This is the chapter where if anyone knows anything about radio, we could use some fact checking. So even if you don’t generally read these recaps, it would be swell if you’d take a look at a section toward the end where radio wattage and frequency is being discussed.
We last left Rory in the medical ward of the Nayara, the ship flown by Cy’s betrothed, the titular Apolonia.
My eyes opened and blinked a few times. It wasn’t a surprise. I’d come back from much worse.
Rory is the polar opposite of Anastasia Steele, who always wakes up surprised. The two recaps really balance each other out. Rory is talking about the fact that she’s immortal, but as the scene goes on, it becomes unclear whether or not she actually died and came back, or if she was just asleep. The consistency of the story’s inconsistency is comforting to me.
Benji is sitting beside the table she’s on, and Tsavi, the alien doctor, and Cy are missing. Rory is dressed in a pair of what are basically alien scrubs, and Benji is super relieved that she’s conscious:
Benji rubbed his eyes with one hand and rested the other on my arm. “You had a significant laceration in one arm and a bullet hole in your thigh. It was clean. Exit wound.”
I looked down. “It doesn’t hurt.”
“Apolonia did something. She had this little…” He was trying to draw it in the air. “Anyway, you don’t even have a scar. Lost a lot of blood, though.”
I can’t believe blood got mentioned, but wasn’t used as a chance for something like, “Blood, like the kind I had laid in, watching my mother and my best friend die, while I didn’t die, because I’m immortal. Blooood” or whatever.
Cy, Dr. Z, and Tsavi come in.
Benji helped me off the table, and Cy hurried over to help as well.
“I’ve got her,” Benji said.
“I see that,” Cy grumbled, and then he hugged me.
Just in case you missed the last fifteen chapters, here’s some backstory: both of the guys want Rory. It’s a subtle theme, but it’s crucial to the plot that you’re aware that both of them are fighting over the heroine.
“I was worried for a bit.”
“You shouldn’t have been. I’ve told you a million times–”
“And I’ve told you once, you’re not invincible, Rory. Lucky but not invincible.”
Could someone please clear up whether or not she’s actually invincible/immortal/what the fuck ever?
“I don’t know, Tsavi said. “Judging from the extent of the scars she has, I would say she has survived many wars.”
This is important, because we need to know that Rory is just as tough and battle hardened as Apolonia, who is not as good as her. Rory feels violated by having her scars revealed, because hiding them is how she controls her perception of the event.
“I would not call it luck,” Apolonia said, frowning.
So even Apolonia thinks Rory is this tough, strong type. Maybe she can tell us if Rory is actually immortal?
Apolonia needs to contact her father so he doesn’t burn down the entire Earth to find her, but the Nayara‘s communications are not an option. Benji suggests the campus radio station, but Dr. Zoidberg shoots that theory down as hard as the government shot down the Nayara, because:
“If Rendlesham starts shooting at us again, we don’t want an innocent student to get in the way.”
True facts, but here’s a question: why is Rendlesham still alive? We saw death machine Apolonia carving up everyone and everything, but somehow Rendlesham escaped and Apolonia didn’t go after him, despite the fact that he’d killed her entire crew. Why did he get away, other than convenience to the plot? And why didn’t we see how he escaped, other than the author just not having any idea how to get him out of Apolonia’s path?
But that’s not what’s important. What’s important is Cy and Benji fighting over Rory:
“How do you just happen to be everywhere at the right time? The fact that you attached yourself to Rory is questionable in itself. You’re not even remotely her type. You look like the kind that would be chasing Ellie Jones or Laila Dixon.”
I frowned at Cy. “Laila Dixon? From administration?”
Cy shrugged. “She’s more Benji’s type, voluptuous and oblivious.”
This is important. This is what we should be arguing about at the moment. Whether or not Benji could possibly be attracted to someone as skinny and smart as Rory.
“I haven’t lied to her,” Benji said.
“What have you omitted?” Cy said, unyielding.
“Omitted? Let’s talk about omission. You don’t lie? Please. Not being honest is lying, Cyrus. Don’t fool yourself.”
Cy’s jaw worked under his skin. “I haven’t lied to you. But he” –he pointed at Benji–”hasn’t told you who he really is. Tell her, Benji, or I will.”
That’s an interesting punctuation choice with those em dashes. Also, underlines indicate italics.
The line between Benji’s eyebrows deepened. He was clearly troubled by Cy’s threat. He looked to me, trying to find the words to say next.
His expression made me nervous, even more so than Cy’s threat.
Rory tells Benji that she’s tried to get everyone to trust him. But he does have a secret, a secret he claims he’s been trying to tell Rory for a long time:
Cy spoke, “He’s Benji Reynolds, son of Agent Frank Reynolds, chief intelligence officer for the Majestic Twelve.”
