I’m beginning to feel like I’m reading the script for a fantasy RPG here.
Guilo bit his lower lip and surveyed the valley below, along with his two dozen warriors […] the Strongman’s lair was a boiling, humming caldron[sic] of black spirits, their myriads forming a swarming, living haze over the cluster of buildings below.
By the way, that usage of “myriads” is apparently correct:
Recent criticism of the use of myriad as a noun, both in the plural form myriads and in the phrase a myriad of, seems to reflect a mistaken belief that the word was originally and is still properly only an adjective. As the entries here show, however, the noun is in fact the older form, dating to the 16th century. The noun myriad has appeared in the works of such writers as Milton (plural myriads) and Thoreau (a myriad of), and it continues to occur frequently in reputable English. There is no reason to avoid it.
And here’s the usage in Milton:
If thou beest he; But O how fall’n! how chang’d
From him, who in the happy Realms of Light
Cloth’d with transcendent brightness didst out-shine
Myriads though bright
(Can I read that instead?)
Anyway, Susan is packing! And then Kaseph is a dick:
He opened the latches and threw back the lid [of her suitcase], then proceeded to very quickly and very rudely unpack it, throwing its contents here and there. […] He thoroughly emptied it, opening every side pocket, unloading and shaking out every garment. […] “There are some very important records and files missing, things of a very delicate nature–things that you, my Maidservant, would have access to.”
(who TALKS like that outside of fantasy RPGs? I can just see the text “Maidservant” in red to signify that it’s important)
Meanwhile, apparently Tal himself conducts the prayer meetings at Hank’s house. Good to know. There are so many people they no longer fit in Hank’s living room, so I guess that’s his job well done. The former pastor and Lou Stanley also arrive as Tal rushes off to save Susan.
Then! Shocking twist!
“As a decisive and powerful tool of the Universal Conciousness Society, Omni Corporation is about to establish still another foothold for the coming new World Order and the rule of the New Age Christ”
Even the pagans are Christian under it all! Which makes a lot of sense: they’re not meant to be actual pagans, just really really tolerant liberal Christians.
Google leads me to this site after searching for “New Age Christ”:
According to esoteric teachings, the word ‘Christ’ is not the name of an individual, but of an office or function within the Spiritual Hierarchy of Masters. The Leader of this group is known as the Christ. This group of perfected men is also known as the Society of Illumined Minds, the Great White Brotherhood, the Masters of Wisdom and the Lords of Compassion, the Spiritual or Esoteric Hierarchy, and the Guides and Elder Brothers of Humanity. Under Their stimulus, man’s civilizations have risen, flowered, died, for hundreds of thousands of years.
I could dig into this site forever. It appears to be a difficult-to-read (am I just exhausted? Is it the random capitalization? Or the number of odd terms?) smear page against some dude named Maitreya who isn’t even Christian, he’s a Buddhist figure, so what is even the issue here? Protip: not every religions is Christianity. You’d think that’d be obvious by now but…
Anyway, that site also rails against “cults” such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Rastafarianism, and Christian Science. It has a page about World Religions that just gets me a 404, which made me LOL, and…
wait. Right. Peretti.
Anyway, that amusing digression over, Kaseph appears to have guessed Susan’s game.
Susan Jacobson prayed. She prayed furiously.
But the prayer cover might just be enough!
(I googled “Prayer Cover”. I got a whole bunch of covers of songs with “Prayer” in the title on youtube, and the cover of the Glee single “Like a Prayer”, two angelfire sites using the term while reproducing a specific prayer, then a whole bunch more info about covers of songs with the term “Prayer” in the title. I got nothing on this one)
Tal rushes to save Susan, but is waylaid by demons!
Kaseph kidnaps Susan.
“I am really not shocked at this. Such problems have happened before, with many others, many times. And every time we’ve had to deal with it. As you well know, such problems never remain. Never. […] I never trusted you, Susan, I told you that. So I’ve kept my eye on you […] I have eyes and ears everywhere, dead Susan. Since the moment your Mr Weed went to the Ashton Clarion, we have made his business, every aspect of it, our business […] Susan, did you really think we wouldn’t monitor every phone call going out of here? We knew you would make your move sooner or later.”
I get what Peretti’s trying to do here. I really do. But this is not Watchmen, or Equilibrium, or even Ocarina of Time. There’s no Batman Gambit going on here. If Kaseph knew she was betraying him… why did he let it succeed?
“You have never been to one of our blood rituals, have you? […] The ancient worshipers of Isis, or Molech, or Ashtoreth, were not too far afield in their practices. They understood, at least, that the offering of a human life to their so-called gods seemed to bring the gods’ favor.”
First of all, that does not require her to betray him first.
Secondly, Isis was a wife/mother figure in Egypt and a central figure in the Hellenistic Mystery Cults, but as far as I know there was never human sacrifices performed to worship her. We’re not too sure how the Egyptians did things, but they seem to have mostly sacrificed slaves when the pharaoh died by burying them alive or poisoning them so he’d have servants in the afterlife; the Greeks had abandoned the practice by the time they picked up Isis and the Romans had formally outlawed the practice as well (not counting the gladiators, of course).
I don’t know anything about Molech but I do note he’s mentioned in Paradise Lost. I suspect that might be a large influence for Peretti?
Ashtoreth I didn’t recognize either until Wikipedia informed me it can also be spelled Astarte. She’s mentioned in the Bible, but her worship goes so far back who knows how it was performed originally?
Next week: The battle!