TEC: Chapter 45: Lily-Livered Cowards

So guess what, guys?  This one chapter brings an end to the whole terrorist plot!

And so far, Michael Murphy hasn’t even exited his car.

And you know who else hasn’t yet exited his vehicle?

Buck Wilson had been driving eighteen-wheelers cross-country for over twenty years.

WAIT, WHAT?

Looks like Chloe kicked his sorry ass out, eh?

Buck Williams-Wilson hears the terror alert on his radio as he crosses the bridge.

Those lily-livered cowards!  They only attack innocent women and children!

Yeah, how fortunate for the terrorist that they picked a day when only women and children would be on the George Washington Bridge.

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Buck “couldn’t contain his anger,” so he just gets out of his truck and starts wandering around the bridge.  While there’s a traffic jam caused by a terror alert.

He wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but he couldn’t just sit there.

How…manly?  Buck-like?  I’m not sure.

But while wandering around in a rage and haze, Buck sees someone he can take his rage out on–an Arab!

Okay, to be fair, the radio is actually at the point of revealing the license plate numbers of the trucks with the bombs, so Buck actually knows he’s beating on a terrorist, not just a random dark-skinned man who happened to be passing by.

Like the mob from the last chapter.

Meanwhile, Murphy finally decides to get out of his gorram car.

He had mixed emotions as he ran.  On one hand, he hoped that the trucks were not on the bridge.  Maybe it would only be a false alarm.  On the other hand, if the trucks were on the bridge, he was praying that God would give him the strength and wisdom to stop the attack.

That’s…not how having mixed emotions works.  Or, for that matter, things being on one hand and the other.  It is not having mixed emotions to have a contingency plan.  (Now, I would also argue that praying is not a contingency plan, but I’ll let that slide this time.)

More importantly, it is not having things on one hand and the other to hope a terror alert is a false alarm, and hope God lets you stop the attack.  If, on one hand, you are hoping a terror alert is a false alarm, then the other hand would be hoping it is not a false alarm.  Apples to apples, yanno?

Of course, this is a genre where our “heroes” celebrate terror attacks, as long as they’re perpetrated by their god and happen to atheists, so I’m not for a moment putting it past Michael Murphy to hope a terror alert is for real.

Once he gets to the bridge, Murphy immediately sees the truck, which seems unlikely.  He heads for it.

He could sense people watching his movements.  Probably they’d think that he was some driver who gotten out of his car and was acting irrationally.

Ah, I see.  White guy running along the bridge = guy acting irrationally.  Dark-skinned guy running along the bridge = evil terrorist; beat him down immediately.

Fortunately, the innocent white hero who is acting irrationally sees an evil Moar Arab.  He tackles him, and of course Murphy has found, on the whole length and level of that bridge, the one guy who is holding the detonator.  Talk about luck!

Of course, this terrorist who was mere seconds away from completing his nefarious scheme is carrying for his protection…not a gun, but a little switchblade.  Yeah, that would have helped him a ton had he been stopped by the police.

But it’s a good thing, too, because if he had a gun, he could just shoot Murphy, and then where would we be?  The Moar Arab gets in exactly one lunge, too, before Murphy disarms him.

So, not exactly Britt, is he?

In fact, turns out the Moar Arab is actually better now that he’s been disarmed.  He kicks Murphy in the chest and then hits him in the face.

It’s probably wrong of me that such a turn of events makes me smile a bit, isn’t it?

So Murphy ends it by doing some weird wrestling move where he basically sits on the guy’s neck:

Murphy jumped up slightly and wrapped his right arm around Asim’s neck, then shot both his feet off the ground and dropped straight down with his full body weight on the back of Asim’s head.  The terrorist did a direct face plant into the asphalt with Murphy on top of him.

Okay.  I guess.

Man, remember back when Murphy was an archer?  That would have been kinda cool actually–taking out terrorists Robin Hood style!

Then the SWAT team shows up, and Murphy is actually cuffed right alongside the terrorists!

Hey, don’t they realize he’s white???

Actually, they do, but apparently not until later that afternoon, when they get that whole pesky terror plot “sorted out.”

I wonder if they cuffed the guys who jumped and beat on the man who was just Walking While Arab.

Oh, and during all this, the pregnant woman doesn’t even realize anything was ever wrong, because she was listening to CDs.

