NRA: Joshua Judges Rayford

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 63-65

Nicolae Carpathia is flying from Dallas to San Francisco, casually giving orders for the nuclear destruction of dozens of cities and the death of millions of people.

And neither Rayford nor Amanda Steele bothers trying to stop him.

I blame Bruce Barnes for that. For more than a year he had the members of the Tribulation Force studying the book of Revelation. That gave them the schedule for the months ahead, but didn’t suggest anything they could do about it.

They should have been studying the book of Judges. That bloody little text almost reads like a manual for just the sort of guerrilla warfare the Tribulation Force ought to be conducting.

Plan A: Codename Jael.

Amanda offers to serve refreshments to Nicolae and his “ambassadors.”

“Oh my,” she says. “Your cocktails look a bit cloudy. Here, let me stir those some more with this tent-peg I just happen to be carrying.”

If that doesn’t work, then try …

Plan B: Codename Ehud.

Having disabled the locks on the airplane lavatories, Amanda Steele sits patiently, crossing her legs to better conceal the dagger strapped to her right thigh. Eventually, even the Antichrist has to go.

And, if all else fails …

Plan C: Codename Samson.

Rayford Steele sits behind the controls of an airplane at 33,000 feet. The Antichrist is a passenger on that plane, and if he is not stopped, millions of people will be murdered. Rayford grips the wheel like Samson grasping the pillars. …

Nothing at all like that happens in this book, of course.

Rayford maintains his perfect safety record as the Antichrist’s personal pilot, always scrupulously ensuring that Nicolae arrives unharmed at his destination and never giving any thought to any other possibility. It never occurs to Rayford that any landing the Antichrist walks away from is probably not a good landing.

Rayford clandestinely listened in horror as Carpathia announced to his compatriots, “Chicago should be under retaliatory attack, even as we speak. Thank you for your part in this, and for the strategic nonuse of radioactive fallout. I have many loyal employees in that area, and though I expect to lose some in the initial attack, I need not lose any to radiation to make my point.”

We saw something like this earlier when New York City was nuked without “use of radioactive fallout.” I guess this is kind of like Global Weekly. There’s a Time magazine in the Left Behind books, but no Newsweek. Instead of Newsweek, there’s Global Weekly. Similarly in these books, instead of physics, there’s this kind of thing.

Carpathia and his lads decide to turn on the news to watch the destruction of Chicago.

Rayford could remain seated no longer. He didn’t know what he would say or do, if anything, but he simply could not stay in that cockpit, not knowing whether his loved ones were safe. He entered the cabin as the television was coming on, showing the first images from Chicago. Amanda gasped.

She gasped because she is surprised by what is happening in Chicago. She’s looking at the same TV screen as Nicolae is, just a few feet away from him, apparently, but somehow she didn’t hear any of what he and his ambassadors were saying.

Jerry Jenkins keeps drawing our attention to this, but he never seems to notice it himself. Amanda never hears a word that Nicolae says from a few feet away, so Jenkins keeps having Rayford pop out of the cockpit to give her updates on what he’s overheard. This is doubly annoying. Not only can readers not form any reasonable image of where Amanda might be sitting, but then we also have to read everything Nicolae says twice — once when he says it, and then again when Rayford relays it to Amanda.

That’s some ground-breaking bad writing right there. In this scene, Jenkins mixes it in with a more conventional staple of bad novels — the omniscient and omnipresent news camera. Who is filming the destruction of Chicago? Maybe in addition to the “no radiation” setting, Nicolae’s nuclear bombs come with a special “no damage to journalists and cameras” setting.

“Would you go to Chicago for me?” Rayford whispered.

“If you think I would be safe.”

“There’s no radiation.”

“How do you know that?”

They’re whispering, again, because Nicolae is sitting very close by and if they didn’t whisper then he could hear what they’re saying.

Rayford wants Amanda to catch a flight out of San Francisco after they land. It will have to be a flight leaving immediately, of course, because after Rayford’s plane takes off again, San Francisco is next on the list of cities to be destroyed.

“If you can’t get an immediate flight, and I mean before this plane leaves the ground again, you must reboard the Condor. Do you understand?”

“I understand, but why?”

“I can’t tell you now. Just get an immediate flight to Milwaukee. …”

I’m sure that booking a spur-of-the-moment “immediate flight to Milwaukee” won’t be a problem, since so far World War III has mostly been unfolding east of the Mississippi and why would that interfere with flights out of San Francisco?

Following the news from Chicago, the cable news channel broke for a commercial, and Rayford approached Carpathia.

Here’s a sentence that no human being will ever speak: “More breaking news on the destruction of Chicago, New York, Washington and London, but first, a word from our sponsors.”

“Sir, may I have a moment?”

“Certainly, Captain. Awful news out of Chicago, is it not?”

“Yes, sir, it is. In fact, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”

Humans don’t talk like this after big disasters. Rayford and Nicolae were both just looking at the same TV screen showing nothing but devastation where the third-largest city in America had once stood. Millions of people have just been killed.

And here they are chatting about it politely, making small talk. That little exchange is the sort of thing two people might say after, for example, Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS.

“Awful news out of Chicago.”

“Yes, sir, it is. If Alou had only caught that ball …”

“You know I have family in that area.”

“Yes, and I hope they are all safe,” Carpathia said.

Rayford wanted to kill him where he sat. He knew full well the man was the Antichrist …

At last. Finally.

Nicolae has just killed millions of people. He’s about to kill millions more if he isn’t stopped. And Rayford can stop him.

Rayford must stop him. He must, at least, try to stop him. This is not optional. Millions of lives are at stake. For us to accept that Rayford is any kind of hero, we need to see Rayford trying to stop Nicolae. If he doesn’t do something, right now, then everyone in San Francisco will die.

Rayford has to try to stop Nicolae right here, right now.

But he doesn’t do that.

Rayford wanted to kill him where he sat. He knew full well the man was the Antichrist, and he also knew that this very person would be assassinated one day and be resurrected from the dead by Satan himself. Rayford had never dreamed he might be an agent in that assassination, but at that instant he would have applied for the job. He fought for composure. Whoever killed this man would be merely a pawn in a huge cosmic game. The assassination and resurrection would only make Carpathia more powerful and satanic than ever.

I can scarcely begin to list the many ways this is just horrifically wrong. Without a trace of irony or self-awareness, Rayford Steele just thought this: “Whoever killed this man would be merely a pawn in a huge cosmic game.” Astonishing.

Let me try to break this down a bit.

1. Jenkins finally gives an answer to the question readers have been asking ever since we first realized, back in Book 1, that Nicolae is the Antichrist: Why doesn’t Rayford/Buck just kill him?

But Jenkins’ answer doesn’t work. It’s not a convincing answer in general,* and it’s an utterly unconvincing answer here in this specific situation.

Here, right at this moment, it doesn’t matter if Nicolae will eventually “be resurrected from the dead by Satan himself.” Right at this moment, the only thing that matters is that every living thing in San Francisco will die if Rayford doesn’t act. If stopping Nicolae here only means that Undead Nicolae will be coming back later to try again, then Rayford can try to deal with that later.

Right now, his urgent concern shouldn’t be that complicated. It’s like one of those hypothetical questions from an ethics textbook — the kind so narrowly constructed that even Gandhi, Dorothy Day and John Howard Yoder would respond, “Well, in that case, I would kill the guy …”**

2. The idea that the Antichrist will “be assassinated one day and be resurrected from the dead by Satan himself” is based on Tim LaHaye’s “literal” interpretation of Revelation 13:1-3:

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads; and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads were blasphemous names. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave it his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have received a death-blow, but its mortal wound had been healed. In amazement the whole earth followed the beast.

This same opaque passage was popular back in the 1980s when “Bible prophecy scholars” were proclaiming Mikhail Gorbachev as the most likely candidate for Antichrist. They saw it as a reference to the port-wine stain birthmark on Gorbachev’s forehead. (Yes, really.)

Even within the tiny world of premillennial dispensationalist End Times mania, this passage has many different interpretations. Rayford and his friends only ever considered one of those — that of the Rev. Billings and of Tim LaHaye. And they’re so confident that this one view must be right they’re willing to sit idly by as millions of people die.

3. Rayford Steele knows that he is already a mere “pawn in a huge cosmic game.” As the personal pilot and a key assistant to the Antichrist, he seems to be Nicolae’s pawn, but he thinks of himself as a pawn for God.

But that doesn’t really matter. The way this cosmic game works, both sides are up to the same thing. Nicolae wants to slaughter millions of people and God wants to slaughter millions of people. And after all, in this game, the Antichrist is simply playing out his divinely appointed role in God’s great plan. So is Satan, for that matter.

Serve the Antichrist or serve Satan and you’re really just serving God, ultimately. And vice versa. That’s the game.

You may think that calling this a “huge cosmic game” is a devastating critique of the authors’ religious ideology, but it’s a phrase they use here themselves. And they use it proudly.

For LaHaye and Jenkins, it’s all just a game, but it is God’s game. If the Antichrist wants to kill millions of people, then God must want those people dead. And if God wants them dead, then it would be wrong to try to save them.

Rayford, of course, does not try to save them. He is a mere pawn in this huge cosmic game, but not the sort of pawn that does anything to interfere.

He asks Nicolae for permission for Amanda to fly to Milwaukee.

“I would really feel a lot better if she could be there with them to help as needed.”

“As you wish,” Carpathia said, and it was all Rayford could do not to breathe a huge sigh of relief in the man’s face.

Forget about Rayford going out in a blaze of glory like Samson. Forget about him lifting a finger to warn anyone in San Francisco of the unholy death about to rain down on them all. Rayford can’t worry about that right now, because he’s using every ounce of strength and courage he has to avoid looking relieved.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* So now we know that the Antichrist is prophesied to be assassinated, after which Satan will bring him back from the dead, more powerful than ever. And it seems the Tribulation Force can’t do anything to change that.

OK. But they could at least try to make the devil work for it. If Satan plans on resurrecting the Antichrist, then let him have to sift Nicolae’s ashes out of the other ashes with which his scattered remains have been mixed before being buried in hundreds of separate parcels on six continents, all on holy ground. Why make it easy for him?

** My undergrad ethics professor seemed to enjoy my efforts to strain such hypotheticals to the breaking point:

“I’m a lousy shot, I’d probably just end up killing one of those poor kids.”

“Mistah Clock,” he’d say in that accent of his. “You ah an excellent shot. A world-class mocksman. You nevah miss.”

“Never?”

“Nevah.”

“Then I shoot the red wire on the bomb’s detonator, defusing the bomb and allowing the children to escape.”

“Ah, Mistah Clock, but the red wire is directly ova his hot. To shoot the wire you’ll have to kill the terrorist.”

[Ten minutes later, after several more implausible scenarios are ruled out.]

“Well, in that case, I guess I would kill the guy.”

He was really amazing at constructing those hypotheticals so that any other option became impossible. In one semester of his class, I think I killed more hypothetical Nazis than Aldo Raine.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Tofu_Killer

    sweeeeeeettttttt…..

  • Albanaeon

     “(H)e does love his wife, right?”

    Pretty sure his heart belongs to another.  And it’s not Jesus..

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Jeeeez Louise!

    Just when I think Jenkins has bottom-bounced the limits of absurdity, he sinks to yet another level of depraved praise of Rayford and Buck!

    They’re so important to the plot, that when a worldwide*  nuclear war hits on the heels of a child-loss disaster, they do absolutely fuck all.

    DISASTERS AND CRISES DO NOT WORK THAT WAY, JENKINS!

    Does Jenkins even realize that the instant anyone finds out Rayford had his chance to kill the Antichrist and deserve martyrdom, and passed it up, they’re going to be either so shocked or so angry they’ll be utterly incoherent at the way this waste of space – this self-styled Elder of the New Hope Church – has somehow vaulted to his position as an un-firable aide to the Antichrist?

    Seriously! Even when Rayford is all WRATH OF THE LAMB!#^&%^$$%$!##! at Nicolae, Nicky Earth Erection just dusts himself off and continues about his day.

    What the actual fuck. Any normal person who’d just been handled roughly by a subordinate would be firing that subordinate posthaste.

