But seriously the amount of Deus Ex Machina in this series...it's like trying to play freeze tag or something with that one irritating kid. No matter how many times you get him, he's like "Nuh-uh I have [Superpower X] which makes me immune" until you want to just smack the hell out of him and go play with someone else. Another bit of advice for writers: Invincible Characters are boring as hell!
So Gunther, Westin, and Judd are driving around talking about what's happened and what will happen. Gunther, based on his reading of the Bible, believes that God's going to nuke New Babylon. Because the verse says that the city will be destroyed by fire and the only thing that causes fire, are nukes apparently. Ellanjay probably look down on people who are obsessed with Nostradamus yet they fall into a lot of the same traps as Nostradamus groupies.
But in a rare display of, I don't know what to call this, Gunther suggests that they take advantage of the light plague and use it to free GC prisoners while the GC are stumbling around like idiots. :Dramatic Prairie Dog: Okay, who are you and what have you done with the actual Tribbles? Show me on the doll where the aliens probed you, Gunther! Because as an RTC, you should have internalized the sacred Tribbles ethos of doing nothing! After all, Ellanjay have shown that nothing but bad comes of violating this ethos! The few Tribbles who have actually done stuff, inevitably wind up dead! So WTF?!
Gunther held up a hand. “If Judd’s right—and I think he is—we still have time to do some good here.”
“What do you have in mind?” Judd said.
“Radios and computers are working,” Gunther said. “We might be able to communicate with other locations and get the GC to release prisoners, maybe foul up their system. Plus, there’s a holding facility not far from here. Captured Jews are sent to concentration camps from there. Since the heat wave ended, they’ve probably brought new people there.”
Okay, so since Judd suggested it and since Judd is a Main Character, thus higher up on the Great Chain of Being than Gunther, that's why he suddenly wants to do stuff. Still haven't ruled out a possible pod person invasion, though.
I did read the next chapter after this one and for those who you who felt there weren't enough scenes where the Author's Mouthpiece patronizingly explains to a Jewish character that they've apparently misinterpreted their own scriptures for countless millennia, don't worry: we've got one coming down the pipe for you. :sighs: It's times like this, I think of that quote from King of the Hill where John Redcorn (an Indian) goes, "Five Hundred Years of Oppression, and somehow I find this the most irritating." Except, of course, the Jewish people kind of have the Indians beat on that account.
[Slight Tangent] Since one of the perks of having an eBook is the "Search Inside" feature, I decided to use it and if they ever mention Joel or Aron again. For those of you who have forgotten, Joel and Aron are a pair of Jewish brothers, but Joel took the Mark in order to keep his brother from starving to death. Because feeding the hungry is for dirty hippies. Since when has Jesus fed anyone? Though he has regretted taking the Mark ever since, by the characters' own admission, Joel is going to burn for all eternity. :pauses to scream a little: Last we left Aron, the RTCs were dropping him off in Petra to be with his parents, which gave me some hope. Because they didn't do the obligatory "Character Kneels Before Zod" scene, I thought maybe Aron would get out of this somehow. But I also remembered that Ellanjay love to do that cute trick where they shuffle a character off-stage for so long and with so little mention that you can't pick on the reader for forgetting that they existed, so I checked. And neither Joel or Aron's names turn up in this book. I'm not sure what to make of that. Just know that Joel is one of the few characters in the League of Awesome, along with Taylor, Hasina, and Dr. Rose. If you know of anyone else who deserves promotion to the league, let me know. [/Slight Tangent that probably bored people to tears]
But Judd has to call his one shot at getting laid before God comes back and takes away sex for everyone. Vicki is all "Tell me you've gotten out of here" and Judd has to tell her that with all the GC planes destroyed by the heat wave and Westin's plane destroyed as well, they're not going to get out any time soon.
Uh, yeah, guys you know there are other ways of getting to Petra that don't involve the use of planes. Okay, I went to the wikia for this series (the things I do in order to make my snarks accurate). According to the wikia for this series, New Babylon is located on the ruins of old Babylon in Iraq. I'm not going to dig too deep and ask which old Babylon they're dealing with (I'm pathetic but not that pathetic, not yet anyway), but most place that ancient civilization as roughly in the southern part of Iraq. Since we can't pin it down too much, I'll just assume that New Babylon is located somewhere between the Tigris and the Euphrates and all that. In fact to make this a little easier for my poor suffering readers, we're going to pin down Babylon's location as the modern city of Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq, just so we can have a few parameters to work with.
