Remember how everybody was like, “Everything’s cool, kids will be fine, we’re happy even though one of our teammates is fucked up in the head” at the end of last chapter? Well, now Gillian’s upset and concerned about shit. She calls Aleksei on the real phone this time and asks him to contact Dionysus for help with Luis, because apparently Luis is his of Dionysus’s line. Who knows why she can’t just call Dionysus herself. Aleksei wants her to ship Luis to Greece “as cargo, just as a precaution.” I’m not sure how having a potentially crazy vampire in the cargo hold where unsuspecting cargo handlers will stumble upon him is any better, but, you know.
There are also 30 missing kids unaccounted for, so some of the team can stay behind and search. There’s some rumors about corrupt cops being in on it. The author voice intrudes to tell us that while most cops are the good guys, some are bad guys and “If there were no crooked cops, there would be no need for Internal Affairs divisions in police departments.”
Why, why, I ask you, aren’t we hearing more than a bare mention or two of these corrupt cops? This is ostensibly a mystery-based book, right? How about some actual mystery? But no, the interesting plot is sloughed over some more, and the remainder is summarized. More bad guys are caught and tried by a tribunal.
Oh, yeah, did you guys remember they still had the documentary crew with them? Because I didn’t either. Have they been around this whole time?
Gillian wants to execute the people who were involved in the trafficking, and she says so in the tribunal. (PS, still summarizing; none of this is an actual scene.) Daedalus tries to be diplomatic about the sentence for the perpetrators, but having heard Gillian’s suggestion, the townspeople gathered outside are all riled up to kill the perpetrators.
This is exactly why Gillian sucks as an investigator, a special forces operative, and a person. She displays absolutely, positively zero forethought for the consequences of her reactionary behavior or her stupid comments, and then she merrily skips away like “lol that was fun.” Trocar assures her that he’ll take care of the perpetrators for her, and she’s happy about it. I’m sure this is exactly what will happen, because heaven forbid we have any conflict or nuance about how perpetrators are sentenced.
There’s some really squicky shit about how pedophiles are the “world’s lowest life-form as far as she was concerned” and “the kids were safe but people were going to pay.” So, basically, people who were involved in human trafficking, whatever their roles or interests in the deal, are pedophiles, and pedophiles 100% deserve death even if they have never touched a child.
Unpopular opinion time. A pedophile, by definition, is someone who is sexually attracted to children. Pedophilia does not in any way assume or suggest that someone has acted on those attractions. Someone who sexually abuses a child (by whatever definition) is a child molester. NOT THE SAME THING. Saying someone who is sexually attracted to children (not something they can help) deserves to die is exactly the kind of harmful stigma that keeps those people from seeking any kind of mental health support. I think most of us cringe at the idea of someone enjoying the thought of sex with a young child, but should we advocate policing or execution just for thoughts or fantasies?
I think we can all agree that the answer is no.
And I also hope we can agree that there are worse people in the world than people who fantasize about sex with children. Like, I don’t know, people who actually molest children. Or people who do actual physical or mental harm to others.
But summary execution in spite of actual lawful sentencing is apparently what the good guys are supposed to do in this world, so it’s all good.
Anyway, Kimber and Daedalus are going to stay behind and do…whatever. It’s also revealed that some of the kids are paranormal. That’s an interesting tidbit, though I don’t know why we’re just now hearing this, and I definitely don’t know why it matters.
There’s more shit about the media. This could be so interesting! But that would require a different book with a different author. Instead what we get is a summary of what the media reported, including the names of everyone involved, as if we don’t fucking know that already.
Daedalus and Gillian have a really awkward conversation when they’re alone where Daedalus admits they’re not really friends but hugs her and is clearly into her anyway. He starts grabby-handing her
FUCK NOT THIS AGAIN
She tries to “make it easy on both of them,” but he gets butthurt because he thinks she doesn’t want to fuck him because he’s a minotaur. She says that’s not true. She “[doesn’t] want any part of a romance with him, but she [doesn’t] want to hurt him either“
And she goes on to say he’s a really good guy and everything, but they’re just not a good fit blah blah. Just once, just fucking once, I want to see a female character not try to be nice when turning down a guy who’s not only being fucking creepy but breaking every code of conduct regarding fraternization and relationships between commanding officers and their subordinates. Just tell him NO, for fuck’s sake, without stroking his ego dick and feeling the need to validate and reassure him.
