TSoA: Chapter 5: Back with Shane and The Seven

Time to check in with Shane Barrington, rags-to-riches media mogul and bitch to The Seven, who will Stop at Nothing to create a one-world government and put the Antichrist (as yet unintroduced) into power.

Well, they’ll stop at nothing except killing Michael Murphy.

The Seven have had Shane in their power ever since they killed his son, the Ambiguously Gay Arthur, and gave Shane billions of dollars to cover up his unscrupulous dealings in his quest to become the biggest television tycoon in the world.

Now, Shane is on his way to Switzerland at The Seven’s collective command, to visit them in their spooky castle.

Shane reminds us immediately what a ruthless bastard he is by firing his pilot (“when we get to Switzerland“) for the crime of asking him if he is okay.  I wouldn’t think that such impulsive stupidity would be indicative of a successful businessman, but I guess that’s why I’m not one.

Then we get a very weird series of reflections from the pilot, Carl:

…he wondered how he was going to tell Renee.  They’d have to change their plans about moving to that big house in the hills, and maybe that would mean she’d change her plans about the two of them.  The twenty-grand diamond engagement ring was definitely out of the question now.

Ha!  Because women are flighty, materialistic things who only care about the size of a man’s wallet, amirite?

Well, maybe not.

Carl then fantasizes about flying the plane into a mountain and KILLING THEM ALL BWAHAHAHAHA

But he knew he didn’t have the guts to do it.  No, he thought with a wry chuckle, the only way the plane was going down was if the believers in Christ got snatched up to heaven in midflight, like in that book Renee kept telling him to read…

I C WUT YOU DID THERE, TIM LAHAYE.

I guess if Renee is a Left Behind fan, she must not be flighty and materialistic after all.  Or at least, no more than all silly women are.

…and the bad guys like Barrington were left to fend for themselves.

Ha! Goes to show what a dumb nonbeliever Carl is, thinking that getting to heaven has anything to do with being good or bad.  See, he has to read Left Behind to know that all you have to do is say the Magic Words.

Death is also on Shane’s mind as he finishes his plane ride and is driven to The Seven’s castle by the tongueless chauffeur.  He thinks The Seven want to kill him for something (he has no idea what it might be) that he did wrong.

But that is not the case.  After some preliminary moustache-twirling and some vague but ominous talk about their “great task,” they tell Barrington their big plans for him:

They want him to hire Michael Murphy as an “archaeological correspondent” for Barrington Communications.  Shane brings up the fact that The Seven aren’t exactly in sympathy with Murphy’s RTC-ity, but they explain their plan:

“You see, Mr. Barrington, Michael Murphy has a knack for finding archaeological objects that are of…interest to us.  It might make life a little easier if we were all on the same team.  Even if Murphy doesn’t know it.”

I guess that’s as good an excuse as any for them to keep Murphy alive, when it is abundantly clear that they could kill him at any moment they chose.  (And it’s not like Murphy takes any steps to keep himself safe, living in his little college town, in exactly the same manner he did when a powerful international cabal didn’t want him dead…)

(I deleted a bit above this, because I misremembered The Seven’s motivations in the first book.  They did not want Murphy killed then, either—they wanted him to find the Serpent because of the powers it supposedly had.  Thanks to Ivan for reminding me!)

So, that’s why The Seven wanted Shane to come all the damn way to Switzerland.

Continuity Error Alert: The Seven are described here as six men and one woman.  This is NOT THE CASE in subsequent books, where the group is comprised of five men and two women.

Oh, and as a little favor for Shane, The Seven had Talon go and kill Carl the pilot during their little meeting.

Yeah, real big favor.  Let’s see, if Carl was left alive, all people would know is that Shane Barrington is a huge jerk who fires people on a whim.  So, nothing new under the sun.

But I’m sure that the death of this man in a foreign country will arouse absolutely no suspicion whatsoever in anyone’s mind.  (“So, why did you go to Switzerland by yourself with no notice to anyone, Mr. Barrington?  And how and why did your young, healthy pilot die, anyway?”)

I don’t get it, but again, that must be why I’m not part of a Stop at Nothing cabal on the verge of taking over the world.

We’re almost done re-introducing the cast for Book 2!  All we have left now are intrepid reporter Stephanie Kovacs, and not-so-intrepid FBI Agent Hank Baines.

Next time.

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Posted on June 9, 2012, in Books, The Secret on Ararat. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Grammar Police

    Let me see if I have this straight: The Seven have the money to keep a Legion of Doom castle in Switzerland (one of the more expensive European countries), hire servants without tongues, and pay Talon enough that he’s willing to be loyal and work a job at a moment’s notice. They have the espionage resources to discover that Shane had fired Carl on the journey to Switzerland, and were able to word to Talon to have the assination completed by the time the meeting was finished.

    The Seven can do all this, yet they now want to keep Murph alive because “Michael Murphy has a knack for finding archaeological objects that are of…interest” . . . and yet they are apparently unaware that it isn’t MURPHY finding these artifacts but Methuselah?!

