Key To Conflict Chapter 4

So while Aleksei stands there flapping his hands and asking his brother to PLEASE not explode at the tiny psychotic woman who just insulted him out of the blue for no good reason, Tanis is obviously ignoring him. I like this guy. It’s a shame his balls are about to jump ship like Titanic rats.

Tanis’s eyes narrowed and his voice was low but full of black fury.

As opposed to Latino fury or Caucasian fury.

 
He stared at Gillian, golden eyes literally shooting sparks,

That would be very interesting. I have never seen sparking eyeballs in real life, especially since it seems like it would HURT.

 
He stepped forward, aggressive, male and very dominant.

It’s official: they’re going to bang in another chapter or two. No more doubt about it. I mean, why bother getting through your issues with another person in a mature, intelligent manner when you can just anger-fuck?

 
That did it. Gillian did not take to being bullied by anyone.

BULLIED? He asked what you said to him, and he took one step forward. He didn’t smack you around and threaten to use your head as a bowling ball. THAT would be bullying. He just demanded to know what the hell you said to him, since you called him a PRETENTIOUS PRICK. He has every right to say that. If he called you a “pretentious cunt,” you would probably attack him.

It’s official: Talia Gryphon thinks that a man is a bullying woman-hater if he doesn’t just bend over like a submissive mandrill.

Not even exceptionally handsome Romanian men, whose beautiful voices and eyes would normally intrigue her.

Hate-fuck alert! Beeeeyoop! Beeeeeyoop!

 
She threw caution completely to the wind, uncaring at the moment about what disciplinary actions the IPPA and the Marine Corps might take for her blowing her stack with a patient’s brother.

Yes, because THIS person is exactly who you’d want to send on a dangerous, sensitive mission requiring undercover work, political savvy and careful espionage – a psychotic drunken a-hole who insults her patients’ family. I’m sorry, was James Bond just BUSY that week, or did he decide this was too boring and stupid?

 
“Pretentious prick!” she bellowed at him, less than two feet away. “I called you a pretentious prick! Are you deaf as well as undead?”
She used the insult undead deliberately,

… she repeatedly called him a “pretentious prick,” but apparently thinks the only word that is insulting is “undead.” She’s a fucking idiot, and by “fucking idiot,” I mean FUCKING IDIOT.

Gryphon emphasizes that Gillian is not only rude and belligerant, but piss-your-pants drunk as well. Yes, she’s telling us this, and expecting us to actually be on her heroine’s side instead of yelling, “KILL HER, TANIS! CHOKE HER WITH HER OWN SEVERED FINGERS!”

Aleksei decides that Tanis is going to kill Gillian for insulting him, which makes her look even stupider for doing so. So Aleksei supposedly rushes to stop his brother physically… and fails. Wow, this guy is a lame vampire.

 
Aleksei felt his brother’s anger swell, but curiously, not that the woman was in any real danger.

… WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT SENTENCE MEAN?!

And even though Tanis has supernatural speed and strength, it comes as a HUGE surprise to Drunken Asshole that she hasn’t got a chance of actually clocking him or breaking out of his grip. Apparently Drunken Asshole thinks that Anita Blake is a realistic heroine, and that an out-of-shape smoking drunken human woman would actually be a match for an actual vampire!

 
His arm blurred and caught her small fist before she connected with his jaw. Shit and double shit.

“If only I were knowledgeable about supernatural creatures and their myriad superpowers!”

So he holds her still so she can’t swing at him anymore, and for some reason Drunken Asshole chooses to focus her attention on the fact that she still has a cigarette clamped in her mouth. Honestly, when I imagine this scene, I can only imagine an episode of Cops where a drunken, frowzy, trashy housewife with a cigarette stuck between her thin lips keeps trying to punch her boyfriend, and keeps failing miserably. Yeah, that’s the image an urban fantasy heroine should bring to mind.

 
“Well, fuckadoodle doo,” she muttered

…. but the question is, WHY did she mutter that? Did Gryphon think it just sounded cool?

(PSSSSTTT… it doesn’t!)

Tanis tells her that, “You are definitely in need of a lesson in manners, my dear lady.” Do I even need to mention how right he is? He then DARES to get rid of her cigarette, and Gillian kicks him with both feet in the stomach. Yeah, that’ll prove him wrong.

