Shadowed: Chapter 34, Part 2 and Chapter 35, Part 1: Dece

Okay, so we’ve settled now that Ranold B. Decenti IS Tony Stark.

Yeah, baby.

Thing is, much as we envisioned Ranold laying it out to God like Tony did to Loki, we need to back up a bit.  Because I’m really starting to believe that, unbeknownst to himself, what Jerry Jenkins has created here is not the third part of the saga of Paul Stepola, Changed Man for God, but the origin story of Ranold Decenti, “Dece” (his old Army nickname), Warrior AGAINST the Forces of Evil.

Namely, God.

As in all origin stories, Ranold can’t start out too heroic.  In fact, there can only be the smallest hints that he is destined for greatness.  While our apparent hero, Paul, watches TV, Ranold ventures out into the darkness and chaos, to get to the dead son he didn’t love as much as he should have.  Slowly, it becomes apparent that Ranold is Different, one of only a few to stand up against the powerful, murderous new enemy, when everyone around him is capitulating.

And now comes that moment in the origin story, when Ranold realizes he is truly alone.

Ranold is going to see his old friend from the Army (and now General of the whole thing), Chester “C.C.” Crieghton.  C.C. was one of the few people to even think of Ranold’s feelings back then, when he lost everyone under his command, and told him it wasn’t his fault.

That hadn’t made Decenti feel any better, but he never forgot the effort.

Aww.  That is so sweet.  Seriously.

Like any good hero in the midst of his origin story, Ranold is not yet the person he will be.

He has weaknesses and foibles…like not being as fit as he would like to be.

Sandwich robert downey jr the avengers iron man tony stark gif

Well, that’s the interpretation I’m going with.  I mean, I’m sure that’s the reason Jenkins spends half a page talking about Ranold trying to squeeze into his old army uniform, but not being able to cover his “expanded derriere.”  It has to be that, right?  Can’t just be Jenkins’ self-hatred manifesting as the worst traits of his designated villain.

C.C. cuts right to the chase, asking if Ranold wants to raid the underground as revenge.  Ranold denies it.  Interestingly, Jenkins states that the thought of revenge “had not even crossed Ranold’s mind,” but then C.C. self-righteously asserts that Ranold is lying.  Kinda odd, when we’re clearly supposed to be siding with C.C. here and feel good about the fact that Ranold is being questioned.

Speaking of questioning, C.C. goes on to talk about the mysterious circumstances of Margaret’s death.  He clearly doesn’t believe it went down as Ranold said, but neither does he seem to believe Ranold at fault.  (And, everyone (including Jenkins) should remember, he wasn’t at fault.  In fact, he tried to save Margaret’s life, despite Jae’s best efforts.)

C.C. switches gears, and argues against attacking “a nonmilitary site,” especially one with children living at it.  And he’s right!  And yet…these are the people who just requested their own personal weapon of mass death to strike down millions…and it did.  So the argument about the kids is definitely legit, but I could just as easily argue that any organized gathering of RTCs has now become a “military site,” complete with direct line to a power capable of wiping out everything at a moment’s notice.

I mean, hell, Paul is the one who keeps saying “we’re at war.”

It’s actually an interesting debate, whether an organized group of people with an omnipotent thug ready to massacre on request constitutes a military or war situation.  And if they keep their children onsite with them, to what extent should that change the other side’s tactical plan?

Or at least the debate would be interesting, if Jenkins wasn’t so firmly on C.C.’s side.  Jenkins/C.C. takes this opportunity to engage in a rambling, unfocused Reasons You Suck speech, calling Ranold crazy, asking him if he assassinated Dengler (Ranold denies it, and C.C. doesn’t seem to care enough to pursue it), and pointing out that Ranold doesn’t have the Support of the People for the attack:

“You have no public support, Dece.”

“You’ll be the most hated man in America.”

“[The underground zealots may be the enemy], but who knows if or when that might change, based on public opinion.”

C.C. even argues that the zealots are “likely unarmed,” which, again, seems an odd thing to say about a group of people with the ultimate weapon of mass death at their beck and call.

Hell, I could get behind C.C.’s idea to simply surround the zealots and ask them to surrender without a fight, except a) his rambling, pointless talking makes me doubt his law enforcement know-how, and b) I don’t think the zealots would do it.

C.C. tops it all off by declaring that Ranold is “suggesting…a holy war.”  Though I think Ranold’s “suggestion” is more a statement of fact—they’re in a holy war.  Paul has been saying so for three books now.  The zealots have asked their thug to turn the Reflecting Pool to blood, rot the cherry trees, dessicate Los Angeles, and just weeks ago, massacre millions of men, boys, and babies.  Sounds to me like they’re at war.  So it’s hard for me to call Ranold completely wrong when he calls C.C. “yellow.”  Yep, it’s a dumb thing to say to the General of the Army and anyone would have genuine reason to fear this horrible god, but…Ranold’s not wrong.  At least not entirely.