    Jenkins is the poster boy for abusing Authorial Immunity.

  • aunursa

    Rayford doesn’t tell Amanda that the reason he is placing her in grave danger by sending her to Chicago is to make sure that his loved ones are safe.  He just asks her, “Will you go to Chicago for me?”

    But he does tell Nicolae that he wants Amanda to go to Chicago in order to check on “my people.”  Nicky offers to have his staff check on them, but Rayford declines…

    “Sir,” Rayford continued, “I was wondering if it would be possible for my wife todeplane in San Francisco and head back to Chicago to check on my people.”
    “I would be happy to have my staff check on them,” Carpathia said, “if you will simply give me their addresses.”
    “I would really feel a lot better if she could be there with them to help as needed.”
    “As you wish,” Carpathia said, and it was all Rayford could do not to breathe a huge sigh of relief in the man’s face.

    This part reminds me of the shuttlecraft dillemma in Star Trek.  In several instances crewmembers take a shuttlecraft, which is slower and less safe.  The reason that they need to take the shuttlecraft rather than have the Enterprise make a slight detour is so that they can be placed in unnecessary danger of being attacked by Romulans or crash-landing on a planet inhabited by Bigfoot and his relatives.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    This part reminds me of the Shuttlecraft Dillemma in the Star Trek series.  In several episodes crewmembers take a shuttlecraft to a destination, which is a slower and riskier mode of travel.  The reason that they need to use the shuttlecraft rather than have the Enterprise make a slight detour appears to be so that they can place themselves in unnecessary danger of crash-landing on Bigfoot’s Planet or being kidnapped by the Romulans.

    Heck, in supplemental materials they even said that the shuttlecraft were kept in mostly as plot devices to isolate crew members.  They said that they would probably not make “safer” shuttles because it would lock them out of being able to write certain kinds of episode scripts.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That sort of absurdity is why, as much as I love Trek, I particularly rank Deep Space 9 as #1. Because they’re on a space station, the characters can’t just fall into $CONTRIVED_TRAP_OF_THE_WEEK. This made the writers get more creative and, I think, more willing to really tackle some plot arcs that, by the very nature of the fact that the Enterprise must travel from place to place, couldn’t have been possible because they required a quasistationary object.

    I really thought the series hit its strife by the third season, and by the fifth, holy geez, I was just rolling through those episodes! The Dominion War overshadowing everything really helped tie these episodes together, and I kept wanting to find out what happens next.

    It didn’t hurt that the last stages of that war had a very WW2-esque feel to them, just rolling onwards and inwards to the final defeat of the Dominion.

  • Jenny Islander

    I thought the official handwavium explanation was that the transporter beam was wonderful if nothing was interfering with transmission, and a particularly horrific way to die if something was.  And natural weather in the upper or lower atmosphere of an M-class planet could interfere with transmission something awful.

    ISTR an officially approved story set in early Starfleet days in which SOP was always, but always, to send a rock or an empty box or something before sending people, to make sure that they wouldn’t arrive inside out due to something the ship’s scanners hadn’t detected.

  • hidden_urchin

    ”…an assignment that could be done with a few phone calls or emails.”

    Waitwaitwait. Have we truly just discovered a scene where Jenkins could have used communications technology and did not? I- I may have to go lie down for a bit.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *gigglesnorts*

    Well, at least thank whoever that Buck isn’t lugging around a fax machine, because oh god, he’d be sending a fax every 5 pages.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    * worldwide nuclear war: Yes, I know strictly speaking it’s in the USA, but given that L&J are very sloppy about how they write this, let’s assume that absent Nicky Volcanic Eruption’s effective authority the USA would be like Jericho and for all intents and purposes it would be worldwide, anyway.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    * worldwide nuclear war: Yes, I know strictly speaking it’s in the USA, but given that L&J are very sloppy about how they write this, let’s assume that absent Nicky Volcanic Eruption’s effective authority the USA would be like Jericho and for all intents and purposes it would be worldwide, anyway.

    No, that will not do at all. If the eastern hemisphere has to put up with Jenkins pretending we don’t exist then we don’t need you dropping bombs on us on his behalf. We’ll just keep going about our business.

    I assume we’re supposed to have forgotten by this point that Nic is Romanian, right? Because I’m having trouble imagining the modern Romanian epitome of evil deciding to bomb San Francisco in addition to LA, but not throwing any carnage Russia’s way.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well, to the average USA resident whose city got nuked, until effective communications were restored I suspect it would matter little if the whole world got nuked or just the continental US.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Well, to the average USA resident whose city got nuked, until effective communications were restored I suspect it would matter little if the whole world got nuked or just the continental US.

    Let’s be honest. Even after effective communications were restored the fate of Africa, Asia and Oceania wouldn’t matter to the average USA resident whose city got nuked.

  • The Lodger

     I’m having trouble imagining the modern Romanian epitome of evil
    deciding to bomb San Francisco in addition to LA, but not throwing any
    carnage Russia’s way.

    From the POV of the Left Behind readership, bombing Russia may not be the act of an evil person.

    (Believe it or not, I hate being this cynical.)

  • Flying Squid with Goggles

    The way Nicolae has been talking to his subordinates, explaining his “trigger,” we know *they* weren’t really in on the plan earlier – Nicky Tall Topographic Feature has been doing this all himself without his “Ambassadors'” knowledge, but maybe with just the help of Fortunato or whoever…

    So at this point, Rayford could probably not even just plow the plane into the ground, but actually suggest to everyone in the room that they should just open the emergency exit and toss Nicky out without a parachute. That seems a human kind of thing to do, and the “Ambassadors” have tons to gain from this as well, even if they are inhuman monsters, since they would be the next set of powerful people to replace Nicky.

    But not only does Rayford ditch the suicide option, he also ditches the option of allowing the lesser evil to triumph in this case…

  • http://mousehole-mouse.blogspot.com/?zx=bc3d377f4850d0bb Mouse

    Not to mention, don’t Ray and Bucky eventually try to kill him? What difference does it make if Nicky Cardamon dies now or later? Not to mention, wouldn’t the plane crash reduce Nicky to cinders? I have no doubts about God being able to reconstitute people from ash, but a lot of RTCs seem to given their fear of cremation, so couldn’t they use that as an out?

  • Tofu_Killer

     Well Rayford gets a gun and look at Nicky through the scope  for pages and pages of overwrought prose, but he never comes close to pulling the trigger.

    BECAUSE (say it with me): GOD HAS OTHER PLANS

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    It’s very Classical. The Greco-Roman heroes were also pawns in a cosmic game of chess, the different being that they didn’t take it lying down.

    Odysseus would have tricked Nicolae into jumping out of the plane without a parachute.

  • aunursa

    Brave Sir Rayford eventually does try to kill Nicky.  The reason that he can’t kill Nicky right now is that Tim’s Tribulation Timeline doesn’t allow Jerry to kill off Nicky until the end of Book #6 — when the PROFIT$ prophets have spoken.

    BTW, In the scene in which Rayford tries to assassinate Nicky, Buck is hiding scared in a tree.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    Nuclear weapons with fallout, huh? I’d love to hear that one explained. Even low-yield tactical nukes generate fallout.

    Why did they use nukes, again? Clearly, they were picturing a conventional bombing – formations of B-52s (or some futuristic analog) unleashing wave after wave of hell. And if that seemed too small or banal, why not use some fictional superweapon? This thing is meant to be set in the future (the 2030’s, based on the tech level in the prequels), so come up with something else. An antimatter bomb maybe, or an orbital death ray, engineered plague, earthquake generator, grey goo…the possibilities are endless. I realize that these are supervillain weapons, but Nicolae is a supervillain. All he’s missing are the crazy goggles and spandex.

    I assume that they went with nukes out of tradition (read: lack of creativity) and never bothered to do any research. I do love the post facto explanation – yet more proof that Jenkins was making it up as he went along.

  • fraser

     In The Amazing Colossal Man, when the hero survives a ground zero nuclear blast (albeit mutating into the eponymous monster), the world’s greatest nuclear scientist informs his superiors there’s nothing terribly remarkable in that happening.
    This is about that dumb.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     This is a movie where a medical doctor later explains that the human heart is a single, large cell.

  • Tricksterson

    I actually bought that when I first saw the movie.  In my defense I was ten.

  • fraser

     The book, I mean, not anything you said.

  • Lunch Meat

    Whoever killed this man would be merely a pawn in a huge cosmic game.

    The scornful way Rayford speaks of the person who eventually kills Nicky reminds me of the people who seem to cynically realize they’re powerless in society, but think that if they don’t care/don’t do anything to try to make things better, somehow they’ll “win.” “Politicians are all the same. If you vote, you’re just a pawn in their game. If, on the other hand, you’re like me and don’t do anything at all, things will be exactly like they would have been if you’d voted, but at least you can feel superior.”*

    *Just using this analogy because it’s the first thing that came to my head. There may be legitimate reasons not to vote, but this one just seems kind of silly to me.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The scornful way Rayford speaks of the person who eventually kills Nicky

    Lunch Meat:

    You mean Rayford dissed Punvz Ebframjrvt?!

    Jesus. Talk about an ungrateful bastard, just because *he* missed with his Phallic Substitute Saber.

  • Grey Seer

    Look, man, it’s almost irrelevant if the Antichrist will be ressurected. Time that he is dead is time that he is not committing horrific genocidal monstrosities. And do the prophecies say anything about him being ressurected twice? Kill him once, then kill him again later. Or kill him, and then seal his corpse in a box and drop it in the ocean.

    Hell, just stab him, or strangle him, or do anything you can to inconvenience him. There is a reason we have criminal charges that can be filed for aiding and abetting a criminal. You are, right now, actively assisting a mass-murderer. You’re not being threatened into it, you’re not even simply failing to oppose it, you’re helping the man who you believe to be the absolute worst individual on the face of the planet. WHY?

    Gah. Stupid useless so-called-protagonists…

  • Tofu_Killer

    Dropping prophesied immortals into the oceans doesn’t solve anything. I learned that from season 4 of Angel.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Slowed him down a bit. See also: Jet engines, woodchippers, pools full of piranha (soon to be VERY CHUBBY piranha depending on how fast he regenerates…)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Point of order: ‘protagonist’ just means ‘central character’. They’re not heroes, but nobody gets more screen time, so they’re the protagonists.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    True, but a protagonist is still obliged to DO something. Rayford is a point-of-view character, but I have a hard time calling such a passive player a “protagonist.”

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    True, but a protagonist is still obliged to DO something. Rayford is a point-of-view character, but I have a hard time calling such a passive player a “protagonist.”

    The classic adage is “Antagonists act, protagonists react.” 

    We have Nicky acting so he makes a good case for the antagonist, but the Tribs never seem to react to anything he does.

  • depizan

     So what would be a term for main characters who sit about like lumps?  Blahtagonists?  Notagonists?  What’s Greek for inert?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    No idea, but a nice Anglo-Saxon one would be shitagonists. :P

  • Freak

    DesignatedProtagonist
    PinballProtagonist

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Agonist.

  • Kadh2000

    in light of where we are, slacktagonists.  *ducks*

  • Andy

    What’s Greek for inert?

    Argon (like the gas–the gas was purposely given that name because it’s an inert gas). So, the main characters would be argonists. Or maybe argonauts?

  • Nicolae Carpathia

    So what would be a term for main characters who sit about like lumps?  Blahtagonists?  Notagonists?  What’s Greek for inert?

    Inertagonists. Perfect.

  • Will Hennessy

     Glad you could join us here, Nicky. Good to see ya.

  • Mark Z.

    Greek for “lazy” is “argon”, so I’m going with “protargonists”.

  • depizan

     Heavy on the ARGH!!  As in: What? They didn’t…? But… ARGH!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

     What castle?

  • Simon

    Great jorb!

  • http://jdm314.livejournal.com/ Mad Latinist

    Aërgagonist? ( < ἀεργός "inert, without work"–or shoudl I say "without works?")
    Paroragonist? ( < παροράω "stand by and idly watch while something bad happens.")

  • http://jdm314.livejournal.com/ Mad Latinist

    I see a couple of people have already  pointed out ἀργός, which is a contracted (and honestly much more common) form of ἀεργός. Good job.

