Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Part 24, Chapter 3 - And All Was Laid Unto Burnination

Dwight, Dwight... wasn't he Stormalong's copilot? Or was it Dunneldeen's? Eh, like it matters.

Dwight is now our viewpoint character, the commander of the raiding force about to attack the teleportation platform, chosen because "he could be depended upon to follow orders exactly, without deviation, and as one of the lode mine crew chiefs, he could handle men." I guess that's characterization.

He and his men... oh. Seriously, Hubbard? The coffin trick again? This really is a full repeat of Part 12. Yes, last midnight the Scottish attackers got into lead coffins Ker and the cadets placed around the perimeter, and were then buried by dirt and snow. There is no explanation as to how they got out once buried, or if there were any side effects from being buried in a lead box for hours in freezing weather.

Wait, Dwight did go numb - from worries about Jonnie. Our hero was buried in a coffin right next to the platform, since he insisted on being the one to check the position of that critical switch on the control console, cut the atmosphere cable to neutralize the force field around the platform, and finally drop an armored dome from a crane over the teleportation console.

...Where did they get an armored dome? When did they hang it from a crane? Why hasn't anyone noticed?

Dwight's nervous about the number of the crossbow-toting Brigantes, but luckily Dr. Allen (I thought he was the historian?) has come up with an antidote to the toxin the savages use on their bolts, which "caused the nervous system to speed up faster and faster until it killed."

Hubbard, honey? The nervous system doesn't move. It transmits signals at over a hundred meters per second. "Speeding up" this process to kill someone is pretty nonsensical. Now, slowing the signals or disrupting them altogether is another story, and how our friendly neighborhood nerve agents got on the banned weapon lists.

It's Dwight's job to yell into a radio "First alert!" when Terl gets on the platform, and "Second alert!" when Terl walks to the console, and "Third alert!" when Terl pushes the button. He completes these objectives admirably, though he grows worried when Dwight sees the bundled-up hostage Terl has with him.

With the final signal, "Action!," the other Scots attack, using weapons that won't interfere with the teleporter - flamethrowers salvaged from Russia (don't question it) and good ol' Claymores. Warcries of "For Allison!" and "For Bittie!" fill the air, and Dwight hits a button on a loudspeaker to play a recording of trumpeting elephants, which will surely terrify the Brigantes, who have lived all their lives in Africa and hunt the beasts for food.

The Brigante soldiers charge, and hey, the noncombatants hanging around run for the plains! They might survive after all! And of course it isn't a battle so much as a barbecue. One Scot goes down when his flamethrower sputters out and he gets mobbed in close combat, but otherwise it's another one-sided L. Ron fight scene.

"The operator," presumably Jonnie, though since he isn't referred to as such leaves the chance Hubbard is being tricksy, manages to get the dome moving - they buried it overnight to hide it?! But something's wrong and the force field isn't down yet, so the dome can't drop. Nevertheless, Dwight obeys his orders to withdraw before the backblast from the firing can hurt anyone, and gets back in his "coffin foxhole" along with the other Scots. The whole exchange took less than a minute and a half.

That dangerous Brigante toxin? A pointless detail, since the morons don't even bother to shoot their bows. No, when faced with flamethrowers, they try a bayonet charge.
There is just so much stupid in this book...

Back to Chapter Two

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