But right or wrong, he knows now that he’s all alone.  Only he has the spine to stand up to the forces that massacred millions.

So it’s time for Ranold to get to work, yo.

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Posted on September 4, 2015, in Shadowed. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. I’m sticking to my headcannon of Ranold as Bryant.

    This scene is just a mash-up of his scene with Dangler and C.C (it’s with politicians, but he doesn’t end up shooting them, just calling them cowards). Tell me I’m wrong.

    I’ve indeed maintained that, in the world Jenkins created, the atheists are right to murder RTCs. An organized group of RTCs basically has access to an unstoppable WMD, which they’ll use when they are feeling particularly persecuted. And as we all know, RTCs feel persecuted very, very easily. Arresting them won’t work, cause they can still pray. The only options are mass murder or complete surrender to their every whim. Jenkins is just lucky that we don’t believe actual RTCs have this power.

    “You’ll be the most hated man in America.”
    What, because some kids got killed in the raid? If the public doesn’t care about the billion or so kids that the zealots just got killed, why would they care now?

    Besides, why exactly can’t the soldiers just not shoot the children? The zealots are underground, so air strikes, tanks and heavy weapons are right out. It’s going to be an infantry job, so they can just check their fire a little. There might still be some collateral damage of course, but this compound poses the clear and present threat that to the world (remember, the zealots are currently debated what murderous miracles they should unleash next). The threat is certainly greater than that of any drone-strike target, and I don’t see Jenkins protesting those on the basis that children die in them.

    • You’re pretty right, there. I made this for Left Behind, but I believe that it fits the bill.

      Also, about Dece being overweight… two options really.

      1) This comes up at the end in a positive way. Ranold sumo-wrestling God into the pit of fire for example.

      2) Awesome 80s Style Training Montage.

  2. C.C. even argues that the zealots are “likely unarmed,”

    Great. That’ll make it a lot easier to pull off the operation using nonlethal force. They’re still dangerous, after all.

  3. Wait, what’s the Army even for in Atheistopia?

    • Remember who’s writing the book.

      “Why, ya gotta have an Army, son.” [hands move unconsciously to cover crotch]

    • Ah, damn, I thought that but forgot to write it down. Yes, it’s rather baffling how decades of a peacefully united world haven’t noticeably changed the army in any way. And Pass and Paul were also part of the “Special Forces”, but with not the slightest hint of what that means in Atheistopia. I suppose I could see the world government keeping some organized fighting force on standby, in case of armed uprisings. But at least this army would look vastly different that our armies. But this turns out to be one more thing that Jenkins doesn’t bother to show.

      • Jerry Jenkins not thinking through the implications of his world-building?! That’s unpossible!

        But seriously, while I know chances are that Ranold will either have a bridge dropped on him or he’ll get a God-botomy and come to love Big Brother, like I said, I’m going to continue to write my own version of the story where he defeats the eldritch cosmic entity trying to destroy us all. Because discontinuity is a beautiful thing and because like I said, this is the kind of thing heroes fight against. Heroes tend to be opposed to sociopathic cosmic entities that have no value for the lives of beings lower than them. In order to keep the Avengers riff going (because they are awesome), I think I’ll post a clip. For those of you wondering, this is totally how I picture Ranold when he confronts God. He’d totally be like Tony in this, being all “There’s no scenario where this ends well for you.” Because the Marvel Cinematic Universe is nothing but awesome and I will never stop fangirling it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3GF1x0-VX0

        • I’m pretty sure we’re looking at bridge, because of how the descriptions have changed. As Bia Balaam came closer and closer to jamming Yivo’s tentacle into the back of her neck/accepting the Borg assimilation/offering her neck to the Biggest Vampire Ever, the text eased up on the descriptions of her as “basically a metal snake in the shape of a human, ewww, tall women”. Now, as we approach the end of the trilogy, Ranold’s descriptions are going out of their way to say “Also, fat and unmanly”. He’d at least get a cool moustache if he was destined to end up on Team Brainwash. (Oooh, oooh, analogy #4: “being taken in for Lin Kuei cyberisation”. “Cyberman conversion”, for that matter.) So I presume we’re going for a scene of “Ranold shrieked like a woman and wet his super-wide fat pants as God Himself boiled the blood in his veins until his eyeballs exploded, and everyone was happy”.

          Which is why I think we’ll stick with the discontinuity. Ranold, being Tony Stark, obviously has access to Life Model Decoys, and if Doom can create Doombots that can fool Uatu the Watcher (if only to de-canonify the power of Squirrel Girl) then Ranold can make an LMD to satisfy the bloodlust of Khorne here.