That leaves Petra. Petra's location can be more easily pinned down, in the southern Jordan governorate of Ma'an. The nearest town to Petra is Wadi Musa, so we'll use that in order to pin down the distance between the two points. After doing all this digging, I'd estimate that there are 551 miles between Our Heroes and the Holy City of Refuge. That is a good distance to be sure, but what I'm getting at with all this nitpicking and obsessing over geography, is THE READERS CAN PROBABLY THINK OF MANY WAYS FOR THE HEROES TO GET TO PETRA THAT DOESN'T INVOLVE USING A PLANE!
I know Ellanjay wouldn't dream of letting their characters do something as gauche as use the two limbs located on either side of their sin spear, and I admit, I'd certainly try to avoid traveling that far using either a bicycle or my own two feet (don't even get me started on the kind of terrain Our Lazy-Ass Heroes would face), but really, the only means of travel that come to mind is a large metal gas-guzzling phallic symbol?!
Okay, given what we know about Ellanjay and how desperate they are to assert the manliness of their heroes, their preference for the large gas-guzzling phallic symbol way of travel isn't too surprising. But even with my amateur knowledge of geography, I know New Babylon probably isn't the only city in Iraq. Ever hear of a little place called Baghdad? They could, travel by foot or bike or vehicle until they're out of New Babylon, then use their contacts to get someone to fly them out to Petra. Spoiler alert: no one suggests this. [/Insanely long rant about Geography]
Sorry about the previous rant. I swear I'm not normally this pedantic. But like I keep telling aunursa and many others, if this series had given me something, anything to think about, like a character or a plot point worth following, I wouldn't so obsessed with pinning down minor details like this. But Ellanjay failed as writers, so I have no choice but to be all irritating and nitpicky.
Judd tells Vicki about Gunther's plan. Vicki continues to wring her hands and express concern for Judd's safety, before realizing that though she may be a Main Character, which boosts her above other characters, that still doesn't overcome her primary defect: that she's a girl with girl parts. So she tells Judd to be careful but to go and set free as many captives as he can. And that's the extent of Vicki's participation in this chapter.
Gunther did do something smart by destroying one of the Mark applicators. Though given that Nicky can probably easily have one shipped in via rail (another form of transportation our heroes could take advantage of) or by air once this plague is over, it probably just slowed him down a little. To be fair, that's more than what they have been doing and it's nice to see them behaving somewhat like the resistance group they claim to be, but really, you wished that Ellanjay had done some research on guerilla warfare or resistance groups. Because when a lazy English major can poke holes in your heroes' Great Heroic Action Against Tyranny...yeah.
To be fair, said destruction probably has value from a symbolic standpoint, but destroying one machine out of the many many others Nicky has...Good luck. Especially since Nicky has proven over and over again that he runs a top-notch government with infrastructure most people can only dream of, so like I said, he'll replace the broken machine pretty soon.
Anyway, I'd thought that Judd and Westin and Gunther were going to go liberate a GC Holding Facility and liberate it, which actually would be an impressive Act Against Tyranny, but instead, they dick around by going to a restaurant. And as said before, while I know we're supposed to be on the side of Our Compassionate Heroes as they smirk at the horrific sufferings of others, but...you can see where I'm going with all this, can't you?
Here's a hint: the heroes don't come across as particularly compassionate when they whine about the wailing of all those suffering heathens.
I'll just provide a few quotes for you, without commentary, because there are times in which commentary is insufficient/redundant.
“Oh, Nicolae, you have all power,” an older woman cried from across the street. “You bring light and peace and hope. Please, Nicolae, save us!”
“Shut up, woman!” a young man said. He was sitting with his back against the wall of a building next to the restaurant. “Neither Nicolae nor Fortunato can save you from this.”
“Blasphemer!” an older man yelled. “You let Nicolae or any of his Peacekeepers hear you say that and you’re a dead man.”
The young man scratched at a bloody scab on his neck. “Death would be welcomed right now.”