 
Vampires do not require air in their lungs to function so the blow to his diaphragm did little except surprise him and make him angrier.

… and yet the super-smart expert on all things supernatural did it anyway. Wow, I’m SO glad she’s in charge of this mission.

And to further establish that Gillian is an idiot, she starts staggering around drunkenly as soon as Tanis puts her down. No, I’m not kidding. She’s so drunk she’s actually staggering around and almost cracks her head on a gatepost. Is she gonna puke and announce, “I’m not as think as you drunk I am!”

 
If he had been Human, she would have fractured her skull or broken her neck on the stone obstruction.

What a beautiful idea…


Unnatural speed, unnatural strength, preternatural reflexes were what saved her from serious injury or death.

Awwww, do you have to? I was hoping to see Gillian as a drooling vegetable with a catheter stuck in her swampy private parts.

 
Not that she would be grateful.

Of course not. We couldn’t have THAT. It’s way awesomer to be an ungrateful bitch to someone who saved your life.

So Tanis catches her and Aleksei just sort of stands there drooling on himself. Why are we supposed to like Aleksei better?

 
Gillian was horrified as she stared up from her vantage point in Tanis’s lap

… except two sentences ago, we were told she was in his ARMS. Editor, please!

 
Good Goddess, this was just getting better and better. She knew she was blushing under that amber gaze.

… because heaven forbid that a strong competent woman (HA!) react to an attractive man WITHOUT being all blushy and turned-on. We can’t have THAT.

So Tanis does the first semi-dickish thing he’s done in the ENTIRE BOOK by mockingly calling her “sweetheart.” And because Gillian is SO terrifying, Aleksei is horrified by this.

Aleksei nearly moaned aloud. It was like a train wreck about to happen. He could see it coming and was helpless to prevent it.

Well, it would help if he didn’t sit there with his thumb up his ass, like he’s been doing all this scene.

 
To Tanis, he fired off, “No! Do not provoke her further!”

“She might stumble drunkenly into another stone object!”

So because Gillian is a stupid bitch even when sober, and she’s pants-pissingly drunk at the moment, she immediately pulls an Edward Cullen.

 
Intellectually, she knew that going head to head with a Vampire was not bright, but she wasn’t at her level-headed best at the moment.

I have shocking news for Ms. Gryphon: When people are drunk and doing stupid things, they aren’t “intellectually” aware that they’re being stupid. Their actions make perfect sense to them at the moment. It sounds more like Gillian is just using “I’m drunk” as an excuse to do whatever the fuck she wants.

 
She spit out a string of expletives that would have made her drill instructor proud, finishing with, “You cocksucking corpse, let go of me right now!”

If I were this dude, I would do exactly that. I would drop her. Hard. On her head.

 
To her abject horror, she did the utmost girly thing she could have.

OH, THE HORROR! Because there’s nothing worse than doing something GIRLY! I mean, drunkenly staggering around insulting and assaulting your host’s relatives? That’s just a mild breach of etiquette. But something GIRLY? That is SIMPLY too much! I am disgraced forever! BRING ME THE SEPPUKU KNIVES!

And what is this “utmost girly thing” she did? She slapped him. And no, she’s not horrified because she assaulted a man who just saved her worthless ass; she’s just horrified because it wasn’t MANLY enough.

So, since the main character is supposed to be a strong, independent woman, what does Gryphon write in?

Tanis spanks her.

I am serious.

There is a random, totally gratuitous spanking scene. Tanis immediately pins her down and starts whaling on her ass.

Now, I am honestly unsure how to feel about this scene. On the one hand, Gillian is a vile, foul-mouthed, misandrist, misogynistic, inept, drunken hormone-drooling piece of shit, and the idea of seeing her humiliated and hurt fills me with joy.

But on the other hand, the author is using this as hatefuck foreplay. Clearly she loves the idea of being spanked by an attractive man, but she won’t admit it because obviously feminism isn’t about women being open about their sexual likes, but about women acting like grunting misogynist pigs. So her heroine has to be FORCIBLY spanked rather than just saying, “I like being spanked.”

