We start the chapter with Madison in a stainless steel holding cell, reflecting on how he got there.
Every preconception he might have had about space travel and extraterrestrials had been shattered.
In truth, it's all kinda boring.
He had boarded a flying saucer that didn't look like a saucer but simply like an old Earth freighter whose hull went all the way around it.
Maybe call it a freighter with no top deck, then?
The crew looked like Earth people with a subtle difference that this lot was shabbier than any crew he had ever seen or heard of.
Means they're evil, see.
They talked a language which seemed composed of vowels and consonants completely alien to any Earth alphabet, but their gestures, pointings and nods were understandable.
Strange how body language, like the blessed human form, is another universal constant, but not the sounds that come out of mouth-holes.
Madison only realized he was on a spaceship when he looked out the window - of course his room had a window - and saw Earth fall away. And then, while he was still strapped in his space bed, Teenie walked in, completely nonplussed about leaving Earth but ranting about Gris being an alien.
"I always knew there was something nutty about him. His (bleep) and (bleeps) were a lot too big for any human, and I'm an expert. We been shanghaied!" She had been pretty mad and had stamped out.
So yes, it wasn't Gris' odd behavior, strange devices, or general stupidity that nearly gave him away as someone not of this world, it was his cellologically-enhanced dongle.
Madison spends - spent - the first three days in his cabin, pining for his mother, wondering if he'd ever be able to engage in psychologically-prescribed incest again, and ignoring Captain Bolz' attempts to strike up a conversation with the help of a Turkish-English dictionary. But eventually Bolz asked if Madison had any way of controlling Teenie, who Madison discovered had been getting fellow passenger Twolah high on marijuana and whoring out the boy for five credits a tumble so she and Madison would have plenty of money where they're going. Madison warned her that Bolz was getting mad, but Teenie replied that she'd already put the fear of a mutiny in him by throwing a dagger into his room at night. Luckily it doesn't come to that, as she eventually got on Bolz' good side. With her mouth.
Teenie's just getting started, folks!
All in all, Madison spent the rest of the voyage hiding in his room, "the vision of being on a spaceship out of control turning into nightmares in his dreams." You can tell he's going mad if he spat out a sentence like that.
Which brings us up to now, Madison in a stainless steel cell. He's just come out of some sort of coma where they stuck a helmet on his head for a few days when a man knocks on the door and announces that "the chief" wants to see him. Madison has the usual barrage of questions, and is told by "Captain Slash of the 43rd Death Battalion, Apparatus" that he's at "the Training Center of the Extra-Voltarian Personnel Induction Unit, Coordinated Information Apparatus" on good ol' planet Voltar.
It's only after again being ordered to get his luggage together that Madison realizes, "HE HAD BEEN SPEAKING VOLTARIAN!" He spends a whole sentence wondering at that before noticing something the guard dropped off: "A NEWSPAPER!" Wow! Incredible! This civilized people with an advanced society possess a form of media to aid the flow of information! Who would've thought?
So he skims The Daily Speaker to read a rather dry article about that darned Prince Mortiiy continuing to thwart the Apparatus on Calabar, though at least the pictures are in 3D. And then he reads another article, essentially a Fleet press release about the mysterious whereabouts of Jettero Heller and rumors of some sort of general warrant for his arrest that they aren't paying much attention to. And it happens to have a picture of the man in question.
There could be no mistake!
The photo was too lifelike!
Almost no men--and nobody he had seen amongst Voltarians--were as handsome as that! Nobody else he knew had ever worn such a devil-may-care expression.
IT WAS WISTER!
It's amazing that this book puts such stock in physical appearances when the Countess Krak is walking around as a magnificent example of beauty being skin deep.
Cap'n Slash again orders Madison to get his ass in motion, but the publicist is scarcely paying attention.
Rushing now to get dressed, Madison was in a daze. Maybe he hadn't failed on Wister. A general warrant? Of course, that wasn't good enough. It was even being denied. And then a thrill went through him. Maybe God was giving him another chance! He must hurry over to see this powerful and frantic chief.
Yep. Captured by an alien race, took a voyage on a spaceship, suddenly knows a new language, walking about on another world, and Madison's still trying to make "Wister" famous. He's a pearl diver looking for clams in a desert. A refrigerator repairman in Antarctica. Some sort of mindless robot repeating the same actions indefinitely, utterly oblivious to its surroundings. He can't have a rational, human reaction to his circumstances, because that would be incompatible with the story's plot.
And he didn't notice the part about Heller already being famous on Voltar.
Back to Part Seventy-One, Chapter Five