Gunther and the others went inside the restaurant, stepping over two bodies of people who had killed themselves. Judd stayed behind and inspected the young man’s forehead. No mark. But when Judd leaned down and caught a glimpse of the man’s right hand, he saw the clear mark of Carpathia.
The young man took a swipe at the air, missing Judd’s head by inches. “Who are you? What do you want?” He had pulled his shirt up and was rubbing up against the coarse brick, trying to get some relief. His back was bleeding.
“I’m a friend,” Judd said softly. “You don’t have to be afraid.”
“Do you have a gun?”
“Can you get one?”
The young man laughed wildly. “How long has it been since this darkness came? A week? Two?”
“It’s only been a few hours,” Judd said.
The man put a finger in his mouth and bit down hard. Blood poured from the wound and gushed down his lips. “I can’t see to take a step, and I don’t have the energy if I could. I just want to die. I know this is the end.”
Judd stood and took a step toward the restaurant door.
“Please, I beg you. Hit me with something, knock me out. I can’t stand this itching, and my head feels like it’s about to burst!”
“I can’t help you,” Judd said. “I wish you’d have responded to God before it was too—”
“God?” the man screamed. “Jesus? I hate them! I hate everyone who talks about God!”
If you guessed, regarding the second passage, that Judd just steps around the corpses and keeps walking, congratulations. You could have donated valuable neuron space so much worthier information.
But yeah, am kind of regretting starting that "Our Sociopathic Heroes" tag, because there really is no way I can avoid overusing it until it loses all meaning. That and the "Strawman Always Has A Point" tag as well. Because as I keep pointing out, GOD IS THE ONE WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THIS HORRIBLE SHIT IN THIS WORLD! Just remember: Nicky uses his supernatural powers to rescue people, which is bad. God uses his supernatural powers to kill people after which HE SPENDS ETERNITY BURNINATING THE SHIT OUT OF YOU, which is good.
Because seriously, when Silver-Age Superman is looking at you and saying, "Christ, what a dick," you need to reexamine your life. Figure out at what point did you sell your heart for some magical beans or something.
The scene at the restaurant, as you probably guessed, Goes Nowhere, Does Nothing. Judd and some other characters cook some meat and leave. After which, they drive around some more with Judd sitting in the backseat thinking about how it's very sad that those horrible people left God with no choice but to Exterminate all the Brutes! As you probably guessed, even before you read the part I'm about to quote, while I love exaggerating for comedic effect, I'm not exaggerating by much. I very rarely am when it comes to these books.
Everywhere they drove, Judd heard howls from people in pain. It seemed to be getting worse by the hour. When people heard the car’s engine, they ran into the street, reaching out like blind zombies, trying anything to relieve their pain. Judd hated ignoring them, but what could they do? These people had chosen against God and were now paying the price.
Judd wondered what it was about the darkness that made things so much worse. Simply turning out the lights on the world was one thing, but there was something supernatural about this that caused people enough pain to want to kill themselves.
Yeah, I know I shouldn't repeat myself and I know I should stop invoking Godwin's Law, but like I said in previous posts, if the RTCs were dropped in a village down the road from Auschwitz in the years between 1940-1945, the extent of their rebellious actions against a genocidal tyrannical government, would be praying that all those gassed people became RTCs before they died and complaining about all the dead person ash from the crematoriums ruining their whites. I mean, show some consideration, people!
I could also point out that said genocidal tyrannical government during that time was also predominately Christian, but they'd probably just invoke the No True Scotsman fallacy and we'd wind up going in circles.
It's like I said, in another Left Behind discussion thread, but sometimes I wonder if this Weird Al song doesn't perfectly encapsulate RTCs: Why Does This Always Happen to Me? Because you know Rayford or any Ellanjay character would complain about how the bones in their boss's face bent the tip of the blade after they stabbed him with it, thus making it so it would never be quite as sharp again.
Anyway, they do finally get to a holding camp, complete with razor wire and guard towers. The guard is all bluster, but the RTCs just seriously walk up and start opening the gates. :headdesk: I think even the guys who gave us Red Dawn could have created a more plausible, busting out the prisoners scene. Granted that movie is pretty much an NRA masturbation fest, but still.
And that's it. Get ready for patronizing lectures next week! I keep wondering if I should call this kind of lecturing, Christsplainning or RTCsplainning. You guys can tell me which works better in this case.