Friday, June 28, 2013

Part Fifty-Nine, Chapter One - Secrets of the Goat Cave

Well, sit right there
And you'll read a tale
A tale of a pointless trip,
A spin-off from a longer cruise
Aboard a gaudy ship

The lead was a craven imbecile
His passenger a tit
They fled in abject terror for
A three chapter bit
A three chapter bit

They left in the middle of a storm
And wallowed in the sea
Then washed up on a dismal isle
Not far 'nuff from Turkey
Not far 'nuff from Turkey

Their raft ran aground on an island that might be called Chios
With Soltan Gris, and Madison
An alien spy, and a twerp
I hope they die
But know they won't
Here on Mission-

Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play,

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day!

Dammit Hubbard.

Madison, who is an invaluable asset to the Apparatus, decided to turn on a portable radio while he and Gris are hiding out from "slavers" in a cave.   Gris, who brought Madison along on the cruise and his escape attempt because he's convinced the publicist is useful, chews out his companion for his stupidity, but in the process remembers that radios exist, and that he brought his Apparatus radio.  So maybe Madison's an asset after all.  Gris is certainly the kind of guy capable of starving to death on an island with a working radio in his backpack.

Gris calls Raht for help, ordering him in "rapid military Voltarian" to contact Captain Stabb and arrange a rescue.  There are two problems, though - first, Gris only "thinks" he's on Chios, he isn't actually certain, so Raht runs off to the office to get ahold of better equipment that could get a fix on his location.

The second problem is that the absolutely essential Madison starts asking questions like "What language are you speaking?"  And then he starts pawing through all the papers and passports that fell out of Gris' backpack when he got out the radio, finding not only Gris' various aliases, but Gris' Coordinated Information Apparatus gate pass with three-dimensional Voltarian script.  And that's what we call a Code Break.  For the first time in seven books, this gimmick may have an effect on the plot.  Madison knows too much.

Then, much as it was unlike me, I stayed my hand as it reached instinctively toward the machine gun.  Madison was too valuable.  Madison could wreck men's lives and start wars and raise Hells in a way Voltar had never heard of: PR.  Lombar was always looking for ways to ruin people and this was one he had never heard of.

Yes, Madison the uncontrollable hack writer who ultimately failed in his mission to stop Heller in his tracks, is just too valuable to kill.  Gris decides to ship him off to Voltar instead, where the boss who is presently taking over the Confederacy without the magic of PR will surely have need of someone like Madison.

I had to dissimulate.  But I am trained in that.  I forced a chuckle.  "Your instincts as an investigative reporter will get you in trouble yet, Madison," I said.  "Just don't spread it around and you'll find out all about it someday."

"Oho!" he said.  "I smell a story!  Eighteen-point mystery man tells all."

He sealed his fate right there.

Again, this is the ideal guy to work with an undercover intelligence agency that hopes to secretly rule an empire.

Gris is singlehandedy going to destroy the entire Confederacy, isn't he?  (editor's note from the future: indirectly, and only for a given value of "destroy") He's like this book's Terl, isn't he?  Well, only if he manages to doom his race to extinction.  We can only hope, there's still three books to go. (editor's note from the future: don't be foolish, Gris could never doom the wonderful Jettero Heller and the lovely Countess Krak)

...Hey, didn't Hubbard work "Home on the Range" into Battlefield Earth, too?

Back to Part Fifty-Eight, Chapter Seven

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