Monday, September 27, 2010

Part 24, Chapter 6 - Where's the Kaboom? There Was Supposed to be an Earth-Shattering Kaboom!

I just noticed that last chapter was post 200. That's... pretty terrifying.

No time to reminisce, this chapter's a whopping eight pages long. Our viewpoint character is Sir Robert, under the dome with an unconscious Jonnie while the whole world is exploding around them. Not that he notices. "He had only one idea in mind: to get his hands loose and help Jonnie."

There may be more chemistry between Jonnie and his henchmen than between Jonnie and his love interest.

Well, first Robert has to finish hacking through "the cord." I think this refers to the cable for the force field, but if it wasn't severed two chapters ago how did the dome come down? After that it's first aid time. To summarize one and a half pages: he sucks the poison out of Jonnie's wound and ties off the arm.

What you're missing:

It was hard to find the wound because of the blood.

He found it.

He took the edge of the hatchet blade and cut an X across the wound hole.

He got out of his arm mask and put his mouth to the wound-

And so forth.

While waiting in the darkness for rescue next to his buddy, Robert remembers his capture. Turns out he went on a hill one night to take a look at the compound and got jumped by some Brigantes. Given the Brigantes' Mook status and the Scots' record against everything, there's really no excuse for why Robert got captured instead of effortlessly killing a dozen Brigantes at once with an empty pistol or Slinky. He was tortured, but he's too awesome to crack, though when it looked like he was going to be taken to Psychlo he started to get nervous, what with the aliens' penchant for slow murders. But mostly Sir Robert feels bad because Jonnie may have gotten himself fatally poisoned to save him.

Then there's a crackle on the radio. It's Thor! Who's Thor again? And then Dr. Allen! Wasn't he the historian? Anyway, they explain that Jonnie and Foxy have to sit tight for a bit longer because of all the radiation outside the dome.

From where? Not the teleporter, since the Psychlos were using it without, y'know, exploding. Terl's bomb? Then how did he handle it? Jonnie's bomb, presumably the one with the beryllium core? Again, how'd Terl handle it? There were some nukes on standby in case more Psychlos showed up, but they weren't used.

The humans are confused, too. But the answer to this riddle lies in Terl's destination. It'll be explained later.

Then a new voice chimes in: Quong, the Littlest Buddhist Radio Communicator. I like how "Tibetan" and "Buddhist" are interchangeable in Hubbard's mind. The kid asks about Jonnie (of course), and Foxy tells everyone not to worry, then learns about the situation: the "visitors" have now broken formation and are waiting directly above Denver, watching closely. Meanwhile the minesite has been reduced to a smoking crater, and some of the Scots in their foxhole-coffins are having to be dug out by forklifts. And while Robert just wants some serum to cure Jonnie's poison, he's told that everything in the area has been contaminated and will have to be "hosed down to get rid of the radiation."

Presumably, then, Chernobyl will be ready for refurbishment once the Ukrainians get off their fannies and tell the fire department to give the place a good soaking. Just try to spray all the "radiation" into the Pripyat and you'll be fine.

After much worrying about Jonnie's initially fast, then fading, pulse, finally a "blade scraper" comes by to pick up the teleporter platform, dome and all, and then it's on a flatbed and off to an old highway to take them to a river to wash off all that nasty radiation. After a shower, the dome is removed and Jonnie is grabbed by a nurse. Sir Robert looks north to see a glowing sky. "They had just come from hell."

Or a major city at night. This would be a good place for some apocalyptic imagery, maybe mention how the trees are all blasted and twisted like the fingers of the damned, or how the blood red clouds swirled and roiled and mixed with the pitch black smoke, or how the ruins were bathed in a glow like from a furnace, or how ash drifted down like a bleak parody of snow. But all we get is a crater and glowing sky.

So much for looking like "the world had been torn apart!"

Oh, and the Brigante tribe that fled from the battle? Dead on the plains. No response at all from the characters to this news, good or bad. They're all too busy worrying about Jonnie.

Back to Part Twenty-Four, Chapter Five

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