Spartacus was an outlaw, right? Slave turned gladiator turned bandit, won a lot of victories up until the point he was crushed. Gris insists that he "had come within an ace of putting down the whole empire," which is at best a repetition of Roman hyperbole and at worst another case of Hubbard doing less research than his characters. All that to say, the good ship Sub-Sub-Subplot sails for Rome.
Teenie wants to interview Crassus, the general who defeated Spartacus. Gris has to explain that Spartacus' rebellion took place over two thousand years ago. The author smiles to himself and scratches "reestablish Teenie's stupidity" off the chapter checklist.
Hubbard spares a single sentence in this four and a half page chapter to describe Rome, or more specifically the dock of Civitavecchia, which is "a forest of cargo booms and funnels." Gris spends the three day sojourn in Rome aboard the yacht, so we certainly don't get to take in any attractions or anything. Come to think of it, for a section of the book devoted to journeying across the world, the foreign lands being explored are an afterthought at best. The main focus continues to be whatever Teenie's up to with the Black-Jowled Man, Madison's tortured misinterpretation of history, and Gris getting high and having sex.
Speaking of the Black-Jowled Man, Teenie has another run-in with the guy which involves him getting on his knees and Teenie making admonishing gestures before the pair run off for two days. Gris has no real reaction to this beyond finding the man's behavior "astonishing!"; he doesn't have any thoughts on the matter or try to investigate further. He sees the stranger that's been stalking them run off with Teenie and simply goes back belowdecks.
Gris is an expertly-trained, highly-suspicious spy, by the way.
When Teenie returns, she mentions deluxe hotels and impressive meals; "I thought all wops ate was spaghetti and-"... oh, not gonna censor that one, Charlee Nine? Guess racial slurs don't upset your delicate bleeping sensibilities.
It goes without saying that Teenie has new outfits that I will stubbornly ignore, but she also has a new gadget: a portable, battery-operated record player that can scan discs using a laser. Now it's still using huge vinyl records instead of proper CDs, but this is a rare case of something in Mission Earth bearing a resemblance to the technology of the year the series is set. Assuming my estimate based on the age of an ancient Nazi general is somewhat accurate, anyway.
Gris has no reaction to this device, no "wow, these humans are more advanced than us" or "wow, these humans think something this primitive is cutting-edge." Gris is an alien spy from an interstellar empire, by the way. You can be forgiven for forgetting, since it doesn't seem to come up much in the story.
Good news, everyone! Hubbard wrote another song for us.
I'm sneaking up on you.
I'm going to get you, you, you.
You're going to get yourself in my clutches!
Look at these claws, claws, claws!
Yay, yay, the trap is set set set!
So stick in your foot, foot, foot!
So stick in your neck, neck, neck!
Stick, stick, stick in, stick in, stick in
Your naked neck in, neck in, neck in!
So stick in all of you! You! You! Woohoo!
Oh, I'm going to get you, you, you!
I'm sneaking, I'm sneaking, I'm sneaking
Up on yooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuu!
And then more drug-fueled statutory rape. At least the marijuana makes the music tolerable.
And horror of horrors, the music did sound wonderful, even the shouted "WATCH OUT!"
Oh, Gods, if I only had!
And there's the end-of-chapter attempt at tension. Checklist completed, Hubbard steps away from the typewriter to enjoy the glamorous lifestyle of a modern-day prophet forced to live in hiding due to pesky government investigations and indictments.
Back to Chapter Six