Monday, March 19, 2012

Part Twenty, Chapter Three - Dressing Down While Undressed

Gris, who has adopted Heller's sleeping patterns by this point, is rudely awaken at only eleven in the morning by Karagoz the Turkish manservant, who informs "Sultan Bey" that there are two men to see him.  He also informs Gris that he isn't wearing any clothes, but the Apparatus agent pays no heed as he rushes out, shotgun in hand, to yell at his unwanted visitors, who turn out to be Raht and Terb.

After Gris demands to know "What in the name of the seventeen brindle Devils" they are doing here - no, the term "brindle Devils" is never elaborated on - the duo nervously explain that they're just following Gris' orders to report in, and since they had already been making periodic radio updates, they assumed he meant to report in person.  This at least gives Gris an opportunity to yell at them in person, and he lambastes them for following the bugs in Heller's clothes instead of Heller himself - though this does tip off the pair that Gris has some other way to keep tabs on his nemesis, which the agent hastily puts down to other operatives.

After calming down a bit, pulling on a robe, and getting something to eat and drink, thereby giving Hubbard an opportunity to show off his Turkish vocabulary, Gris goes back out to clue in his clueless lackeys.  He gives them their new mission - disguise themselves as diplomats looking for some companionship at the Gracious Palms, break into Heller's room, and steal that all-important platen.  Their secondary mission is to find and remove the source of the "carbon disturbance" in Heller's room, thereby allowing Gris to watch him have sex, though he doesn't put it as such.  He also tries to have Raht shave his mustache, but relents and tones it down to a trim.  I have the sinking feeling that a Hitler 'stache is going to appear in this book too. 

Though the whole briefing Gris shows off his Apparatus training by having three cool glasses of water set out in front of the thirsty, sun-baked agents, but never sharing any.  Truly, he is a master of mind games and subtle tortures.

Although he briefly considers having his agents take along a transmitter-receiver even though such devices are forbidden, he decides to let them go without it.  I mean, these guys have only consistently failed him ever since arriving on the planet, and Gris just spent days in helpless frustration because he had no way of getting in touch with them, but now that Gris has given them new orders, everything should go smoothly, right?

So the two incompetent spies slouch away from their incompetent boss, who has now exerted the minimum of effort required for him to feel like he's taking an active role in this story.  Now he can get back to sitting on his ass and watching the HellerVision in a more relaxed fashion.

But he won't, at least not for a while.  No, Heller won't make an appearance, even remotely, for the rest of the Part.  Instead the next six chapters are devoted to the budding romance between Soltan Gris and his slave-girl Utanc, and by extension, Gris' sex life.

God help us all.

Back to Chapter Two

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