Soon: Chapter 6: The Raid

Well, we’ve got about 20 shabby, unarmed zealots versus about 12 SWAT-type NPO guys and gals, plus Coker and Paul Apostle.

Let’s get ready to rumble!

But first, Jenkins has some fun showing how the words and actions of gentle, innocent Christians are twisted and made to look evil by those awful ole atheists. 

They pass around the Bible (there’s just one to share), and Coker wants to go now, dammit, because…

“The Bible is contraband.”

Paul convinces Coker to hold out for a minute so they can hear more, and I boggle that religious books are contraband.  I mean, I get that practicing religion is outlawed, but owning a Bible is not practicing religion.  Hell, I own a Bible!  (And a Koran, and a Book of Mormon, but I digress.)  But how do majors like “religious studies” exist if religious books are contraband?

Then the Christians sing “Amazing Grace.”  Clearly, they are evil:

No question, a crime was in progress.

You can just see the RTC readers nodding along, can’t you?  “Yep, that is just what the atheists would do if they could.  Arrest people for owning a Bible and singing ‘Amazing Grace.'”

And, of course, innocent little Bible readings are given Sinister Meanings by Paul Apostle.  Polly hops right to Revelation 22, but…well, she skips some interesting bits.  Here is what Polly says:

Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. … “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to give you this message for the churches.  I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne.  I am the bright morning star.” … Let each one who hears them say, “Come.”  Let the thirsty ones come–anyone who wants to.  Let them come and drink the water of life without charge. … He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”  Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus! (Ellipses are Jenkins’.)

But here is the full version of Revelation 22: 14-20.  This is from my New International Bible, and I have bolded the parts that Polly left out:

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.  Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.  I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”  The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”  And let him who hears say, “Come!”  Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.  And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.  He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.

Hmm, anyone who takes away words from this book, eh?  I’m looking at you, Polly.

But hey, if Polly had left those words in, Paul might have had some legitimate criticisms about the supposed “inclusiveness” of Heaven.  He might have been able to wonder about the judgment against “those who practice magic arts.” 

As it is, Paul can just seem like a jerk.  Polly goes on to preach about “making disciples of all the nations…[having] critical tasks we must perform–despite the law, despite the danger–trusting God to give us courage.” 

These nuts talking about rising up made Paul’s blood run cold.  So they hoped to spread their poison all over the world–to “make disciples of all the nations.”  They were plotting something big, “despite the law, despite the danger,” the woman said.  And that idea that the end was near, that Jesus was coming soon–that was their justification for flat-out sedition.

Finally, Coker (who has wanted to go for about ten minutes now) actually gets to go.  Paul hangs back, as Coker instructed.  The guys and gals swarm the house, break the windows, etc.:

Through his receivers, Paul heard the SWAT team members bellow encouragement to each other.  Then a new sound–the unmistakable, unforgettable whoosh-splat of laser beams hitting human flesh.  This was no raid–it was a shoot-out.  These scruffy outcasts weren’t just a bunch of deluded dreamers–they were armed with high-powered weapons.

“No, no they aren’t!” the RTC readers cry.  “It’s the evil atheist SWAT guys (and gals) who are shooting innocent Christians for their faith!  Just like all atheists today want to do!”

The old woman came whirling out the front door, trailing a billowing sail of fire.  The hideous, crackling pinwheeling form and the smell of charring flesh stopped Paul.  He dropped her into a hissing, smoking heap with a single shot.

And then, an earthquake hits.  Yes, just at that moment.  Because God is clearly pissed.

As well he might be, because Polly’s death was pretty gruesome.  Still, though, you could make a valid argument that Paul was more putting her out of her misery than straight-up executing her…

The middle-aged couple had slipped out and were staggering away as fast as the man could limp.  Paul fired and saw the white form sink, dragging the man down.  Rocking forward on his knees, Paul fired again and the man was still. 

Okay, he straight-up executed them.

