Now, here's the confusing part. The Countess is agreeing to this procedure partly because Gris has given her a "wrist-recorder" so she'll know if anyone's done anything inappropriate while she's unconscious. However, Gris sees her fumbling with its controls and assumes she's not used to Earth devices - so even though we first saw a "wrist-recorder" on Voltar, these aliens aren't using their own equipment, they've picked up something on Earth, something that while unidentified functions in the same way.
But the weirdest part is that there's no attempt to sabotage or position the recorder in a way to keep it from picking up anything incriminating, like what Gris did with Heller. It goes on Krak's wrist, but all Gris has to do to avoid detection is take off his shoes and tiptoe. So it's audio only? Krak is hoping the doctor will talk to himself and describe which procedures he's doing, without lying? Or did the author omit an important detail?
Whatever. Krak gets on the table, Prahd puts her out, Gris takes off his shoes and sneaks in, Prahd pulls off the surgical gown. Gris declares that the naked Krak is "a beautiful woman! No Greek sculptor had ever had a model like that!" He's still too terrified of her to actually touch her, and Gris gets Prahd to flip Krak over (which of course doesn't affect the wrist-mounted recorder in any way) while Gris scans for hidden documents. But there's nothing, not even in Krak's discarded clothing. She has - pause for emphasis - managed to outsmart Soltan Gris. "(BLEEP)!"
After vowing that "constant watchfulness" will be his new watchword, Gris puts thought to action and leaves the operating room to observe through the one-way mirror (another thing Krak was evidently fine about). Which is pretty much all that the last chapter is, Gris watching Prahd work on Krak. He takes some measurements, then waves Gris outside and declares that the Countess must be from Atalantan aristocracy.
"That accounts for it," he said.
"For what?" I said, irritated.
"The perfection. She's the product of tens of thousands of years of selective breeding. The aristocracy married nothing but the most beautiful and bright. Do you realize that her thyroid..."
And truth be told, I'm just as annoyed as Gris is at this point. Must be my innate American disdain for nobility.
Tinkering with nobles carries the death penalty, she's an unperson so it's okay, yadda yadda. Prahd implants the bugs and fixes the scars. He heals old burns from "electric cuffs." He examines every inch of her naked body and corrects every old scratch or blemish. He cleans her teeth. He gives her a pedicure and a manicure. He gives her a tan, because the Atalantan nobility are "white but it is a white with a faint tan tinge. He was restoring the exact shade!" And when Prahd is done, he walks out with a "dreamy farawayness in his eyes" and murmurs that "Anybody who messed up such a gorgeous creature should have atomic bombs exploding in his head." As opposed to feeling annoyed that he wasn't allowed to enlarge her ovaries and perform an artificial insemination.
And that's the last chapter of the book. Jettero Heller's girlfriend can finally compete with his gilded spaceship in terms of physical perfection. Afterward, Gris camps outside the sleeping Krak's room and congratulates himself:
I folded my arms across my chest and grinned. Gris, I complemented myself, you got 'em. Sending an implanted Krak to Heller and his whores would be like tossing an anvil to a drowning man.
Evidently he's forgotten that Heller is no longer rooming with the whores of the Gracious Palms.
Then when Hisst sent the OK, I could humanely end Heller's misery, get the forgeries even if I had to torture the information out of Krak (a delicious thought), sell her to the black market in Istanbul, settle matters with Utanc and rake in the money from my host of enterprises.
Evidently he's forgotten how Utanc hates him enough to defy Freudian psychology, and that he's so deeply in debt that selling his "host of enterprises" wouldn't make him solvent.
Sleep well, Countess Krak.
Tomorrow belongs to me.
I guess the author is trying to suggest that we're in the second act of Mission Earth, the part of the story where the heroes are at their worst and it looks like the villains could triumph in spite of narrative convention.
Except Heller's not at his lowest. Yes, the all-powerful newspaper made him break up with the mob, but he still has his business, and more importantly friends and contacts. He definitely has more than he started his mission with, and Gris just dropped his lover in his lap. Meanwhile, Heller's misfortune is mainly Madison's work (somehow), while all Gris has done this book has been get tortured by psychotic lesbians, spend a week in the hospital, and lose all his money.
So it's really hard to spin this as some sort of victory for the bad guys, or feel any sort of tension that Heller is in serious trouble.
What will Krak do whenshe finds Heller knee-deepin girls?Is this the end ofHeller's mission?ReadMISSION EARTHVolume 5FORTUNE OF FEAR
Even the author has forgotten that Heller is no longer rooming at the Gracious Palms. Heller's "knee-deep" in Iggy and a cat with no name and sometimes Bang-Bang. If anything, she might wonder if he's changed teams.
Back to Part Thirty-Five, Chapter Nine