Monday, July 15, 2013

Part Sixty-One, Chapter Two - I Think Hubbard Misses Scotland

I guess Gris never did pick up the activator-receiver for the bugging gear, because this chapter he remembers that he could use it to monitor the Countess Krak without compromising the integrity of her cell by removing that bit of cloth hanging over the window.  More specifically, this chapter is a series of phone calls.

First he calls Raht to tell him to ship the activator-receiver - specifically "the woman's" activator-receiver, he'll remember to send for Heller's later - via "International Spurt Express" since it's a potential Code Break.  He spends the rest of the day doing nothing of note beyond checking on Black Jowl in his cell and gloating how his order that nobody's to lift the cloth on Krak's cell window seems to be working.  Heller's viewer is still black, and Gris eagerly awaits the day he can watch Heller come home, read Krak's note, and learn that his beloved has seemingly perished in a plane crash.

I would order Raht to kill him.  Crushed like that, Heller would be an easy target.

With him dead, I could wipe out Chryster, Ochokeechokee and the Empire State Building.  Rockecenter would be jubilant.  Then I could release Black Jowl and tell him to get lost.  I would then kill the Countess Krak.

And remember, all of this has to happen in that exact order.  Gris can't put a bullet in Krak's head while she sleeps and use the promise of her as a hostage to lure Heller into a trap.  Gris can't blow up the Empire State Building while Heller's in it.  And the only way he can resolve the Black Jowl situation is by becoming the Rockecenter family "spi" again.

After supper, and with Heller's viewer still blank, Krak calls Raht again to complain about it.  Raht has shipped Krak's viewer thingy, and then he spends an hour flipping the 831 Relayer so if Heller's in New York, Gris will be able to get something.  But his screen remains blank.  Gris calls again, and Raht reports that he did have Heller bugged to track his location, but claims it must be broken since they indicated Heller was at Chicago, then the North Pole.

Hubbard likes great circle routes that go over the North Pole, even when there's no reason to go that far up to reach his destination.  For example, Heller turns out to be headed to the crash site in the Adriatic Sea after flying from Chicago, over the North Pole, over Scotland, down to Rome.  This may not have been the most efficient flight path.

Now, pretend you don't know that yet.  Gris sends Raht to go "hobnob" at Heller's office to find out where he went, and eventually the only competent Apparatus agent in the book reports that everyone's weepin' and wailin' after hearing the news:

"Flight 931 out of Rome for Istanbul crashed with everybody lost.  It's in the papers.

Well, you can't trust those, remember?

What did you do?"

"How would a plane crash possibly have anything to do with me?  I don't build these flimsy primitive deathtraps they use.  How would I know it would crash ?"

"Are you sure you didn't blow it up or something?"

"What nonsense!" I said.  "These jets fall out of the sky all over the place.  It practically rains planes."

Then Gris orders him to kill Heller, causing Raht to crap himself.  Yeah, Raht works for the Apparatus, a bunch of drug-running, murdering, law-breaking evildoers, but he doesn't want to go after a Royal officer!  You could get the death penalty for even threatening to kill one of those!  He only gets moving after Gris threatens to kill him.  Raht, your "only competent agent" status is now revoked.  Come to think of it, you didn't deserve it in the first place, you and Dead Guy got your asses kicked by a bunch of prostitutes several books ago.  Maybe you fit in with the Apparatus after all.  Apart from your squeamishness, anyway.

So that's when Raht checks his tracking bugs again to see where Heller's gone, and he soon learns from Heller's butler that he left to help salvage the plane wreckage as he searches for Krak's body.  Gris repeats his order for Raht to hunt down and kill Heller.  No specific plan or anything, just hurry up and do it, there's a good chap.

Only Heller's death stood between me and total victory.

Well, Heller's death and two building demolitions and the destruction of a whole town and a talk with your ex-boss and a coercive conversation with someone you took prisoner.  But other than all that, your victory is imminent.

I did not have much time.  Black Jowl might be missed.  At best I only had another five days.

After wasting approximately a third of the damn book with a weeks-long, meandering boat ride, suddenly we're thrown into a tense race against time.

I prayed that my prayers be heard.


Heller had to die!

A sentence that could've come from any of the past five books, thus giving the reader a good sense of how likely it is to happen this book.

Back to Chapter One

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