Babylon Rising, Chapter 9, Part 2

Media mogul, multi-millionaire, and employee of The Seven (they’ll stop at nothing!) Shane Barrington is standing on the balcony of his penthouse, surveying his kingdom and stuff, when a falcon flies by with a message for him.  The bird, of course, is under the direction of the evil Talon, and this bird is amazing

First, he flies over to Shane’s balcony with binoculars clutched in his claws.  Then he waits until Shane “registers” the fact that the bird is carrying binoculars, before dropping them.  Then, on his flight back, he unfurls a banner from its claws (the same claws, presumably, that he was using to hold the binoculars).  The banner is, of course, perfectly visible to Shane, and says, “Endicott Arms, 14th Floor, 12 Minutes.”

(Okay, what I know about falconry can fit comfortably into the head of a pin.  But…this sure doesn’t seem like it should work.  But if anyone knows differently, please let me know.)

So Shane, at this point merely “curious,” picks up the binoculars and checks out the window of the Endicott Arms apartment building, which is just “diagonal” from his own.  And in the window, he sees Talon holding a knife to his son’s throat.

Shane understandably dashes from his penthouse suite over to the apartment building.

What is not so understandable is that he doesn’t call the police. 

When Shane gets to the apartment, he finds that in the few moments it took him to get there, Talon has removed Arthur from the window, laid him out on a bed, and hooked up the now-unconscious young man to a breathing mask connected to “a rather complicated machine that was lit up and beeping.”

Yeah, medical equipment sure is complicated, eh, LaHaye?  And probably controlled by demons, too.

Shane: Who are you and what are you doing with Arthur?

Talon: I am the man the Seven told you would be contacting you, Mr. Barrington.  I don’t believe they mentioned my name, however.  I go by many different identities, as my work requires, but you can call me what the Seven call me: Talon.

Shane: Talon?  What kind of name is that, a first name or a last name?

Um, Shane?  Buddy?  Not sure that’s the hot issue right now.

Talon explains that the Seven are giving Shane a test: the test is to make sure he will do anything they ask, even if it seems insane.  So here’s the test: let Talon kill Arthur, or Talon will kill both Shane and Arthur.

Boy, Talon sure is making a lot of assumptions, isn’t he?  Good thing Shane doesn’t have a gun, otherwise he could shoot Talon and free Arthur (Talon is armed only with his razor-finger-thing).  Good thing Shane didn’t call the police on his cell on the way across the street, telling them that a madman was holding the son of a ba-zillionaire media tycoon hostage.  Good thing that Shane is apparently such a wuss that Talon merely grabbing his arm stops him “instantly.”

And by the way, how the heck did Talon manage to snatch Arthur and get him into a strange apartment building without anyone noticing?  And when and how did he manage to get all the medical equipment up there, again without anyone noticing?

But, I guess Talon’s assumptions were correct, since Shane just stands there and lets his only child die.

And boy, there was room for some interesting stuff here.  Would this literal life-and-death situation raise conflicted emotions in Shane?  Would he regret the time he spent away from his son, and his more recent ill-treatment of him?  Would he, in fact, prove himself the cold-hearted villain by not really giving a damn?  Well, neither really.  In fact, the whole exercise is more an excuse for Talon to pontificate than anything else.

His only child dead, Shane wanders back to his own apartment.  What is he feeling and thinking right now?  Damned if we know…so I suppose it’s not really important.  We don’t even get so much as an, “I love my dead gay son!”

Holy crap…for a chapter about a ruthless killer letting someone slowly die while his parent is forced to watch, this chapter sure was boring and stupid.

Birdies can do this, too.

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Posted on February 16, 2010, in Babylon Rising, Books. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. …A messenger falcon? I don’t think that works to start with (even messenger pigeons need to have been raised where you want them to return to) and one that can carry a pair of binoculars and fly while trailing a banner? No.

    And yeah, this multi-billionaire tycoon is also rather an idiot and hires the worst security known to man.

    Finally: “Talon”? With a Freddy Krueger glove? Someone really, really liked the Bond nemesis Jaws.

    On the plus side, as terrible as all this is, it’s far more interesting than anything that happens in the first, or second, Left Behind book.

  2. I’m not sure weight capacity would be an issue (though I don’t pretend to know the airspeed velocity of an unlade falcon), but targeting a particular individual to deliver things to? That’s a step or two beyond training. That takes intelligence.

    Talon has clearly mastered ninja powers, specifically Hollywood Invisibility. This ability allows you to do anything you want and go completely unnoticed, as long as the camera is on someone else.

    Also, what exactly does the medical machinery do? I mean, if you’re standing there with a knife to the kid’s throat, how much equipment do you really need to kill him?

  3. Damn, there goes my new OTP… But we can always get him resurrected by The Rival Forces Of Darkness, right? He gets plastic surgery (to become unrecognisable) and codename “Isaac” (or even “Iphigenia” if he wants to).

    This falcon got there straight from “Harry Potter”, y/n? He’s totally an owl in disguise (“the falcons are not what they seem…”).

  4. Also, what exactly does the medical machinery do? I mean, if you’re standing there with a knife to the kid’s throat, how much equipment do you really need to kill him?

    I was wondering that myself. Since it has a breathing mask it’s clearly some sort of gas, which implies to me that he over-anaesthetized the boy.

    Mind you, it’d be significantly easier to just get a tank of helium, or something, and hook the mask up to that. No need for machinery.

    Of course, as you note, it makes even more sense to just, y’know, cut a jugular vein and let the child bleed out. Or perhaps go for the carotid arteries, or the whole throat.

    …Man, I know some rather macabre facts, don’t I?

