Babylon Rising, Chapter 64

Well, here’s where it just gets stupid.


Standing on opposite sides of the air shaft in the center of the pyramid, in which the head of the Brazen serpent is hovering (and I can heardly believe I just wrote that), Talon reveals The Terrible Truth:

“My name is Talon.  I told it to your wife, but I guess she never got to share it with you.”

Ooo, cold.  Here is Murphy’s response:

“You monster.  So, I was right.  You are the same man who is responsible for all of the horrors of the recent weeks.”

Okay, first of all, I am trying to think of a more cold and detached way to describe the murders of about ten different people (several of whom, Murphy counted as “friends”) than “all of the horrors of the recent weeks,” but I’m failing.

Second, it is so very Michael Murphy to say, “So, I was right,” as the first response to the man who killed his wife.

Also…bwa?  Right about what, Murphy?  Right that the guy that killed Laura is the same guy that set the bomb in your church?  Because I think everyone pretty much knew that already.

Right that the guy who bombed the church and killed Laura is the same guy who stole the other part of the Serpent?  Well, sorta, but I gotta call insufficient evidence on this one, Murph, as for all you know, Talon is part of a gang of criminals.  (As, indeed, he is.)


Talon monologues, as supervillains are wont to do, that he intends to get the hovering head of the Serpent then double-back to the University and swipe the middle part. 

Murphy, who is really obsessing about who’s right and who’s wrong (not the hot issue, I would think), sneers that all of Talon’s “modern” power can’t compete with ancient minds.  To which Talon promptly goes,

And Talon sics his pet falcon on the head of the Serpent.

I’m sure he has already calculated the airspeed of a laden falcon.  Because he’s that kind of supervillain.

A bird, he [Murphy] thought.  Of course

Damn, that man is obsessed with being right.  Of course he has a bird.  Because there is no other possible way to retrieve the head…like, say, a net or something.

Speaking of, did Murphy have a plan for retrieving the head?  Doesn’t seem like it.

Okay, now it’s time for the standoff moment.  Murphy takes out his trusty bow, which he had strapped to his back as he crawled on his tummy through the tiny tunnel…

…and aims the arrow first at the bird, then at Talon. 

Ah, what a moral conundrum.  On the one hand, you could shoot the bird, making it, and the head of the Brazen Serpent, fall into the abyss, never to be seen again.  Or, you could shoot the guy who just admitted to killing 6-10 people, including your very own wife, and thus increase your chances not only of retrieving the piece of the Serpent, but of bringing the bomber and murderer to justice.

And, hell, nothing in the world says you have to shoot to kill.  If you’re having moral qualms about killing, just shoot him in the leg or shoulder or something, if you’re such a great shot, Murph.

(And you know what, I’m not even going to bring up the stupidity of bringing a gigantic bow and arrows, but not bringing a gun, Mr. Army Guy!

Yeah, I’ll give you one guess what happens.

He shoots the bird.

The bird, and the head of the Brazen Serpent, fall into the abyss.  Yup, Murphy had the perfect opportunity to shoot the guy who killed his wife and his “friends” and a couple of innocent security guards, and HE DECIDED NOT TO TAKE THE SHOT.

And Talon takes advantage of Murphy staring woefully at the descending Serpent head (poor birdie…it was just trying to do its job…) and gets away

And no, Jassim and Isis do not notice anyone driving away from the “other side” of the pyramid in a car.

Oh oh oh!!  And get this!

Talon’s second falcon somehow gets behind Murphy (a good trick, as Murph is standing on a little ledge), and dive-bombs him just hard enough to snatch Laura’s wooden root cross from around Murph’s neck!

A.  No, I am not making that up.

B.  I didn’t even know Murphy was wearing the thing.  I guess I figured he had it stored in a box or something.  Yanno, that he was keeping it safe.

C.  How do you even train a falcon to do that?  Forget Biblical artifacts, Murphy need to be studying these hyper-intelligent birds.