      • Jenkins does a quick aside about how the “U.S.” (he forgot it’s now the “U.S.S.A.”) “military was a shell of its former self and had been engaged in merely minor skirmishes in third-world countries and attacks on its own citizens–the zealot underground. There had not occurred what anyone could refer to as a real war in all that time.”

        But there seems no doubt that Ranold could easily pull off the raid he is envisioning. The zealots seem to take it seriously enough, after all.

        And as regards Special Forces: yeah, even though the military is a “shell,” Paul deemed it sufficiently manly to join. So the attitudes have stayed strangely machismo for an Atheistopia that values peace above all, and spends its time eradicating homelessness and cancer.

        • Okay, wait, what skirmishes? For that matter, what third world countries? Was this mentioned in the previous books? And more worrying, is this merely Jenkins forgetting his own story again, or does “world peace” to Jenkins mean “no big wars that I heared about, but you know those third world countries, there’s always fighting going on there. It’s like a law of nature that those people are getting slaughtered, so that doesn’t count.”

          Also, you can just feel the disgust at the notion that the US army hadn’t gotten to do any proper war fighting, only bombing a few third world countries Jenkins doesn’t even bother to name, nor could find on a map even if he had named them. He actually makes it sound like the army killing it’s own zealots is a lesser tragedy than the army not getting to be all manly by killing more than a handful of dirty forgeiners.

          • No, none of this was mentioned previously.

            Yes, I think that is Jenkins’ definition of “world peace.”

            What strikes me as additionally humourous is that conservatives always talk about the size of Murica’s military as the thing that is absolutely indispensable. Yet for forty years, despite a very small military, there’s been world peace in Atheistopia.

            Go figure. 😉 Again, I don’t think Jenkins realized what he was saying there.

        • An army that is around mostly to help deal with natural disaster, anti-terror or anti-piracy operations, and the like is actually both a good idea AND a good place to stick authoritarian followers so that they can contribute to society at large and have a sense of belonging.

          Atheistopia seems to try to be an eudaimonic society, and some people are genuinely made happy by donning a uniform and marching to a drummer.

          Jenkins has done a fantastic job writing about the downfall of a utopia by Well-Intentioned Extremists, if you read behind the lines.

      • I keep thinking that it’d look like XCOM. Very small, very mobile force with a lot of infrastructural weight behind it but very few actual combatant.

        Hey, it’s the future, where are the laser guns? (Actually, did you notice how while the series progresses, things look less futuristic? We had laser guns at start, but Dengler was killed with a ballistic pistol. We had jetvators at the start, and elevators in this book. We had omnipresent skullphones at the start, but regressed to regular cells and even landlines since. Are the Zealots affecting the setting’s TL?)

        • They have immanentised the eschaton and awakened their Avatars. As the majority worldview tips towards the RTC, so the world comes increasingly to resemble their idealised 1950s.

          This is also why all the women are progressively less awesome.

          • That’s pretty much how it works in green and yellow zones in Tripocalypse, the local environment gains a “theme” depending on who lives there. The difference between a green and a yellow zone is that in one case it’s just “coincidences”, in the other it’s actual macroscopic violation of physics.

            Christian Remnant settlements are mostly in green zones (and try to look like Generic Middle America Circa 1960 as much as they can, given that this is 20 years after disasters, global earthquakes, and TurboJesus being thrown in jail), but those that are in yellow zones end up picking up a distinctive “Pre-war Fallout” look and feel.

            http://emlia.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Tripocalypse.NarrativeCausality

  4. When I read that Jenkins actually says that the thought of revenge never crossed Ranold’s mind, I said “What the hell?” out loud. How could even Jenkins not realize that he just took any chance of Ranold’s taking on God not being heroic and threw it out the window? But then I remembered Rayford Steele’s bloodlust in Assassins and concluded that Jenkins actually does think not being vindictive is unGodly–or unmanly, which comes to the same thing in his mind. So, Ranold: Brave enough to take on God, not vindictive in the face of the worst mass murder in history, but he’s fat so clearly the heroic one is the mass murderer’s most prominent toady.

    • This actually makes Ranold look significantly cooler.

      He’s going to sumo-wrestle God into the fiery pit to protect humanity, not for revenge.

  5. Only Some Stardust

    No, he doesn’t have to want revenge to take on God. He could just want….

    JUSTICE.

  6. I ended up binge-reading the entirety of your Shadowed review so far after forgetting to check your site for a while (it’s been a crazy past few years), and I’ve decided that my headcanon is that Ranold goes full Shin Megami Tensei protagonist and conscripts an army of gods, monsters, and demons to wage war against Heaven.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for September 18, 2015 | The Slacktiverse

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