Soon: Chapter 4: Polly

In between mistreating every woman he knows, Paul finds time to be given his first mission in the Zealot Underground task force.

First, the big important men go to The Secure Room.  No, I am not even kidding:

Koontz unlocked a three-inch-thick steel door that revealed, six inches away, a three-inch-thick wood door, also locked.  Once they were inside and Koontz had secured both doors, a guard outside ran a final scan of the room.  The results appeared on a small monitor on the wall.  No evidence of bugs or microwaves or any other invasive devices.  Koontz hit a button next to the monitor, which triggered white noise, a barely audible hum that would interfere with any recording equipment and make their conversation unintelligible.

Even to each other.  That is how secure The Secure Room is:

The first order of business in The Secure Room is to obsess about guns:

“You kept up on your firearms, Paul?”

Paul nodded.  “I can handle anything from a derringer to a howitzer…”

Forgive me if I find that just a bit hard to believe.

“…I’m at the range every two weeks, minimum.”

“You own a double-action semiautomatic?”

Sure!  We all do!  /Sally Struthers

“I’ve got an eleven-point-eight-millimeter Beretta and a Walther Stealth.”

“Got a preference?”

“Depends.  What am I going to do with it?”

“Kill someone from close range.”

Paul hesitated.  “Beretta’s hard to beat, Bob.  Who am I going to kill?”

“Hopefully no one.”

But…but you just said he was going to… *sigh*  Never mind.

Unlike Paul, I am not at the range every two weeks.  So I am looking forward to my loyal readers pointing out anything else that may be wrong with the above passage!

Koontz wants Paul to be “a wild card” and go along on the “strategic raids” and be a consultant and listen to interrogations and do interrogations and help interpret interrogations and report back to Koontz about various crap, and a bunch of other vague and ill-defined things.  Not sure how having a Ph.D. in religious studies qualifies someone as an expert in interrogations and giving them, but whatever.

Then, for no reason that I can yet fathom, Koontz tells Paul more lies about The Dork Too Stupid–specifically, that his captors tried to interrogate him, but…

“…well, the way he fought it, it turned into ‘suicide by cop.'”

I cannot get over how stupid it is to lie to Paul, who is supposed to be “in the know,” and who will be Koontz’s eyes and ears in the field.  Paul could find out this is false by talking to anyone involved in that mission or, hey-here’s-an-idea, reading the file on The Dork.  (I don’t know about Paul, but this would be Number One on my to-do list if I were in his shoes.)

Then Koontz talks about a recent event–the Reflecting Pool in Washington turning  into a Pool of Blood (yes, real blood).  Of course, we readers know that this was a Miracle From Turbo-Jesus, but Koontz (and Paul, and all the other evil atheists) think it was a “prank” staged by Christians.

Specifically, they think it was done by The Dork.  Rather surprising that they simply executed him instead of, oh, gee, I dunno, asking him about it, but there you go.

Then Koontz finally gets to the point, saying there are Christian subversives in all seven states, and that Paul’s first assignment is to go to San Francisco and “monitor…rush…[and] supervise the interrogations” of…

“…a Christian cell led by an elderly, wealthy widow we have code-named Polly Carr.”


Paul smiled.  “So you do know a bit of church history.”

“Well, I’ve heard of Polycarp, but that’s the extent of it.”

Ah, I see.  Koontz likes his little word games, just like Jenkins.  Gee, what a coincidence.

But I still don’t…



Now, this just shows that Jenkins has never conversed with atheists about what we know and believe.  I consider myself, for an atheist raised in a secular home, to be fairly well-versed in the basics of Christianity.  Indeed, I don’t think people can help but be so when they are raised in the States.  Like The Pretender, I have “learned some lingo.”  And I had no idea who Polycarp was. 

And Koontz, if he is presumed to be a bit older than Paul, spent, at most, only his early childhood in a world in which Christianity was legal.  So how the hell does he know who Polycarp was?

Anyway, that is Paul’s mission.  I bet you can all guess what will happen when Paul gets to Polly’s home.