 
Aleksei started forward but the look in his brother’s gleaming golden eyes stopped him. In four hundred years Tanis had never raised his hand to any female.

Given how many obnoxious bitches he must have encountered in that time, I think it’s a testament to his quality that he hadn’t struck one until he met Gillian. She could inspire Gandhi to whip out a machete and go to town.

 
Gillian was beyond mortified. She was a twenty-eight-year-old adult. In the past two minutes, she’d lost her temper, nearly started a fight and was now bent over the knee of a very angry Vampire, being spanked like a kid.

And does she blame herself for this? Does the shock make her recognize that she behaved HORRIBLY and humiliated not only herself, but the US military? Does she try to calm herself and handle this whole thing like a grown-up, since raging, screaming and hitting people hasn’t gotten her anywhere?

Hah! Of course not. She starts crying, punches him in the mouth, stomps off in a huff and starts shrieking, “Assault and battery. That’s what I’ll charge him with.” Never mind that I hit him twice in the last five minutes and kicked him in the gut, once for the affrontery of keeping me from bashing my own brains out! Clearly HE assaulted ME!

 
She was fuming.

I am angry. This is what angry people do.

Her alcohol-sodden thoughts were scattered and disordered.

Yeah, there’s a reason why most UF protagonists don’t get drunk like this. It’s because when you’re drunk, you’re likely to look STUPID.

 
More mad at herself than Tanis, Gillian took herself to task more than he had.

Bullshit. When you start raving about how you’ll charge a person with assault and battery, you are NOT blaming yourself.

 
She dealt with Paramortal people and their problems for a living, yet she’d just let a Vampire piss her off to the point of losing her temper, something she couldn’t remember doing since her early days in the Marine Corps.

Yes, because he was SO offensive and nasty. Clearly mentally-disturbed individuals wouldn’t ever say anything HALF so upsetting… YOU STUPID BITCH.

 
Chauvinistic bastard spanked me.

HE’S NOT A CHAUVINIST. If anything, he’s less of a sexist swine than his drooling brother.

So Gillian sits there in the woods fussing and fuming, and giving us some really shitty backstory.

 
Hathor’s hells, Daedelus was going to laugh his ass off when she relayed this little tidbit of trivia to him. Helmut would be mortified and probably sanction her ass for losing her mind…temper like she did. Daed would say she had provoked it and give Tanis a medal. Bastards. All of them.

All those horrible MEN, daring to actually hold a woman responsible for her actions! Chauvinists, all of them! How dare they not assume a woman is automatically right and should be forgiven everything?!

Also, the goddess Hathor was the patroness of motherhood, fertility, femininity and happiness. I don’t think she had any hells.

When was she going to learn?

Probably after getting shot in the head while doing her Hulk routine.

 
Psychology was an even playing field for men and women, but the military was something else.

“It was an even playing field for men, women, aliens, barnyard animals…”

 
It had been her temper that had gotten her into the Special Forces in the first place.

Yes, because when you want the absolute elite to handle the toughest and most sensitive missions… you want someone who flies into uncontrollable rages if her coffee isn’t hot enough.

And then we’re given the charming tale of how she got her current undeserved job. She was working in the Pentagon, where she was head of security during the Human-Vampire peace talks… wait.

Seriously, someone THAT YOUNG and inexperienced as head of security during some of the most important diplomatic talks EVER? I could MAYBE believe she might get on the team… probably by fucking someone in authority. But in charge? NO.

Anyone, some vampire had propositioned her because he wanted to brag about banging a human woman. Just… a human woman. Not an empath or even a female Marine. Just a woman. Uh, human women aren’t rare and mystical creatures, you know. There are a LOT of them around, and I’m sure plenty of them would be happy to bang a super-hawt sexy vampire (as all Gryphon’s vampires are).

For example….

Hmm, he’s older, he’s creepy, he won’t take no for an answer, he’s probably rich, and he’s a vampire. Oh, and he’s probably a verbally abusive pig. Total scoresville!

 
Gill had refused because he was an insincere prick.

Like the insincere prick she’s been getting all foggy-genitaled about?

So he took offense at this, and decided to give her a gift which was designed to humiliate her. What is this most horrible of gifts? Well, clearly it must be something REALLY offensive. Maybe a dildo, or a copy of Twilight, or a bumper sticker saying “Anita Blake is a bigger bitch than you.”

