First half of the chapter is Judd talking to Chang and the other half is Vicki talking to Zeke. We do get a mention of Lionel, though he's not seen, but I'm still wondering if we should start putting out milk cartoons with his picture on it. That and I wonder if I should change my Lionel tag to "Where's Lionel?" but I might overuse it. I am still kicking myself for not starting a count on how many times Ryan is mentioned after his death, but live and learn. If anyone has any suggestions for tags or whatever, let me know.
Anyway first we get exciting!telephone!conversation!action between Judd and Chang. And I spend the entire time, fast-forwarding, beating my head against my desk, and crying. That and wondering why in the name of all that's holy, DIDN'T ELLANJAY JUST GET JUDD TO PETRA SO CHANG CAN TELL HIM ALL THIS SHIT WHILE SHOWING HIM AROUND?! IT WOULD KILL TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE: JUDD WOULD FINALLY BE IN PETRA AND YOU CAN REVEAL ABOUT HOW ZOD TOOK AWAY HIS MARK! HOW MUCH GOLD LEAF DO YOU REALLY NEED ON YOUR WALLS, ELLANJAY?! HOW MANY JACUZZIS DO TWO MEN NEED ANYWAY?!
I know, I'm overreacting, but really I am just in despair, because this entire chapter is basically white noise. Not even having John Oliver or some other Brit narrate this passage would make it worth reading? :sighs: I often wonder what it is about a British accent that makes everything sound so awesome and classy. My theory is after the war of 1812, the Brits got together and decided, "Well if we can't beat the Americans in battle, we shall beat them in style by cultivating an accent that makes everyone swoon." To which I say, well played, Britain.
But seriously, Chang talks about Petra and how great it is and how he had his Mark removed and blah-blah-blah. Oh and he's apparently developed a thing for Naomi. This is another passage where it would have worked better if they had cut to Chang in Petra or even GOTTEN JUDD TO PETRA INSTEAD OF SPENDING GOD-ONLY-KNOWS-HOW-MANY PAGES DICKING AROUND IN NEW BABYLON DOING NOTHING OF ANY IMPORTANCE! SERIOUSLY THE NEW BABYLON STUFF...IT, LIKE SO MANY OTHER PLOT CUL-DE-SACS, ACCOMPLISHES NOTHING! NOTHING NEW IS REVEALED ABOUT JUDD AND THE PLOT ISN'T ADVANCED IN THE SLIGHTEST! ALL THAT HAPPENED WAS WE WERE GIVEN A BUNCH OF NEW NAMES TO LEARN AND SINCE NO ONE HAS ANY DISTINGUISHING FEATURES WHATSOEVER...
A few questions: one, does anybody know what kind of stuff is in those tranquilizer darts and whether it's safe to mainline the stuff, and two, how many more instances can I use caplocks before I violate some kind of Internet ordinance and get dragged away to a place where all I'll have to read, until I get out, are comments on online news articles. :shudders: Given a choice between that and a Siberian Gulag, hell yeah, I'd go with the Siberian Gulag. Less torturous to the psyche.
Anyway, back to business.
But I suppose I was foolish to expect them to cut to Chang in Petra or do anything that would force them to :gasp: show the bond he's developing with Naomi as opposed to just having him insist to Judd that one's there. Yeah, no matter how hard Ellanjay try for cute and romantic young love, they always end up making me think of Norman Bates or some creeper in the bushes.
“Is something going on between you and Naomi?”
Chang paused. “We have a good relationship. I knew we would have to work together closely since she has become the technical leader here, but I didn’t want to complicate things with …”
“You’re falling for her, aren’t you?”
“Judd, she is stunning—”
“I know. I’ve met her. Friendly, beautiful, and smarter than both of us.”
“I’ve never even had a girlfriend. There were girls in high school I was interested in, but I never dared let them know.”
“Do you think she feels anything for you?”
Chang chuckled. “I think so. We were drinking at the spring of water when the sun set and the skies opened and seemed to snow bits of soft bread.”
Definitely too many examples of Brenda Starr dialogue to list. I'll be charitable and say that maybe Ellanjay are trying to avoid using said, but you could have put some action in there, so I didn't have to strain to figure out who the hell was talking? It wouldn't be that hard: just put in something like "Judd idly scratched an itch as he waited for Chang to continue."
Though, I am raising an eyebrow and going "Really?!" at Judd's insistence that he'd met Naomi. When? I will be charitable and say that maybe they have met and I've forgotten (because no one in this series has any distinguishing characteristics whatsoever) but I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't yet another major continuity screw-up. You can churn out best-selling novels pretty quickly when you don't give a shit.
