Gris chats a bit with a worker who explains that the day's job is almost over, the cylinder is a spare time converter for those ridiculous "Will-be Was" engines, and that Tug One is a deathtrap, don't go on it, etc. The Apparatus agent is a bit horrified at the news of contracted crews coming in to service the spaceship, to say nothing of Fleet personnel hanging about, but then Heller hops off the crane hook and notices him.
"Oh, say, Soltan," he said, for all the world like he was rebeginning a conversation interrupted a half hour earlier, "like I was telling you, all the cultural notes and conversations are missing from those earlier Blito-P3 surveys. See if you can get hold of them, will you?" And he yelled back up at the high cab, "Very well done and thank you, crane master!" and with a friendly hand wave to him, he trotted over to the tug and went in through the airlock.
I checked, and yes, technically "rebeginning" is a word. It could easily be exchanged for a synonym like "continued" or "restarting," but I guess Hubbard wants us to know that he's not afraid to use obscure, archaic words for his "dekalogy." Either that or he was making up words again but lucked out. It was also nice of Hubbard to let us know that Heller was waving his hand at the crane operator and not another body part.
And then the Fleet marine guard detail shows up with a "hup hup hup," and "Guardsman Ip" is sent to her post aboard Tug One, and the Countess boards "in perfect evolution" which is technically correct since "evolution" can refer to military movements but I'm still grumpy about it, and then all the other soldiers jump around in excitement and cheer in celebration of Heller getting some, and then they go home. It's been a month and they're still doing the "Heller got laid" dance.
His brief, nearly pointless visit to the hangars concluded, Gris shakes Ske down for some spare change and goes home, finds his landlady waiting for him and gives her the five-credit note he had, and goes to bed in his dump of a room.
Later I lay in the broken bed, staring into the dark. I had been gone three weeks. I could have been dead for all they knew. And not once this whole day had anybody said, "Where have you been?"
This, and the simple fact that Gris is a character in a story where the author is obviously against him, almost makes me want to side with Gris. But Hubbard anticipated this and made Gris a thoroughly revolting person: in every other chapter or so Gris finds a paragraph to express his hopes that his "riff-raff" coworkers get killed in Lombar Hisst's coming purge, or in the case of this chapter that the sprawling, filthy slums of Ardaucus get annihilated. To say nothing of all the, you know, blackmail and murder and such - I hear in a future book Gris becomes a sex offender. (edit from the future: oh Past Me, you have no idea what you're in for)
So that last paragraph aside, I guess we're not meant to feel sorry for Gris at all, since the author has taken such pains to make him unsympathetic. But I can't take the same delight that Hubbard does in Gris' suffering either, since the guy's nothing but the plaything of a cruel and vindictive god using him as a surrogate punching bag for the author's real-world enemies. So it's a bit of a wash, where I'm disgusted by both the things Gris does and the stuff that happens to him.
Which makes it really hard to find a reason to keep reading, Hubbard. I don't care what happens to this character. I don't like this character. So why would I want to turn the page and see what happens to him next?
Well the thing is, I've got this blog...
Back to Chapter Six