[Off-topic rant] Yes, I freely admit that I am taking perverse delight in all the Batman v. Superman hate. Even if part of me feels like being all hipster and going, "Posers. I hated Zack Snyder before it was cool to hate him." After much thought, I'm starting to think if given a choice between an eternity with the oeuvre of Michael Bay or eternity with the oeuvre of Zack Snyder...well, first of all, I'd be like, "Seriously, Saint Peter?! Yeah, I know I swear too much and was an obsessive fangirl, but really, what did I do to deserve this?! It's not like I killed anybody!" After that, well, as much as it pains me to admit it, I'd choose Michael Bay in that scenario.
Admittedly a large reason is because I don't particularly care about Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the way I do about Superman, but another reason is that, let's face it, we all know Michael Bay doesn't give a shit about making a statement and creating good art. He's not making all these films in order to be all deep and insightful; he's making them because he can't get enough solid gold Humvees. I'd rather endure Michael Bay's mindless frat-boy stupidity than Zack Snyder's kind of stupidity, where he thinks he's being all deep and insightful about the human condition, but instead comes across as some petulant teenager, pouting his lip and saying, "I'm totally mature. I have blood and death in my works, which makes it deep and insightful." Open and honest idiocy is a lot more endurable than Snyder's kind. Plus for all his flaws, Michael Bay can do some decent pyrotechnics and who doesn't enjoy the visceral thrill of watching stuff get blown up? [/Off-topic rant]
We are on Chapter 44 of 48, so we're pretty much in the home stretch here. Again, apologies for the weakness of all the snark, but really, there's nothing that can be said beyond "Ellanjay suck," "TurboJesus is an eldritch horror," and "So much padding." So if it sounds like I'm doing more of a greatest hits kind of snark, rather than a thorough one, it's because really the last four chapters is just TurboJesus quoting Bible verses and doing everything short of tea-bagging his opponents.
Anyway, the chapter begins with bloody hailstones raining down on the GC. Oh and when I use the word, bloody, I'm not using it in the British sense.
THE TEMPERATURE dropped quickly around Lionel and the others, then returned to normal. News reached them of a great hailstorm—with chunks of ice weighing a hundred pounds or more—that had fallen on the massacred Unity Army. Water mingled with blood, creating a red, gooey liquid that was four feet deep in some places.
I'm fairly certain the bloody hailstones thing has happened before, but I'm too lazy to look it up, just as I'm too lazy to calculate how many times all the water, fresh or salt, turned to blood and became undrinkable. And again, those charts done by PMD enthusiasts don't help. Again, were it not for the fact that they were illustrating something many people actually believe, I'd assume they were slapped together by a schizophrenia patient with skills in graphic design and an obsession with the Bible. Though again, even someone deep in the grips of psychosis could probably come up with a more coherent worldview, so maybe I shouldn't slur people with schizophrenia.
TurboJesus quotes bits from 1 John, chapter four. And yes, he does quote verses 7-11, which basically go "Love each other because God loves you." And my head explodes, because really, they don't see the cognitive dissonance like at all? They genuinely believe that TurboJesus exploding peoples' heads is an expression of love.
I suppose I could rant endlessly about it, but I've already done so many rants about how they picture God as unshaven, dressed in a wife-beater and open bathrobe, shouting at his cowering spouse and/or children, "Now look at what you made me do!" So I'll just let the last few lines of 1 John 4 speak for me.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
I honestly wonder if the reason Jesus hasn't come back like everyone said he would, is because he's too busy face-palming over idiots, being like, "Seriously, how did you get that from that?!"
[Slightly Off-topic Plot Bunny] Fantasy fiction seems obsessed with the idea of chosen ones that after many centuries of waiting, the chosen one has finally appeared and will defeat the Dark Lord and institute a new reign of peace and prosperity and all that. My idea is, given how many different ways Christianity had been interpreted in its two-thousand-year history, rather than one ancient order of monks studying and keeping the prophecies alive and unchanged and them all being in agreement that Hero is indeed, the Chosen One, how about in the subsequent years since the prophecy was made, the ancient order has split into many different sects, each with their own idea as to who the chosen one is. So you wind up with many people claiming to be the chosen one, rather than one agreed-upon protagonist.
