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…

image

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.

image

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

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Posted on April 21, 2013, in Books, The Secret on Ararat. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Vern served in Kuwait *and* Vietnam? On the front lines in both, no less? Even if he joined the military at the very end of the war, he would have been nearing the end of a twenty-year career by the time Desert Storm rolled around. And either a fairly high-ranking officer or somehow managing to get denied promotion repeatedly while not getting kicked out…

    • I was on Ex once with a Blackhawk pilot in 2004. I can’t remember his exact trade but he was either Reserves or Air National Guard (I’m Canadian Forces so I don’t know exactly who these things work). He’d been to Grenada, the first Gulf War, and Afghanistan, and was expecting at least one more tour in Iraq before calling it quits. He’d also flown one of the choppers in that movie ‘Toy Soldiers’ (which, as I recall, was a lousy movie with some tricky flying that I’d originally thought to be special effects). So it seems that it’s possible to have a 20+ year career in the military with deployments to multiple wars. Still, that would put Vern in his late fifties at least….

  2. …yeah, someone didn’t do the adding up, and figured “ex-military guy, well, obviously like my ex-military buddies he was in Vietnam, what do you mean he’s a bit old to go on adventures?”

    I suspect the “sixth sense of a combat veteran” only works if the explosive is one of those bundles of plastique with detonator that blinks LEDs and goes “beep” for a few seconds before it goes off. Very cinematic…

    • Oh yeah, I love those things. The best one was in Casino Royal, where the bomb maker smugly pressed his remote detonator, only to find out that James Bond fixed it to his keychain. But it still gave a few beeps so we got to see the look on pseudo-Coyte’s face before it blew up.

  3. Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting this twist. That doesn’t mean it was good or interesting, mind you, just that I wasn’t expecting it.

    Is Talon a trained geologist and demolitionist, and also packing hundreds of kilos of explosives, that he is able to set things up for an Ark-burying avalanche?

  4. My mental gymnast is in fine form with the speculations — maybe Vern was part of some covert mission in Vietnam after 1975? Wait, but he’s army, not Special Ops. Maybe he lied about Kuwait? No, wait, “Christians don’t lie.” Does Vern specifically reminisce about COMBAT in Vietnam? Maybe he took a very weird vacation in South Vietnam after 1975? . . . yeah, that was a long shot. Well, what if Vern is suffering a concussion from the sheer force of the explosion and is having a hallucination of Vietnam (a place he has never been) that his damaged brain only thinks is a memory?

    Hmmm. I have to admit, Larry was not high up on my list of suspects. I’d tell Phillips “well done!” except, you know, it wasn’t. Done well, that is.

  5. 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.

    Ummm… Wow. Sure glad that sixth sense was right. Otherwise he just killed the Dick and Token Turk, yes? I guess those 2 were toast no matter what.

    • Ha, although that would’ve been hilarious if Vern’s instincts were wrong, there’s no bomb and he just bails out of the chopper for no reason. And Dick and Turk are looking at each other in the backseat like, the hell?

      • Now I really want to see some sort of action/adventure film parody where that happens. Get on that, Hollywood.

        • Oh man, that would be hilarious!

          Especially since I’m imagining Vern leaping out without a parachute. Just sudden random leap into a snow drift.

      • Yeah, that was the moment in reading this chapter’s review that really gave me the “what is this i don’t even” reaction. It’s giving my suspension of disbelief fits.

  6. That Other Jean

    Is it possible that Talon will bury the ark in an avalanche with Murph in it? Please? Then his students could get an actual education, and Isis could get on with her life. I live in hope. . .

  7. While I did have Larry on my list of potential moles, this out-of-the-blue explosion is just irritating. Did he seriously pack explosives through all that on the off-chance he’d get to plant them on the helicopter and then get everyone else to hang out in it while he stayed a safe distance away? Because if just one of those guys had decided to get out and chill on solid ground during the helicopter photo session, that would have made Larry’s getaway way harder. And I’m not even going to touch the Vern-in-Vietnam issue.

    But just because Vern survived one attack doesn’t mean he’s out of the woods yet! There’s still plenty of time for him to get killed by Talon, or possibly by Larry coming back to finish the job. I hereby predict that Vern will somehow get involved in Murphy’s final showdown with Talon, and his life will be at the very least threatened.

