So Gris resolves to do something about Madison. The publicist would like to go on a walk, but Gris instead treats him to some authentic Turkish wine laced with some authentic liquid chloral hydrate. Madison gets carted into the base's dungeons awaiting shipment to Voltar, and Gris pens a note to Lombar Hisst assuring him that he'll be "utterly amazed" what this "extremely valuable man" can do.
I marked it URGENT and IMPORTANT and put it with outgoing despatches. [sic]
Little did I know that when I sealed that envelope, I also sealed my own doom.
Foolishly I thought, that is the last I'll see of J. Walter Madison.
The moral of this story is that if you want to see someone for assuredly the last time, dump their unconscious body in the base's garbage disintegrator instead of shipping him to your boss on another planet.
So that's one "detail" cleared up. Surely now that Madison's gone those nasty forged mortgages will just resolve themselves.
In Chapter Two, Gris starts off by tricking his two bodyguards into thinking he'd killed all his guests and buried their bodies on the villa grounds rather than secreted them to an elaborate subterranean base in preparation for transit to another planet. Then he does something unexpected, something he hasn't done for close to seventy pages - he turns on the viewscreens and checks on Krak and Heller.
Krak's waking her lover up with some coffee and a hangover cure of chilled tomato juice and Worchestershire and Tabasco sauces. He stayed up late drinking scotch at his graduation party, y'see, but also promised to take her hiking bright and early in the morning.
"I must have been drunk," said Heller.
"Those girls were drunk enough," said the Countess.
"Oh, is that what this is all about," he said, drinking his coffee.
"No, that's not what this is all about. I'm not jealous anymore except sometimes.
Not sure if intentionally humorous or just Hubbard's normal writing.
She calls Heller the "best-looking and most competent combat engineer" and is indignant that he's earned a Bachelor's degree because "Being a bachelor is what I'm trying to get you home to cure you of." Krak's ready to finish the mission, and Heller assures him that now that he has his degree, he can write revolutionary scientific articles and be taken seriously. In fact, he went ahead and wrote a bunch of papers on fuel between the late-night graduation party and going to bed that morning.
While drunk, right? Now I very much would like to read Heller's revolutionary manuscript "Altanit Full Sauces: A Discuss in of My Grilfrien's Hot As."
And now for a touching moment, after Krak gets upset that she was telling her boyfriend to do something he'd secretly already done.
"Don't be cross," he said.
"You tricked me into getting cross with you. You led me on."
"It was just a joke," said Heller. "I'm sorry."
"Getting off this planet is NO joke," said the Countess Krak. "It is psychotic. It scares me half to death."
"It's also a pretty planet," said Heller. "Now come along like a good girl. I have something you will find fascinating."
So, Krak is mad, Heller orders her not to be mad, Krak counters that her being mad is a result of Heller's petty trickery, Heller finally apologizes, Krak mentions how dangerous the world they're operating on is, Heller dodges the question and basically tells her to shut up and come look at this interesting thing he found.
I'm going to have to bite the bullet and read Twilight one of these days, so I can make an informed judgment whether Krak-Heller or Bella-Edward is the more dysfunctional couple.
This fascinating something requires a drive, so they get in the Porsche and head for an abandoned roadhouse in Connecticut, which I can only guess is that old speakeasy Heller bought a staggering number of pages ago. Along the way Heller lifts Krak's spirits with The Devil's Triangle, and explains his theory that all of the statistically average mysterious disappearances in this absolutely enormous region are due to the warping influences of a captive black hole used in a pyramidal alien power plant built by Prince Caucalsia as part of his colony on a continent that subsequently sank.
The aliens who laugh at our primitive understanding of science are true believers of a "supernatural" mystery that's been refuted a year after The Devil's Triangle was published - it came out in 1974 (with a sequel the next year), while in '75 The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved pointed out how so many authors' claims regarding the triangle were exaggerated, if not actually occurring somewhere else entirely. Guess Heller and/or Hubbard only read the one book and not the other.
Time for a sing-song!
If ever from life you need fly,Or a king has said loved ones must die,Take a shipIn a shipThat will bob, dive and dip,And find a new home in the sky.Bold Prince Caucalsia,There you are on high,We see you wink,And we see you blink,Far, far, far above the Mo-o-o-o-n!
I assume the rhythm and rhymes work better in the native Voltarian.
The song, of sorts, puts the couple in a good mood.
"Now I've got my girl cheerful again," said Heller
"I'm just an old nagging grouch," she said, putting her head on his shoulder. "I don't know what a handsome guy like you is doing with such an awful scold as me."
Neither does the reader. Given her alternatively vicious, deceptive, or brutally jealous personality, I can only assume Heller's interested in Krak for her body.
"You're not a scold," said Heller.
"Yes, I am," said the Countess.
"Let's fight about that," said Heller.
They both laughed but for the life of me I couldn't see the joke.
I think it's funny because they're focusing on a somewhat exaggerated flaw in Krak's personality rather than all her other disturbing, more serious, character defects.
(Bleep) them both! While I didn't have any idea what he was up to now, I knew it boded no good. I had better watch this very carefully.
Glad we got to see the whole unenlightening conversation, then.
Gods, how I needed an idea to wreck them!
And we're back to watching Gris sit around, waiting for "INSPIRATION!" to strike and give him a half-baked plan that will prod the plot forward another half-step.
Back to Part Fifty-Nine, Chapter Seven