- When the Countess Krak shows up, point a gun at her and stick her in a jail cell.
- Fetch Heller, show him his girlfriend, and threaten to kill her if he doesn't give Gris the platen used to encode Heller's official reports.
- Shallow grave for Heller and Krak, start forging Heller's reports, and for an encore stick a gun in Utanc's face until she hands over all the crap she bought on credit.
- Money problem solved, Mission Earth is successfully under control, start living it up in Turkey until Lombar has you executed for knowing too much about his plans.
In other words, I think I'd make a more effective bad guy than Soltan Gris. And since he's somehow risen through the ranks of an outfit that's trying to take over an empire, I should probably have a go at taking over the world. My odds ought to be pretty good, right?
But I'll finish this thing first so I don't have any distractions while I'm trying to subjugate Canada. Last chapter Gris realized that the Countess Krak had stolen his wallet, but decided to put a positive spin on the situation by imagining how she'd drive herself and Heller into bankruptcy at an overpriced clothing store. "But wait," you might be asking yourself, "how if she going to buy more than what she can afford without a credit card?" If so, congratulations, you're smarter than Soltan Gris too! But I called dibs on taking over the world, so you'll have to do something else with your new-found mental powers.
The plane lands at JFK and Gris entertains short-lived hopes that the US customs agents will confiscate Krak's undeclared stolen locket, but she's listed as an "I. G. Barben drug runner" on her passport so she gets through without any trouble. She parts ways with Mamie Boomp after the latter hands over her business card, and then Krak is free to take her list of fashionable purchases into the airport's Bonbucks Teller store. And this is good, because I can basically skip three pages of meaningless details about Krak's shopping experience. If you really want a detailed account of which shoes Krak went with, I guess you'll have to find a copy of Fortune of Fear at your local library.
The important thing is that the bill comes to $178,985.65, or to put it in terms of today's economy, 994 years of World of Warcraft (discounting purchase of the game itself). The manager walks Krak through the sales process, and she hands over the address Gris gave her for Heller's office. Gris cackles about how much debt Heller will be until he takes a closer look at what Krak is now signing for - the very thing Heller's address was written on.
The Countess's eyes focused on Sultan Bey and/or Concubine. Roman Villa. Afyon, Turkey.
IT WAS MY OWN SQUEEZA CREDIT CARD!
I reeled! There must be some awful error! I yanked the pack out of my pocket and shuffled rapidly through them. The Squeeza card was GONE!
Yeah. See, when Gris was all flustered at the airport and looking for something to write Heller's address on, turns out he'd "lucklessly chosen the only credit card in the deck that had a totally blank back and was not in laminated plastic!" He managed to mistake the credit card with 100% monthly interest as a disposable bit of paper in his pocket and handed it over to Krak. A credit card that evidently feels and looks like useless paper, but can still be swiped through card readers.
I'm feeling less confident in my ability to take over the world. I mean, sure I'm smarter than Gris, but so is everyone who never confused their credit card for trash and gave it away.
The manager is very polite and nice and asks for an address so he can send Krak flowers every week, a service they give for their best customers. She agrees so long as they put up a sign making it clear who the flowers are come, so that "my man won't think they're from some stupid Apparatus executive and kill him." Krak is also eligible for a limo service and a special golden card denoting her membership in the new Central Credit Card Spree Buying Titillating Rare and Common Commodity Procurement Service for the Rich Lady Who Is Too Busy to Go Rooting Crassly About in Stores. Or to put it more simply, she can now order imported furs by telephone (but not the internet!).
With the words "credit that is absolutely UNLIMITED" Gris actually faints... and continues narrating about how much money he owes and how he has no source of income. Huh. Gotta admire his commitment to being the narrator, he's able to keep it up after losing consciousness - oh, silly me! Gris is "writing" his "confession" "after" all this has happened, of course! How could I forget?
Back to Chapter Five