HA!

WIMMIN, AMIRITE?

TEC: Chapters 43 and 44: Something Desperately Wrong

Chapter 43 is itsy-bitsy—it takes place at the United Nations, and we are introduced to a young assistant named Kara Setter…whose only purpose is to be trampled in the panic caused by the “major terrorist alert for New York City.”

Now, I have no idea at all what security measures for the UN entail in a post-9/11 world (or a pre-9/11 world, for that matter), but I would certainly hope that they’re better than convening a meeting, the result of which is to “send everyone either to their homes or to a safe location.”  I mean, way to keep track of everyone!

So, now that we’ve established that the UN exists, we cut back to the bridge, where two officers in a police helicopter offer this helpful commentary:

“Look at that mess!” Griffin exclaimed.

“It looks like absolute panic,” Goodale responded.

Not sure how a massive traffic jam can be described as “absolute panic” when, by Phillips’ own admission, is just a bunch of cars that can’t move.  Doesn’t that describe many people’s morning commute?

On the ground, Norm and Jim hear that there might be a terrorist alert (“Code T“) and immediately grab their guns out, because “they both knew there was something desperately wrong with two Arab rollerbladers on the ground and four Arab maintenance workers nearby.”

Yeah, Arabs in New York City!  What a horrific shock, eh?  But of course, there is no such thing as an innocent Arab on the George Washington Bridge, so the rollerbladers start shooting at Norm and Jim.

Why?  You got me.  Its not like Norm and Jim were doing anything to stop the attack.

(Oh, and in an odd change, Phillips has started referring to Norm and Jim by their last names (Huffman and Daniels, if you care) in this chapter, as opposed to their first names, as he did two chapters ago.  But I will continue to call them Norm and Jim because it pleases me to do so.)

So Norm and Jim are hit center mass, but our secondary heroes are wearing bulletproof vests, so they’re just knocked off their feet.  Phillips quickly reassures us that “they had just been caught off guard,” so there’s no reason to doubt their manliness or anything.  Indeed, they shoot back and kill the evil Arab rollerbladers dead.  Serves them right for being so suspicious as to rollerblade.  And I still don’t understand why the evil Arab rollerbladers opened fire in the first place.

Especially because they’re awfully near those equally-suspicious Arab maintenance workers…who also open fire on Norm and Jim, despite standing near a truck full of “high-powered explosives.”  (Not the dirty bomb.)  (I think.)

Surprise, surprise—the truck is hit and blows up.  So, good?  Bad?  I’m honestly not sure what purpose that truck served, and if it was ever intended to be blown up, and if so, when?  Once again, were Norm and Jim really that much of a threat to their nefarious plan…whatever it was?

Anyway, at about the same time, yet another terrorist causes a small explosion, this one taking out “the power circuit to the bridge cameras.”  Which seems a bizarrely redundant thing to do since they’re going to destroy the whole bridge in about a minute anyway, but whatever.  So the terrorist wanders off down the bridge, mission accomplished, though catching the attention of a random commuter named Kevin, who considers said walking Arab to be only “weird” until he hears both the terrorism alert and the explosion, upon which “it all fell into place.  He must be part of the terrorist group.

Well, of course he must be.  He’s an Arab!  On the George Washington Bridge!  Such a circumstance is far too crazy to be anything but terrorism!

So get this: Kevin ditches his car and tackles the guy.  Because he’s an Arab on the bridge, you see!  And then other commuters see the fight, and jump in to help Kevin, the guy who tackled a dark-skinned man!  Because they “put two and two together,” and two plus two equals All Arabs Are Terrorists.

So in a matter of seconds, multiple men are beating on an Arab man…because he’s Arab.  Because remember that not one of these men have seen the Arab do anything.

No longer would people sit idly by as America was destroyed.

Best way to keep America from being destroyed: tackle any Arab-looking person you see!

Feels like a Trump campaign ad.

TEC: Chapter 42: The Details

This chapter comprises barely two pages, and seems to be a response to the idea that…well, perhaps this terrorist attack wasn’t very well thought out.

Can’t imagine why anyone would think that!

So we learn that Asim and Najjar are our Moar Arabs.  Much like Norm and Jim, they have the same job and background, and thus we learn nothing about what differentiates the from each other.  Except that Asim will drive his bomb-containing truck to the middle of the bridge on the top level, and Najjar will do the same but on the bottom level.