Some of these chosen ones do genuinely believe that they are the chosen one, and want to overthrow the Dark Lord and make the world a better place for noble reasons. Other chosen ones are in it more for mercenary motives rather than noble ones; want to overthrow the Dark Lord and take his place as the rightful king because hey, being King beats working your fingers to the bone and living in squalor until you die of whatever Plague-of-the-Month is going around.
Just know that regardless of whatever twists you come up with on my Plot Bunny, you cannot, at any moment, have it confirmed a hundred percent that Chosen One from Village X is the real Chosen One according to prophecies. While you can have pretenders, you're not allowed to definitively say, "This one is definitely the Chosen One." No divine beings stepping in and saying anything or anything like that. Whoever wins and winds up sitting on the throne, does so through ordinary virtues like courage and intelligence, not because he is the Chosen One and uses some special magic that only the Chosen One can use.
You could also throw in that the Dark Lord is well aware of all the Chosen One prophecies and has done his part to keep them in circulation, so the various sects would be too busy fighting each other to fight him. Or in other words, the various Chosen Ones win, because a few are like, "Hey, we share a common enemy," and work together. [/Plot Bunny]
I suppose I should apologize for that tangent, but again, lot more interesting than anything in this chapter. I don't think you need me to tell you that.
We cut to Judd, who is in Jerusalem. He hears a speech from Nicky and is shocked, shocked by the bland platitudes of his speech.
Carpathia continued, predicting a total takeover of Jerusalem. Judd couldn’t believe it when the man referred to Jesus as “this one who flits about in the air quoting ancient fairy-tale texts.” Nicolae predicted Jesus would die. “He is no match for the risen lord of this world and for the fighting force in place to face him. It does not even trouble me to make public our plan, as it has already succeeded. This city and these despicable people have long been his chosen ones, so we have forced him to show himself, to declare himself, to vainly try to defend them or be shown for the fraud and coward that he is. Either he attempts to come to their rescue or they will see him for who he really is and reject him as an impostor. Or he will foolishly come against my immovable force and me and prove once and for all who is the better man.”
We've talked many times about how incoherent Nicky's character is, how no matter what way you look at it, nothing about him makes any sense. We've can probably list several reasons for this, all of them equally true, as to why Nicky's character makes no damn sense. There's the obvious pitfalls associated with Christian Fiction™. Because it is a niche market and said niche consists primarily of people who are desperate for material, but afraid to go against their pastors and read outside the niche, you wind up with a whole lot of terrible, derivative fiction, because why put forth the effort when, no matter what you do, your works will sell?
I've said it in many conversations on Slacktiverse and probably on my own blog and I will say it many more times before I die, but the truly good Christian art was produced during an era when the Church was about the only game in town for artists. Because it was the only game in town, that meant a whole lot of competition, which strengthens the craft; if you didn't produce a quality piece to your employer's satisfaction, they'll say, "Tough," and move on to the next desperate artist standing in line. So you couldn't just slap a Jesus fish on a piece of crap and call it a day; you had to put forth actual effort.
There's also the matter of in this particular niche, you can't have anything that might offend a blue-haired schoolmarm, even if you clearly show it as being bad and the character is punished afterwards. My favorite example of this phenomenon among fundies, comes from the good people at Capalert, which criticized the Star Wars films because the Empire had "bad attitudes." Never mind that the Empire, aka the guys with the giant planet-killing moon, was continually depicted as being the bad guys. Put in any sort of conflict and some RTC will take offense at it. I'd say their ideal entertainment would be the Itchy and Scratchy Cartoons as done by Marge Simpson, but given that there have been fundies who objected to all the talking animals in the Chronicles of Narnia, because they felt it reeked of paganism, they would probably still object to those cartoons.