    Villain FAIL!

    (Hey, here’s a thought: if I bump off one of the male Sevens, I could take his place. That would explain the sudden change in demographics. And then I could take command of the Seven, because I have more intelligence than a dishrag and clearly none of the other Sevens do.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Let me see if I have this straight: The Seven have the money to keep a Legion of Doom castle in Switzerland (one of the more expensive European countries), hire servants without tongues, and pay Talon enough that he’s willing to be loyal and work a job at a moment’s notice. They have the espionage resources to discover that Shane had fired Carl on the journey to Switzerland, and were able to word to Talon to have the assination completed by the time the meeting was finished.

      The Seven (TM) sound like they’re going down a Pulp Villains’ checklist. And not one for First-String Pulp Villains.

      Do they have the funny minion costumes, secret handshakes, and “Little Do They Know (dot dot dot)” cackling laugh down, too?

      • Oh, damn – I just realized the author isn’t Jenkins. Someone once pointed out Jenkins seems to write like he’s read pulp science-fiction comics from the 50s to the 70s, a fair few of which do have checklisty types of villains.

        Well, probably this new LaHaye coauthor dude has the same problem, or LaHaye himself vetted these things, and he’s basing it off the Tom Swift books he read back in the day (which were the original formulaic type of writing later successfully emulated by Leslie Macfarlane for the Hardy Boys).

  2. Grammar Police, that was certainly my thought: there has been a quiet assassination between book 2 and book 3.

    But would you really want to be part of such a group? How much better, surely, to have them working for you without knowing it? (Wheels within wheels, and all that.) This obsession with “biblical” artefacts can work in your favour…

    • Grammar Police

      You may be right — being the power behind the throne is probably safer on the sanity and a heck of a lot more fun. 😉

      Besides, you just know something awful will happen to each Seven member in the later books. Best to stay out of the gaze of RTC Murph and his Turbo!Jesus.

  3. Carl is in the place usually reserved for an “everyday working stiff” type, someone who’s supposed to stand in for the reader and get murdered to prove how evil and scary the bad guys are. But he was considering spending $20,000 on an engagement ring. How rich do you have to be to think that your readers will easily identify with a guy who can afford a $20,000 engagement ring and a big house in the hills?

    Also, Renee is an RTC, and this book is written for RTCs, but Renee’s fiancé thinks it might be in character for her to dump him because he can’t give her a big house in the hills? That’s a slap in the face to RTCs everywhere.

    • That’s definitely where the confusion is for me. The authors can’t decide whether Renee is a good little RTC (or RTC in the making) for being a fan of Left Behind, or whether she is a materialistic bitch who would throw over her fiance because he lost his job.

      Then again, as I mentioned, maybe they just think that ALL women are materialistic bitches.

      • Grammar Police

        Fred commented on a similar phenomenon regarding Amanda Steele in Left Behind. The one difference is that we don’t see her asking Rayford for furs and jewels, just that he gave them to her and she wears them even if the setting is inappropriate.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          Can you say “Wanna-be Kept Woman”?

        • I don’t mind the fact that Rayford gives Amanda jewels and she likes them. I have lots of jewelry from my fiance from back when we weren’t broke. It’s of course nothing like the hugely expensive (and gaudy-sounding) stuff Ray gives Amanda — small semiprecious gems, not big honkin’ diamonds. The problem is that the book supposes all women want those diamonds, and how much the book drools over jewelry and other objects, and how materialistic everyone in it is, and how we’re supposed to think these people are completely righteous and wonderful when they spend more time drooling over objects than even thinking about helping anyone.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      But he was considering spending $20,000 on an engagement ring. How rich do you have to be to think that your readers will easily identify with a guy who can afford a $20,000 engagement ring and a big house in the hills?

      “But everybody can afford a 20-grand engagement ring and a big house in the hills! NOBODY I know couldn’t afford that!”

  4. If the Seven’s intelligence is All That, wouldn’t they know it’s Methuselah who finds the artefacts and simply tells Murphy where they are? Why recruit the middle man?

  5. Was there any point where they wanted him dead? I’m not sure, but I thought they told Talon to get out of the way, and reprimanded him from reasoning he wasn’t told to not kill Murphy’s wife.

    This bit with the pilot is really weird. Oh, and I bet Shane is really grateful for that favor. “So, remember that guy you wanted to fire for asking a question you didn’t like? Well, he’s dead now. And he was your employee, your pilot, and with any luck there’s still a black box recording of you firing him, or he may have told someone over the radio. So he died in a country where you were the only one he knew, you were the last person seen with him, and the authorities may know he angered you right before his death. Have fun with that.” The Left Behind plug is the only reason I can think of.

    And speaking of Left Behind, LaHaye seems to have re-introduced the mistake from that book here: The incredibly evil villains and the good RTC protagonist’s goals are again alligned. For all further books in the series, there’s no tension of Murphy bravely opposing the great evil power that opposes him, because the great evil power is again more interested in hiring him. And Ruby, you may spoil this if you know, but why DO they want these things found? It can’t be so they can quickly hide them away, because if Murphy is the only one with a ‘knack’ for finding them they can just kill him and be relatively sure they won’t be discovered. Are they like the Raiders of the lost ark Nazi’s, who hope that these artifacts will give them power? Are they official satanists, who want Divine artifacts for some weird ritual?