Talon had convinced his Arab crew that this attack would dwarf 9/11 and would go down as one of the greatest single attacks in history.

Still not sure why two Arab terrorists (from Arabistan or some such place, I suppose) would take the word (or the orders) of a white South African, but whatever.

So, the two Moar Arabs are getting ready to disable their trucks at the middle of the bridge.  They’re hoping the simultaneous detonations will destroy the bridge, though how that would help in the dispersal of the radiation, I don’t know.  Still, though, it is a plan, right?

Well, it’s…part of a plan.

TEC: Chapter 41: A Double Bombing’s Waiting for You

Murphy’s cell phone began to play a musical tune.

Ten pages earlier…

It was one o’clock when Murphy heard his cell phone playing a musical tune.

Does nobody proof these?  Seriously.  Also, this is just a silly detail that tells us nothing about Murphy’s character.  How about we find out what tune it is?  Is it a hymn?  His college fight song?  A movie theme?  SOMETHING that would tell us more about him than…he has a phone?

Pfft.  Anyway, it is now the next morning.  Murphy is driving out of LaGuardia, having dropped off Isis for her flight to D.C.

“I decided to drive back to Raleigh.  I need some alone time to think.”

Does Phillips understand that it usually costs money to cancel a prepaid flight because you “need some alone time“?  Doesn’t seem like it.

Also, think about what?  Moar Arabs?  The apparent incompetence of Mossad agents?  The incompetence of Talon in killing him?  The incompetence of himself in keeping track of the papers he was entrusted with by a dying man?  The possibilities are endless!

But never mind all that!  Levi has called Murphy to warn him about the whole George Washington Bridge thing.  Apparently, an actually competent agent found a Moar Arab and got out of him that the attack will be today.

Oh, and there will be two bombs.

Two bombs?” [asks Murphy]

He might well be surprised.  Why two bombs?  More importantly, why two bombs in the same place?  Wouldn’t it be more efficiently terroristic to set two bombs in two different cities?  Yanno, since you have two and all?

I guess two bombs in the same spot are just twice as scary as two bombs in two different spots.  Which makes me wonder why Phillips didn’t have the Moar Arabs have TWENTY bombs.  Because that would be WAY scarier than just one little bomb.

Levi asks Murphy for help.

“We need to do everything in our power to stop them.” [said Murphy]

Well, everything except involve any military or spy forces from the United States or Israel who could handle things in a professional manner.  Levi found all this out between one and two o’clock a.m., remember.  Assuming it’s now about nine a.m. when Murphy drops off Isis, it’s eight a.m. for Levi in Presidio.  He’s had six to seven hours to get his plan into action.

I mean, geez, imagine James Bond or Jason Bourne or Aaron Cross or the gangs from Mission: Impossible or Leverage.  They would have had this whole mess solved before sunrise.  And again, there is no reason in the world why the proper authorities wouldn’t have been alerted hours ago.

But nope, it’s down to Murphy.  And his only assignment for helping is to keep his eyes out for a particular type of U-Haul truck that they know is carrying the bombs.

***

We then cut to two security guards (semi-retired cops) at the George Washington Bridge.  We actually get a page of their history, which I would consider a positive change in these books but for the fact that Norm and Jim are not differentiated from each other in any way at all.

Well, except that when Jim sees some rollerbladers, he gets a “hinky feeling about them,” because they’re Arabs, you see, and “he had never seen any Arabs skating before.”

Yanno, even leaving aside the obvious part of the racism, I find it bizarre that Jim apparently keeps a mental count of which people of which races skate near the bridge.  Hmmm, two whites and three Hispanics today, four whites and one Asian yesterday…

***

As Murphy approaches the bridge, Levi calls with an update:

“The news media has gotten ahold of the possible bombing of the bridge.  Someone from the FBI must have leaked it.”

Sure, Levi, because you and David have proven yourselves so competent, it couldn’t possibly have been someone from your team.

Also, the FBI knows???  Then why the hell is Murphy involved in any of this?  Why is Levi wasting his time with an archeology professor when he could be helping the actual professionals deal with this?  Idiot.

