Don't you remember, Satanic NWO government? Then again, what's stopping Nicky from just shooting them out of the sky as soon as the plane is reported stolen, so maybe Lionel's onto something.
Westin says they can stay on the plane while they await their trip to Israel and offers to set up a conference with the YTF in America.
Speaking of America, Vicki is told by Shelly that Cheryl is preggers :highfive: and finds out about the latest problem. Apparently they've been hiding out at the homes of some believers but said believers are like "We can't afford to hide you forever. It'll attract too much attention."
Chad decides to take Vicki out for a ride and we get this completely inappropriate scene. No, nothing happens between them, just bear with me.
He drove over a narrow path that led into a burnedout thicket of trees and bushes. The cool wind felt good and the air was fresh on Vicki’s face. Chad seemed to drive like he had traveled the path a thousand times before. He stopped at the edge of the charred trees and pointed to the crest of a hill. Three deer stood at the top, feeding on grass. They glanced toward the motorcycle, then continued eating.
“The plague of fire destroyed a lot of forests and homes around here, but you can still see the beauty God created if you look hard enough.”
“I’d almost forgotten how pretty things can be.”
The writers seem to have forgotten a few things: first of all, all the water is rotten so what exactly is the deer drinking. And most importantly, THE GOD YOU SERVE SENT THE PLAGUE OF FIRE THAT DESTROYED ALL THE STUFF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!
Vicki talks about Natalie, how she feels responsible for her death, and Chad tells her that it's not her fault. He also gives this headbanger of advice.
“If there’s one thing I know, it’s that God has a purpose for things. Everything fits together like a puzzle, but we’re looking at it from a human angle. All we can see are missing pieces. He sees the big picture and knows how it all fits.”
Yeah, this might work if we weren't in a series where GOD WAS ACTIVELY CAUSING ALL THE DISASTERS THAT BEFALL HIS PEOPLE!
Chad decides to tell his conversion story. Apparently he was like Judd, in that he thought himself too cool for God because that's the only reason people decide not to say The Prayer. The night of the Rapture, he was out with his teammates (Chad's a baseball player). One of them, Kyle Eastman, tries to convert him but he pretends not to hear him. Kyle disappears while driving and the book ignores that Chad was nearly unable to say The Prayer (he was in the car with Kyle). Eventually Chad found Token Jew's website and said The Prayer and that's where the story ends.
Chad then basically makes a pass at Vicki. Don't believe me? Here's the dialogue:
Vicki loved hearing these kinds of stories. She told what had happened to her family and Chad listened closely.
When Vicki yawned an hour later, Chad scooted closer. “I’ll get you back to the house, but I need to say something. I know I’m being
bold, but the way I see it, we only have about three and a half years before Christ comes back. I’d like to get to know you better.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Shelly said you had a boyfriend but that he’s away.”
“He’s not really my boyfriend. We’ve known each other since the disappearances, but I don’t know where our relationship is going.”
It's been three and a half years as they said so I'm going to assume Vicki's no longer statutory, which makes this dialogue less creepy. Still kind of creepy, since we don't know exactly how old Chad is, but still. I'll take what I can get.
Anyway, that's the snark for this week. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope y'all enjoy Easter or at least the nice spring weather. Me, I'm going to do what I do every Holy Saturday: watch The Last Temptation of Christ. I know it was controversial but it's a deeply reverent film about Christ--it has great respect for who he was and what that means. It's a nice palate cleanser after Ellanjay's brand of theology.