Last chapter, Gris decided he had to outsmart his nemesis Heller and figure out a way to permanently halt his plans. This chapter, Gris has decided to go visit the Apparatus base's hangar, "although I should have known better," because the first step towards finishing Heller once and for all involves running a drill to prepare for Heller attacking them.
I never thought I'd say this, but I think it'd be more in Gris' interest to keep watching the HellerVision.
But things immediately go awry, because when Gris arrives in the hangar he learns that the Heller-hating crewmen of the Prince Caucalsia are near mutiny. Not only did Gris go on about finally killing that nasty Royal officer only to abruptly change plans and spare him, but these Antimancos have also had their rights infringed upon, namely the right to go pirating. Gris tries to be reasonable and remind Captain Stabb that those assassin pilots with the surprisingly sabotagable spaceships won't allow the tug to leave the planet, but Stabb has a better idea.
Turns out there's a crate in the base containing a disassembled "line-jumper," a stealthy atmospheric craft able to pick up an artillery piece, hop over enemy lines, and set it down to bomb the foe from the rear. Which sounds completely redundant because any plane capable of doing that should be able to cut out the middleman and just drop bombs. Anyway, Stabb theorizes that the Apparatus wanted to use it as a drug runner before discounting the idea because while the vehicle itself is undetectable, its cargo isn't. But Stabb thinks you could use it to physically rob a bank, by which he means use its "traction beams" to take the bank building up a few thousand feet while you loot it, and drop the rest. Oh, and he can whip up a "curtain" to cover the cargo so he could he use the thing to run guns to revolutionaries. Or in other words this captain just figured out how to solve a problem that utterly stumped the Apparatus.
Gris likes the idea of making money and giving potential mutineers something better to do than plan their uprising, and so gives the go-ahead for the refurbishing project. Almost immediately he bumps into Faht Bey, who explains that they'll have to increase heroin production. When Gris demands to know why, Faht reveals that someone on the base is stealing entire twenty-five-pound bags of white stuff. Gris orders him to increase production and goes back to his room in a bad temper. "All this thinking on top of all this grief was making my head ache."
Credit where it's due, this chapter does a good job of conveying how stupid Gris is. His only contributions were okaying projects that his underlings came up with, and he is once again completely disinterested in a security breach on base.
On the other hand, it's hard to pick a chapter that doesn't emphasize how woefully incompetent Gris is, so maybe I'm giving this one too much credit.
Back to Part Twenty-Two, Chapter Eight