Okay, so telescopes - or at least old school, pre-electronics telescopes - work by taking advantage of painstakingly-crafted lenses to warp light so that objects viewed through them appear bigger, yes? While stuff like X-ray or radio telescopes or whatever use special receivers and interpret a bunch of data into an image. Now, Gris' new telescope somehow uses another object as its "lens" to look through. Since it isn't magically transforming a wall or whatever into a radio array, wouldn't it then be warping the object in question to act as a lens? So wouldn't that make a pretty powerful weapon? Point the device at a fortress and twist it to rubble?
I'm sorry, I'm obsessing over a minor item from last chapter to delay looking at this one. This is a bad chapter.
Gris sneaks an audio-only bug under Utanc's rug while Melahat the housekeeper is cleaning, fiddles with his magical telescope that only works on objects farther than a hundred feet away from it, then goes to sleep and dreams about Heller being horribly killed and Utanc hopping in his bed. The next morning he collects two small, surprisingly docile mummies from Dr. Prahd, leaves a note to Utanc on them ("unwrap carefully"), and sets the boys down in front of Utanc's bungalow. Then he gives one a kick and flees when the kid screams.
Once Utanc collects her servants and seals herself in her room again, Gris returns to his and tries to get something out of the bug. He of course reads the directions after he's placed the thing, and learns that it was meant to be stuck on a picture frame instead of under something. But he cranks up the gain all the way to eavesdrop, and an hour later can make out some running water. And things get disturbing pretty fast.
Utanc signs a song while in the bath with "little Rudy" and "little James," then promises to take them into the bedroom and "teach you some lovely games." Over the course of the afternoon he hears more singing, loud noises, and delighted squealing. He can't make much sense of it, and gives up trying to. Sometimes I wish I was as naive as Gris.
After going to bed, he's awakened by Utanc, who shows her appreciation for his little gift of two boys surgically modified to resemble old movie stars. Afterward, Gris is jubilant.
Her arm was across my naked chest.
Joy began to well up in me.
I had WON!
Yes, though Heller is in position to destroy the Apparatus operation on Earth and Gris has squandered any resource he could use to stop him, though he has in fact ordered Heller's closest ally to come to Earth, and though his lack of progress has resulted in death threats against him from his superiors, Gris just got laid. Victory.
Eventually he explains that he needs Utanc to come with him on a diplomatic mission because she's in danger here. She's a little skittish, but agrees to come along disguised as Gris' wife if she can have five trunks to pack and they stop for clothes in Rome, Paris and London (London is a fashion hub now?). Gris is happy until she makes him promise to send those boys along after them once they've relocated, and only then does he realize that he might have "miscalculated" and created some future romantic rivals, while continuing to not notice that they're current romantic rivals as well.
But he takes comfort from the fact that Utanc is in his bed again.
Not a single thing stood between me and the total wreckage and demise of Heller.
How sweet life was!
There's just over a hundred pages left in this book and Gris is finally, finally willing to move against Heller beyond writing memos and watching what he does on a TV screen. I no longer have any doubt as to how Hubbard plans on stretching this saga out over ten books. My question now is what excuses Gris will find in the next books to not do his job. (editor's note from the future: the answer is money problems and more disturbing sex scenes)
Back to Part Twenty-Five, Chapter Seven