Thursday, October 7, 2010

Part 25, Chapter 4 - Vengeance for Unnamed Swiss Guy

Glencannon's back, and this time, it's personal.

In his mind he could still hear the voice of his Swiss friend, "Go on! Go on! I will shoot them down! Keep going!" And then his scream when he was hit just before he ejected. And back of Glencannon's eyes [sic] he could still see the viewscreen of his friend's body being shot to pieces in the air.

Already mad with survivor's guilt and the thought that if he hadn't followed orders to flee he and Unnamed Swiss Guy could have won that fight, when Glencannon saw the Capture approaching and realized it was the the same ship that launched the fighters that killed his friend, Glencannon snapped.

So he stole the only aircraft on base, heavily-armored and carrying a payload of bombs each of which is capable of destroying "half a city," and went off for some sweet, sweet vengeance. Glencannon ignores Stormalong's voice on the radio and flies up out of the atmosphere to meet the Capture, downing a fighter on the way. Once he takes some defensive fire he moves out of range and sits for a while, studying the capital ship. As it continues dispatching bombers, Glencannon notices that past the constantly opening and closing hangar doors, there's a lot of fuel and ordnance sitting about.

So Glencannon waits until the doors are open, swoops forward through the defensive fire, and enters the hangar, guns a-blazing.

From the ground, Jonnie and Stormalong watch the Capture suffer catastrophic damage and slowly begin to fall. Now I've tried to do the math and figure out if this is possible given that the ship was "fifty miles above the termination of the Earth's atmosphere," but I'm not sure how stable an orbit that would be and if suddenly losing engine power would cause the ship to fall. Dammit Jim, I'm a political scientist, not an astrophysicist.

Waaaaait a minute. Two chapters ago, according to the Psychlo guide to alien races: "No Tolnep vessel can operate in atmosphere due to the great inefficiency of its star energy drives which, being essentially reaction engines, use up too much of their power in atmosphere." So that's why the Capture is falling faster once it's in the atmosphere. Yet it's launching fighters. Wave after wave of fighters, flying down, dropping bombs, flying back up for reloading, and going out for another mission. Fighters which are handling the atmosphere just fine.

And why do they need fighters anyway? Why not just develop smart bombs? Or, again, laser batteries. Ah, bugger it.

So down comes the Capture, right into the lake next to the hydroelectric plant, wiping out the (evacuated) Chinese workers' village in the shockwave and battering the dam. The generators are still running, and wouldn't you know it but that dam is practically indestructible, but the lakebeds on either side of the dam are eroded enough for water to leak through. In a matter of hours, there won't be enough water to run the dam. Dun-dum-duhn!

But on the bright side, at least they aren't suffering the annoyance of a harmless bombardment, right? And now they have a window to fire that teleporter. That's what Jonnie clings to after Glencannon's heroic but problematic sacrifice.

But the best thing about it? At no point was that dead Swiss pilot named. Not even in Glencannon's thoughts. He killed himself over a nameless chara- no, not character, that implies characterization. Glencannon was driven to grief-fueled suicide by a vague idea.

How are we supposed to react to this? Should we be upset that Glencannon, whose characterization so far has been "pilot" (he might have been a Jonnie body double, I can't remember), died to avenge someone we're never introduced to? Why not have someone, let's say Angus, get killed in the bombing, and have Glencannon avenge him? At least Angus the mechanic is easy to keep straight; all those Scottish pilots are pretty much interchangeable...

I hope you enjoyed that bit of action, because it's all downhill from here. Two hundred pages of talking, scheming, theatrics, legal wrangling, and jaw-dropping stupidity. I think someone may try to shoot someone later, and there's another round of bombing, but that was the last "battle" in Battlefield Earth.

Back to Chapter Three

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