Posted on February 15, 2011, in Books, Google-fu, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Granted, I don’t know all the calibers in use, but I’ve never heard of 11.8 mm. And it’s not a metric conversion of any reasonable decimal-inch caliber, either. Seems like they just wanted to make something up, without considering that most metric calibers are either even numbers of mm (e.g. 9mm), or metric conversions of pre-existing inch-based calibers (e.g. 7.62mm = .30 in, 12.7mm = .50 in). So why would anyone in the brave new (all-metric? this world rocks!) world make a new caliber 11.8 mm, instead of just rounding up to 12 mm?

  2. What? You mean not EVERYONE named their stuffed animals after Early Christian Martyrs as a child?

    (Although I preferred Tough Virgins for the most part, I did have a teddy bear named Irenaeus and a stuffed lion named Justin. Polycarp would be a great name for a parrot-goldfish cross, like the turtleducks in Avatar.)

    • I’d heard of him– but the only reason for that is because I read Renaissance Studies as an undergraduate, and that means familiarising yourself with a lot of strange trivia about Church history, and even then I couldn’t remember actually what the fellow did.

      By a strange coincidence I was reading “Year of the Flood” last week, which has a really terrible pun about Polycarp.

  3. Polycarp? Like, many-fish?

    …Huh, alright, I’d not heard of him before. So, props to Jenkins for knowing the name, but yeah, major losses for assuming that most atheists would.

    And, um, why are they code-naming little old ladies? Heck, why would they care about little old ladies? I bet I could count the number of little old ladies Interpol, the FBI, the CIA, MI6, and CSIS have dossiers on on one hand, if not one finger.

    Doubtless the real reason is so that we can see how callous and evil they are for terrorizing little old ladies, but I mean, really?

    I know little about guns, but given Randy’s post I can only assume that the “11.8mm” is like “C5”, it’s a bigger number than 10.8mm rounds so it must be better. Or something.

    And all firearms up to Howitzers? Really? I mean, I get hyperbole, but that’s a bit much. Especially when the person asking is trying to outfit you for operations. I’d give an actual, y’know, list of firearms I’m comfortable using so I don’t end up losing a finger due to holding one wrong ’cause I’m being macho.

    Finally: How would one go about turning a pond into blood? I mean, red dye, sure, that’s pretty easy, but blood? You’d need the same amount of blood as the water you’re displacing, and I’d think that even if you raided all the blood banks in the city you’d fall far, far, far short.

    Also, I’m curious, what kind of blood was it? I’d expect O-, the universal donor, to be all symbolic and stuff, but given that this is Jenkins it’s probably AB+, which can only donate to fellow AB+s but that can receive from anyone.

    • …the “11.8mm” is like “C5″, it’s a bigger number than 10.8mm rounds so it must be better. Or something.

      Exactly what I was thinking, just like Ray’s—oops, Captain Steele’s—move from the 747 to the 757 or 767, whichever it was.

    • And, for a little extra follow-up, it seems like you are just so right about the 10.8 mm thing. I was doing a little extra research, to see if there’s any sign at all of something known as an 11.8 mm round (still nothing), but I found that the .44 Magnum is 10.8 mm, and we all know about the .44 from Dirty Harry et al., don’t we? So yeah, it seems like that might be exactly what they were thinking, just tack an extra 1 mm on there.

  4. Polycarp? I think I caught one playing Pokémon Crystal a few years ago.

  5. I punched 11.8 mm into the ole’ conversion calculator and came up with .46, so maybe this is supposed to be an atheist-pattern Colt .45 with a rounding error? I’m just tossing this out there since I’ve noticed there’s a kind of xenophobia amongst some American gun enthusiasts with regards to “foreign calibers.”

    Perhaps the metric system is a sign of atheist tendencies?

    Seriously, when the American military went to replace the Colt .45 with the Barretta 92F (9 mm being the standard pistol calibre for most of the world including all of America’s NATO allies) a lot of people came out to defend the .45, denouncing the proponents of the change as “9 mm Mafia” and so forth. You go onto just about any website that talks about guns, and sooner or later you’ll encounter a proverb like “If your gun calibre doesn’t start with a 4, you’re going to lose” or something like that.