Oh, but never fear:

“The FBI, other police units, and the military are mobilizing just in case our suspicions are correct.”

They’ve had like SIX HOURS to mobilize.  What is the deal here?  SERIOUSLY.

Oh, and I guess security (by which I assume Levi means just Jim and Norm) are going to try to close down the bridge.  An objective I imagine would have been easier to accomplish had they started SIX HOURS AGO.

Sorry.  Just annoys me, is all.

***

Oh, and there’s a pregnant woman currently driving over the bridge.  Just in case you might be worried that we wouldn’t have anyone to…worry about.

TEC: Chapter 40: Death of a Librarian

This is actually a kinda pointless interlude.  It’s the conclusion of what I talked about earlier, the In the Line of Fire scene with librarian Alvena Smidt.

See, in In the Line of Fire, the villain has a scene with a young bank employee.  Unfortunately for the villain, the employee is from the same city that the villain claims to be from, and, merely from friendly small talk, catches him in a lie.  So the villain follows her home and kills both her and her roommate so he can continue with his evil plan.

Basically, the same thing happens here–Alvena Smidt has discovered that Talon is from South Africa, just like her.  So he follows her to her home and kills her.  Simple, right?  And a good way to reinforce how evil a villain is, by having him kill a complete innocent.

EXCEPT

The villain in In the Line of Fire killed the bank worker because she discovered he was lying.  It was an evil, barbaric act, but, from the villain’s perspective, necessary.  Alvena Smidt, on the other hand, exchanged pleasantries with Talon for only a few seconds.  She didn’t learn his real name or anything about him that many people couldn’t learn by listening to him speak.  Hell, the only reason Michael Murphy didn’t know Talon is South African is that he wasn’t South African until now, and Phillips forgot that Murphy had already heard Talon speak.

Or perhaps Phillips would have it that Professor Michael Murphy, world traveller and guy who knows the histories of every Native American tribe and bridge in the United States…doesn’t know what a South African accent sounds like.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, there’s not even any guarantee that Alvena would have told anyone anything, even if there had been something to tell.  Some people came into the library, and later, some people left.  Wow, what a mystery for the police to solve–they’ll need all the witnesses they can get!

Poor Alvena.  Guess that’s what she gets for being a frumpy librarian who likes words.

TEC: Chapter 39: Levi’s Turn

Levi hangs up with Murphy, and then realizes that OOPSIE DAISY he forgot something:

The letters “RDD” on the dollar bill.

“Oh, David!  We got so caught up in the bridge scenario that we didn’t pursue it.  ‘RDD.’  I wonder if they’re a person’s initials?”

“I only I had somebody on speed dial that I could call right back with this question!”

David pretty quickly shoots down the initials idea, since “Lenni Lenape” wasn’t a person, so obviously these letters couldn’t be a name, either.  Because that’s how it works.

But in less than half a page, Levi hits upon the obviously-correct answer (because the book tells us so): RDD stands for radiological dispersion device–a dirty bomb.

And now that Murphy has presumably rolled over and fallen back to sleep, it’s Levi’s turn to show off his vast knowledge of Wikipedia to an underling.  And he can do that because…

“Levi, I’ve been with Mossad for years and I still don’t understand how a dirty bomb is different from a regular nuclear weapon.”

Well, David, you’ve also been with Mossad for years but couldn’t even fool one man in a small grocery store for thirty seconds.  So…that actually explains a lot.

Though really, it is pretty stupid for two spies to sit around in a cantina and explain Wikipedia basics of bombs to each other.  Yet another reason why keeping Isis in the dark was a bad idea–when it comes to warcraft, she’s a perfect fish-out-of-water character for Levi to explain bombs to.

But first, Levi explains what a nuclear weapon is to this trained Mossad agent:

“A thermonuclear device, like an atom bomb, does tremendous damage.  When it explodes it destroys buildings, equipment, and people with a massive fireball…”

Shucks, I’m sure David never had occasion to learn that in Mossad school!

Then Levi spends half a page explaining neutron bombs.

At this point, David actually gets a bit impatient because Levi is NOT ANSWERING HIS DAMN QUESTION ABOUT DIRTY BOMBS.

“Well, I have to lay a foundation so that you’ll understand.”

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WHAT???

Oh, sorry, your pointless Wikitalk is boring the shit out of me.