But even within the strict confines of the RTC subculture, it must be possible to create great art. Though given that I can't think of any examples of great RTC art off of the top of my head, the answer is probably not. The problems inherent in this series can probably be summed up in one word, laziness, or to use TV Tropes, They Just Didn't Care. Just as they're not interested in exploring the character of Jesus, because he's their cosmic Enola Gay and they feel that's reason enough to worship
So we're never going to get a coherent response as to why Nicky's doing all this, following a plan to the letter even though said plan ends with him getting punted into Hellfire for all eternity. Some have suggested that maybe Nicky's just going along with this, so he can drag TurboJesus out of Heaven and kick his ass, but from there, you wonder what Ellanjay would say if you asked, "Okay, so why does the Anti-Christ want to kill TurboJesus." We of the Slacktiverse can think of several legitimate reasons, but since Ellanjay worship the Gospel of Might Makes Right (therefore, it's perfectly okay for TurboJesus to slaughter innocents because he is mightier than the anti-Christ, but it's wrong for the anti-Christ to do the same), probably the only response given is "Because he's the anti-Christ."
But Nicky must be doing this because he thinks he can win. He doesn't think the world has seven years left; he thinks that the next generation will grow up, get jobs, have kids, and eventually move into the corridors of power themselves. It's a beautiful future and he's willing to fight to preserve it. As Fred and I keep saying, Fighting to save the world from forces wanting to destroy it, makes you the hero. That's how this works.
Though is there any reason why they have to make Nicky sound so stilted that even Brent Spiner would say, "Dude, tone it down a little?" Though while my knowledge of Star Trek is lacking (was totally a Star Wars gal growing up and am intimidated by the amount of continuity I'd have to learn about Star Trek), I'm fairly certain that Data would probably be a helluva lot more intimidating anti-Christ than Nicky.
Then Nicky says this:
“My pledge to you, loyal citizens of the Global Community,” Carpathia said, “is that come the end of this battle, no opponent of my leadership and regime will remain standing, yea, not one will be left alive. The only living beings on planet Earth will be trustworthy citizens, lovers of peace and harmony and tranquility, which I offer with love for all from the depths of my being.
I could point out the obvious--that Nicky goes from being "Exterminate all the Brutes!" to Peacey McPeace-Peace within the span of a few sentences--but let's focus on something else as equally obvious: Nicky's plan is to kill all who oppose him in a massive genocide that will leave only those who support him standing. What's TurboJesus's plan? Oh yeah, it's THE EXACT SAME AS NICKY'S! Because again, they believe Might Makes Right, like I've said many times. It's only wrong for Nicky to brutally kill all those opposed to him, because he's not the mightiest guy around; TurboJesus is. Plus again, Nicky is killing in defense of his poorly defined beliefs, rather than the incoherent poorly defined beliefs of RTC-ianity, which makes his actions wrong.
Then we get this:
“I am but ten miles west of Jerusalem as we speak, and I will be dismissing my cabinet and generals so they may be about the business of waging this conflict under my command. The Most High Reverend of Carpathianism, Dr. Leon Fortunato himself, will serve as my chauffeur for my triumphal entry. Citizens are already lining the roadway to greet me, and I thank you for your support.”
A few minutes later, drums and trumpets sounded in the distance. Vicki, who had buried her head in Judd’s chest, looked up. “Carpathia has mocked everything God’s done. This is his version of the triumphal entry.”
Okay, given the strictures of Christian Fiction™ you can't have Nicky actually do any actual evil. Fine, but does he have to speak in so stilted a manner? Even Data would be like, "Seriously?!" if given a line like "I will be dismissing my cabinet and generals so they may be about the business of waging this conflict under my command." Because Nicky is the leader of the world; of course, the conflict is under his command! That and the line about all the people lining up to greet him, so reeks of "Here let me describe in detail this building about to collapse on us!" I suppose I could dive into TV Tropes and see if they have a name for that trope, but hell no! I spend enough time on that black hole of a website as is.
Though I thought Nicky already did his version of the triumphal entry back with the Epic!Pig!Ride aka the part that's so stupid, it crosses over and becomes awesome and is the only example of such a moment in this series.
Judd thinks about how Nicky's going to get what's coming to him and we cut briefly to Lionel and Sam, who are also just sitting and watching. The only notable part of Lionel's section is this bit:
Someone pulled out a handheld TV and caught GCNN’s coverage of Nicolae riding a stallion, his sword raised in the air. He swung it, and the troops around him whooped. “Follow me to the Western Wall and make way for the battering ram and missile launchers! Upon my command, open fire!”