    I suppose aërgagonist has the advantage of sounding as if it had something to do with aëro- “air” (it doesn’t), but argagonist has the advantage of sounding like “argh, agony!”

  • aunursa

    At the end of the movie Left Behind III: World at War, President Gerald Fitzhugh sacrifices his own life in order kill Nicolae.  While they are in Nicky’s office near the top of the Global Community Building, Fitzhugh activates a transmitter that causes a missile to lock in on their position and destroy the building.

    Just before the credits roll, an unharmed Nicky walks away from the ashes toward the camera.

    But at least Fitzhugh tried to stop him.

  • http://mousehole-mouse.blogspot.com/?zx=bc3d377f4850d0bb Mouse

    Further proof as to why the movies, even though they star Cam-Cam, aka the most irritating human in existence, are still better than the book.

  • LMM22

    President Gerald Fitzhugh sacrifices his own life in order kill Nicolae.

    You know, there are main characters and then there are *important* characters.

    Neither Rayford nor Buck seem to understand the difference.

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.paxton.94 Susan Paxton

    So Nicky is like the liquid metal Terminator!

  • aunursa

    Yes.  In fact, that’s precisely the image that I had in my mind when I was writing that comment.  I’m glad you picked up on it.

    This video shows scenes from the movie, including the “T2” ending. 

    The full-length movie (95 minutes) is also on Youtube.

  • Dash1

    Hell, just stab him, or strangle him, or do anything you can to inconvenience him.

    Inconveniencing the Antichrist is a book I would like to read. Provided it wasn’t written by Jerry Jenkins.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Just reading the title Inconveniencing the Antichrist, it sounds like a Monty Python sketch…

    “Look, now, you can’t just go mucking about with ineffable prophecies! I mean, you can try, but you actually can not muck up the divinely planned apocalypse! However, you can really annoy the spawn of Satan! Let’s review some basic techniques. Wait until he falls asleep on the plane, and then tie his shoelaces together.”

    “But sir, how will that prevent the End of Days?”
    “Well it won’t, but it’ll really cheese him off! Next, just before he gives a major speech, slip some topical anesthetic in his water glass so his tongue goes numb.”

    “Will that stop the nations of the world from following the Beast?”

    “Don’t be daft! Once the treaty with Isreal is signed, everyone is doomed no matter what! This is just to get a good laugh over on Old Scratch before 1/4 dies in horrible, horrible war!”

    “I… see. What else can we do to annoy the Anti-Christ?

    “In his office, put a piece of tape over his optical mouse, and another one over the hook on his telephone! Also, lower the height of his office chair by one inch each day of the week.”

    “Yeah, that’ll get him riled up!”

    “And whenever possible, shoot him in the head!”

    “What? I though you said we couldn’t interfere in the ineffable plans of the Lord!”

    “Well you can’t. The Anti-Christ will just be resurrected anyone. But a bullet through the head would piss anyone off, eh?”

  • Dash1

    Just reading the title Inconveniencing the Antichrist, it sounds like a Monty Python sketch…

    Indeed. Or, now I think of it, a sitcom. Each week, the Antichrist makes a plan (ruin the London financial markets, blow up the Rock of Gibralter, take the week off and visit Lake Tahoe, or try to return his library books on time) and Buck and Rayford totally inconvenience him.

    How about Will Arnett as Rayford? For the Antichrist, I can’t decide between Tony Shaloub, John Lithgow, or David Hyde Pierce. They’d each bring something quite different.  For Buck, I dunno: Al Madrigal? (Sorry, USAmerican based casting, there.)

  • Eamon Knight

     Then you’ll be glad to know it’s been done (or pretty close): Good Omens by Pratchett & Gaiman.

  • Eamon Knight

     Augh, that was supposed to be a reply to the person wanting a hypothetical book called Inconveniencing the Anti-Christ.

  • Andrew Kleinman

    They 

  • SketchesbyBoze

    This reminds me of the numerous failed attempts to assassinate Hitler during World War II. In one famous instance, a bomb was hidden in the luggage of the airplane in which he was flying, and the detonator had actually gone off, but for mysterious reasons the pilot suddenly ascended to an extraordinary altitude, freezing the bomb and rendering it completely ineffective.

    Here’s a comprehensive list of attempts to kill Hitler. It should be noted that the term “devil’s luck” was coined to describe him.

    http://valkyrie.greyfalcon.us/hitlermurd.htm

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    So now we know that the Antichrist is prophesied to be assassinated,
    after which Satan will bring him back from the dead, more powerful than ever. And it seems the Tribulation Force can’t do anything to change that.

    OK. But they could at least try to make the devil work for it. If Satan plans on resurrecting the Antichrist, then let him have to sift Nicolae’s ashes out of the other ashes with which his scattered remains have been mixed before being buried in hundreds of separate parcels on six continents, all on holy ground. Why make it easy for him?

    Bungie took much the same approach when they developed the setting for Myth: The Fallen Lords.  In their words, the most powerful sorcerers have so many life-protection enchantments on them that they are practically impossible to “kill” with any finality.  Plus the universe itself is based around a cycle of fate where those great heroes who rise up against the darkness are fated to be resurrected a thousand years later to destroy what they fought so hard to create, until a thousand years after that a new generation of heroes arises to topple them.  These “Fallen Lords” are lead by The Leveler, a transient divinity which seeks only conflict, possessing the greatest hero of the last cycle to be its avatar. 

    In such a setting, extreme measures are taken to ensure that those who are defeated are, if not killed, at least made nearly impossible to raise.  One avatar of The Leveler was drawn and quartered, tireless enchanted horses drawing a part of his body behind them eternally in separate directions.  Another was burned by fire, his ashes mixed with salt and buried in separate locations.  After the climax in the first game, his head is severed and thrown into a literally bottomless pit, all at great cost.  

    It can be done, but it is not easy for those trying to prevent the resurrection either.

  • Matri

    At least the Legion in Myth never gave up the fight, no matter what prophecy said would happen.

    Well, they’re living by something that real heroes follow but the PMDs will never ascribe to: “Fuck prophecy“.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Well, they’re living by something that real heroes follow but the PMDs will never ascribe to: “Fuck Prophecy“.

    Indeed.  The Light is prophesied to lose this fight, that they cannot survive.  They march to war, knowing that they are going to their own deaths by doing so.  

    But even a small chance to buck destiny is better to take than never having tried at all.

  • The Lodger

    But even a small chance to buck destiny is better to take than never having tried at all.

    I see what you did there.

  • JayemGriffin

    Whenever I read a new LB post, I go back to this AU I like to toy with. It’s basically the setting of LB, but with a counterpart group to the Tribulation Force that actually *does* things (attempting to foil Nicky’s plans, covertly spreading the word, providing food/shelter/medical care to those who need it). They know they’re fighting both God and Satan, and they know they’re going to lose, but they still DO THINGS. Someday maybe I’ll actually write something for this.

  • Aaron Boyden

    “No fallout” is pretty silly, but the difference in fallout between “clean” nuclear weapons designed to rely almost exclusively on fusion (with only enough fission to provide the heat and pressure to start the fusion) and more typical nuclear weapons (which get the majority of their power from fission, and use the fusion reaction as much to provide extra neutrons so the fission is more complete as to gain extra power) is pretty big.  A lot of the dangerous stuff in fallout comes from excess fissionable material or fission byproducts, so less fission means less fallout.

  • patter

    Rayford just pawn in great game of life.

     

  • aunursa

    BTW, Here’s a peek at next week’s phone call…

    Dad [chuckling]: Nobody seems to want to even attack us out here [in Tucson.] We feel a little neglected.
    GIRAT: Dad! Millions are dying. Don’t be glib about this.
    Dad: So, how’s that new wife of yours? Are we ever gonna get to meet her?
    GIRAT: I don’t know, Dad. I don’t know exactly where she is right now, and I don’t know whether you’ll ever get the chance to meet her.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

     

    Dad [chuckling]: Nobody seems to want to even attack us out here [in Tucson.] We feel a little neglected.

    Tucson would be pathetically easy to level with a nuke, they would not even need to use one of their big ones.  A lack of hills almost anywhere within city limits would mean that no place there is spared. 

    I guess the horizontal breadth of the city might be a problem though.  That place is one huge low-density sprawl…

  • PJ Evans

    I guess the horizontal breadth of the city might be a problem though.  That place is one huge low-density sprawl…

    All the better for debris-spreading.

  • Tybult

    I’ll go along with the hills, except that mountains border the town on the east and the city’s grown up into the foothills somewhat.

    But the horizontal sprawl? Maybe I’m just too used to Phoenix’s sprawl.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    But the horizontal sprawl? Maybe I’m just too used to Phoenix’s sprawl.

    Admittedly, I have only ever been in Phoenix for stopovers when flying to California.  I spent a week in Tucson on business though.  As a child of Seattle, it seemed odd to me how flat the place is and how straight the streets were.  The non-existence of public transit seemed a little odd too.  

    Still, the low density of the buildings and the flatness of the land made it easy to see how it could sprawl like that.  Land and construction is cheap there.  I am used to earthquake proofing regulations and hills and lakes driving up the cost of building outward.  

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Getting used to Phoenix took some doing, myself. I’m used to Vancouver which has ever-present mountains. Everything being so flat and spread-out was a little unnerving.

  • Dash1

    “Sir,” Rayford continued, “I was wondering if it would be possible for
    my wife to deplane in San Francisco and head back to Chicago to check on
    my people.”
    “I would be happy to have my staff check on them,” Carpathia said, “if you will simply give me their addresses.”
    “I would really feel a lot better if she could be there with them to help as needed.”
    “As you wish,” Carpathia said…

    Oh, Nicky, Nicky, why must you keep disappointing me like this? Couldn’t you at least manage something like this?

    “As you wish,” Carpathia said. He turned to his aide: “Renfield, book Mrs. Steele a hotel room in San Francisco for tonight and a first-class seat to Milwaukee first thing tomorrow morning.”
    “Tomorrow morning?” repeated Rayford in horror. “But–”
    “My dear Captain,” Carpathia interrupted smoothly. “There will be no flights going out of San Francisco to the midwest tonight. You saw what is happening in Chicago. San Francisco will be far too busy helping to manage the incoming flights that were on their way to Chicago. Your wife will enjoy a rest in San Francisco tonight, as my guest, and she will not miss the first flight out tomorrow morning, I promise.” He leaned back in his seat, smiling. The smile did not reach his eyes.

  • Nicolae Carpathia

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m the good guy of these books.

  • Albanaeon

     Standard’s pretty low, you realize…

    If your competing in the high jump against slugs, don’t expect too many to be impressed.

  • Jessica_R

    I can just imagine Rayford trying to stop Spock from going into the warp core, not because he cares about him or anyone else mind you, but because Spock is can help him pilot an escape shuttle. And Spock not even giving him the dignity of a neck pinch instead just cold cocking him right in the mouth. It’s a pleasing image I must say. 

  • PJ Evans

     I can’t imagine it getting that far. Someone would have cold-cocked Rayford long before that, because he’d be annoying everyone. (I’d stick him in one of those zero-g stasis chambers, too. Keep him locked up so he can’t get in the way.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/lepperdaw Andrew W Lepperd

    “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one” replaced by the ethos “The needs of the four of us outweigh literally every other moral, logistical, or practical consideration.  Especially Loretta.”

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Placeholder…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Jenkins has always been inconsistent about that. Sometimes, he writes a scene like this that basically flat-out states that there is no way for anyone on Earth to prevent this.

    Later on though he writes a scene in which Jesus explicitly scolds Carpathia for his willful choice to misuse his spiritual gifts for the purposes of evil. Both of those things can’t possibly be right — either Carpathia and everyone else on Earth is a helpless pawn in the cosmic game, or Carpathia is an evil scoundrel who willingly aligned himself with Satan to destroy everyone on Earth. Not both.

    My theory — he’s a determinist whenever he needs to explain why he stood by and let something awful happen, and he believes in free will only when he can use it to berate or condemn someone that he doesn’t like.

