Babylon Rising, Chapter 40

I’ll admit right up front that I know nothing about explosives.  It is necessary for me to explain this, as this is the exposition chapter about the church bomb, and a few terms are tossed about, and I have no idea of their meanings. 

We are also re-introduced to our two FBI agents.  The Nice FBI agent is Hank Baines from Charlotte.  The Mean FBI agent is Burton Welsh from Washington.  Local Chief of Police Rawley is also there.  He is Nice.

We get a quick info dump:

“Body count change in the last hour?” 

“Yeah, one more.  Don’t know who yet, he must have been practically right on top of the blast…” 

(I know who it is!  I know who it is!  It’s Chuck!  Chuck was right on top of the blast!  Ha!  I know something the FBI doesn’t know!) 

“…Then two more downstairs and two upstairs.  Those are the dead.” 

Then the info dump on the explosives.  After the patented “This was no boating accident!” moment (Welsh snorted.  “Chief, you don’t get this from a gas leak.”), it is explained that it was not C-4 explosives (a name I know only from the movies) but C-10 explosives (a name I know not at all).  

Perhaps my Google-fu is just weak this morning, or perhaps I am just insufficiently caffeinated, but the only definitions I could get on C-10 anything had to do with military vessels and video games.  But I welcome any comments anyone may have on this, if only to find out if LaHaye and Dinallo did their research. 

Now, on to the motive behind the explosion. 

Welsh opines that the church had a bomb factory in the basement, and accidentally set something off.  At this point, the evidence is entirely on his side–an explosion that came from within and was not caused by anything as innocent as a boiler (Thanks, Michael Murphy!) and (oooo!) pamphlets lying around on the ground

Agent Welsh picked up a charred flyer from the floor and read out loud.  “‘Will you be left behind?!?!'” 

Was LaHaye afraid that his new novel would be so awesome that readers would forget about his other series? 

Pastor Bob has apparently already told the agents that he’s never seen those pamphlets before.  But Welsh is already on to his next insight: 

“I mean, you [Rawley] don’t know this kid Wallach, I bet.  What’s to say he’s not some out-of-towner down here to shake things up?” 

And already, Talon’s elaborately stupid plan begins to fall apart.  Remember, the whole point of the plan is to discredit evangelical Christians.  Kinda hard to do that when you deliberately link a nonreligious out-of-towner to your church bombings, eh, Talon? 

Rawley responds: “Well, all I know about him is he’s a friend of Shari Nelson, a coed who works for Michael Murphy.  She’s a great kid, and I couldn’t imagine her getting caught up with anything fringe.” 

The way that everyone in this book knows the details of everyone else’s lives kinda freaks me out.  Does Chief Rawley also know that Murphy e-mails Shari at 2:00 in the morning, in addition to knowing all about Shari’s latest conversion projects?   

Oh, and just to be sure we know that Welsh is evil, he reveals that this is the first church he has set foot in since he was fifteen years old.


Posted on June 6, 2010, in Babylon Rising, Books. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. C-10 is an imaginary explosive, at least as far as unclassified sources go. I guess this is another case of the Left Behind 767 syndrome – bigger number must be better, right? And C-4 was developed way back in the 60s, so surely there’s something better by now, think the authors…

    Actually there’s not a whole lot of push to provide “better” explosives (i.e. more bang per pound) – C-4 is powerful enough that a military context you very rarely need so much that it’s a pain to hump it around. And civilian demolition workers have trucks and things to carry their explosives, and don’t have to worry about placing charges quickly. The great thing about C-4 is not so much the bang but that it’s really stable, won’t go off by accident even if you set fire to it…

    Oh, wait. That’s just what’s supposed to have happened here, isn’t it? Oops.

    • Ah, this makes sense. I had a hunch that it was a case of “bigger number must equal better,” but I didn’t want to speak with such assurance about a subject I know so little of.

      What is even more confusing is that Talon and Chuck ran around the county getting “supplies” for the explosives. Which also does not seem to jive with the explosion that actually happened.

  2. Hmm, brewing up plastic explosives doesn’t take a lot of specialised chemicals. More than you’d readily get at a hardware store, but any chemical supply house would be able to provide the ingredients.

    Of course C-10 may be a super-terrific explosive that defies standard chemical principles.

    If as I gather from your comments the plan was “blow up a church and make it look like them crazy Christians wuz making bombs”, this is very much the wrong tack to be taking, though – much more plausible would be an ANFO charge (Ammonium Nitrate / Fuel Oil, basically a fertiliser/diesel mix). Less powerful per mass, but still powerful enough (the OKC bombing used ANFO in a truck); less stable, and prone to go up if handled carelessly.

    • Yes, that was the plan. And Talon and Chuck ran around to various big-box stores to get the supplies.

      Wow, this plan is worse and worse the more I learn about it…

  3. it is explained that it was not C-4 explosives (a name I know only from the movies) but C-10 explosives (a name I know not at all).

    That would be because there is no C-10.

    Wikipedia states that C- refers to explosives made of RDX. There are a few kinds, such as C-2 and C-B, but no C-10.

    Indeed, C-4 is over 50 years old, but does its job so well that no replacement has so much as been proposed, never mind developed.

    Apparently Talon has access to 6 generations of ultra-top-secret plastic explosives. Which the FBI also knows about.

    An ultra-top-secret explosive that some random Christians were making in their basement. Oy vey. I’m willing to bet that there’s a reason that home-made C-4 isn’t used in many explosives plots, and making it super-C-4 probably doesn’t change that.

    Welsh opines that the church had a bomb factory in the basement, and accidentally set something off.

    If we assume that C-10 is just C-4 only “better”, then this is ludicrously unlikely. One of the huge advantages of C-4 is that it can’t go off by accident. Jumping on it, shooting it, even lighting it on fire won’t cause it to explode. I don’t know what the components of C-4 are like while being manufactured, but if they meant that the components had exploded then it would be an RDX explosion (the explosive part of all the C- explosives) not “C-10”.

    Might seem nit-picky, but to me it seems like the difference between saying “This building was blown up by gunpowder.” vs. “This building was blown up by a cannon shot.”

  4. Good post, I can’t say that I agree with everything that was said,
    but very good information overall:)

  5. If there was such a thing as C-10, you can bet the Mythbusters would be blowing shit up with that instead.

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