Wait, wait, wait. Cy knew this all along. He knew this from the moment that Dr. Zoidberg told them about the CIA’s interest in the rock. He told Rory not to hang out with Benji, but he never thought to make it clear why? On top of that, did he even bother to tell Dr. Zoidberg? This is information that, if it needs a big reveal, can’t be something Cy knew about all along, because that means he actively endangered Rory for seemingly no reason at all.
“So, you were a plant, just like Ellie? I was your target?”
Dr. Z was immediately next to me, holding my arm. He always knew what I needed. And right now, I needed not to fall onto my knees in shock.
So, did Dr. Z know about all this already? Because he doesn’t react at all in the scene, other than to support Rory.
Benji came to my other side, but I pushed him away. “I knew what Cyrus was. Even before that, I knew Majestic was watching Dr. Zorba. I know this looks bad–really, really bad–but I wasn’t using you, Rory, I swear. Dad said he wanted me to watch out for your safety. Heck,I wanted to watch out for your safety. And by the time I knew what Majestic really wanted, it was too late. I’d already made a decision by then.”
“We do not have time for this,” Apolonia said, crossing her arms over her stomach.
“We don’t have time for this” is to Apolonia as “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” is to Star Wars. It seems like everyfreakingbody gets to say it.
The obsession with Rory’s safety continues, despite the fact that she’s highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat and apparently immortal. The one step that, inexplicably, no one seems willing to take is actually telling Rory what’s going on so that she will be safe. Both Cy and Benji knew the threat posed to Rory by the Majestic, and neither of them bothered to give her a heads up about it. If you’re walking down the sidewalk and a bear is chasing you, you’d want someone to yell, “Watch out for that bear!” You probably wouldn’t want them to keep that information to themselves while they tried to figure out the bear’s motives, right?
“What kind of decision?” I asked, facing Benji.
Benji shrugged, as if it should have been obvious. “That I was in love with you.”
Dr. Z watched for my reaction. If you recall, Rory, Ellie also said that there was one member of Majestic who couldn’t stay away from you.”
See how Dr. Z seems completely unfazed by the reveal here? Did he know all along? If so, that’s three people who were keeping important information from Rory, despite having more than one opportunity to warn her. But it never occurs to Rory to question this, because Dr. Z is basically set decoration/a convenient exposition device at this point.
“What was too late?” I asked.
Benji took a few steps toward me and then cupped my shoulders. Purplish half-moons under his dim brown eyes revealed just how sleep deprived he was from looking for me the night before and from watching over me on the infirmary table. His shirt was wrinkled, and his hair was tousled. “It was too late for them to convince me to help them because whatever side you were on was where I wanted to be.”
So…why not turn double agent? If you knew Rory was on the run from Majestic, if you had access to all of this information and you desperately wanted to keep Rory safe, why not tell Rory, Cy, and Dr. Z everything you knew? Because if the motivation there was “I don’t want to ruin my chances with Rory,” it makes you a hell of a lot less likable, buddy.
And it should make him less likable to Rory, but the romance here is more important than the CIA science fiction plot, so:
I fell into his arms, and he pressed his cheek against my hair, squeezing me tightly against him.
“I knew they were coming for the rock. That’s why I wanted to get you away from there before dinner. I was going to try to get you both out before they came. But I’ve had to plan every move carefully, Rory. I couldn’t help you if I didn’t have inside information. I wanted to tell you everything. It just had to be the right time.”
Okay, but you did have inside information at the right time. You knew that Majestic was going to storm the lab, steal the rock, and probably kidnap Cy and Rory. That was the inside information you had that would have been helpful at the time. But I guess since that would have destroyed this clumsy reveal that’s supposed to shock and intrigue the reader, we have to accept that Benji just couldn’t do that because the author is insisting that’s so.
What I really can’t accept here is Apolonia not killing Benji outright over this discovery. But she didn’t bother to kill Rendlesham, either, so her judgement is apparently not great.
Because the plot can’t move forward without it happening, Rory manages to convince every to trust Benji. The army will be coming back soon, they have to leave, but Apolonia stresses that they have to come back for the bodies of the fallen crew members so they can take them home to their families. Tsavi gives Dr. Z and Rory warm robes to wear.
Cy smiled at Tsavi. He appreciated his people being kind to humans, and Tsavi seemed to like us. The feeling was mutual. She seemed more…human–at least more so than Apolonia.
Brace yourselves, dehumanizing of coded woman of color coming in three…two…
Knowing Cy, I couldn’t imagine what made him fall in love with such a dry, emotionless, and angry person. He once called her emotional. I couldn’t disagree more. From what I’d witnessed, it was unclear if she even had a soul. Cy was a warm, kind being. He begged the soldiers–men who were out to harm all of us–not to engage his betrothed, so we wouldn’t have a massacre on our hands. How can he love such a monster?
