Babylon Rising, Chapter 54

There has been some talk in the comments about how good (or bad) of a contract killer Talon is, and how much (or little) he uses his namesake-razor-finger-thing to actually kill people.  And so, I have made this handy list of Talon’s kills so far:

Talon’s murders so far:

1) Farley the window washer: Talon actually does slash his throat with his namesake-razor-finger-thing

2) Impliedly-Gay Arthur Barrington: suffocated by medical equipment (or something)

3) The cop who is trying to arrest Chuck Nelson: possibly not a kill, just a knockout…bashed with a two-by-four

4-7) Young Woman in Basement, Young Man in Basement, Jenny, and Some Unnamed Character on the First Floor of the Church: killed by the bomb

8 ) Chuck Nelson: actually slashed with namesake-razor-finger-thing 

9) Laura Murphy: strangled

And now, on to Murders 10 and 11!

Talon is breaking into the Parchments of Freedom Foundation, as Murphy and Isis are flying off to Saudi Arabia.  For people supposedly as powerful and rich as The Seven, the scheme of sending Talon to steal the tail of the Brazen Serpent seems ill-conceived on at least two fronts:

1) Isn’t the whole idea for Murphy to find all the pieces for them?  Didn’t they specifically order Talon not to “distract” Murphy?  So why not wait until he has all three pieces, then steal them?  Why risk “distracting” Murphy with the theft, when they want his energies to be concentrated on finding the other pieces?

2) Why is this theft assigned to Talon?  He’s not a thief; he’s a contract killer.  Despite the fact that they have apparently unlimited resources, they keep having Talon do everything: vandalize the U.N., bomb the church, and now, steal the tail.  I feel like The Seven need to get the Leverage team on this job.   Let’s steal ourselves a Bronze Serpent Tail!

Anyway, Talon decides that the best way to steal the tail is to dispatch the guards in as violent and weird a way as possible.  Because it would just be a silly idea to sneak in undetected and get the tail as far away as possible before anyone is the wiser, right?

Talon sends his falcon to rip out the throat of the patrolling security guard (no, really).  Then, when the other guard comes running, Talon signals his other falcon to slam into his back and break his spine. 

It seems to me that this would hurt the bird a lot more than the guy, but again, I know nothing of birding.

Also, I think it’s kinda odd to carry dead mourning doves in your pockets to feed your falcons in the middle of your mission, but again, I’m not into falconry.

What does it LOOK like I’m doing??  I’M FEEDING MY FALCON!!!

Fiona, Isis’s assistant, is working late and stumbles across the bodies of the security guards.  “Instinct” draws her to the vault, where she finds that the tail has been stolen, and a drawing of the snake has been carved into the metal shelf.  Don’t ask me why Talon wasted time on this, either.

Fiona knows that she has to contact Isis and Murphy, and make them turn back.

See?  See, The Seven??  This is what happens!  You are screwing up your own master plan!!!

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Posted on August 4, 2010, in Babylon Rising, Books. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Come on, lots of people carry around dead doves in their pockets!

    Now, I do have to ask (ask, but not search the blog archives) is Talon explicitly described as a “contract killer”? Because he could just be a ‘general-badass-for-hire”, sort of how Destro is described as an “arms dealer”, but really he wears a lot of hats on the job for Cobra. (and yes, I think the comparison to an 80’s childrens’ cartoon actually lends the book a certain cache’ it would otherwise lack)

    • He is not explicitly described as such, no. However, he continually makes reference to the fact that killing is the only part of the job he enjoys, and that his talents are wasted on these other tasks. After vandalizing the U.N., he whines about having to mess with paint cans, then he complains that the church bombing gives him no “personal satisfaction.” (Seriously, that’s what he says. Wink.)

      Plus, when talking to The Seven, he states that his skill is “I hunt things, I kill things.” So it would seem that although he is being used as all-around errand boy, he, at least, sees his function primarily as killer.

      But I suppose he could be this book’s Destro. If nothing else, they both have silly names. 😀

    • The Notorious G.O.B.

      The difference is that MOST people clearly label their dead doves “DEAD DOVE DO NOT EAT.”

  2. “Let’s go steal an apocalypse.” (Sorry, couldn’t resist…)

    Perhaps the drawing of a snake was meant to look like the actual snake and stop them realising it was missing. Darn, forgot the hypnotic squiggles again.