That’s right: the deadly offense that inspires her to violence… is a big ol’ gold cross and a rude comment.

 
It was a bad enough idea to give a Jewish-Pagan girl a Christian cross with intent to insult,

  1. What does “Jewish-Pagan” mean? Isn’t that sort of like being Muslim-Buddhist or Shinto-Voodoo?
  2. I think what this horrible, horrible writer is trying to say is that Gillian is some sort of generic, vague neopagan who clearly doesn’t believe in the Threefold Law, and has a Jewish cultural background.
  3. But she doesn’t say that, so I’m still gonna make fun of it.
  4. Also, why is it “insulting” to be given a cross? Sure, it was part of an overall jibe at her refusal to fuck him, but the cross’ symbolism is irrelevant – he could have given her a giant padlock, and it would have been just the same.
  5. I mean, if somebody gave me a Hand of Fatima, or a Buddha amulet, or a Star of David, I would not automatically be offended just cuz I’m not a Muslim, a Buddhist or a Jew.
  6. And for fuck’s sake, why does she assume that he even knows what her religion is? The majority of Americans are some denomination of Christian, at least nominally. Almost 80% is Catholic or Protestant, and I’m sure there’s a decent chunk of Orthodox churches in there too. Why would he immediately assume she was a neopagan?
  7. And finally… you know, when someone is deliberately TRYING to piss you off, the best way to handle it is to be as genuinely gracious and pleasant as possible. When you do that, you’re taking the wind out of their sails.

 
but it was a worse idea to piss off a United States Marine for any reason, at least in public.

Because as we all know, Marines are violent raging savages incapable of self-restraint.

Look at all that rage and violence! He’s about to explode! That kitten is DOOMED!

Also, what the hell does she mean, “at least in public”? Is she implying that having witnesses to illegal/unprofessional actions makes Marines MORE violent, not LESS?

Well, what happened is that she told him to fuck himself and threw it in his face… which caused it to slice right into his face, because he was a Christian when he was alive, so apparently the cross works on him even though she doesn’t believe in it. In a logical book, that would be the end of her career and she’d probably be facing a court martial.

But this is a Talia Gryphon book, bitches! Logic has no place here! This is a novel where all soldiers are homicidal maniacs who will beat you to a pulp if you look at them funny, and our heroine is a drunken incompetent idiot who has yet to do ANYTHING right.

So instead, all the vampires hate the Baron and immediately adore Gillian, even though such groups tend to stick together even if they don’t normally like each other. Not to mention that in peace talks, THIS IS THE EQUIVALENT OF A NUCLEAR BOMB IN THE ASS.

 
One in particular, Cassiopeia Delphi, PhD,

WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THESE NAMES?! She’s just choosing random Greek names even if they make no fucking sense in a modern setting!

 
was rather impressed by the little blonde’s chutzpah and utter lack of fear.

Translation: she was impressed by Gillian’s violent rudeness and stupidity.

She was busy surreptitiously working with Daedelus to recruit Gillian for a project she was working on at the Miller and Jackson Clinic for Paramortal Understanding and Intimacy, where she was clinical director.

  1. Yes, we wouldn’t want to SEE that. We want to be infodumped!
  2. AND AGAIN WITH THE NAMES!
  3. “Understanding and Intimacy”? Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that the third book is all about Gillian fucking someone as “therapy.”

 
Once Daed heard Gillian’s side of the story, he was impressed that she hadn’t killed the Baron outright. The fact that she hadn’t even shot him was amazing of itself.

Yeah, only in a truly shitty urban fantasy is it a sign of RESTRAINT to mutilate a diplomat for being rude to you instead of outright murdering them.

 
Hell, he had new recruits and diplomatic liaisons who would have killed the Austrian Vampire just for making a pass in the first place.

Yes, because diplomatic liaisons and noob soldiers are known for going on killing sprees whenever someone says “Hey, nice ass.”

You know, I might actually be able to choke down this ridiculous premise… maybe… if I got a lobotomy… as long as there was some sort of reason behind it. You know, that there was a brutal war that led to the American military becoming this all-dominating force of malevolent psychos who use violence-inducing drugs. It would be colossally stupid, but at least it would be a REASON.

