The author made a completely nonsensical pseudoscientific doodad to justify what, how his hero incapacitates a hangar full of bad guys? "He bombs the opium stocks and they all OD and pass out" was the best he could come up with? Which necessitates the aforementioned nonsensical hologram. Which implies terrible base design. Which implies that the base security team goes half a year without noticing the bombs the hero planted. All when Heller could've surrendered, pulled out those official documents, and gotten the base personnel on his side exactly the same way as he did after the opium bombing.
This is what truly bad writing does. The author settles on a contrived way for his pet character to triumph, which necessitates a chain reaction of stupidity ripping through not just other characters, but physics itself.
Anyway, that's the first line of the chapter.
Heller lands the tug, that damned cat's very happy to see Krak, and all the convicts and criminals that the Apparatus uses to staff its most important top-secret base are all fantasizing out loud about being able to walk the streets of Modron or Flisten again. They've even repainted their Apparatus "bottle" should patches with the Fleet logo, a gold circle over a diagonal bar on a pale blue backdrop.
So... when humans put up a sign forbidding something by drawing a circle around and a slash over the prohibited action, we're actually showing our allegiance to the Voltarian Fleet? Is this one of those racial memory things, Hubbard? Like jetliners?
Gris is disgusted.
Heller was undermining this whole base!
A perfectly good lot of criminals were going completely bad!
We haven't been reminded how awesome Heller is lately, so Krak notices the battle damage on the tug and gushes about how he could've been killed by those nasty assassin pilots. Then she hints about a wonderful surprise she can't tell him about that's waiting for him when they go home, prompting Gris to remind us of those (forged) Royal pardons he gave her, even though he did that last chapter too. Krak's also looking forward to a quiet life.
"But I can assure you, I simply do not intend to live my life with people shooting my husband left and right! What would the children think?"
"Are there children?" said Heller.
This is the sum total of his reaction to his girlfriend's hint that she might be unexpectedly preggers. No change in expression, no burst of emotion, just a stated question.
Oh, but hey, Krak, you're mentioning children, and current figures for Russia's demographics have 16.5% of the population under the age of 15. I mention this because your boyfriend-
"No, not yet, but there certainly will be. And they're entitled to a real, live father. I think we should go home as soon as possible."
But I guess we should be thinking of the future, sure. Not dwelling on a past mistake. Or 16.5 million mistakes, as the case may be.
Gaylov gets a cell, Black Jowls gets to stay put for awhile, and Gris gets hauled to Prahd's hospital so the author can continue to abuse him. When he comes to after some surgery, his shotgun-wedded wife Nurse Bildirjin complains that whoever shot him "missed" instead of leaving her a respectable widow. Then she offers to show Gris his "son," slightly premature, but... wait, she just spat out the brat and she's back on her feet, working at the hospital? No maternity leave? Well, I'm sure if it were unhealthy Dr. Prahd would be smart enough to dissuade her.
It was a very well-formed baby, several days old.
I blinked. My eyes are brown. My hair is brown. Nurse Bildirjin's eyes are black. Her hair was black.
THIS BABY HAD BRIGHT GREEN EYES!
It had straw-colored hair.
But that wasn't worth abusing CapsLock over.
IT EVEN LOOKED LIKE PRAHD!
I snarled, "That baby must have been conceived the very first night that that doctor arrived here!"
She smiled at me enigmatically. "Well, it just might have been if you hadn't refused to let him be paid."
I groaned. Prahd was getting his own back.
Wait, you mean Prahd got his girlfriend pregnant - his underage girlfriend pregnant, putting an even bigger question mark around the issue of her working so soon after delivering - just to get back at Gris? Or - oh, oh I get it. Right. He just claimed it was Gris' to get back at him.
Wait again, didn't Prahd make a point about how careful he was not to get Bildirjin pregnant? Was that just another part of his web of deceit? Then why wasn't he careful?
Wait the third. So despite having access to contraception, and knowing better, Prahd got Bildirjin pregnant, then sent her to do sexy things with Gris to blackmail him into paying for the marriage? He effectively whored out his lover because his boss wasn't paying him? He was okay with her helping Gris, ah, paint the hospital floors? She was okay with the plan? Was this the reason Prahd gave Gris a wünderschlong, so he'd be able to perform well enough so that Bildirjin's pregnancy would be plausible?
All this to say, at long last the "Nurse Bildirjin" sub-subplot comes to an end (I hope). Chapter after chapter of unentertaining, uncomfortable shenanigans - Bildirjin fooling around with Gris, the extended gag of Prahd not getting paid, Gris getting blackmailed into marrying Bildirjin - all so Gris can look stupid after having been forced to marry a woman over another man's pregnancy.
Again, one bad idea ends up having damaging effects on the rest of the story. None of this crap would be in the hypothetical movie.
Gris is of course annoyed at the thought of paying a dowry to make another man's son rich, but the nurse threatens to have Prahd give him another operation. Gris knows she means to make him a eunuch, because the Prahd giveth (surgically-enhanced genitalia), and the Prahd taketh away (surgically-enhanced genitalia). So Gris lies to save his man-bits.
But it was right at that moment that I added to my plan. I would go home and deliver Heller and Krak to Lombar. Then I would come back and undo all the damage Heller had done by providing cheap fuel.
How does this affect Rockecenter's drug trade, again?
And last, for desert, I would see that every Turk connected with this hospital and this base died horribly! Including Nurse Bildirjin and this (bleeped) baby!
Yawn. That'd be what, a hundred people at most? Two hundred? Sorry Gris, Heller's upped the ante considerably, you'll need to slap a couple of zeroes on that number to impress me.
Still, at least he's thinking about salvaging the mission again. Even if he doesn't have any sort of workable plan to go along with that goal.
Back to Chapter Seven