    Also, anyone care to predict what organization Larry’s working for? Backup agent for the CIA or the Seven (they stop at nothing!) would work, but it’s always more fun to invent extra enemies. My pick is the Russians, because godless commies were the boogeyman of choice back when the authors were young men.

    • Well, let’s try to sort through the players we’ve met so far and see if we can work out who’s working for whom and what their goals are. Full disclosure, this will probably look like Glenn Beck’s blackboard before we’re done:

      TALON: Works for The Seven. Is operating alone on Ararat. Goal: destroy/bury everything associated with the Ark (but possible personal interest in the Singing Sword). Killed Fearless Gum-Popping Leader.

      MURPHY: Serves the interests of Methuselah and God, but not the college who actually signs his paychecks. Goal: bring back proof of Ark, artifacts, own awesomeness.

      FEARLESS GUM-POPPING LEADER (deceased): Employed by the CIA. Goal: recover alchemical tech from the Ark (the Ark itself is of no interest). Killed Senor Seal and The Nerd.

      OBI-WAN KENOBI: Unaffiliated but generally benevolent. Opposed to Killer Puppies faction (see below). Goal: advance the plot. Basically this book’s Tom Bombadil. Possible secret identities: Wandering Jew, angel, Time Lord.

      LARRY THE PHOTO GUY: Affiliation & goal undetermined. Hates our heroes, rather likes Isis; is probably a commenter on this blog. Blowed up helicopter, killing Dick & Turk.

      WILD DOGS: Seemingly independent, definitely adorable. Driven off by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Easily startled, but they’ll soon be back — and in greater numbers. (That’s a Star Wars reference.)

      KURDISH GUNMEN: Introduced & dispatched in Chapter 34. Affiliation unknown. Goal: provide tension. Mixed success at best.

      THING FROM “ADDAMS FAMILY”: Possible accomplice of Fearless Gum-Popping Leader, cutting the rope that kills Senor Seal and Nerd. Likely just a joke by Ruby, but I feel all angles should be considered.

      • Somebody ought to be representing the interests of Godless Heathen Preston University here. Perhaps that’s what Larry is up to. (And have this small Internet for your description of him.)

        Your list misses out VERN: just trying to stay alive and collect a paycheck. Conversion fodder.

  8. Also, I don’t know if it’s you (RubyTea) or Phillips, but I’m pretty sure the use of the word “ditched” is wrong there. Ditching is when you deliberately crash the aircraft, preferrably in a relatively controlled manner, because the alternative is worse. It’s probably best known from WWII carrier operations, when pilots would often ditch their aircraft near ships if they were damaged or running low on fuel, so that they would have the best chance of getting picked up. But I think what Vern actually did here was probably bailing out? I.e. jumping out, preferably at low altitude!, because the alternative is worse.

    • I think that might be unfortunate confluence of slang – “let’s ditch this party” has certainly been in use in my lifetime, and perhaps the author assumed that the military usage was the same.

      • Yeah, this author assumed the uses were the same. 😉 LaPhillips didn’t use the word “ditch.” I was just using it in the sense of “let’s ditch this party.”

  9. One rather chilly interpretation came to mind recently. Vern’s only INTERPRETING this as his combat reflexes. It’s more that God IMPELLED him to escape. Why weren’t Mustapha and Wendell impelled? Because, if their thoughts and behavior in the Ark are anything to go by, they weren’t sufficiently virtuous for God to even consider extending his aegis in that situation. Larry had their judgement unwittingly primed, so might as well let their post-mortem judgement commence now.

  10. I’m gonna guess that Vern’s reminiscing about Vietnam was a find and replace error. I’m sure LaHaye wanted Vern to be some kind of ex-military pilot like those guys from ‘nam he once met or heard about or something. Phillips did the math and realized Vietnam was the wrong war and changed it to Iraq but forgot to fix it here. Voila a 52 year old (at minimum) pilot who served in two wars and has a preggers wife. I’m sure the writers looked at that and thought, eh, close enough.

    Soooo, how is Larry getting down the mountain? Did he get out of the helicopter with his camera and a rather suspicious amount of climbing gear or is he expecting to get picked up by the CIA (or the Seven?)

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, April 27th, 2013 | The Slacktiverse

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