But… it isn’t. Just like Laurell K. Hamilton, Talia Gryphon’s universe is supposed to be EXACTLY LIKE OURS… except the priapic supernaturals are real, and they come out of the “coffin” during the Protagonist’s lifetime. And yes, I did just vomit a little by referring to Gillian as a protagonist.

So because Gillian is just so awesome, and tearing open the face of an important diplomat DURING PEACE TALKS is no big deal, Daed doesn’t want her to get in trouble with it. In fact, NOBODY in the military wants her to get in trouble, because she’s so wonderful and ballsy, and brutal violence is no big deal if it comes from a SOLDIER! Everybody knows that they torture puppies for fun!

But even though Daed, the military brass and the vampires all adore her and don’t want her blamed, they decide that she needs to be given a slap on the wrist. I mean, the Vampire-Human negotiations are too important. If it were something UNIMPORTANT like negotiations in the war-torn Middle-East, brutally attacking a diplomat would get her a medal!

 
Gillian would have to be punished in some manner.

She would have to have a time-out AND no dessert.

And I swear, suddenly Gryphon starts writing as if this was in the present. She doesn’t write this as a flashback, but an infodump… and halfway through the infodump… it BECOMES A FLASHBACK.

 
He wouldn’t allow any severe action to be taken against her, of that she was certain given his current feelings.

… feelings? Is this going to be one of those shitty urban fantasies where everything with a penis is infatuated with the main character even if she’s the most repulsive creature in the world?

So there’s not even a court-martial for a Marine who violently assaulted a diplomat. Yes, even with provocation, that would be a DISASTER. There are proper channels for handling sexual harassment without getting violent, you know. At the very least, she could have gotten reassigned and had a man put in her place so the Baron wouldn’t be able to cause trouble. But she just kept letting the Baron hit on her, and when he committed the UNFORGIVABLE OFFENSE of giving her the dreaded GOLD CROSS, she just attacked him. It’s her own fault for not dealing with the situation before.

Yes, I know I keep harping on this, but it’s so STUPID. Even if the brass DID like what she did, they would still be outraged that a Marine behaved that way. And the Vampires would BE ENRAGED and probably demand her head on a platter. And if they didn’t get it, they would feel disrespected and probably the talks would break down.

But no, it’s much more sensible to give her a brand new way to spread violence and death across the world.

 
Daed was frantically thinking of a solution that would please the brass, get them off his ass and hers, yet send a message to the Vampires and anyone else that a marine is not to be trifled with, ever.

  1. Please the brass? Two minutes ago, they adored her.
  2. It doesn’t fucking matter that she’s a Marine. She was not working as a Marine in this case, therefore she should have handled herself professionally.
  3. So basically him trying to help her is all about fragile Marine ego, huh? Because yeah, if a Marine doesn’t violently attack somebody, they won’t be taken seriously!
  4. Why is he so frantic? Does he even know this woman?! It hasn’t been explained!
  5. And as if this entire scene weren’t shittastic enough, we are constantly flipping between Gillian and Daed’s perspectives. IS THERE ANY WRITING RULE THAT TALIA GRYPHON DOESN’T RAPE?

So he comes up with the brilliant idea of sending her on a dangerous recon mission.

 
Send her on a dangerous combat search-and-seizure mission and all would be forgiven. No mark on her record, no one the wiser.

NO ONE THE WISER?! I’m pretty sure the entire fucking PENTAGON is going to remember this little incident, and they’re gonna be VERY aware that she wasn’t punished.

 
She also reasoned it would send a clear message to all the delegates that she was being entrusted with further responsibility rather than being officially reprimanded.

… which would logically make them even ANGRIER since it means she’s being rewarded for being a violent psycho who attacked a diplomat. Yes, this character is so Suey that she’s REWARDED in defiance of all logic. And what’s more, she’s SO wonderful that she is now the bestest agent they have AND she got promoted to Captain.

I want to go out and hurt someone.

 
Now she was on a mountainside in Romania, nursing her wounded pride and tingling butt.

Especially the tingling butt. It matches her swampy privates.

Oh how the mighty will fall.

… why the future tense?

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