Also notable about this first section: he overhears the villains committing torture. Not fake torture, like depriving Chloe of food for a few hours, but actual torture. Basically Z-Van keeps shoving Westin's head under water and trying to get him to convert. It's not much by way of torture, if you ask me, but I am desperate for any crumb of suffering here.
Lionel, meanwhile, is walking through the crowd, praying for some kind of help. He gets his answer when he notices a Believer reading the French edition of Buck Williams's "The Truth." Why this believer is dumb enough to print up contraband from a forbidden website and walk out in the open with it is beyond me. But I've accepted that both sides, good and evil, are dumber than dirt. He agrees to help Lionel but says he needs to find his son first. I look forward to finding out this Good Samaritan's name because given Ellanjay's tin ear when it comes to naming characters, it's going to be something unbelievably foreign. In fact, I'm surprised they didn't name a character, Foreign McForeign. That's what I'm going to call this character until he is given a name.
So Judd is trying to rescue Westin. And to my surprise, we get a brief mention of that previous scene where Judd caused a Morale Monitor to be trampled. Granted, it's only a line but I'm surprised just to see it mentioned again. He wonders if he'll have to hurt a guard to get Westin out of Z-Van's clutches. If you're wondering, the answer is no. Westin does all the dirty work, beating up the guard and forcing him to drink something that renders him unconscious, thus leaving Judd morally as white as snow. There is another action scene with more guards coming in, but since all action scenes in these books are boring as hell, I'll just spoil it for you: Judd and Westin slip away.
The second chapter begins with Mark and the others watching Z-Van's concert. Z-Van has set up a guillotine and is calling the RTCs out.
“We have at least one with us tonight who has not taken the mark of our beloved leader. Who, as it turns out, still believes in the tired, lifeless God of the Bible. The God of legends and fairy tales and death and destruction. A God who, if we can believe those stories, wiped out the earth with a flood and then says he loves the world. A God who allows all manner of suffering. A God who demands perfection.”
I know not everyone who reads my blog gets my fan-love for Z-Van, but once again, Strawman Has A Point. To paraphrase aunursa, according to the RTCs, God gave his people the law knowing they couldn't possibly follow it and has spent centuries punting them into Hell for not following the law.
No Z-Van song lyrics for you this time, sorry. But after his song, Z-Van stops flying and unveils a statue of Nicky and demands that people bow before it.
Judd and Westin run. They find Lionel standing by a car and meet up with him. I'm going to assume that this car is Foreign McForeign's ForeignMobile. Because remember, he's foreign. That's all the personality traits he needs.
So Foreign McForeign is speeding away from Z-Van's concert and offers to take them to meet the French community of RTCs. I'm a little surprised that Ellanjay are willing to admit that a bunch of Cheese-eating Surrender Monkeys can become manly RTCs. After all, isn't France invoked as a bogeyman in their literature (i.e. "If we don't do this, we'll soon be all Godless and European, like France.")?
Oh and we finally get Foreign McForeign's real name. Are you ready? drumroll His name is Jacques Madeleine. I knew his name would be so French it might as well be superFrench and Ellanjay didn't disappoint. I'm going to keep calling him Foreign McForeign though, just for funsies.
Mark continues to watch the concert, watching as people accept the Mark and are therefore, damned forever. But an anonymous soul, who shows more guts than the entirety of the Tribbles, comes on stage and preaches to everyone. Naturally the chapter ends with him getting guillotined in front a cheering crowd, but still, give him credit for actually believing in The Great Commission as opposed to the Tribbles who smirk about how they've got it all figured out.
I'm throwing on a third chapter as a treat for y'all. Besides, the snark was looking skimpy.
The chapter begins with a brief interlude from Vicki. Vicki is, for those of you who've forgotten or don't care, trapped in some weird Survivalist underground prison. Somehow she convinces the lady redoing the duct tape not to duct tape her hands behind her back. And she does because a group of paranoid survivalists would care about the comfort of their prisoners and not just give them a bullet between the eyes.
Meanwhile, Judd and Lionel are at Foreign McForeign's house. Foreign McForeign decides to tell us his story.
“In my country, the disappearances did not create as much confusion as it did in the rest of the world. We lost less than one percent of our population. But many of us have been searching for answers for years. Some turn to astrology or strange religions. Others seek answers in psychiatry or use drugs to dull their pain. Many don’t want to think about what happens when we die, so they pour their lives into today, the now.
So in addition to being effete, secular, limp-wristed, and possibly homosexual, the French also hardly have any children. Because in case Ellanjay have forgotten, EVERY KID UNDER TWELVE DISAPPEARED DURING THE RAPTURE TOO! But I guess maybe they figure a bunch of cheese-eating surrender-monkeys don't care about their kids.
But then again, according to this comic, Captain America really hates America . If you're wondering why I posted that link, there's really no reason, just something I post whenever someone brings up the whole French are wusses meme.
Anyway, to sum up Foreign McForeign's story, the Rapture happened, then the Wrath of the Lamb-quake, then he saw The Light.
After Foreign McForeign tells his story, he receives some sad news: apparently the anonymous soul who did what the Tribbles only talk about doing (witnessing to the heathens) was his son, Perryn. Foreign McForeign hasn't fully embraced the RTC ethos of not feeling anything because afterwards, he starts crying. Or maybe that's supposed to be proof that Foreign McForeign is all poofy and French because manly men don't cry.
They turn on the news and hear Leon talking about the use of the guillotine at Z-Van's concert. But we do get a rare show of emotion from one of the characters that isn't French.
“That would have been me,” Westin whispered. “It should have been.” Wails from the next room saddened Judd. There was no denying that evil forces would stop at nothing to kill followers of the true God.
Like I said, why did they rescue Westin again? He and all the RTCs should seize every public moment to win souls to their side by preaching until they're carted away. But that would require actual courage, not alpha male posturing.
I'll sum up Vicki's part of the plot: she tries to escape but fails.
And that's enough for this week.