“One more caveat before I jump to the dirty bomb.  Have you heard about ‘red mercury’?”

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I HAVE!!!!

That’s that stuff that sent Spock to the alternate dimension, right?

“Not exactly.”

Oh.

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“…red mercury is a more efficient and cheaper way to make a neutron bomb.  It doubles the nuclear yield, with a great reduction in the weight.”

ACTUALLY…

Yanno, I rag on Wikipedia, because it’s clearly the authors’ only source for research, but Wikipedia taught me something today.

RED MERCURY IS FAKE!!!

Red mercury is a hoax substance of uncertain composition purportedly used in the creation of nuclear bombs, as well as a variety of unrelated weapons systems. In reality, no such substance exists.

It amuses me that Phillips is using this whole stupid chapter to expound on something that doesn’t exist.

Actually, that’s a pretty good summary of the Babylon Rising series as a whole!

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FINALLY, gorammit, Levi gets around to explaining dirty bombs.  If you care, read Wikipedia.  I can guarantee you that David did:

“So dirty bombs are more like weapons of mass disruption than mass destruction,” David concluded.

How witty of you, David!

It is not a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD), but rather, as researcher Peter Probst calls it, a “weapon of mass disruption” (Hughes, 2002).

Hmmm…

“If you ask me, that’s what the terrorists are going to use–a dirty bomb!” Abrams said seriously.

I’m glad Phillips informed us that Levi is speaking seriously, because otherwise, I would have assumed he was joking, possibly while wearing a big red clown nose.

TEC: Chapter 38: Michael Murphy, Symbologist

Levi and David have triumphantly escaped to Mexico.

“Wait till [the first responders] go in the shed and find the Arabs and the RPGs.  That will cause a stir in quiet old Presidio.”  David grinned.

“Haha, I blew my entire mission and turned this whole situation into national news!  It’s FUNNY!”

Naturally, when Levi and David sit down in a little cantina to examine the mysterious box, the first Mexican they meet is the owner, who shakes them down for a fee to sit there, seeing as how they’re “wet Americans.”  Why this Mexican man thinks these two Israeli men are American is anyone’s guess.

All that’s in the box, turns out, are stacks of $20 bills and one little $1 bill, lovingly sealed in a plastic baggie.  It features extra “markings,” and Levi knows just the guy who can interpret this piece of terrorism evidence.

ROBERT LANGDON, WORLD-RENOWNED SYMBOLOGIST!!!

Nope, it’s Murphy, of course.  Because his (alleged) expertise in Biblical archeology has given him perfect knowledge of modern terrorist codes.

Since LaHaye and Phillips don’t, I’m going to supply a picture of a bill so you can follow along at home.

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“Inside of the [right side] seal is a shield.  At the top of the shield is a set of scales, and at the bottom is a key.  Someone has circled the key in pen.  In the open space next to the seal, someone has drawn a crescent moon pointing downward.  There are what look like three talons coming off the points of the crescent moon.  And below the moon are two pyramids forming a six-pointed star.  It is exactly the same as the tattoo on the Arab who fell into the alley.”

Hey, remember when Irish-American Murphy had to remind Israeli Jew Levi Abrams on what a Star of David looks like?  Good times.

“It sounds like Talon is again involved in this.”

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Continuing!

“Below the green seal are three letters–RDD.”

“[On the left side of the bill] is someone’s name: Lenni Lenape.”

Murphy IMMEDIATELY (and I mean that, like in one page), figures out this terrorist code:

“The key is circled.  It probably means that this dollar bill is the key or carrier of a coded message.  The name of the person is another clue.”

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Boy, sure is a good thing Levi called Murphy instead of ACTUAL spies and code experts in the Mossad!

And surely the Mossad could never boast Michael Murphy’s extensive experience with Wikipedia:

“Lenni Lenape is the name of a tribe of American Indians.  They lived in the wooded areas around Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.  …  The Lenni Lenape Indians had a large encampment on top of the New Jersey Palisades.  It overlooked the Hudson River.”

“The site of the original Lenni Lenape encampment is now called Fort Lee.  It is from Fort Lee on top of the Palisades that you begin to cross the George Washington Bridge.  You travel on highway I-95 from New Jersey to Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan.”

