Shadowed: Chapter 20, Part 3 and Chapter 21: One More Crusade
One little subplot tacked onto the end of Chapter 20 and then, inexplicably, broken up and continued in Chapter 21, has to do with our favorite new RTC, Felicia. She has hunted down one of the IT guys who is trying to hack into the underground’s network.
OR IS HE???
In fact, he is, of course, not trying. Or perhaps he is “slowing” progress. Either way, he vaguely hinted to Felicia that he had sympathies with Paul. So when Felicia accidentally startles him in his cubicle and he spills his coffee, he…draws a fishie in the spill.
And because Felicia is so well-versed in Christian symbology…
…she immediately gets the reference.
They’ve barely begun a conversation when a female security guard named Trudy shows up…but she’s a secret believer, too!
Fun! And all the secret believers at the Chicago NPO bureau have a monthly secret meeting—at a seafood restaurant!
(By the way, this doesn’t exactly speak well of them, of Paul, or especially of Straight. Paul could have had an entire network of support, from basically every department at his workplace, over the whole course of the last two books, and NOBODY KNEW WHO WAS ACTUALLY A SECRET CHRISTIAN.)
Worst spygames ever.
Trudy mentions that the newspapers have been full of:
“Editorials, opinions, letters to the editor—everybody’s ready to cut the underground some slack.
…even unbelievers are getting on the bandwagon. Nobody wants a repeat of what just happened.”
Well, I can think of one or two people who do want a repeat of what just happened…though even worse.
Aside from that, although I can imagine some people being so blinded by fear that they want to cut some slack to the worshippers of this murdering god, I can imagine many more people who would be so angry about that little matter of husbands and fathers and sons dying that they would never consider such a thing.
Speaking of Pudgy Jack, he’s still obsessed with this plan, and wants to set out on a little crusade to the other underground RTC locations, “to encourage them, tie them together, and rally them to pray for one more dramatic act of God.”
Because, after all, it has been nearly one whole week since the deaths of millions upon millions of innocents.
Paul was fighting him, agreeing with Greenie that if the slaying of firstborn sons around the world had not reached the hard hearts of the people, nothing would.
Well, yeah, that’s Jack’s whole point, Paul. They’ve got hard hearts (just because they were raised atheist and then a god murdered their loved ones), so they deserve to drown or die of thirst. That’s Jack’s kind of logic.
And lest we think too well of Paul, he’s against this plan mostly because he doesn’t want to leave Jae. This is a much bigger reason for him than preventing the deaths of billions of people.
Just as Pudgy Jack is outlining his latest idiotic scheme to Paul (I’m actually not sure how much sympathy Jenkins wants us to have for Pudgy Jack and his world-destroying scheme), Paul gets a skullphone call (left on his skullphone voicemail) from Bia Balaam.
And bizarrely, Jenkins immediately attempts to retcon Paul’s opinion of Bia:
…Bia was everything the former Paul Stepola would have admired in an NPO chief: ruthless, cold, cruel, ambitious, condescending, sarcastic.
Except that Paul hated Bia Balaam at first “sight” (since he was blind at the time).
Why the retcon? Well, that’s an interesting question. I’m willing to bet that a big part of the answer is that Bia has been brought low. And if here’s one thing Paul likes, it’s when a woman is made to feel pain. Here is part of her message:
“I am going to betray the NPO, betray my government, and go against everything I ever knew, was ever taught. … I’m conceding. You win. Your people and your God have proven themselves, at least to me. I have lost my son, my everything, and I have nothing more to lose, nothing more to offer. No way I’ll risk my daughter’s life for a cause I no longer believe in.”
I have lost everything…except my daughter. I have nothing more to lose…except my daughter.
Meh, what’s a daughter when you have a son, amirite?
Also, chalk up yet another person who doesn’t want to follow their beloved child to Hell.
Oh Bia. Bia, Bia, Bia.