In short, holy crap.


Posted on October 27, 2010, in Babylon Rising, Books. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Well, here’s where it just gets stupid.
    Wait, gets?
    Ah, yes. I see.

    “You monster. So, I was right. You are the same man who is responsible for all of the horrors of the recent weeks.”

    You know what would have been really cool? Right after your wife’s murderer identified himself, if you would have drawn your bow, nocked an arrow, and drew it back, all while reciting a litany of his crimes! Then, when the trained bird snatched the snakehead ( the airspeed of a laden falcon… slow clap) there’s real tension in who to shoot at: the man you’re angry at, or the quest you’re pursuing. Heck, you could even have the hero miss because he was ready to shoot at Talon, then the falcon swooped in, and he had to make a rushed choice. That’d be kinda exciting.

    And you know what else would have been really cool? If one of those arrows you had brought with you had, say, a thin line of cord attached at one end, so when you shot the bird, you would have a (miniscule) chance of recovering the serpent head. You know how guys with bows always have those trick arrows; why don’t you have any of those, Mr. Archery-guy? I mean, I know the boxing-glove one is unrealistic, but just one attached to a spool of rope?

  2. man what

    Yeah, that was… surreal. I mean, it’s almost like it’s a bizarre dream sequence. Did Murph give any reason why he shot the bird and not Talon? I mean, depending on the reason, it could make… some sort of sense. Maybe?

  3. But…But…Why does the statue fall now? The falcon would be less dense than a bronze statue, so it’d stay hovering too! Even with an arrow in it!

    And I’m feeling worse and worse for these birds. They’re clearly the second-smartest characters in the book, after Isis, yet their boss uses them as blunt instruments, gets them shot, and then has them steal meaningless trinkets from armed opponents.

    Also: Um, what’s stopping anyone from rappelling down and finding the statue? I mean, yes, that’s going to take forever and a day, but it’s hardly lost to all time or anything.

    • “The falcon would be less dense than a bronze statue, so it’d stay hovering too! Even with an arrow in it!”

      Oh, man. I felt so badly for the birdies before, but now you have me picturing the birdie hovering in midair for eternity…

      *sad face*

      “Also: Um, what’s stopping anyone from rappelling down and finding the statue? I mean, yes, that’s going to take forever and a day, but it’s hardly lost to all time or anything.”

      I know, right? But apparently it’s a Bottomless Pit (TM).

  4. I… just…

    Words fail me.

    I mean, I was staring at this writeup thinking, “Oh my God, you gotta be fucking KIDDING ME.”

    This situation is so ridiculously contrived it’s a total embarrassment to LaHaye and Dinallo. I mean, seriously WTF I JUST DO NOT GET IT.

  5. The logic, she is not working, senor.

    If Murphikins shoots Talon, what does the bird do? I mean, sure, it picks up the artefact. Then where does it go? Fly all the way out through the pyramid’s corridors? To where? At that point, even if the “Good” Guys can’t reassemble the item, surely the smart thing to do is put their piece down a deep dark hole in the middle of the ocean so that nobody else can put it together…

    (But if you can get a 10′ pole down a dungeon obviously you can get a bow there too. No problem, though I guess LaHaye didn’t know about Dinallo’s SATANIC D&D PAST.)

  6. The other thing I don’t get is that Talon is a clear and present threat. I mean, he’s murdered your wife, some presumably-at-least-somewhat-trained securitiy guards, planted improvised explosives… what’s to say he’s not going to kill you while you’re hunting fowl?

    He doesn’t, of course, since this isn’t the showdown-with-the-Dragon scene, but is rather the Dragon-reveals-himself-and-gets-away scene. I guess Murphy knew that? But that would imply a pretty high degree of Genre Savvy, which I’m really not prepared to grant him. (Also, it would imply that he’s genre savvy, but unwilling or unable to use it.)

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