    • Ah, you’re absolutely right. My bad–I had somehow thought that there was a point towards the end of Babylon Rising where they OK’d a Murphy-kill, but on double-check, I see I was wrong. Good catch. 🙂

      And yes, they wanted the Bronze Serpent because of the weird healing powers it supposedly had. And it turns out (ARE YOU SITTING DOWN???) that Noah’s Ark may have some crap inside with weird powers, too! 😀

      • Considering how much poo must have built up over 40 days and 40 nights, you bet there was something with weird powers aboard the ark!

        Just… probably not the weird powers that The Seven (TSAN!) are thinking of.

    • Well, I’ll have to grant the Seven, it makes more sense to just plain weasel your way into having Murphy work for you than to let him run and then send the deranged unstable killer to hopefully snatch the artifact before Murphy does, knowing that he’ll probably try to kill Murphy anyway. But I’m sure either Murphy will have special RTC detection powers or they’ll be too stupid to suck up to Jesus as much as they do to Murphy when they try to recruit him.

    • Good luck convincing LaHaye that it’s a mistake. Remember the conceit that God is in control of everything–including every last little thing Satanel and his agents do. As far as God is concerned, the Bad Guys are doing what he intended for them to do (vessels made for dishonor et al.), namely ensuring that his glory will be known in every last detail. Including the details that can only be known by visiting endless wrath upon something.

      (Equal ultimacy: NOT a fun precept. There’s a reason why I loathe fate, determinism, destiny, etc.)

      • While I agree it would suck if real life worked like that, it can at least make for a halfway decent story. Half the Greek Tragedies work on a similar principle. Man knows what fate or the gods have in store for him, man takes steps to prevent that fate, man’s action ironically cause that fate to occur. So that could work.

        Where LaHaye’s version goes of the rails is in what actions the people trying to avoid the Divine fate or will do. This isn’t a case of “God wants my son to murder me, so I kill my son when he’s born, only he survives, is raised as a fosterling and will end up killing me, probably without even knowing I’m his father”. The villains don’t take steps that appear at first chance to be logical (if perhaps unpleasant and/or shortsighted) to hamper the Divine plan. Here the Seven hope to gather the Divine artifacts that the RTCs want found, in the hope that the Divine magic will help them against the RTCs.

        Left Behind does this all the time too. The prime example is when Nicolae proudly points out that the Biblical prophecies are so transparently clear that he knows exactly when and where Jesus will appear. And armed with the knowledge that Jesus is prophecised to appear and defeat the army of 200 million men that the Antichrist has assembled, including men on horseback*, he decides to…. wait for Jesus with his army of 200 million men, including men on horseback. That doesn’t work. The short story of a man seeing Death look at him in the street, borrowing a fast horse from his boss to flee to another city, and the boss confronting Death who admits he was looking because he was suprised to see the man here, when he’s supposed to collect him tomorrow in the next city works. If Death had straight up told the man “Hey, aren’t I supposed to meet you in the next city?” before he fled, it wouldn’t work.

        *Yes, one might almost think that the person writing the Bible hadn’t taken into account that the Rapture might not occur before technological advancements rendered it obsolete. But that’s the way to questioning Biblical literalism and thus Nazism. So the Antichrist, with his army armed with energy weapons in LB brings men on horseback. And since Nicolae admitted he read the Bible and thinks the prophecies are just as obvious as LaHaye thinks, we’re forced to conclude that he went the extra mile to make sure his army was exactly like the one Jesus was expecting to defeat.

  6. Well, to be fair, this is a much more rational explanation for why the Hero is working for the Villain than the hack job that was done for Rayray and Herb “Call me Cameron ‘Call me Buck’ Williams” Katz. The Seven (They’ll Stop At Nothing! (Including Hiring Murphy!)) aren’t the brightest villains in the world, but that does suggest that Methuselah is a bit more on the uptake than they are. And probabaly even more ominous and shadowy.

  7. Now that I think about, I guess Carl’s fate is supposed to be a cautionary tale of what happens if you hesitate or cogitate at all when apprised of the (alleged) Good News of the Rapture? Not the getting murdered part, but rather the implication that he died unsaved…

  8. I wonder if LaHaye realizes that groups with seemingly unlimited resources, like the Seven (TSAN!), would be seriously hampered if taxes on rich people were raised.

    • Wait….

      Rich…check
      Stupid…check
      Wants to find Biblical artifacts…check
      Thinks killing one’s pilot is doing them a favour…check
      Builds overly elaborate plots that make no sense…check
      Opposes socialistic policies to redistribute wealth…check

      HOLY SHIT! TIM LaHAYE IS ONE OF THE SEVEN (tsan!) (I’m assuming the last one from his Bircher tendencies)

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