After that, we cut to Vicki. She has a sad about Chloe being captured, thinking about how since Chloe runs the magical Co-Op, it'll really affect the believers. I continue to wonder why Ellanjay, given their low opinion of women in general, would put Chloe in charge of such an important position in the first place? Because that Co-Op...People kind of need food and water to live, so it's pretty much the lifeblood of the Tribbles' organization. And in order to get food and water, they also need tools in order to plant/harvest this stuff and spoiler alert, that stuff doesn't grow on trees. Chloe either has to track it down or have it made. Either way, that requires fuel to be moved around for that purpose.
In other words, Chloe has her finger in a lot of pots, has a lot of hats she must wear, and a lot of people to juggle. It would actually be kind of cool if Ellanjay delved into this, Chloe's struggles to keep everyone fed and supplied, but I have a feeling that if I were to bring up any of this stuff with them, they'd look at me blankly. The idea that you just can't go to Walmart for everything, that even the stuff at Walmart, required money and fuel to get there, would never occur to them.
Anyway, Zeke calls. He's flying out to get Vicki and take her and Lionel to Petra. Woo...
Okay, in service to my dear readers, I'm throwing on a second chapter. For those whose hearts were about to break from the non-stop action that was the previous chapter, fear not: it's just more talking. I know I've made this joke before, but that part in The Princess Bride where Westley has a year sucked off of his life and all he can do is whimper afterwards? Yeah, I have whole new insight into how he must have felt. Because the only way this could be more unpleasant is if while I'm reading this, Ellanjay punch me in the gut while having Rayford mansplain about the wrongness of Abortion. And now that I've basically challenged them, I'm probably going to pay for this at some point down the road.
Judd's hanging out with the Germans, having finally met that Otto Weser guy whose been mentioned but not seen until now. But I mostly assume that there's little if any reason to remember anything about these characters, especially since Ellanjay never met an ethnic/national stereotype they weren't willing to copy and paste. Because diamond-studded swimming pools don't grow on trees, y'know.
And of course, what ensues is more talking, this time between Judd and Otto. But since Ellanjay are careful and put a lot of work into giving all their characters distinctive voices, so you can tell one from another, this is not at all a pain in the ass to read.
“After the darkness plague hit, I knew what I had to do. For a long time I’ve wanted to see the palace with my own two eyes. So, when I couldn’t convince anyone else to go with me, I went by myself to the compound, the courtyard, the palace—and I especially wanted to see Nicolae Carpathia’s office.”
“You actually went inside?” Judd said.
“Yes, and imagine my shock when I saw believers there. Four of them.”
Judd quickly figured out that Otto had met Chang Wong, Rayford Steele, Abdullah Smith, and Naomi Tiberius.
Don't ask me how Judd knew that it had to be those specific believers that Otto met; I don't know or care either. Rayford, I understand, because like I've said many times, he and Buck are the suns around which all the characters in the LB-verse revolve. Where it not for the fact that Ellanjay were too chickenshit to have TurboJesus or Zod speak in anything but Bible quotes, I wouldn't be surprised if when all this is done and Ray-Ray is praising TurboJesus, that TurboJesus doesn't turn around and start bowing and scraping before Ray-Ray, kissing his feet and talking about he wishes he was as tall or manly as St. Rayford. Because even massive eldritch horrors capable of crossing the boundaries of space and time and doing whatever they want, aspire to someday be as awesome as Rayford and Buck. Once again, I have a feeling I'm exaggerating, but ask yourselves: is it really by much?
And of course, no one dare says anything along the lines of, "So you guys had him cornered in his office and outnumbered and STILL NO ONE DID ANYTHING?!" Okay, maybe I'm being harsh; the Tribbles probably switched around a couple of files in his file drawers and action that will cause Nicky five minutes of consternation as he is forced to switch them back. And of course, while switching said files, the Tribbles wouldn't dare do something as gauche as read said files.
Oh and yes, I am aware that Nicky having actual physical file drawers instead of backing them up to a hard drive or something, is incredibly anachronistic, but would you really put it past Ellanjay to give him filing cabinets even though they haven't been relevant for a long time? It's kind of what they do: fail to predict the advancement of technology, like what they did with cell phones and Internet porn.
Though okay, maybe the Tribbles can't kill Nicky. They haven't explained why they can't just drive something in his head, leave it in, and put guards around him so that no one can pull it out, but whatever, I'll go with it. But you know what they still can do? USE SOME ROPE OR HANDCUFFS OR SOMETHING TO TIE HIM UP AND CAPTURE HIM!
But enough with the ranting, we've got to update Nicky's power count, which, like Mr. T's, continually grows. Here's Otto's account attesting to Nicky's superhuman strength.
“Nicolae and his goons, as you call them, have left. Rayford Steele and I found out about a meeting in the palace and we went there. We actually saw Nicolae kill one of his top people. An Indian man, I think. Awful. Grabbed him with both hands and snapped his neck like a chicken bone. Then kept going with the meeting. Shows you what kind of man he is.
