After walking a "broken sidewalk under broken trees, poorly lit by broken lights," a line I'm sure was used back in Book Two or Three, Krak approaches the pair of security guards flanking the door of the Whiz Kid Wives' apartment. She flashes not her badge, but "an I.D. folder" at them and introduces herself as Officer Maude Trick, here to see "those three (bleepches) and their lover-boys" about some unpaid-for marijuana from the disco. The guards are smart enough to call the station to confirm her identity... but not to specify that Officer Trick was sent to that apartment for that reason. Instead they are told that a policewoman had "just stepped out," an oversight that saves the Countess Krak from having to use an Eyes and Ears of Voltar "Make Person Fall Asleep Standing Up and Forget About it Afterward" Device to bypass the guards.
Gris meanwhile is trying to find a way to warn the security team, but as mentioned last chapter he's been coordinating through those lawyers, and wouldn't you know it but when he calls this time, all he can get is their answering machine - they've closed for the night! The best he can do is call the phone directory and ask for the number of the apartment. So even if he had a description of Krak's vehicle, it wouldn't do him any good. So that mystery about what she's riding in is pretty pointless.
Krak is escorted inside the apartment by a concerned security thug - the five guys who went home with the Whiz Kid Wives looked "pretty crazy," and right now they're having a Neo Punk Rock "sex orgy." Krak and the guard make small talk on the way inside, and she's told that they're on the lookout for a "foul fiend dressed as a flower seller" or any other suspicious characters, allowing the reader to soak up the dramatic irony. An elevator ride later and a second guard is shown Krak's ID - not badge - and then he does something odd. He doesn't want to let Krak in just because of her ID, he wants to make a call to verify. But he doesn't have a radio or anything, instead he opens the apartment door so Krak can follow him in while he uses the land line to presumably call her station to see that the woman he just let into the secure area is in fact supposed to be there.
The reason for this is simple: Gris has finally gotten the apartment's phone number from the operator. So this bizarre situation is to justify less than a page's worth of "tension" or "excitement" as Gris calls the apartment and hopes the guard will pick up before Krak uses alien science on him.
The floor was carpeted with writhing, entwined bodies. Cries and groans punctuated the shattering Neo Punk Rock.
The guard's expression was diffident as he stepped over and amongst the writhing bodies.
The phone sat unringing on the table.
My finger was flying on the dial.
The Countess Krak was looking into her pocket. I could not see what the security man was doing. She was getting something out.
I mean, you'd think that if Rockecenter was backing this case, which was vital for shutting down someone who could threaten his energy monopoly, they'd pick a security agency that had those earpiece radio thingies.
I connected with the number!
The Countess Krak was reaching for the inner door. She pitched something into the living room, remained in the hall and closed the door on the scene.
I heard the phone ring in there!
I was in time. He had not yet placed his call.
Wait, couldn't he hear the phone ringing on his end too?
My phone went live. The Neo Punk Rock was pouring through it with cries and yells. "Eagle Eye Security," came the voice.
"This is a Fed. For Gods' sakes, that policewoman . . ."
Aaaand there goes any tension. Choose your sound effects wisely, folks.
The sound came through my phone.
A streak of blue appeared around the cracks of the inner door she had closed on the scene.
"Hello!" I screamed into the phone.
Only Neo Punk Rock came back. "WHEEEOOOOOOO!"
Wow, this takes us back all the way to Book Two, and explains why there's still a Key entry for it at the start of this volume. Blueflash, as you may remember, is a pulse of blue light that knocks out everyone who gets hit by it, something used by ships during covert insertions. Except last book we saw Heller knock out a Coast Guard crew using a "radio nerve-paralysis beam," which seems to get the same effect without the fuss of a blast of observable light.
So why do the Voltarians use both? Where did Krak get the Blueflash device? Why couldn't she use the radio nerve-paralysis beam emitter that Heller had been established as possessing just last book instead of a device last seen five books ago?
But really, it doesn't matter which Plot Device she uses to knock them out, what's important is the Plot Device she uses to reprogram their brains.
Back to Chapter Three