Gris opens this Part with a somber observation: "Fate is seldom kind. And when it starts shovelling out bad news, it seldom knows when to stop." As if things had actually been going Gris' way in recent memory. Also, I guess the lorry-loving Britishness of our narrator has extended to certain spellings.
Anyway, Gris watches Heller do some landscaping at his new property (with explosives) and post hee-larious warning signs like "Property Trespassers Will Be Deported to Elsewhere with Their Heads Blown Off" and "Not Responsible for Damage Done by Mine Fields." Then he uses the Magic Light to un-blackface himself and have a chat with the nice old blind lady who couldn't tell what color his skin was in the first place. Gris gets bored and goes to bed.
...Only to be awakened by a messenger with an Agent Update from Raht and Terb, the two seasoned operatives he sent to break into Heller's room at the Gracious Palms. And that's the majority of this chapter, seven pages of a transcribed letter. It opens with "We have good news for you. We are in the hospital." So you could probably just skip to the next chapter and assume that everything's gone wrong for them and Gris. And you'd be right.
The short version: the morons got their forged papers to pass as diplomats and made appointments at the Palms, then broke into Heller's unlocked room. They couldn't find anything, and they evidently forgot to lock the door behind them because they were soon accosted by two prostitutes - a "high yellow whore" and a "tan whore" who each get a paragraph-long description of their height, nail polish color, and state of undress. And then the two trained Apparatus agents, each a slimy veteran of infiltration and back-alley murder, got their asses kicked by said prostitutes. Karate chops to break arms, roundhouse kicks to break jaws, deft disarmaments and improvised weapons from the soda bar, the works. Then they got to talk to Vantagio, and by "talk" I mean "get beaten and interrogated, wrapped in plastic, tied to concrete, and tossed in the river."
Thanks to a handy shoe-knife the agents were able to extract themselves and float downriver until they found a place to get out, which was conveniently next to a hospital. As soon as their hands healed (from getting shredded by the fishhooks in Heller's luggage, which they evidently rummaged through without looking) they sent the message, explaining why they won't be ambulatory for another month.
On the bright side, they didn't reveal that they were aliens, and they did find the mysterious source of the Censor Interference - the room next to Heller's is set up like a faux beach or jungle, with palm fronds and a carbon arc light to provide faux-sunlight, all to "simulate the earliest conditions of coital contact by diplomats from jungle or sea countries." Y'hear that, folks from Oceania, South America, Africa or Southest Asia? You like to do it on the ground, outside, like animals, you nasty thangs.
Note that while the agents identified the source of the interference, they did not disable it or anything. And they didn't plant any bugs because Gris didn't give them any. So their mission was pretty much a failure and a waste of time, but still not enough to pry Gris from his couch.
In conclusion, nothing happened in this chapter but a half-assed flashback, nothing changed, nothing was learned that will have any relevance for the foreseeable future, and no actions will result from the events that transpired. And once again we are reminded just how utterly powerless the villains are in the face of the hero's progress, thereby robbing the story of any dramatic tension.
295 pages to go.
Back to Part Twenty-One, Chapter Six