Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Part Twenty-Two, Chapter Eight - Suspicion, Lobsters, and Cobweb Machines

So I guess we're entering the "villain consumed by paranoia over the hero's progress" phase of the story.  Terl went bonkers about three tenths through Battlefield Earth, and we're in book three of the Mission Earth "dekalogy."  Wonder if this formula can be extended to other Hubbard books... but do I really want to read more to check?

Anyway, when they get back to Turkey, our friend Gris rushes back to watch HellerVision, or more specifically the recordings of what Heller did immediately after their meeting.  He doesn't rewind further to see if Heller made any special preparations beforehand, or even if he wrote that letter in the hours before Gris' arrival, which would give the Apparatus agent a golden opportunity to see where Heller's storing those all-important platens.  Gris isn't very smart, you may have noticed.

So he watches Heller take the crates that were unloaded from the old tug and lowers them into the old mine beneath the bootleggers' roadhouse.  He also takes some objects from them and sticks them in his backpack, but the bad lighting means Gris can't get a good look at them (even though the bugging equipment can see better than Heller can), so obviously Heller does indeed suspect something.  Then he carefully locks up the place and heads out, which of course indicates that he knows the Apparatus is after them, and then talks with those two Connecticut redneck sheriffs who were dozing in their speed trap.  After a pleasant chat Heller agrees to let them hunt deer on his property, which Gris recognizes as a clever ruse to get added security.

Heller also possesses a machine that can make cobwebs, and uses some to reinforce the illusion that the building is a dump.  It's only mentioned in a single sentence, but the idea that this guy specifically packed a device to create artificial cobwebs and then lugged it across the galaxy for his super-secret mission... and Gris is so disinterested in it, like he doesn't wonder where Heller came up with the thing or how he smuggled it to Earth.  First there was Magical Blackface Technology, and now a cobweb spray?  If Heller has some shark repellant on his utility belt I quit.

Having watched some of Heller's post-meeting activities, Gris notes that "Well, there was not much need to look any further.  But I did."  Take that, brain cells.  Thought you'd be safe even though I don't play full-contact sports or binge drink?  You weren't counting on L. Ron Hubbard, were you?!

There's not much else for Gris to watch - Heller apologizes for waking up the little old blind lady who threatens to shotgun trespassers, then goes to a restaurant for a late night snack of two lobsters.  Gris sagely nods his head and sits back in his chair, serious-faced.  "The conclusion, based on these collective actions of his, showed without a shadow of a doubt that Heller knew we had come there to kill him."  Since Heller will now be on his guard for further treachery, Gris will have to be extra careful when plotting against him in the future.  Super careful, even.  And, like, at least twice as cunning as he's being now.

And of course Gris hasn't the slightest idea where to start.

My hunch?  His plans will involve sitting on the couch watching Heller accomplish things, while ranting about how incompetent his henchmen are for failing to stop him.

Back to Part Twenty-Two, Chapter Seven

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