“That’s it!  That’s it, Michael.  The George Washington Bridge!  It must be their target!”

Um, yeah.  I guess that must be it.

REALLY?????

I mean honestly, Talon or some higher-up in Talon’s terrorist organization wrote the words “Lenni Lenape” on a $1 bill and it was just assumed that the Arab recipients of the bill would understand that those words meant “bomb the George Washington Bridge”???

First of all, like I said, how would the Arab terrorists be expected to know about Native American tribes and exactly where they used to be settled?  And second of all, why bother with all the smoke and mirrors?  If somebody saw a $1 bill that just so happened to have the words “GW Bridge” scribbled on it, I doubt their first assumption would be “this must be a code to a terrorist plot!”

And the most important question I can think of is: why does this “key” bill still even exist?  Once the Moar Arabs received it and got their target, wouldn’t they promptly burn up the bill?  It doesn’t exactly contain a lot of information: just confirmation that it’s for the Talon Terrorist Cell, and the clue to the target.

But no, the Moar Arabs sealed it in a baggie and put it in a relatively obvious hiding space.  Why, so it was there for reference in case they ever forgot who they worked for and where they were going to put the bomb?

And you know what’s really sad?  This basically makes this Talon Cell the most incompetent terrorists ever, and they STILL figured out David was a spy within thirty seconds of seeing him.

But never mind all that!  The important thing here is that Murphy is RIGHT!  And he has emotions and stuff about the George Washington Bridge being bombed:

“That would be a terrible target for us!”

“As opposed to all the good targets they could have chosen!”

And Murphy knows it’s a terrible target because Wikipedia told him so:

“Three hundred thousand vehicles cross the span a day.  It’s the only fourteen-lane suspension bridge ever built, and it’s the thirteenth longest main suspension bridge in the world.  It’s a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.”

Remember, everyone, Phillips would have us believe that Murphy pulled these factoids right out of his ass.  In the middle of the night.

YOU KNOW, THERE ARE OTHER THINGS IN THE WORLD THAT YOU CAN READ BESIDES WIKIPEDIA, MURPHY!

Grrr…

TEC: Chapter 37: Exotic Locations

Well, we’re finally getting away from the Moar Arabs chasing Murphy and Isis, and getting to the Moar Arabs invading Presidio, Texas.

We open with a paragraph about how hard it is to get to Presidio–a 4-hour drive from the nearest airport of any size.  Looking at Presidio’s own website, seems Phillips did his proper research here–it really is a town that’s kinda in the middle of nowhere.  It is also a town, according to Phillips’ favorite research site, that has a population that is well over 90% Hispanic/Latino.  And this is a population of only 4,000-5,000 to begin with.  In other words, about the size of a smallish college or university like Dartmouth or Brandeis or something.  In other other words, a difficult place to blend in, disappear, and never be seen if you happen to be a Moar Arab…or, for that matter, an Israeli Mossad agent.

Levi stops in town to ask for direction, making sure he is conspicuous from the moment of his arrival.  Then he finds his fellow agent David, who has been staked out in a run-down motel for 20 days now, keeping watch over four Arabs who have moved into a shed down by the river…

…but, much like Levi, make themselves as much of a spectacle as possible by using high-end cell phones and flashing huge wads of cash to buy used vans.

This assignment, btw, David refers to as “boring.”

But it’s okay now, because Levi has “been given the green light to put the pressure on.”  Which vague direction they take to mean they get to grab one of the Moar Arabs and interrogate him.  So they follow him to a tiny grocery store…

Inside the small store, David quickly spotted the Arab at the far end of one of the aisles.  David picked up a box of cereal and pretended to read the label.  After a moment he glanced up only to see the Arab staring at him.  Although their eyes met only briefly, David could sense that the man was uncomfortable.

Oh no!  He might have made me!  David turned and walked away, attempting to look as if he was completely uninterested.

WORST.  SECRET.  AGENT.  EVER.

So, why didn’t they just wait for the guy outside and then snatch him?  What was achieved by going into the store in the first place?

Anyway, the Moar Arab makes a run for it, and David chases him like an idiot.  Yeah, good job AGAIN at keeping a low profile, jerk.  They go on a high-speed chase through the town, which sounds kinda silly in a town of 4,500 with one main drag.  It all ends in tears when the Moar Arab tries and fails to beat a train at a crossing.  So Levi and David bugger off back to the Moar Arab shack in case Train Guy alerted his compadres.