  • Randomosity

    My theory — he’s a determinist whenever he needs to explain why he
    stood by and let something awful happen, and he believes in free will
    only when he can use it to berate or condemn someone that he doesn’t
    like.

    That explains a great deal. Only evil people have free will. The godly have their paths mapped out for them and can’t (nor should they even want to) override the determinism.

  • aunursa

    Jesus said, “You became a willing tool of the devil himself.”
    Nicolae did not protest, did not beg. He merely lowered his head even more and nodded.
    “You were a rebel against the things of God and His kingdom.  You caused more suffering than anyone in the history of the world. God bestowed upon you gifts of intelligence, beauty, wisdom, and personality, and you had the opportunity to make the most of these in the face of the most pivotal events in the annals of creation.
    “Yet you used every gift for personal gain. You led millions to worship you and your father, Satan. You were the cunning destroyer of My followers and accomplished more to damn the souls of men and women than anyone else in your time.”

    Carpathia sank even lower than Mac thought possible. “I confess  that my life was a waste. Worthless. A mistake.  But it’s not my fault.  I’m not bad.  I’m just written that way. I rebelled against the God of the universe whom I now know loved me.

    From Glorious Appearing

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    See, this is where the “bonkers-insane Nicolae” I wrote works really well. 

    TurboJesus9000 says “you used every gift for personal gain, destroyer of My followers, and damned the souls of men and women more than any other in this age”. Then ‘grass-is-greener’ Nicolae slaps Jesus in the mouth and sneers back:

    “Personal gain? I stopped sleeping over 7 years ago, because I had so much work to do! Work I did for you! When I tortured one of your followers in public? His screams converted a dozen or more! Each opulent meal catered to me and my bride during the famine drove a hundred of cooks and servants to your throne in disgust of me! I debased myself with the vilest barbarism so that your glory would seem that much brighter in contrast, and still some of your father’s creations chose to follow me, no matter how vulgar and coarse a tyrant I became. I scourged the backs of men to drive them to you, and yes, a few did fall under the scourge. But that debt lies with man’s creator, not me!”

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    (with apologies to Edward Albee:)
    Jesus:  Oh, for God’s sake, Nicholas!  You sit there with the blood of innocents running out of
    your mouth and you act against me…
    Nicky: YOU CAN STAND IT!
    Jesus: I CANNOT STAND IT!
    Nicky: YOU CREATED ME FOR IT!
    Jesus: That is a desperately sick lie.
    Nicky: DON’T YOU KNOW IT, EVEN YET?
    Jesus: Oh… Nicholas.
    Nicky: My arm has gotten tired whipping you.

  • Nicolae Carpathia

    You should have seen how hard I was trying not to laugh when I said those lines.

  • Albanaeon

     How is this different than their normal theology?  Free will and determinism exist in a sort of bizarre Schrodinger’s Cat experiment.  The cat is both saved and not saved at the same time until an LorJ comes along and damns it for being a liberal.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    “Sometimes, he writes a scene like this that basically flat-out states that there is no way for anyone on Earth to prevent this. Later on though he writes a scene in which Jesus explicitly scolds Carpathia for his willful choice to misuse his spiritual gifts for the purposes of evil. Both of those things can’t possibly be right”

    This seems like not even a plot hole, but just the natural expression of their theology. What is it “double predestination” or half a dozen equivalent doctrines are really telling the people they condemn to hell? “There is nothing you could have done to prevent this outcome, and it is your fault”.

  • Aaron Boyden

    In fairness to LaHaye and Jenkins (whether they deserve fairness or not), better minds than theirs have had trouble with predestination and determinism and free will.  Indeed, it’s much easier to get the troubling predestination doctrines from the Bible than it is to get LaHaye and Jenkins’ weird prophecies; Paul’s letter to the Romans certainly seems to say God makes people do bad things for His own purposes, and then punishes them for doing what He made them do, and that we shouldn’t think there’s anything wrong with that (I’m not enough of a theologian to know how non-Calvinists deal with what Paul says there).

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    “better minds than theirs have had trouble with predestination and determinism and free will”
    Indeed, but my inclination is to say that if great minds and Tim LaHaye alike can’t make any sense of these ideas? Maybe they’re just not very useful ideas. Maybe they’re nonsensical, vacuous ideas based on confused premises, and so you can (and probably did) throw Humanity’s greatest minds at them and they won’t come up with much more than nonsense. GIGO.

    I mean like, for an analogy without the religious baggage, consider String Theory. *Literally* some of the smartest people alive today have spent a few decades now thinking about String Theory, and they can’t solve the puzzle of how to get from these fascinating equations to something that looks like the world we live in. Maybe this means it’s really hard. Or maybe it means the puzzle has no solution? Maybe we’re asking a stupid question to start with? Maybe we can’t seem to find a framework for how to represent our universe using String Theory because String Theory is wrong. And maybe we can’t seem to find a satisfying framework for how we can have an omnibenevolent being who grants us free will while controlling and judging everything we do, for the same reason.

  • PJ Evans

    Maybe this means it’s really hard. Or maybe it means the puzzle has no
    solution? Maybe we’re asking a stupid question to start with?

    Maybe we’re asking the wrong questions, and when we finally ask the right question the answers will be easy to see.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    And maybe we can’t seem to find a satisfying framework for how we can have an omnibenevolent being who grants us free will while controlling and judging everything we do, for the same reason.

    It is perhaps worth noting that you are conflating two different questions, here.

    Personally, I don’t find predestination and determinism and free will difficult to reconcile. Free will is the term we use to describe the experience of attributing intention to our actions… of owning them. The actions themselves are predetermined.

    To pick an obvious example, if I’m dropped off the Empire State Building, my body will hit the ground. That’s predetermined the moment I’m dropped. You can even determine the moment it will happen and how hard I’ll hit, if you know my mass and shape and what the wind is doing and can do the math. That having been said: maybe I’ll hit the ground of my own free will, and maybe I won’t. That’s an entirely different question, and no amount of ballistics will answer it.

    Of course, when we start talking about whether I surf the Internet or clean my kitchen, it’s not quite so intuitively obvious what is and isn’t predetermined. But to my way of thinking, the same reconciliation applies. I do what I do, and I either do it of my own free will or I don’t. No inconsistency.

    But if I add an omnibenevolent being to that mix, and I further assume it judges me for events that it controls… yeah, that seems awfully inconsistent. But the problem there has nothing to do with free will and determinism.

  • Lori

    This:

     

    Free will is the term we use to describe the experience of
    attributing intention to our actions… of owning them. The actions
    themselves are predetermined.  

    and this:

     

    To pick an obvious example, if I’m dropped off the Empire State
    Building, my body will hit the ground. That’s predetermined the moment
    I’m dropped. You can even determine the moment it will happen and how
    hard I’ll hit, if you know my mass and shape and what the wind is doing
    and can do the math. That having been said: maybe I’ll hit the ground of
    my own free will, and maybe I won’t. That’s an entirely different
    question, and no amount of ballistics will answer it. 

    aren’t really describing the same thing. Or at least they’re not both describing what most people are talking about when they discuss predestination.

    To use your scenario, the issue is not the effect of gravity on your body once you drop off the Empire State Building, the issue is why you went over the side in the first place. If there’s some force, let’s call it God’s Plan, that acted on you to make you go over in the same way that gravity then acted on you to make you hit the ground, in what way is it meaningful to say that you had free will? Why would it be fair to hold you responsible for going over the side?  Why should you own going over if you had no more ability to alter God’s Plan than you did to alter gravity?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Exactly. And if I shove Dave off of the Empire State Building, is it really logical for me to blame him for hitting the ground and sentence him to be tortured for all of eternity? Is that justice?

    And if Lori is standing right next to him on the roof, but I choose not to shove Lori off the building, should I give her a medal for Not Being Shoved Off The Roof  By A Maniac?

    Because that’s basically the theology I’m seeing here. God has a list of people who will be Saved and a list of people who will be Damned, and no one has any control over which list they’ll be on, but somehow it’s their fault — morally speaking — when God finally gets around to putting them in their place.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    but somehow it’s their fault — morally speaking — when God finally gets around to putting them in their place

    Yeah. That’s the part of all this I reject, God or no God.

    I understand it. I empathize with it. I accept it as human nature. I mean, I’m still angry at my dad for dying, even though I suspect he didn’t really have a choice, even though I know I’m being unfair, I still behave like it’s his fault. 

    But I reject it.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Suppose I’d grown up in a culture that believed that humans, once they fall off a bridge for whatever reason, can fly away and land safely if they choose to. (I know people who claim to believe this, so it’s not an impossible belief to hold, although my culture doesn’t believe it.)

    If I embraced that particular belief of my culture, I suspect I’d believe that falling to my death after being dropped off a bridge was a choice I was making of my own free will.

    I have not grown up in such a culture; my culture believes that falling to my death in such a situation is just the result of matter and energy expressing physical law. I embrace that belief. Consequently, in that situation I don’t consider the act of falling to my death an expression of free will.

    But I have grown up in a culture that believes that humans, when they jump off a bridge without any special external forces acting on them, could just as easily have chosen not to. And consequently we believe that jumping off such a bridge in the absence of such forces is an expression of free will.

    I suspect we’re right about the former case, but wrong about the latter. I suspect my brain making decisions about whether or not to jump off a bridge is matter and energy expressing physical law just as my body accelerating towards the center of the earth after my brain makes the decision to jump of a bridge is.

    It just makes me uncomfortable to think that, just as the analogous thought about falling would make me uncomfortable if I were raised in that first culture.

    in what way is it meaningful to say that you had free will?

    It distinguishes the case where I decide that jumping off the bridge is a good idea and consequently do it (what we call “choosing” to jump), from the case where I don’t decide that but for whatever reason end up jumping or falling off the bridge anyway (what we call “accidentally” or “unintentionally” jumping).

    We often find that a useful distinction to make, because it lets us treat those cases differently. If I choose to jump, for example, we might condemn me in order to reduce the chance that others will choose similarly, or we might provide more social support for others in similar situations in order to reduce that chance, or etc. If I jump accidentally, we probably won’t do those things, though we might instead put a stronger fence on the bridge to prevent others from accidentally jumping, or etc.

    Why would it be fair to hold you responsible for going over the side?

    I’m not sure it would be fair.

    I’m also not sure it’s fair to hold the bridge manufacturer responsible for me going over the side, if it’s the sort of action we call an accident. That said, we do that all the time, and whether it’s fair or not, it has the effect of reducing accidental deaths in the long run, which I endorse, so I’m OK with holding the bridge manufacturer responsible. Not because I believe doing so fair, though it might be, but because I expect doing so to save lives.

    I think I endorse holding me accountable for jumping off the bridge of my own free will for the same reason… not because it’s fair, but because I expect doing so to save lives.

    Why should you own going over

    There’s no particular reason I should own jumping, nor why I should own falling once I’ve jumped.

    While we’re at it, neither is there any particular reason why I should own not jumping. E.g., I walked across a bridge today and didn’t jump off of it. Did I choose not to jump of my own free will? Well… I’d have to say “no.” At least, if I’d instead jumped off the bridge with just as little deliberation or contemplation, I’d be inclined to say I’d jumped off the bridge but I hadn’t chosen to jump of my own free will, and it seems weird to say it’s free will if I choose one way but not the other. 

    So, OK… I don’t own that particular act of not-jumping. There’s nothing wrong with that, there’s no ethical code I’m violating… I’m just observing what I do.

    I’m not making ethical judgments about what actions I ought to own or
    not own. I either perform the act, or I don’t. Whichever I do, I either
    own doing that, or I don’t. That’s all.

  • Carstonio

    Predestination sounds to me like theodicy. Just as the latter appears to be a defense of the assumption of a benevolent deity in the face of no observable justice in the universe, the former appears to be a defense of the assumption of an omnipotent deity in the face of no observable pattern or reason for the things that happen to us in our lives. While I wouldn’t suggest replacing the assumption of a deity with the assumption of no deity just to solve both those issues, it does seem like a great deal of work that could be avoided by not starting with either assumption in the first place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

     

    What is it “double predestination” or half a dozen equivalent doctrines are really telling the people they condemn to hell?

