Soon: Chapter 32: Yeah, You’re a Big Help

Barton James is planning on launching his little littering seaplane that evening.  So, seeing that there is absolutely nothing he can do to help anybody at Operation Rotting Fish, Paul heads off in his now-debugged car to heroically…sit in the parking lot of a fast food joint and scarf down a burger.

Atheistopia being what it is, I am convinced that fast food places now feature fare that is both delicious, and low in calories, Weight Watchers Points, sodium, and fat.  Alas, Jenkins does not detail this aspect–it’s just my own little idea.

It is while he is stuffing his face that Paul gets a skull call from Straight.  Straight is so upset that he can’t speak, so Paul takes that moment to check his “pocket computer” and sees that the army has struck yet another underground Christian hideaway, this one at the former Loyola Marymount University, killing two hundred Christians who were mourning the six people already killed.

Site of the underground Christian lair of the future.  Picture from Wikipedia.

Damn, but this messes with my Death Counts.  I’m telling you guys, I am looking forward to digging into The Secret on Ararat (har, C Wut I Did There?), but I don’t think the Death Count will be remedied until Silenced.

Anyway, Jenkins calls this killing of Christians a “massacre.”  This strikes me as odd because Paul called the killing of five Christians a holocaust, and I admit I have always thought of a holocaust as being worse than a massacre.  Maybe it’s just me.

Once again, we only have Straight’s word for What Really Happened:

“They were in a makeshift chapel, and they had no weapons at the whole site.  The leadership saw the army amassing and tried to negotiate.  Well, there was no negotiating.  They were shot dead at the door; then the army leaders retreated to their positions ad obliterated the place.  Those people were slaughtered.”

If there were no survivors, HOW CAN STRAIGHT POSSIBLY KNOW ANY OF THIS???  He cites “calls from inside just as it was going down,” but that makes it sound like Straight was on a skull conference call with reporters, not with desperate, trapped people who had no possible way to see and hear everything.

I can’t help but feel that the Christians chose a poor mourning site, too.  As it happens, Loyola Marymount was turned into a “reprogramming center” after WWIII, showing people “how to get along without the encumbrances of religion.”  But I guess it’s NOT that anymore, since it’s abandoned enough for the underground to have a they-thought-it-was-underground-but-not-really memorial service.

I’m so confused…

Did the reprogramming work on everyone but the RTCs, seeing as they’re the only religious folks we ever see?  Why isn’t it a reprogramming center now, given the resurgence of the “Christian threat”?  Why would the Christians use such an obvious spot for their memorial?  What is one of the most beautiful campuses in the country being used for, if it’s so empty that the Christians moved in?  What went on at this reprogramming center, anyway?

Gah.

Unsurprisingly, once Paul gets to LMU, Bia and Ranold have a rather different take on things:

“We surrounded the place before dawn, awakened their leadership, and ordered them to stand down and surrender peacefully.  They promised to discuss an amicable resolution with their colleagues, and we gave them a deadline of noon to surrender their weapons and be taken into custody without incident.”

So, while Paul was wandering around the docks, smelling fish and yakking about Gideon, the Christians and the NPO and army were standing off with each other.  

Paul really is the Least Action Hero, isn’t he?

“When there was no further communication from them, we prepared for the worst.  One minute after the deadline, they opened fire on our forces, and we were forced to defend ourselves.” [Bia related]

Ranold, once again, appears not to have been involved in the actual raid, though he claims he was.  Either way, he is still selling this to Paul as What We Had To Do:

“We would love for these people to respond appropriately and cooperatively and to be able to give you no end of subjects to examine.  But they are zealots, extremists.  They will not listen to reason.  They will not negotiate.  The first sign the government is at their door, they start shooting.”

“Shooting?” [asked Paul]

“That’s the same argumentative and self-righteous tone you used in South Central, and you wonder why you didn’t hear we were going to strike.”

OH SNAP

What Ranold is telling Paul is that if Paul had been just a BIT of a better double agent, if he had kept his feelings just a BIT more under wraps, he could have been in the loop. 

HE COULD HAVE WARNED THE CHRISTIANS AND SAVED TWO HUNDRED LIVES

Paul, you are the worst double agent in the history of spy stories. 

Atheistopia’s Death Count: 230

God’s Death Count: 16

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Posted on February 13, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. “If there were no survivors, HOW CAN STRAIGHT POSSIBLY KNOW ANY OF THIS??? He cites “calls from inside just as it was going down,” but that makes it sound like Straight was on a skull conference call with reporters, not with desperate, trapped people who had no possible way to see and hear everything.”