Oh, and I should mention that Paul immediately assumes that Polly’s house is a bomb factory.  Hey, just like in Babylon Rising!  Except kinda different!

Then Paul executes one more Christian trying to make a break for it.  Then…

A crevasse burst open in front of him.

And Paul rolls down the famous hills of San Francisco as the old woman’s house is swallowed up.  Along with all the Christians, all the SWAT guys and gals, and Coker.

And the dog.  *sniffle*

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Posted on February 22, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Now, I’m going to assume that on a meta level there was a damn good reason to shoot all of these folks.
    Now, the narration says high powered weapons, so I’m going to assume the narrator’s RIGHT. I’m going to assume that there were weapons trained on the invading group as soon as they entered. Because, uhm…
    What other reason would there be to shoot?
    Preserving evidence? Hell, they got plenty from the “Bug”. even a burned piece of paper retains the words for a period of time, so they definitely weren’t worried about preserving the paraphernalia…
    So, they had guns, and they opened fire as soon as the door opened. Don’t care that Jenkins didn’t bother describing it. because these cops are professionals, as we’ve been told time and time again. If there was a real chance of taking these psychos down without loss of life, they would have done so.
    Because they ARE professionals.
    And if Jenkins just decides to retcon this by saying “Well we Never SAW them fire first, he’s the one who didn’t make that EXPLICITLY CLEAR.
    And that’s the story that every single one of those officers will attest to.
    Since they’ve got a bust worth… uhm… well, probably zero dollars here…

    And if he later says that his Mary Sue in this was WRONG and has now seen the light, well, he’s saying that murdering people in cold blood is JUUUUUST fine as long as it convinces you to convert to TurboJesus.

    No fricking wonder these guys refuse to believe in salvation by WORKS…

  2. Wow, Paul just goes around looking for moral event horizons to cross, doesn’t he? And I can’t say much for this god’s idea of help, either. “Being horribly massacred for your faith? Don’t worry, I can have the earth swallow you instead. :D” Gee, thanks.

  3. …Wow. So, they’re using actual laser guns. That, y’know, burn people to death.

    Now, I’m no expert, but I’d imagine that it’d take a damn powerful laser to set people on fire, especially given that they seem to fire Star Wars style, instead of constant beams.

    Like, we should be hearing thunder bolts every time one is fired, and the UV being emitted would be permanently blinding, and there’s no way these are solar powered. Ever. Even if they converted 100% of the sunlight they collected into energy it’d take…I don’t know, months? A ludicrous amount of time, anyways, to charge up one shot.

    Plus, what advantage do these lasers have over normal guns? I mean, yeah, they’d disable people rather than kill them (though they’d be scarred for life, in every sense of the phrase) but this is clearly a raid all about killing.

    Further, such weapons would be incapable of passing through any barrier. I mean, a window would seriously reduce their effectiveness, and drywall would stop them cold. Until it caught fire, burning your entire team to ash.

    There’s just no conceivable situation in which these weapons would be a good idea.

    • As I mentioned before, would masers be an improvement? Microwave energy, rather than just light, and there’s a reason microwave ovens are insulated.

      I suppose it’s a question of whether ANY sort of energy would do better than matter (a.k.a. frozen energy)…I guess the conceit is that light, microwave, etc. are (somehow) distilled fire, and fire is somehow more dangerous than metal.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Like, we should be hearing thunder bolts every time one is fired, and the UV being emitted would be permanently blinding, and there’s no way these are solar powered. Ever. Even if they converted 100% of the sunlight they collected into energy it’d take…I don’t know, months? A ludicrous amount of time, anyways, to charge up one shot.

      They’re using the same laser technology as Brother Bartholemew’s man-disintegrating, solar-recharging laser pinky ring, of-course. (Can anybody tell me the reference?)

  4. Wait. What?

    None of this makes any sense whatsoever!

    They kill them during the raid instead of arresting them? Then instead of “rocks fall, everybody dies”, it’s “earthquake happens, everybody dies”.

