Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Part Sixty, Chapters Six, Seven and Eight - The Easiest Way to Get a Hostage

Remember how confident and productive Gris was last chapter?  Chapter Six kicks off with Krak writing a note to Heller and starting to pack, and Gris immediately starts second-guessing himself and changing his plans.

Suddenly I got to worrying.  Supposing an assassin missed on [sic] Heller?

You mean like every single one that's tried to kill him so far?  Yeah, that'd be a shocker.

If the Countess was killed outright, I would have no bargaining power to use against him.

Which Gris has never worried about during his previous attempts to get rid of Krak or Heller.


Gris needs medication.  He's not thinking right, there's no logical process to his thoughts.  Instead he has sudden conclusions from nowhere that send his train of thought veering off in random directions.

Anyway, he rings up Captain Stabb and tells him to get that line-jumper craft ready - they're finally going to rob some banks!  But first, they're going to take a hostage, to save them the trouble of trying to find someone alive after yanking a building out of the ground with their tractor beams.  Because they need a hostage, even though they'll be operating out of an advanced alien vessel that's practically invisible to terrestrial instruments and has a wonderful secret fortress to fall back to.

One of Stabb's crew able to pass for an Earthman is sent to Rome to board Krak's scheduled flight from there to Turkey, and the operation will begin the next evening.  The rest of the mission's instructions are kept hidden from us, so the next few chapters will be super-exciting.


And here's our end of chapter closing line theme for the next dozen pages or so.

And Heller would never blame me if I missed on him.

But I wouldn't miss on him either.

Even though you're rewriting your master plan on the assumption that you will "miss on him" and therefore require Krak as a hostage.  You've already decided your first plot will fail and are hurriedly slapping together a back-up plan.

Which given Gris' track record is actually pretty smart, if therefore blatantly out-of-character.

They would both pay, and dearly, for all the trouble they had caused me!

And I toasted myself in sira as the new Chief of the Apparatus!

I had the heady sensation one has when he knows he is going to win for sure!

How would Gris know what imminent victory feels like?

And that's all two pages of Chapter Six.  Chapter Seven kicks off with a page of flight times and aircraft statistics that I'm not going to bother checking, because it wouldn't be surprising if Hubbard got the length of a Douglas DC-9 wrong and it wouldn't be impressive if he got it right.  I will, however, point out that the story is using the DC-9 rather than the DC-8 that Hubbard so infamously said was nearly identical to the spaceships used in the Xenu story.  My guess is that it's a different plane so that OT III readers won't get distracted from the plot, but who knows.

There's not much else to Chapter Seven.  Gris and Capt. Stabb talk about the mission a bit and make sure space pirate Jeeb has gotten into position at the airport.  And Jeeb has a two-way-response radio from the get-go, while super secret agent Gris got to spend a book or two hobbled by his inability to effectively communicate with his flunkies.  I'm not letting that go.

Gris watches the viewscreens intently to make sure Krak gets on the correct flight.  She does so.  Shortly afterwards her screen goes out because she's moved out of range of the activator-responder on the Empire State Building, so Gris will be in the dark until Jeeb's short-ranged camera comes into play during the Rome-Turkey flight.  I try to recall whether Raht passed Gris the switch for that activator-responder before losing interest.

I lay down in my bed and tried to sleep.  I couldn't.  All my dreams were coming true.

The Countess Krak was winging straight into my spider web.  And soon there would be one less foolish butterfly in the universe.

And all my problems would be solved.

Gris has forgotten that the reason he's trying to take Krak hostage in the first place is because he's already decided his assassination attempt on Heller will fail, thereby causing a pretty big problem.  But at least he's successfully compensating for his anticipated failure?

Chapter Eight is a bunch of nothin', Krak pottering around an airport until her flight takes off, while Gris watches through Space Pirate Jeeb's lapel-mounted camera.  Some young Italian boys confuse Krak for a movie star (or her daughter), because apparently during the 80's, vintage Hollywood icons like Lauren Bacall were really popular among Italian preteens. 

Hubbard's trying to satirize the world he lives in, but his mind is stuck forty years in the past.

Krak does some shopping, too, and picks up a green scarf that matches Dr. Prahd's eyes.  Gris immediately realizes it's a harmless gift.

She was looking at other scarves.  There she found a long cravat that was light tan.  It had a pattern of antique guns.  It was pre-tied.  "And I'll take this one for another friend, so wrap that as a present, too."

She meant it for me.  I shuddered.  Guns to shoot me and a noose to hang myself.  Oh, the implication was very plain.  It was a good thing I was acting!

Just in case by now, at the end of Book Seven, you hadn't figured out that Gris was a bit paranoid.

Gris watches Krak and Jeeb eat for a bit before suiting up.  He picks a jet-black heated ski suit that he thinks will "minimize me as a target in case there was shooting," which is sure to make him conspicuously inconspicuous.  He picks up some guns, and Hubbard shockingly doesn't spend half a page telling us what obscure old firearm Gris has shoved down his pants.  And this time Gris remembers the star-shaped pendant Lombar Hisst gave him to control the Antimanco pirates way, waaaay back in Book One, and which has yet to play a part in the story.

I picked up the radio and the receiver.

I went down into the underground hangar.

The line-jumper crew was all ready and eager to go.

I clambered up the ladder to the cabin.


She was literally booking a flight to walk right into your hands.  This is absolutely unnecessary and a complete waste of time.  You could've waited for her in Turkey and shot her in the face when she walked into the villa.  You could've sent Raht to break into Heller's apartment to steal Krak's note and forge one saying she went back to Voltar or something, or simply told him to rig the place to explode.  All of this is pointless and stupid but I'm going to put up with it because it's pointless and stupid relating to the actual plot of this miserable book.

Back to Chapters Four and Five 

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