    — Well said, Ruby! And given that this book was written shortly after 9/11, double shame on Jenkins for his inability to portray the sorts of calls from the Christians with any degree of realism.

    . . . unless . . . and mind you this is almost certainly giving JJ WAY too much credit, but . . . what if Straight is a mole, and is putting a spin on what went down, for Paul’s benefit? Make Paul think that Bia and Co are the ones lying, and watch him hoist himself by his own petard. And lo and behold, he does so! With his own father-in-law, no less!

    “Paul really is the Least Action Hero, isn’t he?”
    — he’s a Jenkins Action Hero so . . . yeah. Almost goes without saying.

  2. Why the hell would you open fire AFTER the deadline, when you know the other side will be ready for you?

    In other news, I think I’ve figured out why they’re dropping pamphlets. Slaughtering all of Atheistopia for not knowing enough to be Christian would Wrong, but if they see a tract and aren’t immediately converted, they’re clearly depraved reprobates and can be killed without remorse.

  3. Hello, long time reader, first time poster, etc.

    As a former LA resident, I just gotta ask … how is LMU still around in the Soon-verse after that WW3-ending tsunami? The school is a few miles away the ocean, on a hill surrounded by a tsunami evacuation zone. @_@

    Also, I’m reminded of when I first read this book years ago. I told a friend of mine — who was a student at LMU, coincidentally — about this segment. Oddly, his reaction wasn’t that Paul is a poor excuse for a hero, but that this massacre took place where Hank Gathers died. >_<

  4. Well, unless LA gets hit by a meteor strike it looks like Atheistopia will indeed win the body count tally. And given the huge gulf in numbers between Atheists and RTCs in the world, that’s a pretty bad start. I have to ask though, where did a group of 200 RTCs suddenly come from? All the other cells we’ve seen, minus the salt mine, sounded like 20 people tops. Was this a single huge group? Or did all the different cells come together for the memorial. In which case WHY THE FLYING FUCK ARE THEY SO STUPID?!?! You do NOT hold a huge gathering for a small group, plus one single man, that were somehow found and killed by a huge army while the army is still there. I mean, the army found that small group and Specs easily, and from what I understood that ‘holocaust’ still had several survivors. As in, people who are now being interrogated. You think with that added bonus they could never find your huge seremon of 200 people? The ill-chosen location is just icing on the cake. Ugh, we’ve got 200 new contenders for the Dork Too Stupid logo.

    And again, we get Straight’s claim of a slaughter of unarmed Christians with Bia and Ranold telling a completely different story of self-defense. And again, we’re no doubt ment to take Straight’s story as reliable and Bia and Ranold’s story as proof of how untrustworthy they are. But again, why the lie? And how? For a book about murderous atheists, Jenkins is spectacularly uninterested in giving an explanation for it. Why is the NPO lying about their actions even among their own leaders? Is this a secret policy that no-one talks about? (idea: if they had told Paul that they knew the RTCs were unarmed but killed them anyway with verfiable proof and written internal reports, Paul might’ve given the fishers that proof for their tract distribution. He’d actually be a valuable member to the tract plan. As it stands, he doesn’t seem to have done anything, since they had the tracts, they had the plane and they had the plan) Is it just Bia instigating this? Then how did she get all the soldiers to agree with her behind Ranold’s back? And how are they going to fake the forensic evidence of 200 zealots opening fire from within the building at all surrounding troops? In the first raid, they could’ve dropped a few guns on the floor after the fact, maybe shoot into the wall, and call it a day. But faking massive gun fire on your own position isn’t so easy. And if they don’t need to bother with forensics because no one will question them, then again, why are they not just saying openly what they did?

    And I’m just left with the question why Ranold isn’t having Paul executed already. He’s already figured out Paul can’t be trusted, Paul just made his situation worse by doing it again, he never liked Paul and his daughter just left him because she was sick of his lying and cheating. For as evil and bloodthirsty as Ranold is supposed to be, Paul should’ve been killed three times by now.

    • Ooh, I just realized they have something else in common with Dork Too Stupid: Calling back to base (Straight) while the Atheistapo is right on their heels. And look, the first thing Straight does is call Paul. Bia and Raynold ought to have a field day with those phone records. How’s Paul going to explain having a phone conversation with someone who was called by the zealots while they were being attacked?