    I think you meant, “super double-secret predestination.”

  • LMM22

    If Satan plans on resurrecting the Antichrist, then let him have to sift Nicolae’s ashes out of the other ashes with which his scattered remains have been mixed before being buried in hundreds of separate parcels on six continents, all on holy ground.

    Easier than that. Aquinas, to disprove bodily resurrection, posits something like a cannibal who has eaten a Christian who is eaten by a lion which is in turn eaten by another Christian.

    All of which is to say, Nicky’s body is getting processed into Spam. Gross, but I think we can say that everyone — including the Tribbies — can take one for the team.

    How difficult would it be to kill him in a way which permitted organ donation? Arms and the like would be creepy, but I don’t think livers or kidneys can really exhibit trains of the Antichrist.

  • EllieMurasaki

    How difficult would it be to kill him in a way which permitted organ donation?

    TW, suicide: I read a speculative fiction story years ago. Fuck if I know title or author, but the plot was, this young woman could not die. Slit wrists healed. Bullets popped out. They finally donated all her organs and cremated her, and the organs had all regrown before she actually hit the flames. It’s implied that she still wasn’t dead, because the person working the crematorium commented on the unusually large ashes. And, and this is why I thought of it, an organ recipient showed signs of superhealing.

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

     There is a Japanese horror comic by Junji Ito called Tomie about such a girl. She once regenerated from a blood stain on a carpet, or tried to, but wound up with a body that just fell apart. She was also a cruel and self-centered  girl who abused whoever wound up taking care of her in a given story.

    Divided parts regenerated into new Tomies and they tend to try to murder each other.  If I remember right,  one story was about a girl who got hold of some Tomie hair to use as extensions and they eventually took her over and grew yet another Tomie. And TVTropes says there’s another story about a Tomie kidney being transplanted into someone.

    Fire can destroy her, but you’d have to be very thorough about gathering up pieces and fluids and such. And there’s the fact that every story seems to end with pieces of Tomie scattered hither and yon growing like some macabre garden.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    In Anne Rice’s The Mummy, or Ramses The Damned,, the titular character, in ancient Egypt, had access to an elixir that could grant immortaility and amazing regenerative abilities.

    Being a noble king, he decided to put it to use by treating some livestock and an area of farmland with the elixir, thinking that he could thereby eliminate hunger.

    It didn’t work out so well.  Sure, they had infinitely butcherable livestock, and constantly regrowing grain, but actually consuming the immortal meat or any of the immortal grain proved to be a very bad idea.

  • Tybult

    I don’t think livers or kidneys can really exhibit [traits] of the Antichrist.

    The doctor pinned X-ray images up to the lightboard. “So, I’ve got some bad news. It’s a good thing you’re sitting down.”
    “Jesus,” I told him, “just tell me already.”
    “Your liver bears the seal of Baphomet, Archduke of Hell, and is currently extending tendrils into your kidneys and gall bladder. It’s leaving the appendix alone, for some reason. I dunno, it’s like they signed a peace treaty.”

  • SketchesbyBoze

    “How difficult would it be to kill him in a way which permitted organ
    donation? Arms and the like would be creepy, but I don’t think livers or
    kidneys can really exhibit trains of the Antichrist.”

    . . . leading to a creepy, “Fringe”-style story-line in which a madman was murdering people to retrieve their organs in the hopes of bringing Nicolae back to life! Also, making him dance.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Wait, wait, “As you wish”?

    The slash, it is already written.

    Then one day Rayford realized that when he was saying “As you wish” what he really meant was, “I love you.”

    I mean seriously, he said, “As you wish.”

    More on topic, I think I’m going to have to have Nicolae be wired with some kind of doomsday device to keep Rayford from killing him in Skewed Slightly to the Left, because damned if I know what else can keep him not crashing the plain.

  • Nicolae Carpathia

    Wait, wait, “As you wish”?

    The slash, it is already written.

    Yeesch, please, even I have standards.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

     Sorry.

  • Julian Elson

    Why should Tribulation Saints even try to avoid death (of themselves or each other)? I mean, they shouldn’t commit *suicide*, of course, since that would be sinful, but what do they have to live for? They can’t change the course of the world. They don’t bother saving souls (except maybe with some hostile evangelism that alienates listeners, like the coworker Rayford tried to evangelize?). Their death means a pleasant stopover in heaven before the Resurrection.

    Yet all they seem to do is pull strings to save each others lives. “Let San Francisco burn — but make sure that anyone I care about at a personal level is out” seems to be the attitude. I’d think it would make more sense to regard the deaths of those who are saved as being less significant than the unsaved. (There’s the physical unpleasantness of dying itself, of course, but I’d think nuking would be pretty quick.)

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Just came to me:

    “I have family in Chicago,” Rayford said, his seething rage impossible to keep out of his voice.

    Nicolae pretended not to notice. “Yes, and I hope they are safe,” he said as if he were discussing the weather or some other meaningless bit of trivia.

    There was only one thing stopping Rayford from lunging forward and trying to kill Carpathia there and then.  He reminded himself of it, tried to keep his voice calm.  “I understand that I’m needed here with you, but I’d feel better if someone were trying to… If someone were there for them.  Do you think it would be possible for Amanda to head there after we land?”

    Nicolae spoke as if considering where to eat dinner, “Well it is the middle of a world war, and tasking an aircraft on such short notice is no small feat, but then you are one of my favorite employees, and it’s not as if I need whatshername here for anything, so I suppose I could arrange that for you, yes.”

    The casual manner with which he discussed the war made Rayford want punch the man, but he convinced himself to wait just a little bit longer.

    [Later, after Amanda is off the plane, just after takeoff.]

    Rayford worried that the copilot would notice the sweat pouring out of him, he had to remind himself to breathe.  One, last breath as he prepared to–

    Suddenly a hand was on his shoulder, then he felt the presence of another next to him.  Intimately close.  “You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?” Nicolae whispered in his ear.

    Nicolae stood straight, “Control of the aircraft has already been transferred to your colleague.  Come, join us in the lounge.”

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

     Good stuff (._.)b

  • Kiba

    I thought Nicky’s new plane was supposed to be big? The way the authors have been describing it here makes it sound like it’s the size of a learjet. 

  • Colin Foley

    You know, they don’t have to actually kill the Antichrist, if he’ll just be resurrected.  Chaining him up and locking him in a book could help stop him from doing untold damage to the entire world and massacring hundreds of millions of people.

    But, you know, flying his plane is cool too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lepperdaw Andrew W Lepperd

    Good point.  Rayford could force the plane down on an isolated island, ditching it and all its advanced comm gear in the ocean and marooning them all.  Thus preventing the Antichrist from advancing his plans without worrying about killing him and triggering his infernal 1-Up mushroom.

    Of course this means that Nicolae would be stuck indefinitely on an island with the insufferable Rayford Steele, and that might be too cruel a fate for even the Antichrist.

  • aunursa

    In L&J world, Nicky is going to be left without a means of communication with the rest of the world?

  • http://www.facebook.com/lepperdaw Andrew W Lepperd

    Can you imagine?  Giving up hamfisted, unsexy telecommunications porn and telling a story? 

    At the risk of tooting my own horn, that’s not a bad set up I came up with off the cuff.  Some RTCs marooned Lost-style with the Anti-Christ and a few of his cronies.  Lord of the Flies with the actual Beelzebub. 

  • Simon

    Rayford abandon his comm gear? Now you’re really mucking with the ineffable workings of fate. 

  • Carstonio

    Is Nicolae supposed to have any supernatural powers? If Rayford tried to crash the plane, would Nicolae put something like the Imperius Curse on him? My only frames of reference are the Omen books and movies, and Damien’s power seemed limited to causing gruesome deaths that looked like unfortunate accidents. (Never go near flatbed trucks carrying sheets of glass.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     Carpathia has demonstrated the ability to manipulate or change the memories of non-believers, which he uses frequently in the first two books, most notably in the climax when he kills two men during a UN meeting and then convinces almost everyone in the room to think that it was an elaborate suicide-murder (he was the one who pulled the trigger, but once he was done everyone thought that one of the men had fired a bullet through his own chest and into the body of the second victim standing behind him).

    He also has a limited ability to control other people’s minds, though Christians and certain strong-willed non-believers like corrupt international banker Jonathan Stonagal have been able to ignore or resist this power.

    (His powers increase a lot though after he is “indwelt” — LaHaye-speak for ‘possessed’ — by Satan later in the series. He and his friend Leon Fortunato basically become comic book supervillains — shooting fireballs at people, conjuring Lovecraftian demons to serve their needs, and even resurrecting the dead. In a later book in the series, Nicolae is also able to give thousands of his followers supernatural abilities of their own; I remember one of them being able to control the weather, for example. It’s probably safe to assume that Carpathia had these powers himself as well).

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    “Carpathia has demonstrated the ability to manipulate or change the memories of non-believers, which he uses frequently in the first two books… He also has a limited ability to control other people’s minds, though Christians and certain strong-willed non-believers like corrupt international banker Jonathan Stonagal have been able to ignore or resist this power.”

    This suggests a non-canon-canon explanation for all this weirdness. Maybe believers aren’t as immune as ellenjay insist? Or immune at all? All kinds of contradictory things are in the text– Rayford “would have” killed Carpathia, but yet he doesn’t despite having the opportunity. But maybe the text we’re reading isn’t really what happened, but rather is Rayford’s subjective memories of the event– memories extensively edited by Carpathia. Anytime we see an inconsistency in the text, or in Rayford’s behavior or motivations? That’s just the seams of Carpathia’s mind control showing. Amanda can sit five feet away from Nicholae’s scheming and not hear a word of it, because Nicholae *chooses* Amanda not to hear it.

    And this can explain some of Carpathia’s seemingly inconsistent behavior, too. Why would Carpathia pick, as his personal pilot, a member of the “Tribulation Force”? Why would he put up with Rayford’s constant subversion and backtalk? One possible explanation is *Rayford is not special*. Maybe EVERY MEMBER of Carpathia’s army is like this, has outbursts like this, has backstories like this, and Carpathia just doesn’t care, because he has so much faith in his psychic powers that he knows his employees will sputter and backtalk to him as their core personalities briefly bubble to the surface– and then they’ll return to the cockpit and just keep dutifully flying the plane, not knowing why or even examining why they didn’t try to stop the carnage or just kill him when they had the chance.

    What, you think a *bible study group* from *suburban chicago* is the only force allayed against a *worldwide dictatorship*? The cook on Carpathia’s plane is a radical jihadist dedicated to fighting back or exacting vengeance against Carpathia’s efforts to stamp out Islam; of the “global potentiates” arrayed, two are Democracy-loving true believers formerly part of Hillary Clinton’s State Department and now dedicated to bringing Carpathia down, one is a socialist from a group of left-wing anarchist rebels called the Black Flag Remnant, and most of the rest are just random nonideological former functionaries of various governments who got swept up in things, but that certainly doesn’t mean they like what’s happening. Almost all of these oppose every thing they are doing and have elaborate fantasies or even plans of killing Carpathia, but when it comes time for them to fulfill their satanic tasks they just *do* it without considering whether they had a choice and when it comes time to act out their assassinations it just… doesn’t happen. Hell, poor Hattie figured out Nicholae’s true plans the second week she was dating him, she keeps realizing what she must do and has been over and over making attempts to warn Rayford, to warn everybody, to push Nicholae over the railing of the penthouse when he’s unsuspecting, but– but then when it comes to the moment of acting, Nicholae disinterestedly wipes her memory and the cycle starts over again as she “discovers” what Nicholae is up to the next week. Imagine what she’s thinking during THIS scene.

