Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Part Fifty-Six, Chapter Four - Meanwhile, Back at the Plot

Wait a minute.  These books feature a high school student pursuing an older, nonhuman love interest.  The girl's willing to throw her old life away to be with him, is the one pushing for sex in their relationship, and considers suicide if he shuns her advances.  It's not a perfect comparison to Twilight, of course - Teenie has too much personality (i.e. a personality) to be a stand-in for Miss Swan, and the only thing physically impressive about Gris is his augmented dongle.  But the parallels are eerie.

Anyway, back to the Voyage of Vengeance!  Gris is all sad now, because he's getting laid again and has to exercise twice as long to burn off the marijuana he needed to get through the aforementioned heterosexual intercourse (he's not gay).  He's so tired and depressed that he decides to turn on the viewscreens and see what his mortal enemies are doing to thwart his plans.

Heller's talking with Izzie in his office, discussing the designs for the Florida spore plant.  Izzy's worried that alligators are going to get into the spore tanks.

"These posts," said Heller.  "They're a laser screen.  They put an invisible curtain around the tanks.  Nothing can get into them.

Lasers emit light, not a solid barrier.  You might be able to keep critters out with high-powered lasers that fry them if they get too close, but that opens up a host of other problems, like where that energy comes from and where the heat goes and who disposes of the charred alligator corpses.  Plus if Earth had any lasers like that I'm sure we'd have used them on humans by now.

The belts here take the spores up this ramp where they are dried and then they go into this hamper.  At timed intervals they are blown up the stacks, reach the stratosphere

Approximately ten miles up.  So if these spores are light enough to be launched from ground level via a smokestack to the frickin' stratosphere, a ceiling fan ought to send them scattering off the ramp and all over the factory.

and get carried by the upper winds.  They clean up pollution, convert it to oxygen, and when they run out of food they perish."

Choking the ground below with their corpses, right?  Polluted corpses, I should say.  Unless these "spores" are alchemical wonders able to convert carbon dioxide and cow farts into nice clean air at the atomic level, what Heller means to say is that the "spores" will "eat" the bad stuff and fart out oxygen.  But then what happens to the pollution?  It doesn't just disappear, it stays in the "spore."  Does the "spore" keep eating pollution, growing bigger and bigger, swollen with industrial byproducts until it becomes heavier than air and splats to the ground?  How is this one miracle "spore" able to fart out oxygen after eating any of the array of nasty gases we pump into our atmosphere, anyway?

Izzy asks about the fort the workers will need to protect themselves from Indians.  Heller reassures Izzy that the alligator cavalry will take care of any unruly natives.  And we don't know if he's joking, because J. P. Flagrant is promoting "thoroughbred riding alligators."  King Charles of England bought one "because it was such a short distance to fall off."

Gris gets fed up - "There was no point in getting all confused trying to figure out when Heller was serious and when he was joking."  More importantly, the spores aren't a huge deal.  Yes, they go against Gris' creed of making life miserable, but they don't directly harm Rockecenter, and will even allow him to sell dirtier fuels and pollute more freely.  So he checks on the Countess.

Krak has just returned from an ominous pause discussion with Madison's mom, who Krak considers "too naive to live" for insisting that her son is some sort of sensitive child, one who just met a tragic death.  What a moron, grieving for her lost son like that.  Note that Krak is calling someone naive, but just last book believed everything she read in a newspaper and violently resisted attempts to be told otherwise.

Madison's mom did mention how her late son had received a call from a Mr. Smith on the day of his disappearance, but when Krak calls Swindle and Crouch about the guy, they say no such employee works there.  Then she and Bang-Bang drive to Madison's headquarters, which is deserted - so empty, in fact, that they obviously knew about Madison's disappearance before anyone else!  Yeah!  So Krak resolves to find this "Smith" guy.

Gris, once again, freaks out.

Oh Gods, was I glad I was at sea!

But wait.  I couldn't stay at sea forever.  Even though I had no place to go, I knew that sooner or later I would have to make a stand.

Why?  Why can't you keep cruising around indefinitely, hopping from port to port, phoning in your orders to your flunkies?  It's not too different from sitting around Candy and Pinch's apartment, and despite the money problems that ate up an insulting percentage of previous books, Gris doesn't seem concerned about the balance on his credit card right now.  So you may as well make the Golden Sunset your new headquarters, fella.  Maybe even redesign the local Apparatus branch into some sort of seaborne organization.  A Sea Org, if you will.

I glared at the two-way-response radio.  With it I could issue an order to Raht.

If I gave him a wrong order and he missed, she would kill him and then I really would be helpless.

Gris is a man who, if he was given some canned meals, a microwave, and a can-opener, would starve to death unless he found someone to cook for him.

So I had to be very careful if I told Raht to do anything.

So the question remained: What could I tell Raht to do that would GUARANTEE her end?  I must think of something.

Plant a bomb in their apartment, watch the screen until you can confirm that she's asleep at home, press the button.  An early morning fire that tragically takes out an entire building.  Rent a room across the street and have a sniper camp the building's main exit.  Infiltrate the cooking staff and poison her meal.  Plant a lead concerning Mr. Smith and lay a trap.  Pull a Bang-Bang and plant a car bomb.   Go for irony and manufacture a gas leak.  Unfortunate accident as Heller inspects the latest generation of riding alligators.

If nothing else, maybe you should call Mr. Bury and let him know that this woman's getting to be a problem?  Perhaps he'll do something that doesn't involve stupid publicists this time.

Back to Chapter Three

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