Friday, July 13, 2012

Part Thirty, Chapters One and Two - Armageddon and Other Publicity Stunts

Heller packs up and heads home along with the crowd, but Gris drives his van to the racetrack in search of answers, or more specifically J. Walter Madison.  He finds one of Madison's associates who admits to sparking the riot at the end of the race, but the reporter explains that Madison had a terrible shock just before the race started and had to go to the hospital tent.  He recovered enough to watch the finale, so Gris finds him on the grandstands.

Set your Stupid shields to max.

Madison looks like hell, and Gris asks if it's because Heller lost the race.  But Madison says that the competition was irrelevant, and would have gotten only a day's worth of front-page coverage even if Heller had won.  No, he's distraught for a different reason.

He began to cry.  In a choked voice, he said, "He wasn't supposed to race at all!  Just before the race he was supposed to be kidnapped!  We would have had two weeks at least of front page!"

He ground his fists into his knees.  "It was all to be so perfect!  After two weeks he would have turned up behind the Iron Curtain, a captive of the fuel-hungry Russians!"

He let out a frustrated wail.  "It would have started World War III!  He'd be IMMORTAL!"

After a period of writhing and pounding his knees, he said, "You just can't ever depend on clients!  OH MY GOD!  WHAT DO I DO NOW TO RECOVER THE FRONT PAGE??????"

Six question marks.  This is a professional writer, folks.

But yeah, the thugs Heller wrenched and gassed were kidnappers, hired by Madison in hopes of creating an international incident that would spark World War III and presumably a nuclear conflict that would threaten the extinction of the human race, thus rendering questions of Heller's "immortality" quite pointless.

This?  This is why you check what your subordinates are planning, Mr. Bury.  And this is also why the story wouldn't allow Gris to learn what Madison's plan was before he tried to execute it, or else Gris, stupid as he is, would be trying to stop Madison.  Can't have an apocalypse threatening those delicious Earth drugs, after all.

So that's Chapter One.  Chapter Two starts with Gris enjoying a lazy Sunday morning, eating an indulgent late breakfast and reading the paper.  But he's not totally relaxing.

By ten my feeling of laziness began to give way to a vague disquiet.  It occurred to me that it was altogether possible that Heller might recover from that debacle.  In life, he was treacherously hyperactive.  A type of disposition for which I have no sympathy.

Oh wow!  Losing an absurd little car race arranged as a publicity stunt might not have defeated Heller once and for all!  What a shocking plot twist!

So Gris flips through the paper, but finds absolutely nothing about yesterday's race., which is patently absurd even if Heller didn't win.  Likewise, there's only the briefest of mentions on the television, usually a clip or two of the race.  Even the local radio is silent on the matter, instead mentioning some Boy Scouts discovering a van containing ten bodies near a picnic area, as well as what's being billed as a murder-suicide involving a pair of snipers (the "suicide" was a self-inflicted stiletto in the back, in case you were wondering how stupid the police are in this story).

Having expended all other methods of learning what his nemesis is up to, Gris turns on the HellerVision to get a first-hand account of Heller's activities.  The Fleet officer is at his office with Izzy, inspecting the spare carbon converter he brought from Voltar that was secretly sabotaged like the first.  His super-special-awesome vision lets him see the tiny v-shaped notch that was enough to mess up the electrical currents, though Izzy needs a huge magnifying glass (hey, why didn't Heller notice that sabotage when he was installing the thing?).  There's a near Code Break - as if that's ever been relevant - when Heller slips up and refers to the devices as "cheap school kits," but he declares that it will be simple to redesign the devices to avoid that problem, and that he'll prepare another car and run another race!

Why are you wanting to race again?  It wasn't your idea in the first place, and surely you or someone else can come up with a better way of introducing this technology?

Izzy weeps in fear, and Gris has a little freakout after learning of this "REAL emergency!"  He rushes about slamming doors and trying to make a phone call on his gun.  Utanc sticks her head out the door, asks what's going on, and is unimpressed when Gris exclaims that "The world is liable to fall in!"  After making her first, brief appearance in some time, she locks herself back in her room.

So, uh, there's our plot for the next couple of chapters.  Can Madison regain the front page?  Will we get to watch a repeat of the previous Part?  If that doesn't sound exciting, we've only got about a hundred pages left before Hubbard jumps the shark.

Back to Part Twenty-Nine, Chapters Nine and Ten

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