    This is like the plot of a video game. A very badly written video game.

  5. The Christians have got lasers? And apparently they’re using them to… shoot each other? Confused now. (The “new sound” is after the raid has started, so I assume it’s the Christians firing back.)

    (I don’t think I’d want to fire lasers if I were having a fight in a bomb factory. Maybe it’s just me.)

    Skyknight, masers have the problem that, because of the low frequency, you need a big resonant cavity – they’d effectively be an over-the-shoulder weapon at best. (And of course they’d be stopped dead by atmospheric moisture.) Non-coherent microwaves are slightly easier to produce, but even so they’re probably best reserved for knocking out electronics or doing crowd control in open spaces.

    GDwarf, a laser that can injure a person needs to be fairly but not insanely powerful (and they’ve clearly got excellent power storage given the cars and such, at least TL10) – the clothes catching fire is probably a side effect. What I would expect to see is an awful lot of people walking around with white sticks.

    (Sunlight peaks at 1 watt per square metre. The current airborne electric laser fires at 100kW, and that’s a big vehicle-mounted thing. So the power numbers aren’t wholly implausible.)

    • Sunlight peaks at 1,366 W/m², actually. Somewhat less by the time it gets through atmosphere and stuff. It probably has less “stuff” to get through in this world, which has a cleaned-up atmosphere, and rocks!

    • I’m fairly certain the RTCs aren’t firing at all, or even armed. The SWAT team is massacreing them while they try to run; Paul is incorrectly assuming some of the shots he hears are fired by the dissidents.

  6. Through his receivers, Paul heard the SWAT team members bellow encouragement to each other. Then a new sound–the unmistakable, unforgettable whoosh-splat of laser beams hitting human flesh. This was no raid–it was a shoot-out. These scruffy outcasts weren’t just a bunch of deluded dreamers–they were armed with high-powered weapons.

    What exactly made Paul think the Christians were shooting back? Listening to the SWAT team, he should have heard one of them say something to the effect “They’re armed!” And wouldn’t he have heard gunshots as well as the laser ‘zap’? Guns would be a lot easier to get hold of, and conceal, than laser weapons.* So why did he assume they were armed?
    Yes, we’re obviously supposed to think that the Christians are unarmed and being massacred without any justification (cuz that’s what eeevil atheists would like to do to RTCs) and that Paul (being the hero**) is being fooled into thinking that they fired first.
    However, that’s not what the writing suggests – he hears the zapping the instant the Swat team goes in and just assumes the RTCs are, by amazing coincidence, armed with exactly the same laser guns that the SWAT use.

    *Unless guns for civilians are outlawed as well, but that’s not been stated so far.
    **Although how Paul can continue to be the hero when he coldly shoots down fleeing, injured and weaponless people, is something I’d like to see explained. Although that little problem will probably be sorted out as soon as he say the Magic Words and has all his sins wiped forgiven.

    • That just opens up a whole new can of worms. The story’s already established that a) the evil atheist gov’t is murdering dissidents but b) only a few people explicitly know this. We also know that c) Paul Apostle is NOT one of the people who knows about these secret executions, as evidenced by the continued lying about Too Dork Stupid.

      So then WHY are they bringing Paul along on one of their secret murder raids?! Do they actually think that he’s going to walk into that building, look around at all the twisted, cowering bodies without a single weapon between them and go: “Wow, that must have been one helluva battle! Look at that guy there, he tried to ambush you out by pushing his wife into the corner and covering her with his body! And that other one was clearly trying an outflanking manoeuvre when he fell under the table and with his dying strength clutched a Bible to his heart!”

      Then again, our future Apostle just gunned down three unarmed civilians (and arguably put a fourth out of her misery). Maybe after proving himself in this way they won’t have to lie to him anymore…

  7. I think we can agree that, at the very least, it’s ambiguous who’s shooting what at whom.

    Now we may be intended to assume that a “Bayou Solar assault rifle” is a laser weapon. And we may not. But personally I’d expect it to be called an “assault laser” or something of that nature…

    This could of course just be the classic tin ear of non-SF people writing science fiction – Margaret Atwood is particularly good at picking utterly implausible names for futuristic things.