    “I can handle anything from a derringer to a howitzer…”

    Bullshit! Firing a howitzer basically consists of pulling on a lanyard, and if you think that’s all there is to artillery, then you’re probably as ignorant as Paul Apostle here. First off, you need to know how to deploy the gun, orient it on the ground, record your GAPs (Gun Aiming Points) and then apply bearings and elevations to make sure the barrel’s pointing in the right direction to hit your target. Then there’s handling and sorting of ammunition and setting fuzes, which is fairly straightforward but you still need to know how to do it right.

    That’s the absolute basics of deploying and operating a howitzer, and it usually takes three weeks or so to learn. But the thing is, artillery is about indirect fire (as in, hitting targets that the firer can’t see) so on top of this you need Orientation & Fixation (that’s the guys with the survey instruments who lay out the gun position), a Forward Observation Officer (the guys who find targets and bring down fire without hitting their own people) and a Command Post (the Tech who crunch the numbers to determine the Bearings and Elevations for the guns).

    To become proficient enough to consider yourself a one-man artillery battery, you’re looking at maybe a bare minimum of 6 months of solid training, not counting the years in between you’d need to actually master each separate skill set.

    And while you’re doing this, you probably DON’T have time to master every gun in the Jane’s catalogue.

    ….sorry about that. It touched a nerve….

    • To be fair, the .45 ACP does have somewhat more stopping power than the 9mm, though possibly not much more penetration. The inherent resistance to change in the military (unless you work far too close to contractors) also meant that the stories about the slide slipping the rails on the blowback and launching itself at the face of the shooter were, while probably factual, also probably blown out of proportion to how many times it actually happened (and glossed over that the same thing is possible with the .45, if perhaps rarer.) I’ve heard the occasional grousing for the good old .45 but this was usually from gunnery CPOs. So the .45 was a well-liked weapon and was perceived as reliable, and the M9 was just the new thing.

      I’m afraid that I’ve fallen into the habit, when reading anyting Stepola says, of thinking that it’s patently (a) fractally wrong, (b) eminently toolish, (c) embarrassingly ignorant. So I can see ‘anything from a derringer to a howitzer’ as being machismo hyperbole. He probably can’t reload and fire a black-powder derringer, and he probably can’t reload, point and train an indirect-fire howitzer. Lots of stuff in between he can probably work pretty well with. Still, it just makes him more of a tool. -_-

  6. “…I’m at the range every two weeks, minimum.”

    “You own a double-action semiautomatic?”

    A Whatwhat, now??? I’m certainly no expert on pistols (I’ve only ever fired a muzzle-loader, a bolt-action hunting rifle, a semi-automatic hunting rifle, and an M-16A1 in Army basic training); but from what I’ve read, a semi-automatic pistol like a Colt 1911 .45 (the ubiquitous American sidearm seen in practically every WWII movie) or the Glock 9mm or .40 cal. (Often favored by police because of it’s light weight, dependability and high magazine capacity) doesn’t have an “action” in the sense that a revolver does.

    With a revolver, “single” action means that the trigger-weight of the weapon is low enough that it can be fired simply by pulling the trigger. (IIRC, this feature is mainly found in modern and older, low-caliber revolvers.) “Double” action means that the hammer must be “cocked” (pulled all the way back) in order for the weapon to fire. (This is found mainly in older, large-caliber weapons with lower machining tolerances.)

    With a few exceptions (the German Luger 9mm — the ubiquitous German sidearm seen in most WWII movies — and the so-called “broom-handle” Mauser, for example) semi-automatic pistols are slide operated. The “action” is the top portion of the weapon which slides back (either [rarely] through “blowback” [the Newtonian rearward opposite-reaction inertial force from the just-fired round] or [more commonly] the gasses from the burned propellant) and cocks/re-cocks the hammer. Thus, you can fire one as long as there is a round in the chamber. So “double-action semiautomatic” sounds like a Did-Not-Do-The-Research failure on Jenkins’ part. So…um…what else is new?

    • Sorry, but you’ve got double and single action reversed – the “action” describes what the gun can do by itself, not what you have to do to it. Double-action can cock and fire with one pull of the trigger; single-action can only fire, and has to be cocked separately.

      • You know, maybe it’s my European stereotypes of right-wing Americans as being mad gun nuts coming to the fore, but it really surprises me that Jenkins gets things about *guns* wrong too.

