He mentions his latest theory during dinner, but Corsca and Her Brother are unimpressed with the idea that a bunch of primitives could ever develop weapons that endangered the Confederacy.
He let out a snort of laughter. "The Earthmen are coming!" he finally managed with a bucolic guffaw.
Corsa joined in with raucous laughter.
Her brother looked up at the twilight sky. "Get under cover quick! Strange ships are in the air!"
They really laughed.
I wouldn't have felt so bad about it but the staff around joined in.
And I really hope this is not the "Earthmen are coming!" rumors that Lord Invay hopes to dispel. Because that would mean the government censor decided to publish all that stuff about Gris and Heller to discredit a failed poet-turned-amateur historian who nobody took seriously in the first place.
Corsca and Brother spend the evening drawing hilarious sketches of Earthmen, but around midnight, Monte is again awakened by Shafter to do some snooping. See, Monte looked so damn dejected about that busted computer in Lombar's office that Shafter tried to find something to cheer him up. And lo and behold, there's a room the primitive villagers use as a tannery, but which used to be a "computer feeder room" with sealed cabinets brimming with...
These were the originals!
These were the first-generation recordings!
"Will this do?" said Shafter.
"Oh, thank Heavens and all the Gods, yes!" I cried, my hands shaking.
"Well, that's a good thing," said Shafter, "because you just bought the place."
So that last chapter where the records were destroyed? Uh, just a cliffhanger. Yeah, building tension so that this chapter is more powerful. Didn't your spirit soar when you learned that the trip to Spiteos hadn't been a waste of time?
Monte spends the rest of the evening/morning going through the Apparatus' legacy of "rape, murder and sudden death," quite shocked that any good, honest government could perpetrate such acts.
Kidnap this one, assassinate that one, blackmail someone else. And silly crimes as well: "Poison his pet fish!" And crimes that were stupid: "Break the windows of his house so he'll think the public don't like him."
That's the Apparatus, all right.
But dominant were awful crimes: "Rob a bank, plant the evidence on him, make it look like suicide." "Kidnap his children and when he comes to get them back, murder them in front of his eyes." A catalogue of villainy such as I had never seen stared at me from this data bank: slaughter, arson and revenge--destruction, hungry and rampant!
How could this possibly be? Was THIS the government?
So what did you think happens when the majestic Voltar Confederacy conquers a planet? Polite, friendly invasions? The Fleet drops payloads of puppies and candy while combat engineers slip behind enemy lines to hook up fiber optic internet connections?
Monte even finds a file about how the Coordinated Information Apparatus harassed a "small religious group" by planting a false document, forging members' names on it, and raiding, arresting and executing the lot of them. Poor small religious group. Bet that obviously forged piece of evidence suggested that they were infiltrating the government or something similarly ridiculous.
We get a single paragraph explaining Shafter's remarks about Monte owning the place, when Corsca gently chides him for his "present" of ruins and lousy farmland. Apparently the only way for Monte to get into those filing cabinets was to sign some deeds making him the owner and legal protector of the land and its inhabitants. As far as this book is concerned, nothing further comes from this, so I'm not sure what the point of it was. Maybe the author didn't want us to get the impression that Monte was stealing?
That night, Shafter and Monte go out for more secret investigations, this time finding old cellology laboratories, Krak's training gym, a stockpile of weapons and poisons and other nastiness stored in "preservation boxes," and hundred-year-old alien newspapers yellowed with age and nearly crumbling to dust because they weren't stored in preservation boxes. I'm also surprised that paper does so badly in a filing cabinet buried under a desert. Particularly newspaper - ever seen those "you need to recycle, you lazy slob" pictures of a fifty-year-old newsheet pulled out of a garbage dump? And hell, in Battlefield Earth we get scraps of legible paper found in thousand-year-old ruins around Colorado, which while relatively arid-
I'm getting distracted by newspaper. Monte goes through a bunch of survey logs, then uncovers a thick, juicy Apparatus file on Earth Government Intelligence Organizations.
The pack covered a span of about three thousand years. Strange-sounding names jumped out at you: Julius Caesar, Karl Schulmeister, Napoleon, Webber, a host of them.
I'm stumped who "Webber" refers to. Maybe it's a fictional historical figure, representing the near-future setting of the book? Or maybe the Apparatus was fascinated by a brigadier general from the US Civil War.
They seemed to get thicker as they approached later dates. They were separated into groups, and near the top, the thickest one began with Cheka, then, moving forward, OGPU, NKVD, MGB, and wound up with Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Besopasnosti or KGB. Another pack said OSS and CIA and yet another one said FBI. I guessed that Voltar was keeping tabs on what the potential enemy was doing. And they must be very interested, because every one of these documents was initialed by the existing Chief of Apparatus at the time of its receipt. The latest ones bore initials which I knew by now stood for Lombar Hisst.
And good ol' Monte is downright giddy at the thought of blowing the lid off all this. Yes, the government that raped and murdered its own people will surely let him publish such a devastating expose.
But then he finds an order from Lombar Hisst for the capture of Hightee Heller, a plan to lure her brother out of hiding so he can kill them both. But Monte remembered seeing her on space TV the other day, graying a bit but healthy.
I wondered if she realized there had been a government plot against her life. A celebrity like that? Monstrous!
The lesson of Mission Earth is that some people are just inherently better than others. Countesses bred for beauty and genius for generations, Royal officers, performers that can sound "SEXY!" - look, it's one thing to prey on the faceless masses, but any government capable of acting against Hightee Heller is beyond redemption.
Rather than continue to slog through all these primary sources and hard evidence of the Apparatus' activities, Monte decides that to get the full story of what happened to Jettero Heller's cat, he'll go straight to Hightee Heller, who barely featured at all in Gris' testimony! So he does so. Thanks to more family connections with the Homeview manager, Monte's able to walk right into Hightee's apartment to have a chat.
He introduces himself as a writer seeking to tell the story of Heller's life, and she directs him to a museum back at Atalanta, Manco. But when Monte mentions the attempt on her life, she gets all dramatic.
She went to the window and looked across at Government City. Then she said, "Are you a good fighter, Monte Pennwell?"
"I'm not sure," I said. "I never tried."
That seemed to surprise her.
I didn't say the drama lasted long. Monte explains that he actually bought Spiteos, which is how he got the Apparatus' enormously incriminating paperwork. And Hightee decides to accompany him back to her homeworld and give him what he needs to finish the story, because... well, he looks like "a nice young man," and he's got those family connections, see.
And that was how, with the Apparatus files, I got all the data that permitted me to finish the confession of Soltan Gris.
I hope you appreciate it. It was an awful lot of work!
Really, you shouldn't have.
It DOES contain the cover-up of all time!
Which is why Lord Invay the Voltarian Censor decided to publish it.
And right now, with no more ado, I will get on with it and grab that Soltan Gris by the neck in midflight and tell you what really happened after that fatal day he rushed into the Royal Prison hoping to be executed quickly!
The REAL story is a stunner!
It's not so much that the story is substantively different as it is that now we get to hear how it ends. So let's go with "FULL story" rather than "REAL story."
Back to Part Sixty-Seven, Chapters Six and Seven