Monthly Archives: April 2013

TSoA: Chapter 46: The Triumphant Return of Obi-Wan

HE’S BAAAAAACK!!!!!

Apparently, Obi-Wan is aware of every damn thing that has been going on.

He had seen the helicopter fly toward Camp 2 and then toward the gorge as he was climbing to the ark by a different direction.

Wait, Obi-Wan, why do you want to go to the ark now?  If you wanted to go to the ark, why not just lead the team there yourself yesterday?

Sigh.

Surely if it had fallen into the gorge, no one could have survived.

So, yeah, don’t help or anything.  Some Jedi Knight you are.

And yeah, Obi-Wan sees everything.

He squinted at the sea of white.  Then he saw someone in a white polar outfit zigzagging up the steep slope.  What is he doing up there?

Oh, I’m sure he’s just birdwatching or—WHAT DO YOU THINK HE’S DOING UP THERE???

Obi Wan heads into the ark, momentarily dismissing as Probably Nothing the man climbing quickly up the side of the mountain with a huge backpack.  The Jedi Master finds the bodies of Fearless and the Nerd.

Then he finds Murphy, still unconscious from his Railing KO.

With a huge effort, he hefted Murphy onto his shoulder…

Looks like Murphy might want to lay off the non-alcoholic cider.

He carries Murphy outside, where he laboriously creates a sleepling-bag-in-which-he-can-drag-Murphy.  I’ll be kinder to you than I was to myself, and spare you the details.  The pieces all click into place with Talon at this point, too, and Obi-Wan realizes he’s going to start an avalanche to bury the ark.

He manages to get Murph out of the way JUST IN TIME, and takes him to some cave that I guess is his home, because there are holders in the wall for torches.

[Obi-Wan] placed several thick furs over the sleeping bag before eating his soup and a hunk of dry bread.

Okay, the sleeping bag contains Murphy, but I amuse myself by imagining that Obi-Wan has anthropomorphized the sleeping bag, and just wants to keep it warm and comfortable.

Obi-Wan: You’re my new BFF, sleeping bag.  The only friend I need…

When he finished, his brow was creased in thought.  He had some hard decisions to make.  If Murphy regained consciousness during the night, he needed to get some warm liquid into him or he would surely be dead before morning.

Um.

No.

Obi-Wan?  Honey?  That is not how concussions work.  Take it from someone who has been there—you won’t die from a Grade III concussion due to lack of soup.  Indeed, such a concussion can lead to severe nausea, so unless you want to be wearing that soup, you might want to take it easy at first.

Being a good little RTC who has lived on Ararat for his entire life, Obi-Wan prays, and Isis immediately appears, having been led to this random cave by the Plot-o-Matic 9000 God.

Obi-Wan heads out to look for survivors of the helicopter crash, leaving Isis with instructions to force-feed Murphy soup if he wakes up.  So I guess it’s okay now, now that a lady-person has arrived to play nursemaid and wear the soup.

He turned before slipping out of the cave.  The woman was kneeling over the unconscious man, a look of infinite tenderness.

If anyone can save her, [Obi-Wan] thought, she can.

Yeah, screw modern medicine when you have a pretty little helpmeet to treat the sick with Bronze Age soup healing!

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TSoA: Chapter 45: Guess Who?

Hey, remember the other members of the team?

While Murphy, Fearless, and the Nerd are at the ark and Isis is at Camp 2, our remaining players (Vern, Token Turk, the Dick, and Larry the Photo Guy) are…flying around.

We actually cut backwards in time here, to the guys as they are heading back to town.  As they get to a gorge, Larry the Photo Guy asks Vern to land the chopper so he can get some pictures of it flying against the backdrop of Mount Ararat.

And as Vern messes about in the sky, flying the Huey this way and that at Larry’s direction…

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Larry presses a BIG RED BUTTON and sends the Huey, along with Vern, Token Turk, and the Dick, into a gorge in a giant ball of flame.

And I know at least one of my loyal readers feels VINDICATED right now.

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Now, as to reader predictions, there were several with regard to Vern Teh Pilot—that he would survive by virtue of being a character with a pregnant wife, or that he would be martyred by virtue of being a character with a pregnant wife.