  5. Sorry, all, didn’t explain clearly enough. Arthur has a breathing mask on. Talon slices the tube leading from the mask with his sharp finger, thus apparently suffocating Arthur.

  6. …But…That…That makes even less sense.

    What was the machine, then? Why would cutting the tube stop air from getting to the kid? Was Talon pinching it shut? Why not do that with an uncut tube? Heck, why not use a pillow?

    ><

    Also, I do have to wonder why the falcon-banner wasn't just wrapped around the binoculars. Less chance of a random person looking up to see the sky-writing bird, at the very least.

  7. Okay, I’m gonna rely on you guys to set me straight on this.

    IANAD.

    The following is the sequence of events leading directly to the death of I-love-my-dead-gay-son:

    1. “Arthur Barrington was now stretched out on a bed, seemingly unconscious, his face attached to a breathing mask which in turn was hooked to a rather complicated maching that was lit up and breathing.”

    2. “Talon moved to the plastic tubing attached to the breathing mask covering Arthur Barrington’s face…Talon gripped the plastic tubing in his right hand.”

    3. “his index finger now cut through the tubing, causing a sudden hiss of air to shoot out. The bedside machine started bleating a high-pitched alarm, and four different red lights flashed urgently.”

    (An aside, and I repeat, how the hell did Talon get all this stuff into the apartment without drawing suspicion?)

    Anyway…

    4. “With his index finger he covered the spouting airhole cut into the tubing. The hissing stopped immediately; the alarms ceased.” (This is Talon giving Shane his “choice.”)

    5. “After a few seconds, he lifted his finger and the air shot out and the alarms restarted.”

    6. “After two minutes, the machine emitted a long, continuous beep and the graph on its monitor flatlined.”

    Fin.

  8. Two minutes is a long, long time – long enough for brain damage if the heart isn’t pumping. It is not, however, long enough to suffocate someone. Well, not an adult, anyway.

    The “air hissing out” sounds like they’re using some sort of CPAC (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) to keep pushing air/oxygen into the lungs. But if that were the case, cutting the tube wouldn’t trigger an alarm (at least, I don’t think so) and cutting off the airflow would cause trouble with the lungs. Examples would include: strained breathing, gasping for air, wheezing, and like that. Depending on just how badly disabled the lungs were, that could continue for quite some time without resulting in death.

    None of that is even remotely consistent with standing in the window with your knife-finger to someone’s throat mere minutes earlier. It’d be easier to tape the kid to a chair, open a vein, and force Daddy to watch the kid bleed out… and depending on what you cut, you could even give him enough time to really feel the weight of his choice.

  9. I feel compelled to clarify that first sentence: Two minutes *without air* is not enough time to suffocate an adult. There are situations (certain kinds of choke-holds, for example) where it’s actually the flow of blood to the brain which is cut off. In those cases, two minutes is more than enough to kill someone.

    Also, the acronum is CPAP, not CPAC. Obviously.

    And, again. Knife. Hand. Who needs medical equipment when you have a knife hand?

  10. “acronum”? Arg! I will quit typing now.

    Assuming I can get through this sentence without any more typos.

  11. Michael Mock’s got it, really.

    Two minutes isn’t enough time to asphyxiate someone (4 minutes is roughly when brain damage starts in an adult who isn’t breathing but still has a working heart. This number can go up or down based on a fair number of factors, but it makes a decent enough guide-line.) regardless of anything else, and cutting the breathing tube would…do absolutely nothing unless he somehow paralysed the kid’s lungs first.

    If nothing else, Talon wins the award for being the least efficient assassin ever. Sending “secret” messages involving incredibly strong falcons with the ability to temporarily alter the basic laws of aerodynamics; threatening people with knives in order to inject them with a drug to paralyse their pulmonary system and then hooking them up to an iron-lung of sorts to keep them alive; wearing Freddy Krueger’s gloves…

    I’m betting next he’ll chase people into a pool of sharks with a giant rolling boulder. Probably in the middle of New York, just to maintain the…”low profile” he’s kept so far.

  12. I know I’m kindof late to this party, but isn’t this just a little bit reminiscent of Abraham and Issac? Though Talon seems to be a bit more proactive than Yaweh.

    Also, there’s the bit where that means that LaHaye is (unintentionally? intentionally?) drawing an analogy between an assassin and the deity he worships. I suppose he thinks it’s a positive comparison, given how Talon is JUST SO GOSH-DARN COOL.

    • @Violet, I was thinking the same thing, actually. Perhaps it’s meant to underscore his EEEEEVILness because he’s killing his son when told to do so not by God, but by the Seven (they’ll stop at nothing!) which would be a flavor of blasphemy. PErhaps underlining that *God* wouldn’t have let Shane kill his son, but Talon did. Talon is EEEEEVIL!

      This could have been such an amazing scene, but LaHaye, as always, drops the ball. Perhaps there was a reason for the Seven (TSAN!) to test his loyalty in this manner, related to the slightly more present supernatural elements in this story compared to Left Behind.

  13. Is a reference to Abraham and Isaac, presumably, though it is problematic in the same way the original is, with the exceptiontjst now the evil side is demanding proof of loyalty through effective humansacrifice.

    Intriguingly it’s as though lehay doesn’t find the old testament sequence problematic at all. Admittedly, Abraham didn’t have to follow through, but there are many, many words written trying to make sense of that test of faith, one incongruous to a loving god, to say the least.

    Not sure I can unpack it all here, but certainly interesting choice and somewhat better as a subversion/mirror of divine actions than in Left Behind proper.

  14. Female peregrine falcons weign between 1 and 2 1/2 lbs. Males are smaller and weigh less, which is true of all raptors. So yeah, I’m sure a falcon could totes fly around while carrying around binoculars and a banner scroll.

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