The next part of the campaign was "3. PLAN BEFORE YOU ATTACK."
Accurate planning requires data. Accordingly, I brushed the cockroaches off my viewers to see what the most horrible monster in the universe was up to now.
They were still in Virginia!
What about that last sentence justified an exclamation point?
Heller is actually sunbathing next to the parked land yacht and its support motor home, the crew's out sipping mixed drinks and playing cards, and then Krak drives up with Bang-Bang. It's at this point that Gris realizes whoops, her viewscreen's blank because "I had her activator-receiver and 831 Relayer here and I was probably four hundred miles or more away!"
Just to reiterate how all this works - if the bugs are within 200 miles of the receiver, all's well. If the bugs are more than 200 miles away, nothing gets through unless the 831 Relayer is turned on, extending their range to 10,000 miles. But if the bugs are within 200 miles and the Relayer is turned on, the signal is overwhelming and shorts out the viewers or something. These are the three states of the alien neural espionage implants, with no transition stages in-between.
I'd also like to remind everyone that this same civilization produced telescopes that can see through walls or peer a day into the future. But they can't rig the relayers to, like, look through time and figure out when they need to boost or dampen their signal, or something similarly contrived.
Krak has evidently been training "young Rockecenter," who the book just hates calling Richard "Dick" Roe. She's gotten him to use water to bathe instead of mud, and stop grunting and scratching his back by rubbing up against things, but he still refuses to eat at a table and will push unwanted food away with his nose...
I actually went back over the past couple of chapters and checked to see if I missed a comment about poor Dick mistakenly ending up in the barn to be raised by pigs. I can't find it, but that's what seems to be implied here.
Heller asks why Krak doesn't just use her hypno-helmet (like she ever needed his prompting to do so), but she explains that (for once) she's worried about overdoing it, and doesn't want the kid to "become a robot." Now as best I can remember, Voltar doesn't use robots. No spybots, no cargo-haulers in the hangars, no android soldiers, no drone aircraft. The closest we've come to an artificial intelligence was the Apparatus computer, which was essentially a sassy search engine. I don't count 54 Charlee Nine, the Robot-brain in the Translatophone, because I fully expect him to never appear in the actual story.
Guess someone briefed Krak on the amazing mechanical workers those primitive Earthlings have come up with.
She also sasses the Rockecenters by concluding she's not up against an environmental influence, but hereditary. Yeah, those billionaires, always wallowing in the mud and scratching their asses on fence posts... wait, psychology is the devil and foreign to Voltar, but Krak knows about early environmental influences? Has she been reading the forbidden texts?
All this to say, they've gotta do something about not-Richard's pigs, since he won't leave them behind. After briefly considering making Izzy, who you'll recall is Jewish, handle the non-kosher situation, they decide that the best solution is to use Gris' credit card to buy the pigs, a farm near New York, and a fleet of trucks to transport the porkers. So we end the chapter with Gris grinding his teeth and worrying about his Swiss bank certificate and whether Mudur Zengin would use up all his money and why?! Why are we still talking about this? That stupid subplot came and went last book, and all it did was get Gris to finally make an effort to do his damn job! Why is all of this necessary?
There's one obvious answer - since Krak's using Gris' credit card, this is really a way to shower the protagonists with wealth, to allow them to buy luxury mobile homes and pig farms and so forth, because that's what makes for a good book, reading about imaginary people living in decadent comfort. Only Heller is already stupid wealthy thanks to cheating the stock market with the aforementioned time-telescopes. He could be paying for all this out of pocket. But let's have the Countess do it instead, so Gris can throw a hissy fit over his security deposit.
The more likely explanation is that this money's misuse will be a future source of misery for Gris, because if this book isn't about showering Heller with praise and treasure, it's about showering Soltan Gris with misery and misfortune.
Or underaged sex. Or curing lesbians with more sex.
Back to Chapter One