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EoA: Moment of Truth

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 32-36 (Chapter Seven)

Okay, folks. Does New York get nuked or not?

Let’s read and find out, shall we?

First, we’re back aboard the submarinebattleshiplauncherwhateveritis Daedong from North Korea, in Atlantic waters somewhere:

“On the bridge of the Daedong the crew tried to go about their duties as if nothing had happened. The body of the captain had been dragged away, but his blood was still streaked across the area where he was shot.”

Ew.

Still, realistic under the circumstances I imagine. Remember, it’s only been a few minutes since the admiral ordered the launch.

There’s some rambly commentary; I’ll show a little bit of it since it’s done to portray the admiral’s fanaticism:

“The admiral huddled with the XO over the radar officer’s station, the gun still clutched in his hands. He grimly cheered on the tiny green blips on the screen as the two nukes continued their trajectory toward Manhattan. The seventy-two-year-old man was beyond ecstatic. Even as a child he had never known a united Korea. He’d always lived with the hated enemy occupiers just to the south, so close you could almost reach across the DMZ and put your hands around their throats.”

Then we flip back to the “Jordon [sic] Building”, watching the special missiles do their thing.

“Exactly one minute had passed since the Joshua-I missile left the launch silo on the Tiger Shark. Sixty seconds, the longest sixty seconds in Joshua Jordan’s life.

As with all launch-based missile-defense systems, there was a narrow range of time when the weapon could effectively engage its target and deploy its defense system. This was usually within the first thirty to sixty seconds of flight. But they were at seventy-five seconds now, and the Korean missiles were still tracking steadily toward Manhattan.”

Phone time!

“On the top floor of the Jordon Building in New York, Joshua and his team stared in stunned silence at the videophone waiting for some change, some hope, some chance.

Nothing…

Joshua turned away and pulled out his Allfone. He punched up Abby’s cell number. At least he still had time to say good-bye to his wife and daughter. Tell them he was sorry. Try to explain he had failed them, failed everyone. Maybe he could even get through to his son. He certainly owed him an apology. Actually, he owed him several. Where would he start?”

Gotta mention that Allfone. A commenter noted this mechanical issue in the Abigail chapter where specific mention of her phone is given. Same issue here.

I’m actually kind of impressed, though, that Joshua at least thinks of his son, too, and even wants to make amends. He decides to call his wife to say good-bye:

“Joshua couldn’t believe he was about to say good-bye to his wife and family…forever.

When his wife answered the phone, he could tell she had been crying.

‘Abby…,’ he started to say, but the words began to catch.

He couldn’t go on, there was nothing more he could say, but just knowing she was there on the other end was something at least…something to hang on to until everything exploded into a fiery hell for all of them.”

Now, if I were really evil I’d stop here and wait a week. 😉

But no, I shall continue, for we discover…

“‘Colonel!’ the voice was the commander’s coming over the videophone.

Joshua wasn’t used to being called by his former military rank. At first he didn’t connect the voice to himself…that the man on the other end was talking to him.

‘Colonel Jordan!’ the voice shouted again.

Joshua spun around and stared at the monitor.

‘I think…’ But the commander didn’t need to finish his sentence. The radar-tracking screen clearly showed the two North Korean missiles looping around in a perfect duet and heading in the opposite direction, back toward their point of origin.

The weapons officer couldn’t control himself. ‘Li’l jammer got ’em!’ he yelled out.”

… that New York is saved! *TOUCHDOWN JESUS EXPRESSION*

Joshua is able to reassure Abigail that things will be fine:

“‘Abby!’ he yelled into his cell phone.

‘Joshua?’ There was still a question in her voice.

‘I just wanted…I wanted to tell you I love you so much,’ he shouted at the top of his lungs for all to hear. ‘So very, very much. We’re going to be fine baby, fine, all of us, just fine!'”

Meanwhile, however, aboard the Daedong, the North Koreans discover they’re about to meet their doom.

“‘Is the radar broken?’ the admiral asked as he stared at the two blips on the scope, the radar screen clearly showing the two Korean missiles heading back toward their ship.

The radar officer was too overwhelmed to answer.

‘What does this mean?’ demanded the admiral.

‘They’re coming back, sir,’ offered the XO.

‘Coming back?’

‘Yes, sir. The missiles are…they’re returning…’

The two men were huddled over the radar officer’s station, talking in hushed whispers. The rest of the crew was looking over their shoulders from their posts, not sure what to make of this strange anomaly. Within moments, however, they would come to understand that they had all stepped into a collective nightmare. And it was quickly unfolding in front of them.”

The admiral decides to commit suicide even as his existence will be utterly annihilated from the planet:

“‘What have I done?’ he said, now in a hoarse whisper, speaking only to himself.

He didn’t wait for an answer this time. He immediately placed the gun’s barrel into his mouth.

Whether the admiral saw the blinding white megaton flash before pulling the trigger was inconsequential, as it would have been only a matter of milliseconds. The twin nuclear explosions vaporized the ship and all its crew in a merciless tornado of fire and cataclysmic concussion.”

