Shadowed: Chapter 34, Part 2 and Chapter 35, Part 1: Dece
Okay, so we’ve settled now that Ranold B. Decenti IS Tony Stark.
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.
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.
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.