    Perhaps whoever puts the three pieces together first gets to use the Serious Magic I mean Godly Powers. Like the Ark of the Covenant, only not as awesome.

    • The thought of the Leverage team stealing an apocalypse is so awesome I can’t even picture it. 😀

      The weird thing about the Serpent is that almost everyone thinks it has Really Real Magical Powers. Murphy does, of course, but so do The Seven. Isis’s views aren’t laid out in a completely clear manner, but she seems to be on the fence between believing Murphy, and just humouring him.

      Plus, when Murph takes the tail to his class and holds it up, and a student points out that no one got healed of anything, Murph just matter-of-factly responds that the Serpent is not complete yet, and that once it is, you could heal people, OR “wield this Serpent for evil.”

      This does not cause the class to burst out laughing.

      • Hmm.

        Leaving aside the distinction between magic (evil) and God Powers (good), this suggests to me that RTC-world is a place where most people really do believe in practical magic.

        Which makes it a con-artist’s dream…

        (When I lived in east London, I got cards like these: http://firedrake.org/roger/jobmag/ through my door all the time.)

      • the Serpent is not complete yet, and that once it is, you could heal people, OR “wield this Serpent for evil.”

        How could you wield it for evil? It’s just a symbol of God’s power, right? If God is all-good, then surely he wouldn’t intentionally use his powers for evil. If God is all-knowing, nobody could use the serpent to “trick” him into using his powers for evil. And if God is all-powerful, nobody could use the serpent to force him into using his powers for evil.

        Unless… Unless these characters are ascribing to the serpent divine powers apart from God. That is to say, these characters are worshiping the Brazen Serpent.

        Ho, boy.

      • I think that this particular very profound heresiy is a logical extension of the existing RTC approach to God, as seen by the sort of people who say “X real world event must happen before God brings on the Rapture and the Millennium”. They’re treating God as they would treat a powerful automaton: say this, do that, and the other thing happens. Press the accelerator and the car goes faster; pull the trigger and the bullet comes out.

        God has been weaponized.

        The Serpent is just another aspect of this: press the left eye and say “God is great”, and it heals people. Press the tail and say “love thy enemies”, and TurboJesus Beams ™ come out and zap them.

  3. Well, if they *can* use Talon for everything, they might as well – I mean, he’s already on salary, right? Plus you have fewer opportunities for your Sekrit Ebil Planz to get leaked if you keep your payroll small.

    But no, I don’t think you can break someone’s spine with a falcon. Unless “someone” is another bird.

  4. I guess if you deep-froze the falcon and fired it out of a cannon. Certainly I can’t see a way that lets you have a viable bird afterwards.

  5. …He can break people’s spines with his falcon?

    Heck, he can rip people’s throats out with his falcon?

    Neither of those is in any way feasible. The second is more ridiculous than the first, but not by much.

    Falcons kill other birds by essentially tackling them to death. They don’t rip their throats out because, well, they aren’t built for it. Once their prey is dead they can use their beak to tear pieces off, but if you’ve ever watched a bird of prey eat you know that that’s not exactly a fast process.

    As for breaking a spine…No. Just…no. If the falcon was a large female diving at maximum velocity then it would hit with a fair amount of force (1 500g at 5 300m/s, apply your own rate of acceleration to figure out the force; odds are the falcon would crumple on impact, significantly lessening the actual amount of damage.,) but it would also be very, very, dead. Plus, falcons only attain that speed going straight down, levelling out robs them of quite a bit of their momentum. But think of it this way: Falcons only hunt other birds. This is because they can only reliable inflict enough damage to kill to other birds of roughly the same size as themselves. If they could kill humans reliably then they would, since that’s far more meat for the same amount of effort.

    I mean, your average rabbit outmasses a falcon, (Heck, most mammals larger than a rat would) and there are very few velocities at which a rabbit to the back would be fatal.

    • Makes it sound like the writer is saying Falcon, but really thinking Golden Eagle (which is three times the size) or something like that. A golden eagle can carry off rabbits and the like; on the flip side, they’re still only about 20 pounds at most, so while one could do some serious damage to a human if it felt threatened, there’s still no way it’s going to break somebody’s spine without dying in the process.

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