The tug's fine save for some minuscule scratches, which would be harmless save for the fact that they compromise the vessel's "absorbo-coat" stealth package - that 3.4 x 1/16 of an inch strip of exposed hull is going to suddenly make the ship appear on enemy radar. For reference, our B-2 "Stealth Bomber" has a radar cross-section of about four square inches.
Corky whines about how this puts his sacred pilot in danger, but Heller is not impressed.
"You're a chatterbox," said Heller.
"Chatterbox . . . chatterbox . . . chatterbox . . . No, sir. I don't have any such part, sir, and all gears are firm. I am a Mark XIII humanoid-approximation robot manufactured in---"
"Thank you," said Heller. "Any data you have on current ship condition is required."
I guess Corky's kinda like C-3PO, in that he's polite and fussy. But I'm having trouble finding him an endearing sort of polite and fussy. Seems more like a stupid kiss-ass.
Anyway, Corky mentions that there are two locator bugs hidden on the ship, no doubt by those dastardly assassin pilots. Why not a bomb? That'd be pretty straightforward - ship starts to leave, press button, no ship. Or would the transmission to detonate the thing get absorbed by the absorbo-coat or reflected by the reflective silver paint? Wait, how did the locator beacons get through that same coating? Is it one-way? And hey, why didn't all that space debris the tug had to pass through to leave the planet do any damage to the-
Anyway. There's no sign of any bogeys, so Heller puts on a space suit, grabs a paintbrush and "paint squirter," and hops out to fix up his spaceship. Gris tracks his progress by the clomping of Heller's magnetic boots on the hull.
Then I got an awful start. His face appeared on the other side of the viewport, looking into the flight deck.
Cockpit. A flight deck is what planes take off from on an aircraft carrier.
People in space helmets always look so unearthly, it makes one think of monsters. And to me, Heller was a monster anyway. He had plotted ceaselessly to do me in, he had murdered in cold blood the Antimanco crew, he had just shaken me up like dice in a cup with his insane, suicidal attack on that assassin pilot and here I was, chained to a pipe like some wild animal, completely at his mercy.
I must think of something and do something to get myself out of this. It would only be justice to do Heller in. Somehow I must still accomplish it. I was pretty certain that I could.
Spoiler: he doesn't. As far as I can tell, Gris keeps thinking about how much he needs to escape rather than possible ways he could escape.
Oh, and guess how every chapter for the foreseeable future is going to end?
Back to Chapter One