It’s been a while since I updated this spork. I feel a bit bad about that, because we’re almost at the end, and I want this over with so you all can see this piece of confusing nonsense for what it is. But one step at a time, am I right? Let’s focus on the here and now. Which is…where, precisely?
In case you forgot, last time we were here, Bruno was with Yana looking up Merlin Godwin, the guy who runs the angelologist prison in Siberia they’re heading to right now (which may or may not be the Angelopolis of the title?) and has been performing secret experiments despite being a known traitor by everyone and their mothers. They found the file which proved him being a traitor (and also into angel porn), too. Meanwhile Verlaine, our protagonist, went to follow someone on the train and found out that the Nephilim are actually on the train and have less ideas about the Plot than the reader does, and sent Axicore and Armigus Grigori to go beat up the good guys or something. Verlaine was tied to the outside of the train.
Well Bruno and Yana didn’t, because we start back with them, and Bruno and Yana were too busy catching up with the Plot (actually, reading the file on Godwin, but same difference) to realize that the Grigori twins had popped into their carriage “surrounded by an army of Gibborim angels.” You’d think they’d have noticed that, but then again Bruno and the angelologists we’ve seen are really stupid.
Yana acts somewhat like a sensible person and immediately whips out her gun and starts firing, Bruno following her lead. But alas! The bullets do nothing.
She was hitting her targets, but, as they both knew, ordinary ammunition did little to harm the Gibborim. They felt the bullets the way Bruno felt the sting of an insect.
How are they bullet-proof? What is this nonsense? You can’t go out of your way to make angels biological creatures and then make them bulletproof out of nowhere! If they were resistant to bullets, it’d be one thing, but apparently their skin is actually bulletproof. That’s pretty strange. And shouldn’t Bruno and Yana be aiming for the Grigori twins? You know, the people in charge? Or do they want to keep them alive for torture?
(As we find out in the next blockquote, it’s that.)
Here’s another question for you, Trussoni: if bullets don’t work on Gibborim, the main thugs and enforcers used by the Nephilim… why are they using them? Why wouldn’t the angelologists have developed weapons technology that does work? This is as if Superman’s villains refused to anything but use Tommyguns instead of throwing kryptonite at him. C’mon guys, upgrade!
It’s BS like this that makes me nitpick!
From a purely theoretical point of view, the twins were incredible to watch. Immensely tall, thin, as pale as milk, their large eyes staring vacantly into the beyond—these Nephilim were the ideal specimens for study. That they were in duplicate, and that they were of such a rarefied pedigree, only made them more desirable.
…if Apep hadn’t already, I might have started a Both Hands, Ma’am count. Because dear Lord, she constantly tries to use sensual imagery to describe her villains and it makes me want to puke.
Actually, hang on—why the hell are we supposed to find the Grigoris attractive? Those traits? Tall and thin and “pale as milk” with huge eyes? That sounds incredibly creepy. We’re told time and time again that the Grigoris and their ilk are so smexy that women are instantly seduced by how hot they are, but every description doesn’t make them sound that great. They’ve got exaggerated features, and are constantly sulking or bitching about something. That’s about as attractive as a pile of poop in winter. It sounds a bit like Trussoni’s trying to make the twins look incredible and sexy, but instead just come off as weird.
So the twins immediately go and free Eno from her prison and get the heck out of there. Yana, seeing that this is going south, yells something Bruno doesn’t understand, and he’s almost knocked out. When he gets up off the ground, all the Gibborim are dead, blackened and burned. Bruno is as confused as I am, and asks how Yana did that.
“Gibborish charm,” Yana said, smiling as she helped Bruno to stand up. “One of the many tricks up my sleeve.”
The first question is obvious: Why the bloody helicopter didn’t you open with that?! If you could have just yelled a spell and instantly zapped all of your enemy’s foot soldiers, why didn’t you do that they second you realized you were surrounded by them, instead of wasting bullets?
Second: why bullshit is this? This is the biggest Deus ex Machina I’ve ever seen! The only kind of spells we’ve seen in this series is summoning angels from Heaven, which makes some kind of sense. But having an instant “kill all of this specific type of enemy in the room” spell? I’m surprised Yana could walk before she pulled that giant Deus Ex Machina out of her ass!
How do justify something like this existing in the books? This isn’t like some basic spell or something; this is a specific “Get Out of Plot Jail Free Card” that has never been hinted at or referenced before, and serves no purpose other than just getting our protagonists out of a situation that had no solution.
And if this kind of power is available, why isn’t every angel hunter trained with it? Why does Bruno not know how to do this? If my agents could have had the ability to deep fry every single one of the enemy’s henchmen within a certain radius with just a few words, you can bet your bottom dollar I’d make sure they all knew how.
I keep saying this, but really: THIS MAKES NO SENSE.