AND VERN SURVIVES!!!

His “sixth sense of a combat veteran” had allowed him to ditch the Huey a split second before the explosion, leaving the Dick and Token Turk to be roasted.

So, as Larry the Photo Guy hikes down the mountain and talks to his handlers (note: it is not clear whether Larry was hired by the CIA, the Seven (they’ll stop at nothing), or somebody else), Vern chills in a snowbank (HAHAHAHA GET IT???) and thinks about his time in Vietnam.

WAIT, WHAT???

Vern was in VIETNAM???

But…butbutbut…in Chapter 17, Murphy and Vern reminisced about being in Kuwait together, which makes a helluva lot more sense if we’re talking about two guys in their late 30s to early 40s.

But now, Vern, with a toddler son and pregnant wife is remembering his days in Vietnam?

How the hell old is Vern supposed to be?

Hey, LaHaye and Phillips?  My dad was in the Vietnam Lottery.  In 2004 (the year this book came out), he was 52 years old.  Not that there is anything wrong with having kids later in life, OR being friends with someone 15 years older or younger than yourself, but can we try for a little consistency here?  Kthxbai.

So, here are our standings:

Murphy: Railing KO, still on the ark

Isis: Very chilly, at Camp 2

Fearless Gum-Popping Leader: Working for CIA bad guys, martial arted by Talon, DEAD

Señor SEAL: Climbing rope cut by Fearless, DEAD

The Nerd: Neck snapped by Fearless, DEAD

Token Turk: On helicopter when Larry the Photo Guy exploded it, DEAD

The Dick: On helicopter when Larry the Photo Guy exploded it, DEAD

Larry the Photo Guy: Working for undisclosed bad guys, heading down Ararat

Vern: Survived the helicopter crash, having ‘Nam flashbacks in a snowbank

Talon: On his way to bury the ark in an avalanche

TSoA: Chapter 44: The Showdown

Having left Isis, and Evil-Fearless and Dead-Nerd alone, Murphy blithely makes his way back to the ark.  His mind is most certainly not on how he split up the team that he so very much wants to keep safe:

…he was thinking about Noah and how he must have begged people to come aboard and escape God’s judgment.  And yet, only eight people were saved in the Flood.

Murphy makes it sound like these were eight volunteers.  But no, they were Noah’s wife and their sons and their wives.  In other words, people not exactly in a position to say no.

He was imagining the awesome sense of responsibility…

…much like the sense of responsibility one might feel to the members of a “discovery team” that one had dragged onto a mountain.  I AM NEVER GETTING OVER THIS.

…and Noah’s sadness at his failure to convince more people of the truth of his message.

Oh, Noah’s a big sack of fail, granted.  Then again, it’s not like God spoke directly to anyone else about this flood.

Huh, it’s almost like God was setting Noah up to fail.

And he began to feel some of the same weight of responsibility himself.

Responsibility was a new feeling for Murphy, since he’s never felt it for his students or his team members or the woman he professes to love.

When the next judgment comes, we have to make sure more people heed God’s warnings, he thought to himself.

As opposed to thinking to someone else.

Back at the ark, Murphy actually has to think about what is going on in the NOW, since he discovers the Nerd’s murdered body:

Suddenly things started to click into place.

I like to imagine Murphy desperately trying to shove a square peg into a round hole here.

So [Fearless] had killed [Señor SEAL].  And now [the Nerd].  [Fearless] had seemed extremely interested in the Philosopher’s Stone.

Um, it’s the secret to alchemy, Murphy.  I’d actually be a lot more suspicious of somebody who wasn’t interested in it.

And then Murphy sees Fearless’s head, which, in a tribute to slasher movies villains, Talon has chopped off and posed on a beam.

Okay, okay, he also did it to test out the Singing Sword.

Then, in a tribute to stupid villains everywhere, Talon appears with the Singing Sword…which he promptly drops so he and Murphy can have a “fair” fight.

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They fight like MANLY MEN for a minute, but Talon quickly tires of the whole “fair fight” idea.  So instead of grabbing the Singing Sword again, he deploys his throwing knives.

