Monday, August 19, 2013

Part Sixty-Three, Chapter Six - Orbital Bombardment

It's not enough to make the oil industry obsolete, Heller needs to make all the existing oil worthless.  He asks Corky whether there's any sign of that other assassin pilot, but for whatever reason the enemy ship has decided to miss all those wonderful opportunities to blast Heller while he was busy towing the black hole or out on a spacewalk.  The timid talking tug does however urge Heller to lie low for a bit, for fears that their "magnetic wake" will alert the enemy to their presence.

And I'd like to argue with this, but when your spaceship's main drive involves throwing synthesized mass against Time itself to trick destiny into bouncing your ship forward, using magnets for your sublight drive isn't much of a stretch.  I'm sure the ship's air supply is regulated by a team of tiny pixies living in the ventilation ducts.

Instead of hiding, Heller talks to the ship, rattling off a long list of "exact spatial positions" of locations on a planet rotating at about a thousand miles an hour while orbiting a star at sixty-seven thousand miles per hour which is in turn part of a galaxy rotating at 490,000 miles per hour while moving through space at 621 miles per second.  He tells the ship to go to the first one (an oil refinery in Watson, California) before calling Izzy to confirm that he's got the options to buy every single one of the world's oil shares at a dollar each.  The deals have gone through, but the oil shares haven't dropped nearly that low... yet.

Izzy asks how this could possibly work, Heller hangs up after an ominous "You'll see," and takes action.

He returned to his magnified view of the refinery below.  He was checking a floor plan.  "Atmospheric pipefill," he said.  He made a couple of tiny adjustments to the position of the ship.

Then his hands went out to the firing control of the laser cannon he had lately installed.

"NO!" I cried in desperation.  "Don't blow up the refineries!"

You would prefer another target, a military target?  Then name the system!  I grow tired of... oh, that's a different thing.  Sorry.

His finger pressed the firing button.  The gun overhead made a brief whirr.

I watched in horror.  The enlarged picture of a part of an oil refinery, I thought, would burst into flame.

I waited.

It didn't!

"Corky, Position Two," said Heller.

"That's Wilmington, California," said the tug.  And we moved.

And Heller does the same thing there, before going on to Long Beach and El Segundo, CA.  A half-hour passes before the electrical impulses conveying Gris' astonishment travel to his mouth, allowing him to ask what the Space Hell is going on.  The gland in his jaw exuding politeness also seems to be working, so Gris is able to say "please."

He glanced at me.  "Everything they do in a refinery first passes into what they call the atmospheric pipefill from the crude oil tanks.

Evidently "they" consists solely of the author, because I can't find the term "atmospheric pipefill" anywhere except Mission Earth excerpts.

From the pipefill it goes on through every other process in the place: jet fuel, diesel fuel, virgin naphtha, you name it.

Maybe he means the fractionating column?  Fortunately, HowStuffWorks is available if you want a better description of the refining process.  I guess it doesn't really matter what you call Heller's target, because its function is less important than its location.

All I'm doing is putting a false radiation charge in the metals of the pipefills.  It will register like mad on a Geiger counter but it actually doesn't affect another thing.  You're not going anywhere, so there is no reason not to tell you that Izzy has the device that nulls the wave."

Yep, that cunning Heller is zapping those refineries with a magical beam causing them to emit fake radiation.  The metals in the whatever pipe are producing particles that, while capable of triggering a Geiger-Mullter tube, aren't actually radioactive in themselves.  And no, there's no further attempt to explain how this works.

He turned away and went back to work, and between him and the tug, they systematically did the same thing to every blessed oil refinery in the whole world.

It took a day and a half to cover them all.

And all Gris does during this nearly two-day timeskip is sit there thinking how strange it is that Heller chose not to blow anything up.  How very Royal of him.  Certainly not how a proper Apparatus operation would go down, no sir!

Heller washes up and changes clothes, than calls Izzy again, who has a visitor on the line with him - "MISS SIMMONS!"  Heller lets her know that at this very moment, every oil refinery in the world reads as radioactive on a Geiger counter.  "How the flaming monkey poo would you know that?" Miss Simmons doesn't ask.  Instead she thanks him, rages about "THE (BLEEPARDS)!" and storms off to organize some anti-nuclear marches.

"Oy!" said Izzy.

"Yes," said Heller.  "Double oy.  The oil shares will go down like a rocket in reverse.

Not a rocket in free fall, mind you, but a rocket shifted into reverse.  Probably with back-up lights.

When they get near bottom, sell.  And use the cash for Maysabongo to exercise their contracts for every drop of oil in reserve in the U.S.  Then in July, purchase every oil company in the world for a song."

"Oh, Mr. Jet, our every dream is coming true!  I just hope Fate doesn't intervene."

Man, it's been so long since Izzy was introduced that I've nearly forgotten his wacko corporate-anarchic philosophy. 

But there you go.  Heller's plan is to use fake radiation to spark a global panic over the safety of oil supplies, causing oil companies' stock value to bellyflop.  I can only assume that nobody's going to figure out that despite the lack of radioactive material in these refineries, they're still giving anomalous radiation readings.  Or notice that one guy arranged some pretty insane stock options the day before the news of the "radioactive" refineries broke and connect the dots.  And that nobody decides to keep using the "tainted" oil anyway because everyone knows you can wash radiation off with a good shower, or cure it with Dianetics.

And Heller's still not done!  He's got one more task before he's calling this mission a success.

"Oh, this last is just a little thing.  The south pole has a tendency to wander over the sea.  I'm going to give the globe a little tap to straighten up its rotation.  Corky, take off for planet Saturn now."

Words fail me.

I suppose I could smash my keyboard a few times to convey my feelings on this plan, but there's plenty of gibberish out there already, no need to add to it.

We'll try to break down how catastrophically stupid Heller is next time.

Back to Chapter Five

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