Apolonia is emotionless, but at the same time, angry. And just a few paragraphs above, she shows clear caring for her people. She also cares for humans. Know how I know? She’s on Earth, trying to stop a devastating parasite from escaping and decimating the entire species. She also just saved Rory’s life, or at least thought she was saving Rory’s life, depending on whether or not Rory is immortal. Rather than acknowledging that and having any sense of gratitude for it, Rory is cruelly critical. And Apolonia is the one we’re supposed to feel is soulless?
And there’s no reason for this information to be included at this point. Apolonia hasn’t done anything so far in this chapter, aside from stand around, then express that they should return their dead to their families. If anything, she’s depicted as having more humanity in this chapter than in the last one. But it’s important for us to know that she’s not good enough for Cy, and Rory is. Rory is the one we’re supposed to be rooting for. Rory needs to have both guys in love with her, and all other women are described as wanting, because this book is misogynist trash.
Apolonia gives Tsavi some kind of space weapon, but Cy is against it, because he doesn’t want to see any other humans harmed.
Apolonia touched Cy’s face tenderly, but her expression still seemed emotionless. “I have already lost so many. I can’t leave Tsavi defenseless.”
I’m sorry, Apolonia. Even though you’re the most interesting character in the book–the title character, even–we have to hate you, because you’re romantic competition for the actual lead. You can’t even tenderly touch someone’s face right. We seriously have this character arming someone she cares about because she can’t stand to lose her. Because the death of her entire crew has so devastated her. But she’s emotionless and soulless.
Remember how Rory described Cy in the beginning of the book? How he was aloof and cold and unfriendly? And she persevered and cracked through that shell? How does she suddenly not remember that, when it’s a female alien displaying the same characteristics?
Oh. Right. Female.
They leave the ship, and literally nobody is outside of it. No army, no CIA, no Majestic. Everybody just left. Which is a good thing, because it would have been a lot of work to write an exciting escape.
Benji pulled the robe from my other hand and held it up.
“Dr. Zorba called this warm. It’s a millimeter thick and has no liner.”
“I guess we’ll see,” I said, slipping my arms into the sleeves. The front melded together, and instantly, the cold dissipated from my body. “The fabric must include some special form of technology. It’s better than my goose-down coat.”
“And all this time, I though you didn’t own a coat,” Benji said with a teasing smile.
A character just pointed out an inconsistency. Though I suppose you could make the argument that Rory hasn’t been immune to the cold for a while. Probably because of the power of love or something.
Cy and Dr. Z explain away the lack of military presence by stating that the roadblocks must surely be manned, and the area quarantined. Which still doesn’t make enough sense because a spaceship just crashed on Earth. This is not the kind of thing our government would just kind of wander away from until they can get to it later. But again, it’s much easier for the army and the CIA to just shrug and leave than to write the characters escaping without detection, or fighting their way out.
Dr. Zoidberg mentions that there’s an old radio station ten miles away, and that its equipment is old and highly inefficient.
“So, we cannot use it?” Tsavi asked.
“No,” I said. “Efficient broadcast signals make the signals weaker for someone to pick up in space.”
“That’s right,” Dr. Z said. “Old radio programs were broadcast from massive ground stations that transmitted signals at thousands of watts. In theory, those signals could be picked up relatively easily across the depths of space. This is exactly what we need–an inefficient old station. [...]“
Okay, now, wait a second. I’m not an expert, but I know a little about radio, albeit second hand from informal conversations. I may be misunderstanding the concept of radio waves here, but wattage doesn’t increase range when there are other transmissions on closer frequencies, does it? Do we have any radio peeps reading this who can confirm the wattage/range connection? Because the way I’ve always pictured radio working is that it just kind of shoots up into the sky and fans out like water ripples, becoming less intense the further you get from the center point. Which is the reason radio stations cut out when you get closer to another station near the same frequency, right? Because the stronger ripples overlap the weaker ones? So if there are other stations in range, the “inefficient” wattage wouldn’t necessarily make the range of the station stronger in space.
God, I hope at least one of you is a broadcast expert, because of all the things that have been weird or inaccurate in this book, this is going to be the one that bugs me the most. I could call my grandfather, who is the source of any radio-related knowledge I have–he was a senior engineer at Electro-Voice and worked on NASA’s Project Mercury–but he cannot break it down Barney-style at all, and that’s what I’m looking for from one of you.
Anyway, Dr. Z says that three beings of higher intelligence should be able to get the station going again, and Benji makes a snide comment about how being of an older race doesn’t equal higher intelligence. Cy argues that he learned to speak every language on Earth in two months, and Benji is like, yeah, but can you write a symphony?
I elbowed Benji. “They already don’t trust you. You’re not helping yourself.”
He pulled out keys. “I have the only car, and it’s fast. Does that help?”
I don’t know, Benji. Are you going to actually use the car, or hide it from Rory for her own protection, until you’re all in mortal peril?
This book. This fucking book.