When they get to the shack, turns out Train Guy did alert his compadres, who are packing to leave.  Holy crap are Levi and David worse than useless at this spy thing!

Upon seeing the besets secret agents in the world, one of the Moar Arabs breaks out his “rocket-propelled grenade launcher“…

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…and proceed to blow up Levi’s rental car.  Fortunately unfortunately, Levi and David have already exited.  So a small arms firefight ensues, and eventually Levi and David decide to “crawl around and approach them from the rear.”  This maneuver takes them seven minutes.

As they took up their positions, they heard a motor start: the van!

“Aw, shucks, Dave, I never anticipated they would try to make a break for it during the SEVEN MINUTE break we gave them!”

And then they hear sirens in the distance.  ‘Cause exploding a whole rental car caught the attention of the police, go figure.  So they have but a few seconds to search the shack.  Inside they find only some weapons and two dead Moar Arabs, because (again, go figure), the live Moar Arabs took everything important when they left.

Then Levi goes to check the outhouse:

The odor was repellent.

I hate these things, he thought with distaste.

Yeah, how unusual, because most people love the smell of outhouses.  Kinda like most people love waiting in TSA lines at the airport.

But Levi muscles through the odors, and finds a metal box.  So Levi and David take it with them as they swim across the Rio Grande to Mexico to evade the Presidio police.

As you would.

TEC: Chapter 36: Parties Suck

Hey, everyone, remember the Babylon scenes?  I bet you forgot the writing on the wall was even part of this story.

Okay, maaaaaybe I’ve been a bit slow on the updates because of my busy summer, but STILL…this is taking forever to get to the writing.

And it has actually been twelve chapters since our last flashback, and that was to Daniel in the lions’ den, not the writing on the wall.

But now we are back in Babylon, 539 BC, and King Belshazzar is throwing a party.  Phillips makes sure we know it’s an eeeevil party, with wine and stuff.

Mmmm…wine…

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And Belshazzar has this BITCHIN’ idea to use the gold and silver goblets in the treasury that were “taken from the temple in Jerusalem.”

And so IMMEDIATELY after the toasts with these goblet begin, the writing on the wall happens.  Which frankly just makes God seem like a big whiny baby, who’s fine with just about anything so long as people don’t touch his stuff.

Naturally, everybody freaks out, and Belshazzar’s mommy is the only one with any sense, calling for Daniel to interpret the writing.

End chapter.  That was riveting.

 

TEC: Chapter 35: Discovering Something New

So, a note before we start: as was pointed out in the comments of the last installment, one of our authors, Tim LaHaye, has died.

Not Raptured, mind you.  Just died.  Like a normal person.

I feel bad for his family and friends, as I always do when someone dies, but part of me is not sure why I should feel bad, since 1) if his family and friends share his beliefs, they are presumably thinking that the best thing that could ever happen to someone has happened, and 2) this is a guy who, if someone dies and didn’t believe exactly what he did, thinks they get to be tortured for all eternity.

When Jesus comes back in Glorious Appearing, Rayford Steele tells his Raptured wife that she gets “one cosmic told I-told-you-so.”  And that’s the annoying thing about being an atheist: we don’t get that.  Because there is no cosmic afterlife for anyone.

Still, though, I’ll take a worldly told-you-so: there’s no Rapture.  Jesus isn’t coming back to get anyone before they die.

Sorry not sorry.

***

Anyway!  Back to our regularly-scheduled heathen critiquing:

Isis and Murphy are on the third floor by the stairs.  The Two Moar Arabs just got to the third floor and headed down an aisle away from them; Talon and the Other Arab are still on the elevator.

So what are Murphy and Isis to do?

Why, they dash up to the FOURTH floor, of course!

And then, a moment later, the Moar Arabs head to the fourth floor, too!

Gee, never saw that one coming.

But Murphy has a plan!

“Come back here where the two directions of bookshelves converge.”

Phillips…doesn’t have much experience writing action scenes, does he?  WHO TALKS LIKE THAT???

The Two Moar Arabs split up when they reach the fourth floor, I guess so they can increase their chances of being overpowered.

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Fadil turned down an aisle and started toward Murphy and Isis.

