Shadowed: Chapter 40, Part 2 and Chapter 41, Part 1: We Still Don’t Know…
So it’s still the same evening, and things are kinda all happening at once: the zealots are evacuating, Felicia is having her first dinner party with believers, Straight is conferring with Dr. Nazi about some random other zealot, and…Bia is dead and Ranold is waiting for word on that.
Yeah, so when it happened, I totally assumed he did it personally. My bad.
Instead, he’s sitting in his office, scarfing down takeout Chinese, like a good leader should be. A good leader who’s FAT, amirite? Ha!
Anyway, he gets a call from a security guy:
“Commander Bia Balaam works for you, does she not?”
Um, yes. And so do you, dude. And so does everyone in the USSA NPO. What’s your point?
The point, of course, is that he is calling to tell Ranold that Bia is dead. Ranold affects sorrow and, in one of the most shocking turns in this entire book, mentions that Bia’s daughter will have to be informed.
Jenkins remembered that he created a daughter for Bia!!!
I’m not kidding when I say that this may well be the most shocking thing about this whole novel.
But also, Ranold is pissed, because he had expected to hear from his assassin before security.
Harriet Johns calls Ranold, apparently only moments later. Seems she used “local muscle” to off Bia. She was the assassination middleman. Middlewoman.
So this brings me to a big question I have, which I should have brought up when Bia died, but I forgot:
WHY WASN’T BIA PUBLICLY EXECUTED???
Seriously, there cannot possibly be a better-evidenced case of treason than Bia’s: she confessed right to the face of the head of the USSA NPO that she has been in near-constant secretive contact with the mastermind of the recent massacre of millions. And as if we needed more than that, said mastermind of the massacre then confirmed the whole thing!
Ranold should have hauled her ass to a three-minute show trial (if that), then had her executed. Publicly. Preferably with TV cameras watching, so the whole world could see what happens to those who align themselves with the evil god and his evil followers who prayed for, then carried out, the massacre of your sons and brothers and husbands.
WHY THE HELL IS RANOLD ACTING LIKE HE’S DOING SOMETHING WRONG???
Because he is. (Acting like he’s doing something wrong.) Except he isn’t. (Doing anything wrong.) Ranold is head of the NPO, the combo FBI and CIA of Atheistopia. And when faced, to his very face, with a traitor, he has her quietly offed in a parking garage in the middle of the night, as though he has something to be ashamed of.
This just makes no fracking sense, and the more I think about it, the more it pisses me off.
See, Ranold is one of the founders of the NPO. He built it from the ground up after the devastation of World War III. He’s no fool. And he must know how much support he needs right now. The whole planet is choosing sides, and Ranold has seen that even the leader of the free world, and his own closest friends, aren’t going to stand with him and fight this malevolent being and its minions. So showing that people are being corrupted, that people are collaborating with the enemy, just might help sway a bit of public opinion to his side. Hey, not only did this being kill millions of men and little boys and babies, but some of the most powerful people in the nation are on its side!!!
(And it’s not like Jenkins doesn’t have the stomach to write a scene of a public execution: he did it in the Left Behind series, after all.)
I’m ashamed to admit it, but for one brief second, I actually wondered if Jenkins was trying to make a thematic bridge between Bia’s first action in this series (offing Andy Pass privately in the dead of night for being a traitor and believer), and her last (being offed privately in the dead of night for being a traitor and believer).
But I don’t think for more than that second that Jenkins has sufficient wit to do that.
It does bring up another point, though, and that is that we know no more now about the NPO than we did after Andy Pass was offed, three books ago.
The NPO doesn’t make sense. They kill people but nobody ever seems to know why, and different people at different levels know or don’t know, based on nothing more than plot convenience. When Pass was killed, the story was put out (by the very “propaganda” sources that so scared Straight), that he was killed in a tragic accident. Yet, like Bia, he was an obvious traitor and there seemed no reason to hide that fact from the world.
Other than Jenkinsian logic: atheists are evil people who do evil things. Killing a believer in the dead of night is an evil thing, like an atheist would do. But lying about a killing is also an evil thing, like an atheist would do. Even when covering up the killing makes no sense. Especially when nobody in the NPO seems to know the whole story at any point.
Oh, well. Ranold is an atheist, so he is an evil guy who does an evil thing: orders the death of Bia. And evil people also cover up their killings, so Ranold has some “local muscle” kill her, even though he has no reason not to do it in the light of day and with everyone in the world watching.
Because he’s evil and that’s the kind of thing an evil atheist would do.
And you know what the really funny thing is? At no point has Paul ever considered that the same thing might happen to him. He always thinks of being caught in terms of prison, not being secretly offed in a warehouse or a parking garage. You’d think he’d be familiar with the nonsensical-yet-evil way that the NPO works.
I mean, we’ve been over this before, but Jenkins has had three whole books to build this damn world, and he still doesn’t have anything up his sleeve other than atheists are evil people who form evil organizations that kill people and lie about it internally and to the rest of the world. Because
their actions don’t make sense they’re evil.
And they cure cancer.