Thank god the conversation turns to something else, which is equally fucked up but in a slightly different way. Daedalus says “you get to go back to Romania if that’s what you want, as a civilian,” or “you could agree to be on call for me during this Turf War until we get things straightened out a bit more.”
At first I thought this was a stupidly obvious choice when you put it that way, but Daedalus points out that she would have the resources of the Marines and the paranormal psychologists and whatnot. It’s a shitty dangling carrot, which makes me hate Daedalus a little, but since he’s already established as a shithead, at least it’s consistent.
And, wonder of wonders, Gillian agrees without pitching a hissy.
PS, Daedalus calls her “pumpkin.” If they had a relationship that didn’t revolve around him being a manipulative asshole and a creep, I would find this endearing.
Trocar has Elfy Shit to Do, so he bails on Gillian too, leaving Pavel and Jenna, who I think has had exactly five lines between the two books, to accompany Gillian back to Romania.
You know, I had a character like Jenna in my first book. He followed one of the major characters around and occasionally said shit, but he actually had zero relevance to the plot.
And I took him out. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
And apparently Luis is just being flown back by his lonesome to Dionysus and we’ll probably never hear from him again, because Gryphon is the master of plot cockblocking.
Gillian ruminates over Aleksei on the way back. She wants to fuck him but she’s being commitment-phobic. Though I really can’t blame her, considering Aleksei has been a consummate dickbag to her from day one.
The pilot of the helicopter that’s taking Gillian, Pavel, and Jenna back to Romania tells her they’re being diverted to Moscow, she wants to land in Iceland, he says it’s too far, and we’re treated to a description of this particular helicopter and the fact that she knows they can make it to Reykjavik after all.
All of that apparently means nothing because he’s flying her to Moscow anyway. She’s pissed and Jenna assures her Aleksei will be fine. She gets shirty with Jenna because “Who said anything about Aleksei?”
There’s a patented Gryphon Head Hop here, which makes the following conversation really confusing because of the lack of speech attributions. Gillian tells Jenna not to start anything, Jenna says she’s not starting anything and makes a stupid “changing the subject” comment, then the next piece of dialogue is, “And how are you going to start things up with Tanis when we get back? Straight to the slab for some bite and tickle?” The small blonde’s dander was up.
That was written exactly as it appears in the book. The dialogue starts on a new line, separate from Jenna’s comment, and given that we know “the small blonde” is code for Gillian, it sure seems like Gillian is making this comment about Tanis. Like, what? Jenna and Tanis know each other? But then the next comment makes it seem like Jenna said that.
Gillian is understandably upset by Jenna’s teasing, and Jenna does that “I’m just teasing” thing that means “please let me off for being an asshole.” Why would you set up your protagonists’ friends to be assholes? I do not trust Gryphon any longer (not that I ever did) to do this shit on purpose, so I can only assume Jenna is supposed to be a good friend.
Oh wait. Jenna comes around for another pass to reveal why Gillian is such a commitment-phobe: “You know, not everyone betrays feelings and confidences like your parents have, or makes you work for every scrap of acceptance.”
There are a thousand more graceful ways to incorporate this information. Two thousand. At least I can give her props for trying, but
You would think it would have been a better idea to at least hint at this parental conflict in the first book, so I didn’t spend the whole damn time rolling my eyes and wondering what the fuck reason Gillian would have to be the way she is about relationships. I’m still rolling my eyes, but at least I can understand a little better.
Gillian and Jenna have some conversation about relationships that’s about as deep as the pond that’s forming in my parking lot because some idiot paved over the storm drain last week. (True story.) They do their pit-stop in Moscow, which has no plot significance other than to irritate Gillian at the delay at getting back to Aleksei, which she then has to winge over because that means they’re a couple and blah blah blah etc. etc.
The pilot comes over to ask Gillian to hang out in London to help with an investigation because “they need an empath of [her] caliber.” She’s a NATURAL empath, y’all. NATURAL.
You know how an “all natural” label on food means absolutely fuck all? That’s pretty much the case for Gillian. But apparently she’s managed to fool everyone. She calls Aleksei on the brain phone and there’s an eye-rolling moment where she acts like a stereotypical high school girl, overanalyzing his tone, his behavior, and the fact that he hung up the brain phone first.
End of chapter.
I’ll make you another million bajillion dollar bet about who’s going to show up next.