Thursday, September 5, 2013

Part Sixty-Five, Chapter Four - The Voyage Home

Skip the countdown, skip take-off, and summarize the three day voyage from Earth to Voltar in a couple of paragraphs.  Gris hates space travel, Heller is insane(ly heroic!) for daring to drive so fast, stuff we saw in Book Two.  Also, Gris freaks out because he never sees anyone driving the tug, again forgetting Corky the robot.

The weird thing is that the author does too - as far as I can tell, Corky doesn't have any lines for the rest of the book.  He/it may as well be a conventional autopilot for all the effect he has on the story.  Poor Corky came into existence a hundred pages ago, had a conversation or two with Heller, and faded away.

After a sufficient amount of whining, Krak leaves the door to Gris' room open so he can narrate what she and Heller are up to.  We're not told what's stopping him from stepping out and wandering the ship, so I'll continue to assume he's still tied to that chair.  Heller's worried about Krak due to her unperson status, and all the suspicious stuff he's run into over the course of Mission Earth.  They need some way of finding out what's going on back on Voltar, which they'll be landing on in a manner of minutes.  They need... television!

So the main screen turns on and Krak and Heller watch Homeview, while Gris watches them watch Homeview.  Hightee Heller is on, singing "Bold Prince Caucalsia" in a musical number that ends with her and her back-up singers ascending in a fancy ship.  Krak and Heller, "the stupid idiots," applaud the recorded show.  Then some actual news comes on, with a report that Army Corps Commander Zog will be replaced after failing to quash the rebel supporters of Prince Mortiiy on Calabar.  A drooling Lord Endow stumbles through the announcement that control of the campaign is being handed over to the Apparatus Exterior Division.  A bunch of characters and events that we haven't seen for six books, in other words.

Heller laments that the beautiful planet Calabar is set to be pillaged by Apparatus forces.  But then...

There were some other news items and then the announcer said, "Concern for the health of His Majesty Cling the Lofty--Long Live His Majesty and the Voltar Dominions--was greatly diminished today by the optimistic announcement by his spokesman, Lombar Hisst, that with plenty of rest he can be expected to survive many years."

"Hold it!" said Heller.  "What is this?  Lombar Hisst--a spokesman for Cling the Lofty?"

"That's impossible!" said the Countess Krak.  "Hisst is just a gutter rat!  He isn't a nobleman!  He's violating court protocol.  I know!  I had a lot of time to read the Compendium.  That function should be performed by the Lord of the Empire."

"There is something wrong," said Heller.

Yeah, it takes generations of good breeding to do a press release about the emperor's health.  Can't give the exalted post of "guy who gave a slip of paper to a reporter" to any gutter rat.

Heller recommends Krak talk to "the prisoner," which means mind-raping helmet time.  Gris plays hypnotized, and when questioned says that Lombar's not up to anything, and certainly wasn't behind Gris' actions on Earth, and everything's perfectly normal within the Voltarian government.  So there's absolutely no reason to be suspicious.

Thus encouraged, Krak recommends they land directly at Spiteos.  Sure, there's obviously something shifty going on at the Earth base, and it looks like the Apparatus is shipping drugs home for some nefarious reason, and there's been several attempts on her and Heller's lives, but Gris said everything's normal and he had a hypnohelmet on, so it must be true.

On top of that, Krak finally explains about the (fake) Royal pardons that will restore her legal status and title, which are still hidden at Spiteos.  But Heller doesn't want to lose his girlfriend, and refuses to go near the place.  "That's it.  That's final.  That's all there is to it.  You are not going near Spiteos!  FINISH!"

So like all good couples, they compromise.  Krak "interrogates" Gris again, and he tells her that there is another copy of those pardons at his office in... well, he doesn't say, but if I'm reading this crappy map correctly it's in Government City.  So Gris gloats that "Heller and Krak had delivered themselves straight into my hands!"

Because instead of saying "no" to Krak, forcing them to walk right into the heavily-guarded headquarters of the Coordinated Information Apparatus, Gris has tricked them into going to his office in another city, where he can try and escape from them, forcing them to go to Spiteos anyway.

'cause really, what sounds like a better place to try and escape from your captors, an underground fortress crawling with security forces, or an empty office building?

Back to Chapter Three

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