    And Nicholae? He knows, and doesn’t care. Or worse– he could know, but he isn’t paying attention. Because it doesn’t matter. Maybe he at some point was sifting through Rayford’s memories, or Saeed the cook’s, and he found *out* about the Tribulation Force or Asbat an-Ansar or whatever, and just treated it as another irrelevant biographical detail along with the missing wife and kids. Because you have to expect such things when you take over the world and crush its governments and religions, and he is already taking care of such things with his powers and the suggestions he’s planted. He knows his own strength and he knows Rayford, like all of them, will skulk and fume, and take the circuitous route of buying a Saber when he could have killed Nicholae a thousand times as his pilot, and then in the end he won’t even follow *through* with it. He’ll be standing there slackjawed when Chaim plunges the sword in– and even *that* will happen not because Chaim finally broke through the mind control, but because Satan decided it was time to ascend and that it was time for Chaim, one of His many puppets, to sacrifice His servant.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    but then when it comes to the moment of acting, Nicholae disinterestedly wipes her memory and the cycle starts over again as she “discovers” what Nicholae is up to the next week. 

    Vernor Vinge used something like that to good effect in “A Deepness in the Sky”. One character lets another one figure out what’s happening and then mind-wipes her repeatedly just because he finds it amusing – even though he could go for the still evil but less cruel approach of reprogramming her completely.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Hell, poor Hattie figured out Nicholae’s true plans the second week she
    was dating him, she keeps realizing what she must do and has been over
    and over making attempts to warn Rayford, to warn everybody, to push
    Nicholae over the railing of the penthouse when he’s unsuspecting, but–
    but then when it comes to the moment of acting, Nicholae
    disinterestedly wipes her memory and the cycle starts over again as she
    “discovers” what Nicholae is up to the next week. Imagine what she’s
    thinking during THIS scene.

    So wait, are you saying that there’s some kind of connection between Ben and Glory?

  • Ken

    I think Crowley said it best in Good Omens: “You start thinking, it can’t be a great cosmic game of chess, it just has to be very complicated Solitaire.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    “Clandestinely”?  Is it just me, or is that an awkward thing to say?

    Rayford had never dreamed he might be an agent in that assassination, but at that instant he would have applied for the job.

    “Would have”, my ass.  Could have, didn’t.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    “Clandestinely”? Is it just me, or is that an awkward thing to say?

    It’s a wrong thing to say. It may technically fit a dictionary definition of the word, but it is still wrong. Jenkins understands language like he understands physics and humanity.

  • Toodles

     “And although you protest your disinterest
    I know clandestinely…
    You’re gonna grin and bear it
    Your newfound popularity!!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/lepperdaw Andrew W Lepperd

    The chess metaphor doesn’t really do Steele’s contemptible cowardice any favors.  A pawn in the right place can capture a queen.  While I’m not grandmaster, it’s hard to imagine many scenarios where the opportunity to do so isn’t worth giving up the pawn.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I am reminded of a line from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty:

    “Even if a pawn becomes a queen, it can never become a player.”

  • Xclamation

    Nicolae’s nuclear bombs come with a special “no damage to journalists and cameras”

    Well, Buck’s screwed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lepperdaw Andrew W Lepperd

    I was musing if it was even POSSIBLE to write an entertaining/compelling story where the protagonist(s) have no meaningful agency, then Breakfast of Champions came to mind.

  • Julian Elson

    For what it’s worth, I think a lot of real philosophers believe that moral responsibility and determinism are compatible. (In fact, some (Hume, I think) have argued that moral responsibility actually requires determinism, because without determinism, our actions might be a matter of chance rather than a reflection of our character.)

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/

    I don’t claim that L&J would consciously endorse a compatibilist account.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     That’s fair enough, but the way they present it, actions are not determined by character at all. They are essentially scripted, in Heaven, by God, at the beginning of the time. It is not possible for Rayford to say, think, or do anything that was not in that script laid out for him. Yet he receives praise for making the “choice” to become a Christian — even though it was not possible for him not to make that “choice”… but he is not condemned for making the “choice” not to act against Carpathia — because, of course, as he says it is not possible for him to do otherwise.

    The reverse is flipped for Carpathia. Carpathia is punished for the bad things he does, even though they are all exactly according to God’s plan. At no point does Jesus or anyone else think about what would have happened to God’s plan if Carpathia had made the choice to be a good person. At no point does anyone else even wonder what would have happened if Carpathia had died in infancy, or had been killed during his ascent to power (he was involved in very shady business dealings before getting into politics, and could easily have been assassinated as a result). 

    Why? Because they all know that this was literally impossible; that Carpathia would survive and play his role and that every prophecy from heaven would come true exactly as it was written by God. It seems kind of silly to blame Carpathia (but not Rayford or God) for any of this under any philosophical theory I can wrap my head around.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I especially feel sorry for Leon Fortunato.

    He gets dumped on by practically everyone. Even Nicolae treats him kind of patronizingly when he has to scratch his ass. And the Tribbles, when he was the Supreme Commander, had the nerve to treat him very rudely.

    And then, in the end, Leon is most extremely very 100% sorry and TurboJesus just dumps him back in Hell to burn forever. (-_-)

  • LMM22

    It just occurred to me:

    What makes you think that God has agency in these stories?

    Maybe this entire saga is driven by some uber-cosmic script.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    If we’re going into these things totally without preconceptions about the nature of divinity or reality, I feel like the first question we really ought to be asking is something like “is God sentient?”

  • Carstonio

    That still has the preconception of a god existing. I would think the first question would be “Do gods exist?”

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    Sorry– I was assuming we were speaking within the context of, we are sketching works of fiction, and we have by this point already decided that within our fictional stories God or Godlike beings exist, because this potentially makes the story more interesting. If this is what we are doing, then I think one especially interesting option is for the omnipotent God entity to turn out to have the mental faculties and motivations of, say, a squirrel, or an ant.

  • Carstonio

    I find that option to be interesting as well. Still, the fictional context draws upon real-world theological concepts and their weaknesses, and the context arguably makes the weaknesses more obvious.

  • Grey Seer

    I refer folks to H.P Lovecraft, who’s cosmology includes an insane, dribbling moron named Azatoth, which also happens to be omnipotent. Several entire species are dedicated to playing it pleasing music, so that it doesn’t lash out and unmake reality in an unthinking spasm.

    That’s the one way I’ve found of having an all-powerful, all-knowing creator god that still leaves room for Free Will. The god has to be insane and/or stupid to the point of non-functionality.

    Unlike Left Behind, however, the Lovecraft Mythos treats this as a horror story…

  • Tybult

    I blame Bruce Barnes for that.

    Let’s be fair here, Rayford was a rabid jackass long before he ever met Bruce. Bruce just put the Buddy Jesus Seal of Approval on his jackassery.

    Thank you for your part in this, and for the strategic nonuse of radioactive fallout.

    Hell if I know what to make of this. Does Jenkins think nukes come with a la carte options? “Yeah, give me multiple warheads with a side of heavy neutron yield, but hold the radiation. Thanks.”

    Following the news from Chicago, the cable news channel broke for a commercial

    I actually really like this. Done correctly (and it’s not, because Jenkins is writing), it could be a great way to paint a surreal scene that contrasts the horrors of the Apocalypse with our shitty consumer society:

    “It’s bad out here, Tom, they’ve brought out the rocket artillery and are using it to flatten the mini malls out in the suburbs. And now… hold on, I’m getting reports that the leather-clad followers of Dread Cthulhu have overtaken the local Ikea and are constructing a hideous idol to their squamous deity.”

    “Great reporting, Lance. We cut now to commercial break, but when we come back, the latest on Election Season 2036!”

    “Are you feeling tired? Anxious? Bloated? Have your doctor give you a prescription for Ecstatozor, the new pharmaceutical…”
    “Come try Kentucky Fried Wendy’s new Triple Barbecued Chicken Cheddar Mashed Biscuit Burger! The taste will leave your tongue sobbing quietly in the shower for hours afterward!”

    Okay, so I’m a little jaded.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You know, that commercial thing – see, in your flashfic it works because it’s kind of macabre.

    But in Jenkins’s case, like I said on the previous page, he just plain does not get it.

    I mean, how out of touch do you have to be as an author to not only abuse Authorial Character Immunity, but also abuse the reader’s sensibilities? Cutting to a commercial break when there’s a huge-ass freaking disaster unfolding? Uh, yeah. Sure.

    Even before Sept 11 2001 when there were other major disasters, news coverage homed in on them and wouldn’t let them go for at least a day or two afterwards.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Even before Sept 11 2001 when there were other major disasters, news coverage homed in on them and wouldn’t let them go for at least a day or two afterwards.

    I found their failure to return to regularly scheduled programming very annoying that day and the days afterward.  “Jeeze, are they still talking about that?”  

    Primarily though, it was annoying because I just wanted the media to let me get on with my life.  I wanted everyone to just get on with their lives.  The point of terrorism is to inspire terror, get everyone panicked and demoralized, or failing that, just really pissed off.  If we let the attack provoke us into irrationality, we just seal the victory for the attackers.  

    And that was not a victory I was willing to grant them.  

  • Angelique Blackthorne

    Does Jenkins think nukes come with a la carte options? “Yeah, give me multiple warheads with a side of heavy neutron yield, but hold the radiation. Thanks.”

    Well, he’s the Antichrist. Theoretically it could be within his powers to create an a la carte nuke. The question is, what would Nick-Nick Mayon get out of it?

  • Tybult

    He would be able to drink Napa Valley wine without having his hair fall off? The Iowa corn cobs would lack a certain sizzle, though.

  • heckblazer

    How much local fall-out is produced depends on the height of the explosion.  Ground-bursts are pretty dirty as soil and other debris gets sucked into the nuclear fireball, gets activated, and then rains back down.  The higher the  

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    …and then perhaps they “return to Studio” after the break break and the TV studio is a wreck, everyone missing or lying there dead, and the unmanned camera sits still quietly watching as a creeping fire consumes the building…

    Yeah this could work

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    …but at that instant he would have applied for the job.

    Honestly, the text keeps saying shit like this.  It’s like a constant refrain throughout these books.  Rayford “would have” done this, Buck “would have” done that, if only… what? Does it ever say what’s stopping them?  Does Jesus appear to them and say “Sorry, it’s not the right time yet”? 

  • Ken

    Does it ever say what’s stopping them?

    Negotiating a really good price on a new car? Calling a hotel five times to leave the same message? Telling Loretta to print 500 copies of a 5000 page document? Figuring out what side roads to take to avoid the traffic? Yelling at Verna and slamming a door in her face?

    There are only so many hours in the day, you know.

  • Nicolae Carpathia

    Does Jesus appear to them and say “Sorry, it’s not the right time yet”?

    Rayford: “Jesus, the island is loaded!”

    Jesus: “But Fearless Tribble, is not the right time yet!”

    Rayford: “And it’s starting to sink!”

    Jesus: “Is still not the right time!”

    Rayford: “And if we don’t prevent it, you will be number one at the liquidation parade!”

    Jesus: “NOW is the right time!”

    (I just know I’m going to regret this one when I wake up tomorrow morning…)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1428470021 Jonathan Hendry

    Did anyone notice this:
    http://wonkette.com/484146/romneys-world-with-the-middle-east-on-fire-he-would-like-us-to-help-rename-his-plane

    Apparently Mitt was asking supporters for suggestions on what to name his campaign plane recently.

    Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have been open for suggestions from anyone. If it was, we could have voted for Condor 216

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I keep sometimes thinking of this fan-fic in the Harry Potter fandom: Make a Wish.

    In “Make a Wish”, Harry Potter decides to adopt an alias and travel the world. Purely by accident, he ends up causing people to mistakenly assume he has unnatural abilities and give him a wide berth therefore. As a result, things happen which appear, to him, to occur purely by chance, but which actually involve either (a) a lot of planning, (b) the fact that some of the ‘good guys’ are watching from a distance to head off trouble. or (c) plain serendipity.

    The reason why I mentally compare this fic to LB is that it sometimes almost seems as if Jenkins accidentally included a mishmash of elements that make a story like MaW work: the focus character is unaware of the forces arrayed that fight behind his back, and unprepossessingly travels about at his leisure (at least in Rayford and Buck’s case, very unsuccessfully because they’re raging douchebags).

    Rayford and Buck may *claim* to be unprepossessing people who just happened to get noticed by the Antichrist, but they’re also extremely egotistical – Buck in particular. And unlike in MaW, the forces which may have intervened to push them on path A or path B are fairly clumsily handled, such that it is through Bruce Barnes’s express statements that we learn that God’s seal of approval is all over taking a job with Nicolae Carpathia.