Given that Nicky's already using horses for no real reason, suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that he's also using other medieval tech like battering rams, even though if the guys operating the ram (and you know it's a medieval style one, where it's basically a giant log cut from a tree) are in front of the missiles, congratulations, Nicky, you just killed several of your own dudes. Even though I'm fairly certain the strategy with missiles is to launch them from a bunker a safe distance away, then swoop in after they've bombed everything and everyone to smithereens.
I suppose I could rant some more about Nicky using medieval-level tech, but in all honesty, I'm just disappointed that they don't have him using something cooler like trebuchets or crossbows or long bows. Again, if you're going to be that stupid, commit to it!
Vicki's watching the GC storm Jerusalem and is all horrified, even though I'm fairly certain that even inbred medieval nobles could come up with a better strategy than what Nicky's cooked up. Because he's having them storm the wall on horses, even though the only way that would work is if the wall is so damn short that it can't in good conscience be called a wall, maybe a hedge, but not a wall. Either that or Nicky's horses are actually pegasi, an idea I have no difficulty accepting. Given the effed up stuff we've seen in this series, winged horses isn't too much of a leap.
Again, keep hoping somebody else in the Slacktiverse will adopt another plot bunny I have: an Office-style sitcom about the various number-crunchers and bureaucrats employed by Nicky's regime. Because again, Nicky has to have thousands upon thousands of people working below him; couldn't conquer the world with just ten employees.
And then there's this:
Quickly, the prisoners climbed over the downed wire, only to be met by three Unity Army soldiers holding guns. Vicki and Judd took a step back, still inside the prison.
“No!” Vicki screamed as the soldiers aimed their guns.
But before they could shoot, skin dripped from their arms and their eyes melted. The once-healthy soldiers were now simply uniforms full of bones. Seconds later the same thing happened to the horses. Their flesh and eyes and tongues dripped away like candle wax.
Vicki was too stunned to move. She had read verses in Revelation that said this was going to happen. She had even seen people die from the horsemen of terror and stung by the demon locusts, but she had never seen anything so gruesome. Without a shot fired or a missile launched, the Unity Army melted into the street.
Before anyone makes any Raiders of the Lost Ark references, I feel a need to reiterate a point I've made many times: AT LEAST IN THAT MOVIE, THE FACE-MELTING HAPPENED TO MOTHEREFFING NAZIS WHO HAD PRESUMABLY DONE SOMETHING TO DESERVE IT! That and like I've said, point out all you like that the entire thing would have been resolved if Indy had stayed home and graded papers, but at least Raiders had the decency to have some awesome fight scenes/stunts so the viewer doesn't feel like their time was entirely wasted. Though how anyone can consider watching Harrison Ford at his prime a waste of time, is beyond me. Even Straight Guys dig Harrison Ford.
The section ends with this:
Vicki glanced up when God’s temple opened and a flood of brilliant light surrounded her.
Judd pulled Vicki toward a nearby wall as lightning flashed, thunder roared, and the earth shifted.
In seconds the earth buckled and swayed. Carpathia’s soldiers were swallowed through great cracks in the earth.
I feel a need to reiterate that this is Chapter 44 of the 48 in this book. So even though the story is damn near over, SOMEHOW WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH FOUR MORE CHAPTERS OF THE TRIBBLES DANCING AROUND THE END ZONE SAYING, "WE'RE #1!" WHILE AT THE SAME TIME ACTING LIKE THE OUTCOME IS IN DOUBT!
We then cut to Conrad, who's groping Shelly. At least, that's my general assumption since y'all know I have a dim view of Conrad and Shelly's relationship.
Anyway not much really happens--they just watch TurboJesus spit out Bible Quotes and kill everyone--but I'll quote this part:
Somehow the Global Community News Network managed to stay on the air and showed satellite pictures of the earth bathed in a light that originated from Jesus. In North America, a huge dust cloud hovered over Arizona, and reports that the Grand Canyon had been filled in and was now level brought oohs and aahs from their friends. Even more incredible was the shot over Nepal showing that Mount Everest and the mountain ranges surrounding it had crumbled and were now as flat as every other place on earth. Islands disappeared into the sea. Everything had been leveled except for the city of Jerusalem.