Because that makes a lot more sense than using his razor finger or a gun or the most magical, awesome sword in the history of the world.

Talon throws his blade and Murphy tries to pull a Neo/Hansel slow-mo duck…

But the Murph-ster just can’t compete with such bad-assery…

…without thinking he dived to his right, connecting with the safety railing guarding the central air shaft.  The ancient wood shattered like matchsticks and he tumbled down into the darkness.

RAILING KILL!

No, sadly, it is only a Railing Knock-Out.  And NOW Talon pays tribute to Bond villains—instead of finishing Murphy off when he has the chance, Talon just trusts that his plan to bury the ark in an avalanche will bury Murphy, too.

Talon sets off to plant explosives, secure in the knowledge that there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY Murphy can get out of this.

I’m not sure if this is better or worse than leaving his keys at the crime scene, but this really doesn’t make Talon the most respectable villain ever.

TSoA: Chapter 43: Isis All Alone

Since Murphy is so very concerned about the safety of his team, and especially Isis…he has left Isis all alone at Camp 2.

All by herself.  With no satellite phone, either.

Because he cares about her safety so very much.

Yeah, just…um…just go with it.

(Oh, and note that Fearless’s murderous plan as to Isis was simply to leave her to freeze.  Looks like he understood exactly how protective of her Murphy really is.)

So, instead of translating and studying the oldest writing known to man, Isis breaks down and packs up two of the six tents at Camp 2.  I realize this is no easy work, being on a mountain and all, but I kinda get the feeling that LaHaye and Phillips assigned her this task because it is “feminine” and “domestic.”

A blizzard kicks up, and Isis takes cover in one of the remaining tents, and I can’t help but feel that this is the very situation where it would help to have a mountaineering companion.

But no.  It is time for Isis to take her first tentative steps towards being a full-fledged RTC and helpmeet to her RTC Man.

Sitting alone in the raging blizzard…

She felt herself give something up—the pretense that she could control things, that she was in charge—and at the same time she felt herself inviting something else in.

Ha!  Silly nonbelieving Isis!  Thinking for a moment that she was “in charge” and controlling everything.

Wait…atheists don’t think that.

I hear this so often from RTCs online and on TV and radio.  “Atheists think they are their own gods, that they’re totally in control of everything in their lives.”

Well, except for the weather and everyday events and, oh yeah, THE THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS OF THE BILLIONS OF OTHER HUMANS ON THE PLANET.

Now, certainly these RTCs consider atheists arrogant and foolish, but they must also think that atheists have it really easy.

Weird.

Her thoughts turn, ever so naturally, to Murphy and how he was totally right about everything (of course he was):

[The ark] was proof that the Bible was literally true.  And not just the story of Noah and the ark.

It was proof that one judgment had come.

And that another was surely coming soon.

And that Murphy’s God is a sociopathic mass murderer.

Okay, Isis doesn’t think that.

But she should.

Instead…

If it came now, she wondered, would I be one of the ones on the ark?  Or would I be one of the foolish ones who stayed outside, jeering and laughing until the floodwaters swept them away into oblivion?

Would I be one of the lucky women, bound by marriage to the only man who got direct word from God?  Or would I be one of the millions who never even met this “Noah” person or heard about a worldwide flood that would kill anyone who had the temerity not to listen to one crazy old man?

Oh, Isis.  It saddens me, seeing you walk down this road.

And, proving that she is a much nicer person than RTC Murphy, Isis prays…for him.

If the judgment comes now, God, please look kindly on Murphy.  If I can make a difference by praying about it, please spare him…

It’s pretty interesting that Isis adds that bit—if I can make a difference by praying about it.  After all, isn’t Murphy’s God supposed to be all-knowing, to have everything planned out, to know already exactly what will happen?  I mean, he already knows what’s going to happen to Murphy—why would Isis’s prayer make a difference?

So, yeah, Isis prays for Murphy, but not for herself, even though she’s the one alone in a blizzard.  She falls asleep, and when she wakes up, the blizzard is over.

But her headlamp goes out.

And I just can’t help but observe that her situation might be improved if another human being was with her at Camp 2.

But she is alone.  On a mountain.  In the dark.

Because Murphy cares very much.

