Monte's great-uncle, Lord Guz, is Assistant Lord of the Fleet, so Monte decides to make the incredibly dangerous journey to those offices shaped like spaceships in Government City, in order to pursue another clue from Gris' testimony. Our hero bravely avoids getting roped into an inspection tour of the 110 worlds in the Voltar Confederacy by stalling until Lord Guz and Admiral Blast get so sloshed on tup until they stagger off singing "Spaceward Ho!"
Now remember, even though this tup stuff puts people in an altered state of consciousness, and Voltarian has a word for "drunk," this virtuous society is flabbergasted by something like "drugs."
After that it's a simple matter of heroically lying about having permission to dink around on the Fleet's computer system, looking up the logs of Patrol Craft B-44-A-539-G. Monte peruses the files close to the dates he wants, and "THEN, THERE IT WAS!" The log of the survey ship Heller took to Earth, which Lombar had seized along with its non-Heller crew!
Don't remember? Well, this stuff happened within the first hundred pages.
There's a conspicuous blank space in the records between Earth and where the ship gets refitted and sent out for other duties, but Monte hits the little Fleet Intelligence icon and, without being asked to so much as click an "I certify that I am at least 18 space-years old and a member of Fleet Intelligence" button, is able to dive right into a confidential report.
According to the file, the Baulk was found in pirate hands in the Flisten sector and recaptured following a battle. Which means that instead of crashing it as ordered, the Death Battalion sold the ship to pirates!
Don't remember? Well, it was a throwaway line in a throwaway subplot.
I was not interested in the battle with smugglers but I was interested in the patrol craft's crew.
In the Gris narrative, he had gone to Spiteos where the crew had been imprisoned, had gotten a prostitute and had put her and poisoned food into the cell and had supposed they would shortly all be dead.
YET HERE WAS A FLEET INTELLIGENCE REPORT ON THIS CREW!
You don't mean to tell me that Gris failed at a task, Hubbard?
So we get all four pages of the report in question to further pad this section of filler. Long story short, when Gris offered the prisoners a prostitute as a "bribe" (remember that?), one of the Fleet crew, "a pilot from Flisten, recognized the girl as a Guaop from her eye form and long fingernails." I suspect, but cannot verify, that this is a thinly-veiled racial epithet of some kind, but the closest I can find on Urban Dictionary is "guap/guop" for a wad of money.
Anyway, Cadet From Flisten was able to speak her lingo, and even though she had her larynx cut, they hatched a plan. She smuggled in enough metal, using a "magic bag" and "sexual tricks," for the prisoners to arm themselves, then dumped the poisoned food Gris gave them in the guardroom - and we all know that Apparatus guards will lunge on any old morsel that falls on the floor. The Fleet guys captured an officer, snuck out in Apparatus uniforms, and bought a ticket home and artificial voicebox for the hooker. Easy peasy.
Craftleader Soams' recommendation to bomb this secret Apparatus base was unfortunately denied, due to an ongoing investigation. But there it is! The fate of that nameless crew captured before the book even started, thought to have died off-camera! They made it out after all! How exciting!
I was in an instant, giddy whirl!
This compared exactly with the Gris confession!
There HAD been an Apparatus!
There HAD been a survey of Blito-P3!
There HAD been a planet called Earth!
Oh, dear me! This WAS a gigantic cover-up!
We. Know. You established that in Chapter Two. And you'll keep gasping how Gris' story is true two chapters from now.
After printing this stuff out and nonchalantly leaving the office after a guard takes an unhealthy interest, Monte realizes where he needs to go next - "SPITEOS!" Boy oh boy, we're going back to where we were eight chapters ago.
Back to Chapters Three and Four