Monday, September 2, 2013

Part Sixty-Five, Chapter One - Could This Be the Last Time We Go to the Bank?

Ya'll ready for ten pages of hot financial action?

Gris finds himself "being gotten" out of bed at dawn.  Despite his protests he's dressed in a "conservative, dark blue suit and ensemble" out of his wardrobe, which surprises me because it doesn't sound like a gangster outfit.  When Gris is hauled into the hangar, he finds a Western-business-attired Faht Bey waiting for him, along with Heller in a "stylish Panama hat, a summer-weight flannel business suit, a blue silk shirt, and a dark blue polka-dot bow tie."  Heller's outfit naturally gets the most description because it's the most important to the story.

They load up in Gris' own Rape Limo, which makes Gris angry until he sees Ters and Ahmed in the front seats, at which point he becomes furious.  Ahmed even looks back and winks at Heller.

"That man doesn't deserve any amnesty!" I snapped.  "He's much more guilty of upsetting this area than I am!  He raped the women!  He even brought that agent in!"

"We've already discussed it," said Heller.  "You're the one who gave the orders."

The injustice of it bit like a whip.  Never mind.  I'd tell Lombar and Ahmed would be shot.

So, uh, Hubbard?  Gris is right here.  Ahmed and Ters are pretty damn guilty.  They're serial kidnapper-rapists who duped Gris (not that this takes an extraordinary amount of cunning) into thinking he was having consensual encounters in the back of the Rape Limo.  They may not have killed a hundred million people out of a misguided desire to fiddle with the south pole, but they still fit most definitions of evil.  So letting them get away with their crimes just to spite Gris isn't funny or fulfilling in any way.

And as for Heller's "just following orders" argument, well.  I shouldn't have to say anything further.

Anyway, the Rape Limo's on its way to Istanbul, because Heller's heard about Gris' dowry and kaffarah and mosque problems and hospital funding (i.e. everything Prahd was "blackmailing" him over last chapter) and so wants to sort out Gris' finances.  So back to Piastre National Bank and Mr. Zengin, who is of course shaking with rage upon seeing Gris, suppressing his urge to toss the bum out.

Zengin summarizes Gris' gross financial incompetence, all the millions he's squandered, the yacht deal that could've saved him that he ruined, the money lavished on his concubine... wait, Gaylov was supposed to be stealing from the Apparatus treasury and drug supply, yes?  And he figured out they were all aliens his first time there?  So why was he muckin' about in a sports car and - screw it.

After listing Gris' crimes against finance, Zengin mentions the gold certificates Gris stuffed in the vault to quietly lose money instead of working to his advantage.  Gold certificates that I had completely forgotten about, and which I don't remember Gris even mentioning all those times he was trying to figure out how to solve his credit problems.  And he didn't forget about them either, he's dismayed Heller now knows about his secret money box.  So I can only conclude that even when Gris was in danger of losing everything, even when it looked like he was going to be executed for mortgaging the base, he never considered cashing in his gold certificates to be an option.  Death by firing squad is one thing, but not having gold?  Inconceivable.

Zengin also mentions the whole Grabbe-Manhattan foreclosure thing, so after they break for lunch Heller uses a "viewer-phone with tape" to call up Krak.  She's to force Gaylov to sign a confession explaining how he forged that mortgage of the Afyon base, then she'll make Black Jowls "blank out" everything about the base and believe that Grabbe-Manhattan will face criminal charges for pressing the issue.  "Yes, dear," says Krak. 

So when Jowls goes home, and his boss asks where the hell he's been for the past weeks, he'll be able to give him a blank-eyed stare.  And when the boss asks about that mortgage in Turkey, Jowls will say how they'll be in criminal court if they pursue it, and the boss will ask how, and Jowls will stare again.  Problem solved!

While Gris eats, Heller has another, off-screen conversation with Krak, then he strongarms Gris into opening his safe-deposit and handing over those certificates.  Heller immediately uses his authority as a Fleet officer to confiscate them, adding that the receipt will come in handy during Gris' trial.

I felt physically ill.

He reached over and emptied the box.  He made a hurried count.  He whistled.  "Nearly a quarter of a billion dollars!  So this is why Apparatus officers don't squawk about low pay.  Contraband drugs, illegal gold---"

"You were going to make some yourself!" I snarled.

"Ah, but that is the operative word: make some.  

Gotta admit, I'm failing to see the distinction here.

From these weights, these ingots are straight from Industrial City, Voltar.

So those Voltar-made gold bars are contraband, whereas if Heller had used Voltar-made matter-(bleepers) to synthesize some gold on Earth, that would be okay?  What about all those buckets of diamonds Heller spat out, or the millions and millions he made by abusing Voltarian technology to cheat the local stock market?

Hubbard, can you better explain why this thing is wrong for the villain to do but right when the hero does it?

But I shouldn't bait you, Soltan.  You may just have solved a lot of problems."

The real reason Gris never did anything with the certificates, surely.  Also, how was Heller going to resolve this originally?  More hypno-helmets?

Another meeting with Zengin follows, Heller having used his viewer-phone's "transmission facsimile sheets" to print up two confessions.  Gaylov's explains how the Soviet spy was ordered by Rockecenter to forge a mortgage on prime drug-growing real estate, while Jowls' says pretty much the same thing, adding that he cooperated with Gaylov to dream up a story about UFOs to sweeten the deal.  Then Heller tells Zengin about Gris' current debts ("I'm not at all surprised about the mosque," says the banker), which combined would cost about five million.  The gold certificates will be turned over to the bank, forming a $232 million trust fund out of the leftovers for Faht Bey to run his "business" with, and which would let the bank dominate Istanbul and drive out Grabbe-Manhattan.  To sweeten the deal, Heller promises that Gris is due to be extradited to a faraway country where he'll face life in prison or execution, never to return.

Mudur Zengin began to smile.  Then he began to laugh.  Then he reached forward and grasped Heller by the hand and rose, pumping it.  He put his arm around Heller's shoulders.  "Sir," he said, "consider me your lifelong friend!"  Emotion choked his voice.

So at the end of the day, Gris' funds are totally drained, the mortgage on the base has been forgotten, Faht Bey and the Afyon base are awash in funds, all those poor raped Turkish women now have a wad of cash to make everything better, the mosque will get rebuilt, Prahd can start eradicating all the diseases ravaging Turkey, Bildirjin succeeds in her plan to extort money from Gris based on her pregnancy from another man, Heller gets a lot of cigars and coffee from his new best friend Zengin, and Krak gets an emerald necklace even though she said she didn't want any mementos of this planet.

The whole "Gris going broke" subplot is resolved as anticlimactically as anything involving hypno-helmets.  No characters were developed, nobody learned anything (except "Utanc"'s sex).  Heller and his allies were ultimately showered with wealth, Gris was impoverished and humiliated.  The most you can say about the mortgage fiasco was that it helped motivate Gris to do his damned job.

All Gris can do is console himself that Krak and Heller will be at the mercy of Hisst when they take him back to Voltar.  Because they've already evaded the attentions and foiled the plans of the insane ruler of one planet, what makes them think they can do it again?

Back to Part Sixty-Four, Chapter Nine

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