        • There’s a concept we have in the UK called the “walt” – the guy wears camo gear everywhere, spouts off long lists of (incorrect) facts about guns, in some cases claims (falsely) to have been in the Army (usually the SAS), and generally does his best to imply he’s a Bad Dude. I think the American idea of the Mall Ninja is probably fairly close. Such people are very prone to firearms folklore (like “automatics are less reliable than revolvers”) and nationalism, and are often wildly and amusingly wrong about fairly basic firearms information.

      • Sorry, my bad. Like I said, I’m no expert. I’ve only ever fired long arms — and damn few of those. (That’s one of the things that I dearly love about sites like this. If you’re not an expert on something, there will always be someone else who is and you’ll learn something from them.)

  7. Am I the only person thinking Cone of Silence here?

    “Microwaves”? As distinct from “bugs”? Is this some conspiracy theory I wasn’t previously aware of?

    And “a guard outside” – yes, Jerry, I realise that only the Important People can go into this room, but do you realise that by having a scan available – and even more by having a monitor inside to show the results – you have yourself compromised the electronic integrity of the room? No, I guess you don’t. How much does that guard get paid?

    “Yeah, I can handle a REALLY BIG gun. Because I’m a Manly Man.” Actually I’d love them to call him on this, and I suspect Evil Paul would agree. “Great, we have an assassination job that needs to be done from fifteen miles away, so it’s time to dust off the AS90.”

    reynard61, double-action and semi-auto do actually go together. You can get double action/single-action, where the first shot fired can be double action (i.e. both cocked and fired by pulling the trigger) if you don’t cock it manually, but later shots cock by blowback; there’s also double action only, where you never cock it manually and every shot is DA – like the SIG-Sauer DAK trigger (this offers safety advantages); there’s also single-action, like the M1911 and Hi-Power, where you have to cock manually before the first shot. But all this primarily affects whether you have to cock the pistol by hand before the first shot – the definition of a semiauto pistol is that it can auto-cock on blowback for later shots.

    Requiring double-action semi-auto says to me that you want to fire a lot of bullets in a short time (semi-auto generally has higher capacity than revolvers – yes, I know about the Mateba Autorevolver, I’m simplifying here). Now personally I tend to associate a close-range kill with just a single shot, preferably from a very quiet pistol (there’s a lovely Chinese one – the type 67 is its most recent iteration – with built-in silencers, custom low-power cartridges and a manually-operated locking bolt), but maybe Paul’s superiors realise that he’s Rubbish With Guns and thus expect him to have to spray lead all over the place. (Looks as though he agrees, picking the Big Manly Gun over the “Stealth”.)

    11.8mm? I thought this might be a poke at Evil Foreign Measurements, but that comes out to 0.465 inches, and in either form that’s not a calibre anyone’s using today. (Randy, I agree: a .45 would be 11.4mm, and .454 would be 11.5mm.) It’s a rather bigger round than most serious modern pistol ammunition (almost everyone professional uses 9mm), but that’s one approach to defeating body armour so I can believe it might be in use. Glock makes weapons that use a .45 round (the 37, 38 and 39); the biggest of those holds ten rounds (big bullets are bulky).

    Sadly, I can easily believe that a really obvious codename could be picked. During WWII the Allies realised that operation names really ought to be random – particularly when the German Wotan radio navigation system was cracked in part because the name implied it was a single-beam approach rather than the dual-beams that had been in use up to that point. That persisted into the 1980s, but then the marketing guys took over, and we had Desert Siege, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and so on.

    If I wanted to get a news report of “water turns to blood” on the news, I’d just encourage an algal bloom (“red tide”). If it’s actual blood, there might be some viable DNA in there, which could be educational.

    • Am I the only person thinking Cone of Silence here?

      I’m guessing you didn’t watch the first YouTube, did you? No, you weren’t the only person thinking that.

      • You’re right – I don’t use Flash for security reasons, so watching an embedded video means making a decision to download it.

        • I understand, I use FlashBlock myself, for similar reasons. So, while it’s not as bit a decision for me, it still takes an extra act for me to watch it. But I did, and yes, it’s Get Smart, with the Cone of Silence.