Nice usage of what the Turkey City Lexicon calls Fuzz, with that somehow at the beginning. My head canon is that the GC's news channel has stayed on the air, because Nicky's government is made up of awesome people working as long and hard as possible to keep things running so more people don't die as a result of the destroyed infrastructure. Because television requires satellites and electricity and all those require a ton of infrastructure to maintain and run, no matter how much Ellanjay may like to believe that it all runs because Jesus! that's why.
With that in mind, given a choice between being under Nicky's rule or under an RTC's, I'd choose Nicky. Because we had an RTC administration in power and they couldn't come up with a plan for a disaster they had a week's notice on. Whereas Nicky...no matter how bad things get, the power stays on, the water keeps flowing, and people are still getting plenty to eat. That's pretty damn amazing.
I suppose I should remember, in all my fangirling of Nicky, that he is a ruthless dictator running roughshod over human rights, but I still feel a need to side with him, because again, the opposition is so much worse. I may be a pacifist who genuinely believes in human rights and therefore, would naturally be opposed to Nicky's regime, but when we're facing annihilation at the hands of a cosmic horror, I'll suck it up and do what I can to help. Sort of like how the US and the Soviet Union fought together in World War II, even though both sides hated each other, but both sides knew that they'd be screwed if Hitler won. So the thinking was "Work together, then once this is all said and done, we can resume hating each other." Though, really, what is in Russia that makes it worth invading in winter? Pro Tip for any aspiring dictators reading my blog: Never invade Russia in winter. No matter what's there, it's not worth invading a country that considers any weather not cold enough to summon a legion of White Walkers, shorts weather. That and remember, there are also a lot of Russians, because you have to do something to keep warm and get through all those winters that last, on average, nine months.
That out of the way, do Ellanjay honestly look at scenes like this or this and think "Yadda yadda, all those bright colors and soaring vistas are nice, but y'know what, it's just got too much height and depth for my liking. Can't build a decent Wal-Mart here." That and as I recall, the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest are both considered sacred religious sites, but they probably can't be arsed to care about Native American Tribes or the Nepalese or Tibetans, so let's move on.
I'm more curious about all the islands sinking. Do Ellanjay mention that all the Hawaiian RTCs managed to GTFO out of Hawaii before all this happened? Granted if there are Polynesian RTCs, they would immediately get bamfed into Heaven, while their heathen neighbors roasted on a spit, but you'd think they'd make some one-line mention or something.
That and I wonder about the people of North Sentinel Island. I've wondered about them many times in this series. For those too lazy to click on the link, the people of North Sentinel Island are believed to be among the last uncontacted peoples on Earth. By virtue of the massive coral reef surrounding the island that wrecked ships that tried to land there and that the island didn't have any resources that colonizing powers wanted, they've managed to live in isolation from the modern world. The Islanders also fiercely defend their land, making it so only a few have actually seen what the natives look like. Can't even use Google Earth to figure that out because North Sentinel Island is too thickly forested.
North Sentinel Island is currently under the administration of India. In the past, India did try to make contact with the natives, sending out boats with gifts to entice the Islanders, but after several attempts, which led to the deaths of the people trying to make contact and their gifts ignored and left on the beach, the Indian government has decided to just leave North Sentinel Island alone. The last time they checked on it, was after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. They flew over the island in a helicopter to check on the natives and were greeted with a flurry of spears and arrows making it quite clear: natives are saying, "We're doing fine on our own, so leave us alone." Which is fine; if they want to join the modern world, they can do so on their terms.
Anyway, my long rambling point is throughout this series, I kept wondering what Ellanjay would say if I brought up North Sentinel Island. Because maybe with other parts of the world, Ellanjay can just dismiss them, saying, "They heard of Christ and didn't immediately abandon their cherished beliefs and convert at the drop of a hat; therefore they are damned." But the people of North Sentinel Island are ignorant of Christ, as in never heard of him. So when Zod sank all the islands, did he sank an island full of innocent people for the crime of being isolated from the world?
And that's it for this week. Again, just sometimes you can only handle so much of Ellanjay at once, so forgive me for not throwing on another chapter. As for the post title, sorry, but couldn't think of anything else to call this post.