  8. Hmm. I’m seeing an unfortunate but possible unintentional correlation here. The original Paul — Paul who was called Saul — was a tax collector. Would Jerry have intentionally likened Saul the tax collector, to pre-conversion Paul the murderous, shoot-people-in-cold-blood government agent?

    • That would be consistent with the RTC philosophy of once-for-all forgiveness of all previous sins. (And they think the Catholics are bad for having confession…)

  9. I’m going to just come right out and say it: This book has certain flaws.

    Then the Christians sing “Amazing Grace.”

    This song would not be criminalized in Atheistopia; it’d be secularized. The (very nice) melody would be retained in the culture, but society would fill it with a completely different and non-religious set of lyrics. It would happen automatically. In a post-Christian society, “Amazing Grace” might be repurposed as a drinking song. Or Coker and his SWATs would bust down the door and wonder, “Why is everyone singing the new Trident gum jingle?”

    • The melody to “Amazing Grace” was originally from traditional Scottish folk music anyway, long before it became associated with the hymn. It’s the sort of tune that fits itself well to unaccompanied singing by amateurs; the Christians could have dug out some old folk lyrics and pretended they were a folk music revival group!.
      But instead they stood up and sung Christian lyrics that could be heard by anybody just sticking an ear to the door. Just why why would they want to advertise themselves like that?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        It’s Called “Witnessing (TM).”

        That and this rag needed a balls-to-the-wall Persecution scene.

  10. Inquisitive Raven

    Okay, what I want to know is: What kind of a laser goes “whoosh-splat” when it hit flesh, or clothing for that matter? I’d expect either no sound at all or a faint sizzle that would probably be drowned out by the other noise in the building.

    • Hard to say, actually, and it will probably depend on atmospheric conditions. “Crack” is what current HELs tend to do (explosively heating the air and water the beam passes through). (Bear in mind that blinding and targeting lasers are much lower power than anything one might use as a damaging weapon. Thinking of which, anyone planning to use a laser weapon should probably be in goggles.)

      • Inquisitive Raven

        Yeah, goggles sound like a good idea.

        I had considered the possibility of “pop” from sub-Q fat being explosively heated but wasn’t sure how feasible that was. The point is, “whoosh-splat” sounds more like a paintball gun than a laser.

  11. Base Delta Zero

    I presume that the ‘solar’ part of the Bayou Solar assault ‘rifle’ refers to it firing a beam of light, not that it’s actually solar powered. Because that’s dumb.

    And a focused enough laser beam wouldn’t necessarily be blinding, except if you aimed very near the eyes… in which case it would likely be fatal.

    “Plus, what advantage do these lasers have over normal guns? I mean, yeah, they’d disable people rather than kill them (though they’d be scarred for life, in every sense of the phrase) but this is clearly a raid all about killing.”
    Well, for starters, one advantage is that it’s more accurate. If you want to hit a moving target at say, 300-500 meters, on a windy day; with a rifle, you have to factor in the drop from gravity, windage, and how much lead to account for the target’s motion…
    With a laser you point and shoot.

    Of course, this ‘fight’ takes place at close range, but it is an assault rifle, not a sub-machine gun or carbine (which is what SWAT types probably should be using, but…)

    It’s also a completely different type of energy transfer than a kinetic weapon. A kevlar vest won’t do a thing against a laser, for instance.

    A laser also has fewer moving parts, meaning a sufficiently advanced laser could be more reliable.

    As a fringe benefit, a laser doesn’t fire any actual bullets, making it more or less impossible to trace back to a shooter – a plus for a black-ops team.

    Whether it’s appropriate to be used *here* is another issue, but…

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