    • One way or another, I think we can agree that an 11.8 mm is a hand cannon of the ‘small penis’ variety. Probably available in a nickel plated finish with customizable grips for the extra insecure shooter.

      “…maybe Paul’s superiors realize that he’s Rubbish With Guns and thus expect him to have to spray lead all over the place. (Looks as though he agrees, picking the Big Manly Gun over the “Stealth”.)

      Maybe that’s what they meant by ‘wild card.’ They give him a vague and undefined job, put him in harm’s way and if the shit hits the fan he whips out the beast and blazes away while the real agents run for it. The agents survive, a couple of bad guys get killed, and all it costs them is a moron with delusions of grandeur!

      • And with a tiger-stripe metallic pattern, and hardwood grips. Not to mention the combination laser sight/telescopic scope/wireless USB camera/xenon light/underslung grenade launcher/taser attachment/bayonet/chainsaw/can opener/Alsatian.

    • Yes, I stand corrected. See my last post above.

  8. Polycarp, I choose you! [throws ball]

    The embedded videos don’t show up at my work computer, but I’m glad to hear they’re “Get Smart” because I would have been sorely disappointed if they weren’t.

    What sort of passive-aggressive game is God playing that he’s pulling these crap “miracles” that nobody can distinguish from pranks? It’s like the Two Witnesses in Jerusalem: he’s deliberately giving “signs” that aren’t miraculous enough to be believed, but just miraculous enough that he can blame people for not believing them. “Remember when I bilocated that bag of dog poop on your front porch, my child? How could you fail to perceive the Hand of God in this?”

  9. the Reflecting Pool in Washington turning into a Pool of Blood (yes, real blood). … think it was a “prank” staged by Christians.

    As has been pointed out, that’s an awfully difficult – if not impossible – “prank,” but also, what would that accomplish? For that matter, what does that accomplish as TurboJeezus’s prank? I have some vague recollection of waters turning to blood as one of the plagues of Egypt, so, if this is supposed to be a recreation of that, wouldn’t TurboJeezus turn all of the water in DC to blood, not just the water in the reflecting pool. It’s bizarrely specific.

    • It seems to fit with all other documented cases of ‘miracles’, so of course the hand of TurboJesus is functionally indistinguishable from a casual but surprisingly well funded prankster.

  10. Thread, rise up and walk!

    Commenting on this post after reading a real-life story of a reservoir in GulflandTexas turning red as blood. It’s happening because the drought has drastically reduced the water level in the lake, killing the fish and promoting the growth of a bacterium that turns the water red.

    Naturally, a few fringe-Christian wingnuts are crying apocalypse, among them “theologian” Paul Begley, whose YouTube video on the subject is just wonderful. ARE YOU SERIOUS? WHAAAAAT?

  11. Eh, I’ve seen worse claims. Though that Paul guy really isn’t the best poster boy they could’ve found for their theology. His intro is indeed hilarious.

    Still ‘one lake you could almost jump over’ is still a far cry from ‘all the oceans’. I’m just worried the Rapture Ready folks take this as encouragement (as if they needed more) to love climate change. Hey, it’s causing red lakes. It’s making Bible prophecies happen! Climate Change must be part of God’s plan. Quick, drive 10 laps around the county in the hummer!

  12. Base Delta Zero

    Requiring double-action semi-auto says to me that you want to fire a lot of bullets in a short time (semi-auto generally has higher capacity than revolvers – yes, I know about the Mateba Autorevolver, I’m simplifying here). Now personally I tend to associate a close-range kill with just a single shot, preferably from a very quiet pistol (there’s a lovely Chinese one – the type 67 is its most recent iteration – with built-in silencers, custom low-power cartridges and a manually-operated locking bolt), but maybe Paul’s superiors realise that he’s Rubbish With Guns and thus expect him to have to spray lead all over the place. (Looks as though he agrees, picking the Big Manly Gun over the “Stealth”.)

    Since he’ll be accompanying a team on raids, presumably the intent is to have a sidearm in case things go south, rather than him actually going out and assassinating people – in that case, a gun suitable for a firefight would be more important than stealth…

    Also, who still uses revolvers in 2036?

    • Also, who still uses revolvers in 2036?

      Real true manly men, who don’t have any truck with this unreliable new-fangled spring technology!

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