Murphy whispered, “When he gets near, step into the aisle and say something to him in Arabic.”  Then Murphy disappeared.

Hey, neat trick!

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What a surprise that, once again, Murphy abandons Isis to do all the actual work.  Also, gotta love that our brave and resourceful heroine isn’t even allowed to come up with her own plan.

Fadil was caught completely off guard as he approached the end of the aisle.  All of a sudden a beautiful woman with red hair stepped in front of him, took a sexy pose, and smiled.

“My, but you are handsome,” she murmured.  “I’ll bet all of the women want to go out with you.”

So our heroine, who once saved a little girl by pretending to be an ancient goddess…is reduced to striking sexy poses.

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We are told that Fadil, of course, isn’t actually a trained terrorist.  (Um, so why then did Talon bring him along?)  So the sight of this white woman completely flummoxes him, to the point that Murphy can get the jump on him and “fire a reverse punch.”

REVERSE PUNCH!!!

Having knocked him out, Murphy wastes precious time posing Fadil as though he had fallen asleep at a table.  Inexplicably, all this ruckus has attracted no attention.

So then, instead of making a break for it down the stairs and out the door (it’s insulting!), Murphy leads Isis to a ladder that leads to the roof.  Then, instead of just using the fire escape (“I’ve got a better idea.“), they use the roof to get to the elevator shaft (?????), so they can hop onto the top of the elevator so they can get back into the building and ride the elevator to the first floor.

Hey, idiots, there are STAIRS RIGHT THERE!!!

And the funny part is that Talon doesn’t buy that they definitely went to the roof.  Team Talon once again splits up so they can cover both the roof and the interior.  Jeepers, seems Murphy didn’t think of that!  And I will once again point out that they could have dashed down the stairs and been completely gone by now.

But then we wouldn’t have the HILARIOUS scene where Murphy and Isis hop onto the top of the elevator, then into the elevator, startling a grandmother and her two grandchildren.  Because Phillips could not care less about women over the age of forty who don’t look like supermodels, the grandmother isn’t even given a line.  And Murphy swears the children to secrecy because they’re being chased by “evil men.”

I’m kinda surprised that he didn’t say “evil Arabs.”

Also, no matter how much you swear little kids to secrecy, I’m willing they would have spilled the beans if the Evil Men were suddenly looming over them.  In other words, Murphy just really endangered this little family.  And it was totally unnecessary, because again, THEY COULD HAVE BEEN GONE TEN MINUTES AGO RIGHT OUT THE FRONT DOOR.

And it actually winds up being the SAME THING, because one of the terrorists, Rashad, sees them as they get to the front door.  So the whole go-upstairs-go-to-the-roof-drop-onto-the-elevator plan was completely pointless.

And as they run out of the library, we are told that Murphy grabs Isis’s hand as they run.  Sure, jerk, just drag her everywhere.  Women love that.

This all leads to an alley fight, where Murphy conveniently knocks the gun away from Rashad so they can fight hand-to-hand and Murphy can once again demonstrate that he is an expert in karate-do.

He flashed to the face of Terence Li, a young Cantonese archaeology student who had taught Murphy the secret of drunken-man fighting.

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So Phillips has seen Drunken Master, so I guess that’s cool.  But the fight is over in one-third of a page, so not so cool.

Then Murphy and Isis wander off, but not far, because they idiotically left all their books and papers back in the library, when they could very easily have taken them along.  Nope, they are forced to hang in a coffee shop for THREE HOURS until they can assume the coast is clear, then they head back to the library, where, in a COMPLETELY SHOCKING TWIST, Talon has taken all the papers!

But friendly librarian Alvena Smidt fills our heroes in on Talon: that he is from South Africa and speaks Afrikaans.  Murphy is pleased at this information, because it “may give us a way to track down more information about him.”

Except that Murphy has already interacted with Talon twice, so this should not come as a surprise.  I mean, isn’t Murphy supposed to a cosmopolitan world-traveler, like another, better archaeologist?

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So why wouldn’t he recognize a South African accent when he heard one?  Hell, Ive only been to two countries besides my own, and I know a South African accent when I hear one.

But this is just time that we’re driving home that Phillips decided Talon is South African, when he clearly was no such thing in the first book.

Poor Greg Dinallo.