Gris passes the evening and following day by stressing out over the mission, so by the time Raht calls back the next evening, Gris is "a rag." Raht's landed at an Italian naval base in Taranto and learned that Heller has volunteered to aid the plane crash recovery effort, but didn't arrive in time to catch the engineer. Gris orders Raht to drive all night to a fishing village and rent a boat, then kill Heller with whatever he has available.
"What weapons do you have?"
"Well, you can't carry guns on a plane but I have a blastick."
"That will do just fine. Get on it!"
Wonder if you can get away with taking a flashlight through airport security these days? They'd at least check to see that it actually illuminates things rather than emitting a blast of alien energy to tear things apart at the molecular level, right?
Unlike last chapter, this one isn't spent entirely on the phone with Raht. After giving his orders Gris idles through another day, doing nothing the author considers worth mentioning until evening, when Krak's activator-receiver is delivered, even though it came with the morning mail - a bit of oddness Gris decides not to think about. Now Gris can monitor the woman he has imprisoned in a cell literally yards away from him!
For a moment, I didn't know what I was looking at. It was simply a page of print.
Then I remembered that I had furnished Crobe a whole library in waterproof bookshelves to get him interested in psychology and psychiatry. I had also given him forty other books, a set entitled Voltar Confederacy Combined Compendium Complete, including Space Codes, Penal Codes, Domestic Codes, Royal Proclamations, Royal Orders, Royal Procedures, Royal Precedence, Royal Successions Complete with Tables and Biographies, Court Customs, Court History, Royal Land Grants, Rights of Aristocracy, Planetary Districts of 110 Planets, Local Laws, Local Customs, Aristocratic Privileges and Various Other Matters.
The Countess Krak had found these books, obviously.
I can't help but wonder why the Apparatus saw fit to provide their secret drug production base with a detailed history of the aristocracy they hope to overthrow.
Gris is initially hopeful that Krak's reading up on the wonders of psychology, but instead she's checking the regulations for penalizing general service officers. Gris nearly screams when he reads second-hand that he could be tried by his fellow officers, then does scream when Krak rests her finger on executable offense #34, Kidnapping.
I reeled away from the viewer.
Gods, that woman was dangerous.
She was sitting in there trying to find legal ways to bring about my death!
Gris doesn't grab a gun and end his problem right there, instead he bolts to the hangar and orders the captain of the guard to stay away from the special cell. Yes, nobody is to so much as look in the unperson in the maximum-security prison who isn't in the official records. She's got a disease that makes you go blind if you see her. Yes, that's Gris' excuse. Then he goes right to the source and tells Faht Bey to never communicate with the secret prisoner under any circumstances. Also, Forrest Closure of Grabbe-Manhattan bank is not to be interviewed for reasons that will remain secret.
Faht Bey is of course suspicious, what with these secret prisoners and Gris blowing up mosques and imprisoning a guy linked indirectly to the company that supplies them with amphetamines and all that rape. Plus there's still someone on the base pinching drugs.
And you know what's weird? Faht Bey threatens to convene an officers' conference to look into Gris' increasingly fishy behavior, something I don't believe he's ever done before. In the very same chapter that the Countess Krak read such a thing was possible in the official regulations, no less. Almost as if the author was making this up as he went along and couldn't be arsed to go back and add some foreshadowing or allusions to this plot element in earlier chapters.
So Gris closes this chapter with another recap of his situation - he's got just three or four more days until Grabbe-Manhattan starts wondering what happened to Mr. Closure, and if Faht Bey finds out Gris tried to sell the base he'd do that conference thing and Gris' ass is toast.
My only possible hope was Heller's assassination.
Only then could I make things come out all right.
Because remember, when Heller is dead Gris will be able to blow up the Empire State Building and annihilate a car company and wipe a Florida town off the map and have a talk with Mr. Bury and get re-hired by Rockecenter as his family "spi" and use those credentials to get Mr. Closure to stop asking about the Turkish real estate that Utanc tried to sell in Gris' name. Because the Apparatus needs a constant supply of Earth drugs to maintain its hold over the Voltarian Confederacy rather than finding a way to produce its own and it can only get those drugs from companies linked to Rockecenter and his energy interests which is why Heller has to go for trying to cut back on pollution. But if Gris kills Heller then the environment will be destroyed so those energy interests will be safe so drug production can continue and the bankers will back off so the base will remain secret. Also psychologists.
I think this is what happens when you spend so much time doing nothing in your story. All those unresolved subplots crash together in a nonsensical trainwreck.
Back to Chapter Two