      And for all my bitching about how incredibly risky this gathering was, I’m still bugged by how efficient the Atheistapo is by finding them. Since it was a memorial for the victims of the first raid, those arrested in that raid couldn’t have known the time and place. It’d sure be nice to know how the Atheistapo keeps finding these clowns. The only one we know of is Specs, and that was because Paul was a moron. As it stands, I have no choice but to admire the Atheistapo for their amazing track record in finding RTCs quickly and without any error or false accusation. If we could teach this enforcement agency to just bring people in for questioning if possible, it’d be a great improvement over our current police force.

    • inquisitiveraven

      I dunno, given how completely inept Paul is, the Atheistapo should be keeping him around and feeding him misinformation to pass along to his religious buddies.

  5. How come it’s only the RTCs who are still around after all the deprogramming? Wouldn’t there also be underground Catholics, Jews. Mormons, Muslims, Wiccans, Pagans, Hindus etc as well? ( Hell, there would certainly be underground Satanists and Voudunists.)
    In fact, a fairly large minority of the population would be underground religionists of some sort and there would be nothing to stop them co-operating enough to mount an open challenge of some sort.
    But its a Jenkins novel, so the only religion around is RTCism…..

    • Alas, I think I know the answer to this one. Many Christians – particularly of the RTC variety – believe in one or both of the following:

      -That non-Christians will happily adopt any religion or creed As Long As It’s Not Christianity because the only reason they’re not Christian is because they just want to rebel against God or because some (fakey fake!) Christians burned them at some point, not because they genuinely believe in their religion and their god/s.
      -That all non-Christian belief systems (aside from Judaism) and some Christian sects were actually planted by Satan or Satanists to lure people away from Christianity and eventually into “hard-core Satanism” and/or the anti-christ’s one-world religion. This sort of ties in with the item above, since it assumes that these people aren’t actually that serious about their beliefs.

      So my guess as to what happened in this world was that the non-Christian religious people happily jumped onto the atheist bandwagon because the atheists suddenly had power and hey, they weren’t Christian!

  6. Jenkins’ version of Atheist Hell probably has compulsory beanburgers. In fact I’m surprised he didn’t get round to putting in this standard right-wing attack on the left (“they want to control what we eat”).

    If there are reporters around, they’ll probably have a fairly good idea of who opened fire first. Not 100% guaranteed, but if they were looking in the right direction. And certainly they’d have noticed the lack of bullets going “spang” behind the attacking troops! Straight clearly has a motive for making the RTC terrorists look lily-white when he’s talking to Paul. Once more we see a total lack of evidence for his claims.

    I think I may have a fix for the death count problem. Nobody’s claiming that the Third World War wasn’t caused by religious people; therefore, in the cosmology of the setting, God must have approved of it…

    Ivan, maybe the Atheistapo just poll everyone’s skullphone in rotation until they pick up tuneless droning singing?

    • Y’know, it’s pretty bad when you find the alleged villains much more credible than the supposed heroes in the story. Because really, their story is a lot more plausible than Straight’s story.

      It could be argued that the Atheistapo wants to make the Christians look as bad as possible lest any atheists become sympathetic with the Christians and start questioning the government’s rabid anti-religion policies.

      While maintaining the cover story seems implausible to any sensible person, it probably doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch to a group of people inclined to believe that scientists are capable of pulling a “hoax” as big as anthropogenic climate change and/or that Academia is suppressing scientific discoveries that prove the authenticity of the Bible.

    • If there were reporters around, there’s no way to keep their cover. Mind you, it wasn’t a matter of who opened fire first. It was a matter of whether a group of two hundred people opened fire at all during the presumably fairly long time it would take to kill 200 people (unless the army just leveled the entire building with tanks and air strikes). And if even one reporter bothered to show up afterwards too, I don’t think it’s possible the story could ever hold up. At the very least, all the soldiers would have to agree to shoot everyone, put out the flames in the building, go in, and shoot outwards to their previous positions. And even then, people would probably ask questions about how a group of 200 was killed to the last man while offering fierce resistance without a single injury on the army’s side.

      All the more reason to doubt Straight’s version. There is no conceivable way Bia, and an entire army battalion who were apparently willing to work with this plan, could keep a lie like this secret without being in such an untouchable position that it makes absolutely zero sense for them to lie about it among themselves.

    • But remember, this isn’t Atheist Hell, it’s Atheistopia! That burger is probably made from free-range, organically raised cows, because this future is so awesome that they’ve figured out how to make that more profitable as abusive factory farming.

      Or, for bonus SCIENCE! points, they’ve mastered vat-growing meat, so people can enjoy burgers without any cows having to die at all.

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