Anyway, back in the Plot Yana and Bruno find out that the Grigoris have opened all the cages and released all the prisoners. Yana insists that they have to recapture them all, but by this point I’d think that ship has sailed.
After a while they find the Nephilim car in the back, marked ‘PRIVATE LOUNGE’ and Yana’s access code won’t let them in. Which is odd because when Verlaine entered there was no mention of a keypad, just an intercom and a bouncer.
Continuity: it has none.
Anyhow, Yana says she doesn’t recognize the train car and guesses that it must have been attached to the train while they were stopped in Moscow. Now if Bruno wasn’t a freaking moron, he’d stop and ask, “How is it that our angelologist train got a hitchhiker? Wouldn’t our super-secret-society use a particular train that couldn’t be followed around and we’d make sure no one got on or attached a train that wasn’t cleared by us first?” But he doesn’t. And do you know why? Because this is a civilian train.
Yana and Bruno decides that since they can’t get inside the secret train car through usual means, they’d sneak through the outside. So they climb through someone else’s room to get outside, and there’s a sleeping couple who wake up and start screaming in Russian. They’re civilians.
What this means is that the angelologists have been using a civilian train that anyone could hop on in order to transport their high-security and classified prisoners, who, need I remind you, are angelic beings with wings and clearly not human, to a top secret base in the middle of Siberia.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: the angelologists utterly fail at being a productive and believable secret society. I have seen high schoolers come up with better ways to keep secrets than this. Bruno lamented earlier in the book that the Nephilim are becoming bolder and revealing themselves publicly, but really, the angelologists aren’t much better when they’re this sloppy. This isn’t something unavoidable, like a fight in the street. If they had really been any planning, they’d have their own train that no one but society members with clearance would be able to get on. As it is, I am baffled that this didn’t come up before.
Bruno asks Yana what excuse she gave that Russian couple to climb through their window, and she just says she claimed her drunk uncle did the same thing and they have to go get him. Bruno asks if that worked, and she’s like, “Yeah, in Russia drunk old guys freezing to death is totally a thing that happens all the time!” Because national stereotypes are funny, I guess? I dunno, if this Trussoni attempting humor, she’s failing. Badly.
They walk about on the roof of a moving train car with many problems, like the wind and the ice and the cold, but they find Verlaine, and sadly he’s still alive.
They untie Verlaine from the railing and bring him into a train car1 and they get him so hot tea and warm him up as best they can. Verlaine finally talks and promises that he can take the two of them to the Grigori twins. Yana points out that the Grigoris have definitively pwn’d him twice in a row, so maybe it’s not the best idea?
Bruno decides that this means that Eno is probably in the party car with the Grigoris, and because I suppose his obsession with Eno is one of the few character traits Bruno has. Verlaine then drops the bomb that the matriarch of the Grigori family, Sneja Grigori, is in that train car, and Yana acts as if it’s totally obvious from the way they found Verlaine.
“Sneja likes her victims frozen to the brink of death before she executes them,” Yana said. “The actual slaughter is less messy that way.”
…what? There’s no indication that this was Sneja’s M.O., and she doesn’t usually hang out in Russia. The last book indicated she usually lives in New York City, which gets cold sometimes, but not enough that freezing people to nigh-death is a thing that happens often. And I’ve always gotten the impression that she was more of a background person, rather than actually going out and running field operations.
Once again though, if this is important information about the Nephilim, why doesn’t Bruno know it? I know I’ve said this before, but Bruno is in charge of an entire branch of the society in Paris. So why is he so woefully under-informed about the nature, tactics and methods of their enemy? It’s as if you met a member of the Assassins who didn’t realize that the Templars liked using crosses as their symbol. This is information that everyone in the secret society should know.
Yana informs Verlaine that they’ve got a higher goal than some Nephilim, and Bruno is all like, “We’re going to find Godwin,” dramatically. Which doesn’t sound like anything approaching a good plan, considering major players in the leadership of their enemy are on this train right now and taking them down would be a major victory, much more so than one of their pawns (or whatever Godwin is). There isn’t any reason to concentrate on Godwin, especially since the train is heading that way anyhow.
If these people were remotely intelligent, they’d break into the Grigori party car, take down the Grigori leadership, then ride the rest of the trip out until the angel prison and confront Godwin, and by the end of the night they could celebrate by going to drunken Russian karaoke or something. But these people are nothing if not inept, so that doesn’t happen.
And that’s the end of the chapter. Next time, we go back to Vera, Valko and company, and we get to hear precisely who Lucien’s father/Evangeline’s maternal grandfather was. And it’s going to be stupid.
1 Wait a second: I thought the PRIVATE LOUNGE was the last train car? That’s how it was attached in Moscow? So if the people tying up Verlaine had sense, they’d tie him to the railing outside that one, right? If they did that, how would Bruno and Yana just pull him into an adjacent train car? It’d be like one after the caboose?