They land next to the warehouse, and Madison's uneasy. Not only is their getaway vehicle eminently recognizable, but they'll be doing this robbery with a herd of nudists. A few of those naked criminals, the technical experts and the like, inform their bosses that they'll need to take over a nearby watchman's office to disable the alarms on the warehouse. Unfortunately there's a security guard on station, and none of the crack convicts Flick recruited is a "slugger" capable of subduing a single night watchman. But Flick's not worried - he already has a killer on hand, see.
Yes, Madison the PR master is now ironically a prisoner of the very reputation he crafted to... well, that doesn't quite work, Flick's the one who decided Madison's some sort of modest murderer, while Madison's done nothing but protest to the contrary. So it's more accurate to say that once again Madison is a prisoner of his drivers' delusions. Even so, Madison realizes that "his control of the gang was on the line," so he has to act. Because remember, the story is about gangs now.
The publicist shrugs off some cons who want to come with him, explaining that he doesn't want "any witnesses to learn how I really work." The POV stays behind with Flick and the others as Madison disappears into the guard's office, the watchman at the window vanishes, and soon enough Madison returns, having unlocked the warehouse. As "forty-eight naked cons slid like whispers" into the building, Madison, his hands "BRIGHT RED!", warns them not to look in the watchman's office if they want to keep their lunches down, but encourages them to take all the time they need. Flick's concerned that there might be other guards on patrol, but Madison snorts that "They're not roving anymore." Oh boy. Do you think he murdered them.
There's about half a page of the convicts picking out clothes that I'm going to skip, but while he waits on them, Madison has a revelation. The warehouse is stinky. But it's not because of the clothes in it, it's because even after their sea bath, those convicts are stinky. And the Apparatus is stinky, almost exactly the same type of stinky! "The Apparatus smell was the smell of convicts! So THAT was why it stank!" Incredible! Using nothing but his feeble brain and the power of his nose, Madison has deduced that the organization that recruits criminals like Flick is made up of criminals!
As dawn nears, all those stinky criminals get their new costumes loaded into the buses, but some are still curious about how Madison dealt with the guards. Madison, humming a happy tune to himself, keeps them away from the gruesome scene, insisting that he doesn't want them to stink up their new clothes with vomit.
Another convict tried to peer in and Madison shooed him off. "What'd you use?" the convict said. "You didn't have any weapon."
"My bare hands," said Madison. "I love the feel of the running gore when I rip out throat arteries. So smooth, so slick. And it has a lovely smell. You should taste it!"
The convicts let out a gasp. One retched. They stared at Madison.
He shooed them off to the air-coaches and sauntered after them, humming his little song.
Even Flick is acting respectful towards his boss, and Madison is quite pleased with himself. Of course all he did was use that "UNLIMITED pay status" to buy the warehouse and keep the guards out of sight while the cons "steal" everything. It's about as obvious as the "haunted" apartment turning out to have holographic ghosts in a few chapters.
Madison's hands were doused in red ink, in case you cared.
BARE-HANDED! And he liked it. Oh, Flick told himself, by Gods, they'd have to think twice before they crossed the chief. A REAL murderer for sure! A PROFESSIONAL! And he LOVED HIS WORK!
This is just confusing, Madison's rant being interrupted with Flick's thoughts and immediately going back to Madison.
"We're heading for Joy City right now, sir," said Flick.
Madison heard the tremor, the fear and the respect in that voice.
It made everything complete.
He had total charge of this crew!
And he had to do that because his crew consists of criminals because we can't have Madison doing something as simple as hiring a team from Homeview with his "UNLIMITED pay status."
It didn't hurt at all to use the techniques of PR to improve one's own image.
Now he could REALLY PR Heller-Wister!
Gonna Public Relations your brains out, baby.
Alright, this whole bit with Madison using PR to gain control of his gang - it's not in itself a bad idea, or even poorly-executed by Mission Earth's dismal standards. If you're trying to establish that a character is a master of deception, able to construct a fearsome persona for himself or others, having him bluff his way into control of a gang helps prove this.
The problem is doing this in Book Nine when the character first appeared in Book Three. You should not need to establish your villain's credentials right before the story's climax!
Also, Madison's stupid shtick is that he's clueless about the effects of his campaigns and how he actually destroys peoples' lives. So if he's trying to PR himself here, to be consistent he'd have to do something stupid like try to convince the gang he's an undercover cop and get lynched. And if he doesn't, and successfully brands himself as something he's not, now he's got to question why all his other attempts went wrong, and why trying to brand someone as an outlaw when they are not expected to be an outlaw might cause them consternation.
But this is Mission Earth, where thinking isn't allowed. Else you might start to wonder why you even need to finish the Heller-Wister Case if you're now a PR Czar on another planet with an unlimited paycheck.
Back to Part Seventy-Four, Chapter Seven