    It would have been a lot tenser and a lot more fun if Buck had been the Decker Hawthorne type from the Christ Clone.

    Ugh. That’s it. I’m going to do the side by side of LB and the CC ASAP.

  • Albanaeon

    flashfic (a kinda continuation of one I wrote a while back
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2011/10/25/tf-springtime-for-nicolae/#comment-344635615)

    Nicholae didn’t bother hiding his snarl as his pilot, the invincible Rayford Steele, left for his cockpit.  What would it take?  Surely even someone so self-centered as “Captain Steele” would realize what action he should take.

    He turned back to his plush, ornate, completely useless for running nuclear warfare, suite.  His sycophants and deputies had already fallen into a stupor.  Even Amanda, his nemesis’ wife had slumped in her seat.  Clearly Rayford’s attention was still on his plane, or his Bible, or even his man-crush, Buck, and therefor nothing could happen.   He took a deep breath and settled into his chair to compose his thoughts.

    In theory, his plan was simple.  Rayford and/or Buck had to die.  He was stuck in the buggo prophesy, just like the rest of humanity, but somehow, for what ever reason, Ray and Buck were outside of it.  They circled and moved freely through the whole mad vortex and seemed to be the only ones that could actually comprehend what was happening.  Carpathia wasn’t even sure that anyone besides himself and those two existed sometimes.

    He was supposed to be the near limitless ruler of the world.  Having two nobodies extinguished should have been easy.  But it wasn’t.  Despite not being even obliquely mentioned in the “prophecies” they were as protected from harm as Carpathia himself was.  He had tried direct approaches.  He had tried indirect approaches (he still felt terrible about the trap door and the sandwich delivery person).  Even nuclear weapons happened to be near the place they were at somehow failed to be nuclear weapons.  No fallout or anything.  A direct hit on Chicago had not only failed to kill Buck and Rayford, but apparently Buck was still able to buy a Range Rover and have a car returned to a glass crater according to the expense reports Nicholae had been handed.  It made him want to scream.  A nuclear apocalypse could even *inconvenience* these two abominations, let alone kill them.

    Nicholae knew he was getting reckless.  Millions for billions was not something that sat well with him, particularly when he had just created a weaponless world, but something had to stop the only ones how seemed to have any control over what was happening.

    And that was how he had reached his current plan.  If Buck and Ray really were the only ones with free will, then they could be the only ones that had the ability to change fate.

    Guns, bombs, traps, even the end of the world couldn’t kill them, but maybe they could kill themselves.

    Oh, he knew their “Christian” morals wouldn’t allow them to just commit suicide.  That wouldn’t be proper, even when they were allowed to enjoy limitless expense accounts provided by mass murderers.  So Nicholae figured he had to give them the perfect bait, the perfect reason to do themselves in.

    Nicholae would give them him.

    He wasn’t particularly thrilled about dying, given the fate that was in store for him, but billions were at stake.  His tarnished soul in exchange for those billions maybe getting another chance to avoid it.  It was a long shot when considering the psychopath that was in charge of the universe, but it was better than the deal they were offered now.  He would sacrifice himself, and probably set Rayford Steele among the greatest heroes ever for his sacrifice, to save the world.

    The one thing he hadn’t counted on was that Rayford didn’t have a molecule of heroism in him.  He had been flying Nicholae for months and hadn’t so much as hit turbulence to spill his coffee, much less taken advantage of the numerous ways and opportunities to do the Anti-Christ in.  Hell, as pilot of an airplane there were numerous ways to kill him by doing NOTHING, for Pete’s sake.  But no.  Ray kept flying the person who was supposed to be the mortal foe of everything good like a good pilot.

    Maybe it was time to up the ante, Carpathia thought to himself as he noticed his lieutenants come to life around him.  Apparently Ray had finally decided to use the “secret” intercom like the semi-competent spy he thought himself as, and as his notice fell on them, they came to life.  Amanda didn’t, oddly, but Carpathia brushed this aside as he didn’t have time to contemplate the oddities of a protagonist motivated universe.

    “Alright, it’s time to use the triggers.  Punish these malcontents for their uprising,” he intoned grandly. 

    “Sir?” one of them asked.  They couldn’t know of the triggers, they hadn’t existed until Carpathia mentioned them just now.  It was one of his odder powers, he had discovered.  If he wanted something “evil,” like well armed insurgents to nuke, a repressive  world government, or world peace (oddly), all he really had to do was mention it and it appeared.  Nuclear bombs under cities was as good as done by his mere thinking about them. 

    “Start blowing up cities.  Um, San Franciso, Denver, Albequerue, Sioux City, and definitely Chicago.”  He was just drawing from a mental hat, but surely the widespread and unnecessary destruction, as well as a threat to his loved ones, would trigger something in Rayford.

    “Again?”  one asked.

    “Yes again.”  It probably wouldn’t but it might even get Buck, so it was worth a shot.

    He went on for a while, luridly describing the destruction, hoping that this time it would finally work.  Until he noticed Amanda perking up.  Rayford must be about to enter.

    Sure enough, he walked in, completely oblivious to the idea that his well-being might be compromised by walking in on an evil genius’s plans with his sycophants.  After relaying the entire conversation, within earshot, to Amanda who had apparently missed it even while sitting three feet away (did Rayford know his powers, Carpathia thought slightly uneasily,  or was he just that big of a douche that he assumed a woman couldn’t possibly have noticed Important Things going on around her…) and turned to Carpathia. 

    “Could you let me drop off Amanda so she could fly to Milwaulkee.  She may be able to help…”  he trailed off.  Nicholae could see the rage, boiling just beneath the surface, how close he was.  Maybe getting Amanda, his wife, off the plane would remove the final obstacle.

    “As you wish,” he replied as dismissively as possible, even as hope started welling up inside him.  With any luck, he would be an unrecognizable charred corpse in the planes wreckage in a few hours, and it would, finally, be all over.

  • http://www.facebook.com/diana.waggoner.1 Diana Waggoner

     Really like this! It’s certainly more readable than L&J’s!

  • Albanaeon

     Thank you. 

    I can’t tell you how much fitting it is to imagine Buck and Rayford as the catalysts of the Apocalypse but virtue of their overweening egos actually bending reality. 

  • heckblazer

    Reading this scene made me think of the 1990 HBO movie By Dawn’s Early Light.  There after a Russia mistakenly launches a limited nuclear strike against the US.  This leaves the president presumed dead and the Secretary of the Interior the new acting president.  Unfortunately, a General Ripper-type convinces him that a massive counter-strike is necessary, even though the resulting Russian retaliation would pretty much end the world.  The real POTUS is rescued, and since he knows the attack was a mistake he orders them to stand down; unfortunately they continue to prepare the launch order since they convince themselves that the POTUS on the radio is a Russian trick. 

     That pilot of  Air Force one is a mite more heroic than Rayford Steele:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=punqdlHMDjo 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens
  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Informed? I’ll say they are!

    Rayford and Buck are informed out the ass about their own scintillating egos to the point where they honestly believe every word every one says to them is either the sound of their own awesomeness being reflected back at them, or the sound of total jealousy that they can never be as amazingly shit-hot as Rayford Steele or Buck Williams.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

     Of course, now that I think about it, and read the page I linked to a bit, I suppose the Designated Hero mentioned there is very much exactly what we’re talking about, aside from the particular that it refers to hero-ness rather than protagonist-ness.

  • Jessica_R

    My favorite moment in The Dark Knight isn’t anything big or splashy. It’s the scene where The Joker has stranded two ferries fleeing Gotham and given each ship a trigger that blows the other up, and less than an hour to decide what to do. One ship is full of prisoners, the other full of families and law abiding citizen types. 

    On the prisoner ship one prisoner finally intimates the warden to surrendering the trigger to him. He then calmly tosses it out the window. It’s the most heroic moment in the film, and utterly beyond the burning ants with a magnifying glass morality of LB.

  • Will Hennessy

    I was born in a suburb south of San Francisco. I return to the City by the Bay as often as possible. It is gorgeous there. As trite as it is, my heart is there.

    “If he doesn’t do something, right now, then everyone in San Francisco will die…Rayford has to try to stop Nicolae right here, right now…
    But he doesn’t do that.”

    FUCK YOU, RAY.

  • Tybult

    She gasped because she is surprised by what is happening in Chicago. She’s looking at the same TV screen as Nicolae is, just a few feet away from him, apparently, but somehow she didn’t hear any of what he and his ambassadors were saying.

    Here’s another thing I wanted to comment on.

    I can see a person hearing a plan, and then being surprised at the actual execution of that plan. I’ve been there myself, it’s a sort of “Oh, you really were talking about making X happen” feeling.

    But Amanda’s later reactions, her “I dunno LOL” responses make it clear that, for whatever reason, she is being really, really, dumb here. Maybe she’s being mind-whammied, but I don’t trust Ellenjay to have even that basic level of competence.

    But in the worst case scenario, if she really is that dumb, is that an attractive quality for the RTC crowd? Because the last person I want for a partner is someone who needs to be spoon fed everything.

  • Dash1

     

    if she really is that dumb, is that an attractive quality for the RTC crowd? Because the last person I want for a partner is someone who needs to be spoon fed everything.

    Taking a wild guess here: you’re not an RTC. Because many types of stupid are attractive to RTC men, with what they think of as biblical warrant: “Moreover, I do not allow a woman to teach or to usurp authority over a man. Instead, she is to be quiet” and “If they want to learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home” and, oh, on and on and on…

    Their thinking, if that’s quite the word I want, is seriously pre-Wollstonecraft.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    But in the worst case scenario, if she really is that dumb, is that an attractive quality for the RTC crowd? Because the last person I want for a partner is someone who needs to be spoon fed everything.

    She’s not dumb exactly, it’s just that the apocalypse is MAN stuff. Women don’t think about man stuff, anymore than men think about woman stuff (like flower-arranging and pouring coffee). So Amanda can’t comprehend what’s going on because it’s a conversation about man stuff – and her brain is suited more to woman stuff.

    Yes, I’m being serious. And yes, many RTCs think of that as attractive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    For my money, I think it’s bad writing. They are fuzzy on the layout of the room and where everyone is. We’re not meant to think that Amanda is stupid because she’s a woman; the authors genuinely didn’t notice that it doesn’t make sense for Amanda to have to be told something by Rayford a second after she heard it from Nicolae.

    It has to do with their annoying need to have every event in the narrative flow through one of their two viewpoint characters at all times. The reader can’t listen along with Rayford as Nicolae describes the carnage; we have to hear it from Rayford’s mouth, and the only person he can really talk to is Amanda. 

    Indeed, but my inclination is to say that if great minds and Tim LaHaye alike can’t make any sense of these ideas? Maybe they’re just not very useful ideas. Maybe they’re nonsensical, vacuous ideas based on confused premises, and so you can (and probably did) throw Humanity’s greatest minds at them and they won’t come up with much more than nonsense. GIGO.

    I’m starting to reach that conclusion too. What’s the point of that ideology? It doesn’t seem to have any intrinsic logic to it and I’m not sure that it reflects well on someone that they would include a system like that into their book and tacitly endorse it.

  • Dash1

     A better writer than I would be able to write the scene in which, while the plane was waiting on the ground, Hattie and Amanda discussed,over a period of 15 minutes, in great detail and within earshot of both Nicolae and Rayford, what to  serve for afternoon tea during the flight, a conversation that included extensive discussion of the possibilities of coffee cake, muffins, yogurt, fruit, biscotti, tea cookies, and little tiny sandwiches.

    When the midflight snack is presented (coffee cake, grapes and sliced melon) , both Nicky and Rayford discover that their expressed preferences are absent. The Antichrist looks hopefully at the tray for the gingerbread–true, he says to himself, what Americans call gingerbread shouldn’t happen to a Hungarian, but still, there was that little Romanian bakery in Philadelphia that had sent him a platter of wonderful pastries to welcome him to America, and, indeed, for the sake of that one righteous family and their melt-in-your-mouth turta dulce, he had decided to spare the city of Philadelphia. However, he accepts with good enough grace the coffee cake Hattie hands him. And while sipping his tea, smiles in amusement at the sounds from the doorway to the cockpit.