And that’s that. So the US Navy ships that shoulda been following this guy won’t ever have to worry about getting reprimanded for not blasting these guys out of existence; they’ll just need to have been wearing number two million sunblock.

Back in the United States, everybody’s relieved and stunned; the chapter segues into an odd bit about a pastor, so I want to leave that for another entry. Meantime, we can be safely assured that Return to Sender works, and Joshua’s about to be very famous.

A nitpicks – I still have no idea if an ex-military person is supposed to be referred to by his rank or if that’s a breach of etiquette.

Aside from that, I’m done for now. Watch for the remainder of Chapter Seven soon, and we’ll be onto Chapter Eight! 🙂

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11 thoughts on “EoA: Moment of Truth

  1. Even in the North Korean navy, I’m sure they wouldn’t miss the opportunity to get a sailor to do some cleaning…

    “…when the weapon… could deploy its defense system”. Um, no. These words not make sense.

    OK, we have to assume that these were some sort of cruise missile, or it would just be physically impossible as previously discussed. It might have GPS guidance – the Tomahawk does – but it won’t rely on that, because it’s way too easy to jam or subvert. The Silkworm missile (the basic bus that all the current Chinese long-range missiles are based on) uses inertial + radar: it flies until it thinks it’s got to about the right place, then turns on its radar and looks for a ship. (Variants use infra-red.) I have to assume that a hypothetical nuclear variant would lose the radar homing because of likely EMP, especially in this case where there isn’t really a specific target.

    In other words, the ability to redirect such a weapon is an extraordinary claim. And this is where we discover that Craig Parshall really isn’t a science fiction writer: he gives us all these hints (there are lasers involved; there are counter-missiles involved) but doesn’t go anywhere with them. Cheat!

    “Whether the admiral saw the blinding white megaton flash before pulling the trigger was inconsequential” – ‘cuz he’s a Godless Heathen who’s going to hell even without the stigma of suicide! Yay for us Proper People!

    Etiquette varies. I’ve certainly met the use of ranks to retired military people, though it might be different in an actual combat situation.

  2. “Now, if I were really evil I’d stop here and wait a week.”

    Oh my yes. Will New York City, and its entire phone system, and all of our protagonists be annihilated on Page 26, thereby releasing LaHaye from the obligation of having to write about them, and us from having to read it? We should only be so lucky.

  3. I wonder if any of Joshua’s team was also so irresponsible as to be making personal phone calls while in the middle of handling a crisis situation.

    I mean, of course I get that he wants to say goodbye to his family, but isn’t part of being on a team like this having to put aside personal concerns for sake of the mission and the greater good?

    • I thought about snarking it myself, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it because honestly? If I had half a chance I’d probably call my parents or something and say goodbye, too.

      But I definitely see your point about professionalism and the boss getting away with a little too much there.

  4. “the Joshua-I” missile? He named his super-duper invention after himself? Modest, this guy, isn’t he?

    And, to harp for the last time on the significant-names issue, totally inappropriate for a defensive weapon. After all, it was Joshua who made the walls come tumblin’ down!

  5. Is it just me or does anyone else wonder what the consequences of those missile strikes will be for the people/animals/fish that are somewhat adjacent? If I remember correctly the submarinebattleshiplauncherwhateveritis Daedong is not that far from the coasts of Canada and New England.

    Which reminds me of the horror that I had when I realized, as a child growing up in Canada, that much of the US’s nuclear strategy involved intercepting and blowing up incoming missiles while they were still over Canada.

  6. And because I have a mind like a sieve these days, I forgot the other thing I meant to say.

    I don’t think the phone call itself was out of line: at that point, they think they’ve failed, that it’s all over, and I’m willing to believe that everybody’s instinct would be to pull out the Allfone and say goodbye.

    But, if the phones are permitted at all within what is presumably a high-security military R&D installation, I hope those Allfones and their networks have some pretty tough security protections.

  7. Phone time!

    *sporfle*

    Nope, sorry Amaryllis, pulling out his phone then was a prime dick move. It was a clear signal that Our Hero was the only real human being in that room as far as the authors were concerned, and the rest of the folks (who were apparently doing, y’know, the ACTUAL WORK of saving the world, rather than just slapping their names on the system and taking all the credit) are pure NPC’s.

    Honestly, this passage gave more humanity to the poor Koreans who were just obliterated than to the New Yorkers who were saved.

    • I had indeed thought about snarking about that as well – that Joshy boy is the only one who gets to whip out his phone and dial his wife. But as i said above, I really couldn’t bring myself to do it because in the end, y’know, it might not have really mattered.

      Your point is well-taken, though.

  8. “a merciless tornado of fire and cataclysmic concussion”

    Can the term “purple prose” be applied to non-romance works? That just feels purple-y to me. Plus “cataclysmic concussion”–today’s Apocalypse Review, brought to you by the letter C. Someone’s got alliteration skills.

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