"I saw them with my own eyes," said Teenie, her own oversized ones very round.
"Who's this?" said Madison, staring at Teenie.
"Miss Teenie Whopper, J. Walter Madison," I said. And then a cunning plan popped into my head.
I think Gris is being tortured by the Demon of Bad Ideas.
If I could get them interested in each other, Teenie would leave me alone. After all, he was a very handsome young man.
Yes, rather than locking his door or learning to ignore the annoying teenager or leaving her behind instead of dragging her along with him, Gris decides to bet on Madison enjoying statutory rape in order to get Teenie out of his hair. We'll discover the main problem with this plan in a couple of achingly tedious chapters.
For now, Gris resolves to whisk Madison off somewhere, so onward to the harbor and the Golden Sunset! "If luck were with me, I was going to steal my own yacht." Gris introduces himself to the captain and fabricates another story about that "CIA agent" stealing his concubine, so they need to go home all secret-like to avoid the scandal.
"Well, that's how it goes in these rich families," said Captain Bitts. "I will say that CIA man was awful good looking and that concubine was sure beautiful. Looking at you, I can see how it must have happened.
He was convinced! He was not going to query the Countess Krak! For once my unprepossessing looks had stood me in good stead!
Why would the captain need to contact the "concubine" to verify the "sultan"'s story? How would the captain contact Krak? And why does Gris need to convince someone who is literally paid to follow his orders?
The boat's stocked for food and water, and that's good enough for Gris - he orders the ship to sail without fresh provisions, and of course there's no need to make a crew list or go into detail about the two other people in his party. As everything's loaded aboard, and Teenie keeps gushing about how Gris runs "this white-slave ring in style!", Gris talks with Raht to hand over the activator-receiver for Krak's bugging equipment as well as the 831 Relayer. He also orders his only remaining henchmen to mail Teenie's letter to Pinchy and Candy two days from now, so that her disappearance won't look like a coincidence. So they'll think he's dead, and that she vanished... but Gris still needs to keep Teenie on his person in case they do decide that Gris kidnapped her, so he can produce the girl and say "yeah, she's not dead, I just took her with me across the planet."
Raht doesn't see the point of this either, though for different reasons.
"Ah," he said. "You ARE kidnapping her. I swear, Officer Gris, you do the craziest things. Of what possible use to you is a teen-age Earth girl? Thin as a rail. No (bleeps). Leaping around. You could get into trouble, kidnapping her."
"You got no idea how much trouble she could be if I DIDN'T kidnap her," I said. "Shows you're not experienced in this profession at all. In addition to the charms you mention, she's also a pathological liar and even believes she sees things that aren't there. It's NOT kidnapping her that would cause trouble. So when I need you to teach me my business, I'll tell you." Riffraff. Always getting out of line.
Or in other words, "here's a list of reasons why this girl is dangerous, which is why I have to take her with me."
Finally, Gris scribbles up two quick messages for Raht to pass on, first a note to F.F.B.O. explaining that Madison has been murdered and belatedly warning that the enemy is going to blow up their offices, I guess in the hope that Heller hasn't done so already. Gris signs the note as "Smith" so that if the heroes intercept the letter they can continue to hunt him down. The other note is for Krak explaining that the yacht has been inducted into the Turkish navy, which Gris signs as Capt. Bitts. There. All tracks covered. Forever.
Wow, this is pretty boring, isn't it? Think we can spice things up a little?
I glanced along the dock. There was no sign of Heller or Krak. And then something caught my eye. The dock telephone man had parted the cable!
I could make it!
I rushed up the gangplank and they swung it away.
The tug was there.
Lines came off the dock bollards.
Space gaped wider and wider between the hull and the pier.
Still no sign of Heller or Krak.
I had made it!
Wooo. It's like one half of a chase scene. Also, I can't believe Gris went the whole chapter without checking Krak or Heller's viewscreen to see how close they were to catching up with him.
But yes, Gris has victoriously outrun his enemies to triumphantly flee the country with his tail between his legs, his main plan to thwart his foes in shambles, and now cut off from his most powerful ally. Furthermore, he's decided the best place to strike back from is the country he fled from two books ago, after his long history of atrocities and stupid decisions threatened to catch up with him. Truly this is a victory for the forces of evil.
I was still master of the fate of Earth.
Lombar and Rockecenter still reigned in the Heavens.
I chuckled. I had won this round. And because I had, millions would suffer.
It was a lovely spring afternoon.
It promised a future very bright for me. And very dark indeed for Heller and the Countess Krak and Earth.
And so begins the Voyage of Vengeance. Gris is on the run and will spend the next hundred pages or so dragging Madison and Teenie along his journey to Turkey, so there's the voyage part. He's also convinced that this is his big chance to regroup and launch a devastating counter-attack, so there's the vengeance.
Now sit back and relax as the plot slows to a virtual standstill until the last quarter of the book.
Back to Part Fifty-Five, Chapter Five