    “Amanda, where are my Ho-Hos?”
    “Darling, I’m so sorry! We don’t have Ho-Hos. You should have said something.”
    “When?”
    “Sweetheart, Hattie and I were talking over the snacks for a good fifteen minutes, right in front of you, while we were waiting on the ground. Really, dear, if you’d just let us know–”
    “When was this?”
    “While we were waiting on the ground–”
    “Amanda, you know I want my Ho-Hos!”
    “Well, dear, we don’t have any. And really, I think the melon is better for both your alertness and your waistline, don’t you think?”

  • Tybult

    That strikes me as being willfully dumb, which in my book is worse than any inherent lack of intelligence.

    If someone can’t be bothered with the end of the fucking world because of gender roles, I’m leaving their asses behind. 
    (Of course, the fur coat would cause me to heave Amanda over the side of the boat long before anything else.)

  • SketchesbyBoze

    Reading about the destruction of Chicago just reminds me of how much more believably and vividly the second horseman of the apocalypse was portrayed in the CCT. It would be hard to write a more horrifying account of an imaginary nuclear war.

    Don’t read any further if you want to avoid spoilers. MAJOR spoilers ahead, but I’ll try not to give too much away:

    “In
    a temporary lull, the picture switched to a satellite feed from a
    camera mounted on top of a remote-control all-terrain rover, which
    showed the first horrifying scenes from the suburban areas of New
    Delhi. Fire was everywhere. Rubble filled the streets. The sky was
    filled with thick black smoke and radioactive fallout, which blocked
    the setting sun as though it were covered by a loosely woven black
    cloth. Scattered around the landscape were hundreds of bodies. Immediately
    in front of the vehicle, the mostly nude body of a young Indian woman
    lay twisted in the street. All but a few scraps of her clothing had
    been burned away. On the less charred parts of her body, where some
    skin remained, the flowered pattern of the sari she had been wearing
    was seared into her flesh like a tattoo. . .

    Decker was still not
    convinced, but neither had he gotten an answer to his previous
    question.

    “Even assuming all of this is true,” he began,
    directing his query to Christopher, “what could you possibly have
    done to stop it?”

    “In
    the third chapter of Ecclesiastes,” Christopher answered, “King
    Solomon wrote: There is a time for everything: a time to be born and
    a time to die, a time to plant and a time to reap; a time to
    heal . . . and a time to kill.”

    Decker
    looked back and forth from Christopher to Milner and then back to the
    screen. As the camera panned the devastation, in the distance, where
    the smoke and radioactive cloud had not yet entirely shrouded the
    Earth, the moon rose above the horizon, glowing blood red through the
    desecrated sky.”

  • flat

    Ellenjay,
    every protagonist and antagonist of every story from every medium from everything that exists  called: they  asked if you could stop using your characters as heroes villains and bystanders.

  • http://www.iki.fi/wwwwolf/ Urpo Lankinen

    strategic nonuse of radioactive fallout.

    *facepalm*

    Nuclear weapons definitely don’t work that way. If you want to avoid fallout, you have to, you know, not use nuclear weapons.

    Read up on Operation Plowshare, the project that was designed to find peaceful uses for nuclear bombs. The end result was some of the most staggering nuclear fallout out of any nuclear explosions. If that’s the kind of stuff you can expect from peaceful, highly controlled demolitions, what can you expect from large-scale, hostile, indiscriminate and tactical use of nuclear weapons? You can’t just go “hey, let’s drop nukes everywhere, but be careful not to cause any fallout at all.”

  • PorlockJunior

    [Apologies if this turns out to be a duplicate. My first try landed in a black hole, so far as I can see.]

     Oh oh oh! An ethics problem!

    For anyone who likes those, here is the Best Ethics Problem on the Internet:

    http://www.mindspring.com/~mfpatton/Tissues.htm

    “…If the brain in the vat chooses the left side of the track, the trolley
    will definitely hit and kill a railman on the left side of the track, “Leftie”
    and will hit and destroy ten beating hearts on the track that could (and
    would) have been transplanted into ten patients in the local hospital that
    will die without donor hearts… However, “Leftie”
    will…
    inadvertently kill the five men rushing the ten hearts to the local hospital
    for transplantation… Among the five men killed by “Leftie”
    are both the man responsible for putting the brain at the controls of the
    trolley, and the author of this example. If the ten hearts and “Leftie”
    are killed by the trolley, the ten prospective heart-transplant patients
    will die and their kidneys will be used to save the lives of twenty kidney-transplant
    patients, one of whom will grow up to cure cancer, and one of whom will
    grow up to be Hitler.”

    And that’s just PART of the problem! And there are notes on some of the
    weird bits of the problem, like a brain in a vat, which have been used
    in philosophical discussions before. BTW, for an older brain in a vat,
    see C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    “Mistah Clock,” he’d say in that accent of his. “You ah an excellent shot. A world-class mocksman. You nevah miss.”

    Was your prof Lord Dorwin? (Another sample here):P

  • Aaron Boyden

    Indeed, I am myself skeptical of the whole thing, though I try to be polite in my comments about Christianity in places like this, where the local Christians have a track record of being similarly polite in talking about people like me.  Such goodwill is not something to be discouraged or undermined.  And I suppose the big difference between Paul and LaHaye/Jenkins is that Paul at least realized that “God makes people do bad things and then punishes them for doing what He made them do” sounds bad and felt he had to say something to account for it, while LaHaye/Jenkins don’t even seem to realize that there’s a problem.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Heck, in supplemental materials they even said that the shuttlecraft were kept in mostly as plot devices to isolate crew members.  They said that they would probably not make “safer” shuttles because it would lock them out of being able to write certain kinds of episode scripts.

     

     
    I thought the official handwavium explanation was that the transporter beam was wonderful if nothing was interfering with transmission, and a particularly horrific way to die if something was.  And natural weather in the upper or lower atmosphere of an M-class planet could interfere with transmission something awful.

     

    In universe it makes sense, though – it’s gonna be expensive to fly the 400m capital ship around the system, so it makes more sense to have small launches you can use to go from place to place when you don’t need the whole thing.

     
    ISTR an officially approved story set in early Starfleet days in which SOP was always, but always, to send a rock or an empty box or something before sending people, to make sure that they wouldn’t arrive inside out due to something the ship’s scanners hadn’t detected.

     

    Yeah, ST scanners are actually kind of sad about 50% of the time.  They should probably continue doing that in the series, at least when they’re aren’t transporting to another pad.

     
    Harry Potter decides to adopt an alias and travel the world. Purely by accident, he ends up causing people to mistakenly assume he has unnatural abilities and give him a wide berth therefore.

    You mean, more unnatural abilities than usual?

    If that’s the kind of stuff you can expect from peaceful, highly controlled demolitions, what can you expect from large-scale, hostile, indiscriminate and tactical use of nuclear weapons?

    …less?  Operation Plowshare involved using subterranean explosions as a means of demolition.  When you’ve got a surface or subterranean detonation, you’re going to kick up a lot of dust, which will then become irradiated and spread the fallout far and wide.  A submarine detonation, which was also common in Plowshare, is even worse, because the contaminated water is harder to remove.  In contrast, a bomb used as a weapon would ideally be detonated as a fairly high airburst, which would kick up less dirt, and therefore cause fewer irradiate particles.  It’s pretty much impossible to have a fallout-free bomb, but you could make one with less by decreasing the amount of spent fuel and controlling the detonation so that more of the energy is released as high-wavelength (heat and light, mainly) rather than ionizing radiation.  Basically the same concept as a neutron bomb, but in the other direction.  A pure-fusion weapon with a thin casing detonated as an airburst would produce barely significant amounts of fallout.

    That said, we do run into the problem that we cannot actually build such a weapon as of now.  But it’s not a theoretical impossibility…

  • P J Evans

     But at least with Plowshare, they were trying to find actual uses for the things in order to make life better. (Although, as it turns out, the sea-level canal thing would have been a bad idea even without added nukes.)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Yeah, ST scanners are actually kind of sad about 50% of the time.  They
    should probably continue doing that in the series, at least when they’re
    aren’t transporting to another pad.

    Ask that new science officer in Star Trek 1 if “We’re only transporting to another pad” is sufficiently safe.

    (Part of my New Understanding that Partially Redeems Star Trek: The Slow-Motion Picture is that in the entire movie, the thngs which kill people are: 1. Gettin’ Scanned, 2. Commuting to Work.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    It sounds to me like the bombs here were pre-positioned in the cities, ready to detonate, rather than delivered by bombers or ICBMs (“trigger,” not “drop” or “deliver” or “launch”), especially if they’re as big as or bigger than the Tsar Bomba.  If so, they would be at or close to ground level, and should be pretty dirty, kicking up lots of bits of vaporized & irradiated buildings, and a fair bit of earth.

  • http://profiles.google.com/vlowe7294 Vaughn Lowe

    Chloe – The Rise of Antichrist.

    Chloe sat in the back of the plane, working on her speech.  She had never spoken in front of more than ten people in her life, and now she was going to be seen by millions, no Billions of people all at once, hanging on her every word.  She should feel nervous, but she only felt confident.  Whatever she said, they would eat it up.

    She could feel Amanda’s icy stare.  Chloe had an urge to tell her to say what was on her mind, or stop staring.  But she didn’t need to. She knew what they were all thinking.  They wanted her dead, but she was part of
    the Plan so she had to keep living.  Not only that, but she had manipulated them all into working for her.

    Evil will always triumph because Good is dumb.  Maybe she’d have that inscribed on the GC seal.  In Latin of course.

    “I can’t figure out how to start this thing.  ‘My Fellow Americans’ doesn’t work anymore.  ‘People of Earth?’  No… that makes me sound like I just stepped off a flying saucer.  ‘Friends?’  Too informal. Ah well I’ll figure it out later.”  She clicked on CNN to gaze upon her handiwork.

    “Quite the show isn’t it, Amanda?”

    “Mrs Steele, if you don’t mind,” the other woman said through clenched teeth.”

    “Whatever you say, Amanda.”  She swiveled her chair to face her.  “I could call you Mom, I suppose, but I won’t.  My mom is gone.  And less than two years later, my dad jumps in the sack with another woman.  I guess we all work through our grief in our own way.”

    “Don’t make our love into some type of cheap affair!”

    “Love?  I stopped believing in love a year and a half ago.  Let me show you how far love will go.”  She gestured out the window.  “Next on my list of targets is the city of San Francisco.  Oh don’t act so surprised.  You could have stopped me hours ago.  Now the people in the Bay area can be saved.  All you have to do is tell my dad that you’ve fallen in love with someone else and you want a divorce.”  She tapped her chin.  “Make it another woman.  Yes, that’ll grind his gears.”

    Chloe wished she could have bottled the expression on Amanda’s face.  “What?”

    “Did I stutter?  Divorce my dad, never see him again and the millions of people in San Francisco will be spared.  You have five minutes to make up your mind.”

    They stared at each other, Chloe’s face of icy calm, Amanda’s alternating between anger, terror and sadness.

    The door to the cockpit banged open.  Rayford stalked over to them.  He grabbed the nearest hard object, a bottle of champagne and raised it over his head.

    “Been spying on me, dearest Daddy?”  Chloe said, not taking her eyes of Amanda.

    “I’m not your dad.  Not anymore.  You’re the spawn of Satan, and I’m going to stop this!”

    “And whose going to stop me?  You?  The bunch of you couldn’t stop anything.  You can’t.  It’s all part of the plan.”

    “I’ll crack your skull and we’ll see how well your plan goes.”

    Her head turned slowly and she fixed her father with the most evil look.  “Then do it.”

    He raised the bottle up and for a second it looked like he might actually bring it down on his only daughter’s face.  Then he lowered his arm and turned, his face down towards the floor.

    “Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Now run up and keep flying the plane like a good little lackey.  And if you threaten me like that again, then I’ll open up the emergency exit and we’ll see how good you are at flying without a plane.”

    He left and Chloe settled back in the seat.  “You see, the problem is that you picked the wrong team.  My Master comes through when I need him to.  Your master always bails out when things get tough.  Just like him.”