I know you're getting tired of me relating to everything in pop culture references, but really, this was my response: "Now that's what I call Break-Neck Speed!"
Because seriously, it's not as easy to break someone's neck as the movies make it out to be. Maybe if you're a Kryptonian* it is, but not if you're human.
And of course, no reason is given as to why Nicky just flat-out kills a guy. I'm assuming Ellanjay think that "Because I'm evil!" is explanation enough, but I'm going to assume that Nicky is following the advice of The Evil Overlord List, specifically, #46:
If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.
There's more talk about Al Hillah and Nicky's ten kings, but I honestly don't care. Judd gives Otto a letter from Rainer, aka that German guy who faced down the GC and died, as opposed to hiding in a hole like Zod intended. Otto cries but since we don't know the contents and I'd forgotten about Rainer and said letter, it means nothing. I'm honestly a little grateful that Ellanjay don't show us the contents of said letter, even though it would allow them to pad out the books further. Because even though Mrs. LaHaye lives thousands of miles in Washington D.C. and therefore Tim LaHaye doesn't have to worry that the knowledge of his wife using the same Jacuzzi tub as him might fill his head with carnal thoughts, Tim LaHaye can't bear the idea of having just one Jacuzzi tub.
Anyway, Judd talks on the phone to Sam. Sam is all mopey in Petra because everyone loves Chang even though he hasn't been in Petra very long. I suppose I could put forth some effort and try to figure out if this means Ellanjay consider Chang ahead of Sam, but behind Ray-Ray and Bucky in the great hierarchy of RTCianity, but I am lazy. I did think that one of the rules of said hierarchy was that Americans trump wacky foreigners, thus giving Sam the edge (because Chang is Chinese in case their subtle approach to writing his character fooled you), just as men trump women. Chloe is only so high up because of her connections with Ray-Ray and Bucky. Just know that Ray-Ray and Bucky are ahead of everybody, even God. I've said before that Ray-Ray and Bucky are the sun in the RTC Solar System, but even that feels piddling and inadequate, now that I think about it.
Sam is also mopey because Naomi likes Chang, not him. I vaguely recall Sam trying to hit on her a while back only for Naomi to give a "Let's be friends" speech. You can't blame me for not holding onto this information, seeing as it's been WHO KNOWS HOW LONG! But I will admit that the passage where he talks about his crush with Judd, is actually fairly decent. Basic workmanship writing, but it almost works. It would have been better if they had actually delved into Sam's feelings instead of shunting him off-stage for books at a time, but that may be too much to ask.
“I know. And I can see why Naomi is attracted to him, but I’m still having …” Sam’s voice trailed off. Then Judd heard him say hello to someone. “You won’t believe who just walked by with a basket of manna for her sweetheart.” Sam sighed. “With all the problems in the world, this one is so small.”
Like I said, I like it because it's one of the few things that ring true. Even in the face of the End of the World, teenagers are going to get horny and fall in love and it always hurts when the person you love doesn't feel the same. That last line is also kind of nice, because we've all been through a situation like this, where in the face of a crisis, you find yourself whining about some minor inconvenience before part of you is like, "Holy hell, what is wrong with me?!"
We cut to Vicki and if you guessed her section is basically more talking as she packs and says goodbye to people, congratulations, you win a No-Prize.
There is a mention of Ryan Victor and how he's thriving in the Fogartys' care. If you expect there to be any mention of, y'know, his birth mother, Cheryl, keep dreaming! That little slut failed to properly obey the wishes of Main Characters, which is akin to failing to obey God. Therefore, she has been put on a bus and shunted off-screen. Maybe they'll let her see her kid again, if she displays the proper, submissive, contrite attitude for daring to be so foolish as to think that as Ryan Victor's birth-mother, she is entitled to be able to see and be with her kid. NO, I will never stop being pissed about the Cheryl subplot and how it was resolved! It's one of the many subplots that will always piss me off! Deal with it!
Marshall and everybody pray over Vicki, reciting the last verse of the Book of Jude. Then Vicki, Lionel, and Zeke (who is apparently tagging along) get aboard the plane.
Lot of talking and "Oh noes!" about Chloe. Again, really not much to snark, but I'll pick a few bits off of the last page of this chapter, then I am done for the week. Because even watching paint dry is better than this; at least with paint-drying, you can possibly get high off of the fumes.
Mac explained that he would drop them off at Petra, then head to Al Basrah and clear his and Albie’s apartment of any clues. “I’ll be taking a bigger plane from Petra ’cause I got to bring back this Otto Weser guy and his people.”
“Captain Steele told me about him,” Zeke said. “So you’re bringing them back to Petra because of that Scripture about God’s people getting out of Babylon before God destroys it?”