TSoA: Chapter 42: The Big Bad

Well, I think it’s fitting to reveal the identity of our villain today, a very special day…

THE DAY WHEN THE EASTER CANDY WENT ON SALE!!!!!

*noms chocolate cross*

Vern tears himself away from his drunken stupor at the hotel and actually manages to fly to the ark.  And no, we don’t get to see his reaction.  We also don’t hear about any ark artifacts he takes with him.  But we know he takes the entire team back to the other camp except Murphy, Fearless Gum-Popping Leader, and the Nerd.

…Murphy had been adamant.  They had achieved what they set out to do.  They had all the evidence they needed to prove the existence of the ark, and much else besides.

Remember this passage for the next book, everyone…

After all they’d been through, he was determined not to expose them to any further risk.

Oh, so NOW he’s concerned.  Also, how does splitting up the team (again) reduce the risk?  Isn’t this always the big mistake in slasher films?

Oh, well.  Murphy, Fearless, and the Nerd hang out on the ark.  (Wait, no Larry the Photo Guy?  You’d think he would be the first person Murphy would want to stay with the ark.), and Fearless starts screwing with the set of stuff that burned Token Turk before.  Fearless doesn’t touch the ouchie crystals–he instead messes about with metal rods inserted into the crystals, which make a burst of light when they touch each other.  The Nerd posits that the set is “some type of battery energy source.”  And from there, he thinks that the set, including the metal plates, is the Philosopher’s Stone—ALCHEMY!

But the Nerd thinks you wouldn’t want to make gold (or green) in this day and age—you’d want to make platinum, so you could make hydrogen fuel cells.

Murphy was already way ahead of him.  “So if the Philosopher’s Stone could convert base metals into platinum, whoever controlled it could control the world’s supply of renewable energy.  They would have the power to do whatever they wanted.”  [Emphasis mine]

Leave it to our RTC “hero” to make renewable energy the root of all evil.

Well, this has been fun and all, but it’s time for Murphy to head off to the “pickup site” all alone.

(Fearless salutes Murphy as he goes, making this the second time in as many books that a military man has saluted our hero for no apparent reason.)

Yes, you read that right—after suddenly coming to care about the “risk” to his team, Murphy heads off alone, leaving Fearless and the Nerd alone.

This may not be the best plan Murphy has had all day.

So, it’s down to Fearless and the Nerd.

Oh, I won’t keep you in suspense.

THE BIG BAD WAS FEARLESS GUM-POPPING LEADER ALL THE TIME!!!

“I might as well tell you, since you’re not going to live to repeat it.  I’m employed by certain people within the CIA who have believed for a long time that the ark might contain some useful technology.  Technology that must at all costs be kept in the right hands.  We’ve been planning our own clandestine expedition to find the ark, but our information has never been good enough to pinpoint it.  Then up pops Murphy, and we decide the smart thing to do would be to piggyback.  Let him lead the way.”

He killed Señor SEAL, natch, and is planning on killing everybody else, one by one.  He calls this plan “a fairly tidy package,” but I’m gonna have to call bullshit on that one.  I suppose he means that the CIA could clean up anything, but aren’t there way too many loose ends here—families…not to mention that two of your intended murder victims work for ambassadors.

Fearless snaps the Nerd’s neck, and gets a round of applause from…TALON…who has been secretly watching in a secretive, Talon-like way the whole time.

Wait…how did Talon follow them all the way here without being spotted…OR DID HE GET THERE FIRST???

Talon, you magnificent bastard!

Talon and Fearless face off like the two macho beasts that they are.  Fearless tries to get all fancy-schmancy with kicks and stuff, but Talon is having none of it…not when he can employ Bob Phillips’ favorite move ever—THE REVERSE PUNCH!!!

I’m going to start a reverse punch count in the next book.

But for now, Talon smashes the crap out of Fearless’s chest, which promptly kills him because Talon is a stone killer.  (What, no Finger of Doom?  No high-altitude attack falcons?)

Sadly, no.  But the upshot of all this is that Talon is now on the ark, and has Tubal-Cain’s Singing Sword.

Which all sounds very bad-ass, except HOW IS TALON THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE???

My head hurts.