No matter how many times I hear this whole explanation for why the Germans are in New Babylon, my reaction remains the same: the stupid, it burns! Seriously, that's how they interpret "coming out of Babylon" to mean? But I suppose if they took the interpretation where it means walking away from a brutal empire and system that enslaves the majority and forces them to toil endlessly on behalf of a privileged elite...yeah, problems would arise.
[TANGENT] It's times like this, I really wish I could implement a get-rich quick scheme that's been kicking around. My idea is Bibles, leather-covered ones that look and feel like the actual thing, only the pages contain Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged rather than the words of a bunch of commie peaceniks who kept talking about loving your enemies and taking care of those on the bottom rung of society. Because if they were smart, they would have had the sense to be born into the upper class, where they could receive the best of everything, rather than being born to a bunch of welfare queens. :eyeroll:
But since I'm fairly certain Atlas Shrugged isn't in the public domain and I really don't need a massive copyright lawsuit in my life, I'll go with my other idea: producing what looks like a glurgy poster about supporting our troops, but instead contains the red text from Mark Twain's War Prayer. Since Mark Twain is in the public domain, I might be able to get away with that. Though I run the risk of my target audience not getting the joke and that would be bad. [/TANGENT]
Zeke's stares at the ocean and is like, "Remember when it was all blood?" So apparently that plague is over, again. Won't do anyone much good, given that all sea life, plant and animal, likely died, but since when does Ellanjay explore the consequences of their Wrath-of-God events anyway?
And towards the end, we get a little mention of Lionel. His story is told entirely in summary, but hey.
Mac turned to Lionel and said he couldn’t believe how Lionel had survived his ordeal in Indiana. “And it sounds like your time in South Carolina was no cakewalk.”
Lionel told them what had happened to him during his travels and said he wondered if all those believers who had helped him on his way north were still alive.
I am somewhat grateful to be spared Lionel rehashing what we already know, though I am surprised as well. Since when has Ellanjay ever walked away from any transparent excuse to pad out the series? But maybe it's because in that great RTC hierarchy, Lionel is ahead of many by virtue of being American and Male, but he is also Black, which lowers his score somewhat. Y'know how sensitive Ellanjay tend to be in their portrayal of minorities, after all.
But I'm fighting the urge to scream at Lionel, "Y'KNOW WHO REALLY HELPED YOU OUT AND SAVED YOUR ASS?! DR. ROSE, THAT'S WHO! APPARENTLY I NEED TO REMIND YOU THAT HE'S HAVING HIS INTESTINES PULLED OUT FOR HAVING A TATTOO, DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE NO LONGER BELIEVES IN NICKY!
File the subplot with Doctor Rose under the long list of stuff about this series that pisses me off. Because it really does. Like I said, I will continue to cling to the comfort discontinuity provides. Dr. Rose faked his death to get away from Judd and is off on adventures with the League of Awesome.
As always, nominations are still open if you want to suggest membership into the league. I am wondering if we should let Verna Zee into the League. On one hand, she deserves the nomination just for being able to be around Bucky without snapping and beating him to death with his own cell phone, but on the other hand, while she does make more cogent points in the debate with Loretta, Verna does lose points in that even she feels the need to fall all over herself in praise to Bucky.
Verna stood and leaned against the wall. "It'll tell you the truth," she said. "I've been a little bit jealous of Buck's assignments. Buck is everything I wanted to be, and the more I look at his copy, the more it steams me. Compared to him, I feel like a college kid trying to put sentences together."
I'll let you hash out League membership amongst yourselves. Just know that League membership can be bestowed upon any of the minor characters, named or unnamed, who consistently outshine the Tribbles in their brief appearances onscreen. If you do nominate an unnamed character, I ask that you have the common courtesy to give them a name, one that perfectly illuminates their inner nature/awesomeness.
Also remember that anyone who joins the League...they're not really dead. It's like I keep saying: they knew the Tribbles wouldn't leave them alone and that having said Tribbles hang around, would just slow them down. So they faked their deaths, knowing that once the Tribbles thought they were safely damned for all eternity, they can get shit done.
*Just thought I'd warn you: never mention Man of Steel around me. It's one of those movies that cause me to go into frothing rants at the mere mention of it, rants that usually degenerate into "DAMN YOU, ZACK SYNDER! I WILL HAVE YOUR HEAD ON A PLATTER OF GOLD! DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!" over and over again, after awhile. Given that I am enough of an isolated weirdo as is and don't need to alienate any more people, I'm wishing there was some kind of amnesia ray so I can wipe that movie from my memory. Because I've seen bad movies before, but Man of Steel...all I can say is that Superman is a character I care about, a lot. And that's the extent I'm going to talk about it.