Teenie wasn't terribly impressed with the news that Madison is now a media god, and ordered him to get to work delivering Gris' head - "rotting preferred." The publicist hurries off before she suspects that he's more interested in making Wister-Heller famous so that a man on another planet will be impressed.
Madison knew the image he would have to complete: it was that of a folk hero on the model of Jesse James, and how well he was researched in such images now-in the yacht he had travelled all over studying famous outlaws. Heavens, he fairly ached to put it into effect.
Wonder if he's done any research on whether Voltar has a history of such "heroes." Maybe crime is so rampant and rebellion so rife - since the emperor's old and heirless, after all - that nobody's going to be impressed by another Fleet officer going rogue. Maybe Voltar's so lawful and obedient that such a treason would be considered taboo, something painful to even read about.
Aw, who am I kidding, Voltar's just a medieval Earth with space magic but no psychology or drugs. They probably love cowboys and gangsters even though they haven't had a Wild West or Prohibition.
He knew just how to attain results: Coverage, Controversy and Confidence.
What he lacked here on Voltar were Connections, another C which he had always had on Earth.
But there's a fifth C, too: Currency. To that end, Madison gets his driver to take him to a place he can get his identoplate changed. While Flick prattles on about being glad to no longer have to eat "stale sweetbuns out of garbage pails," Madison plans his approach.
Madison was not paying much attention. He was trying to work out how he would go about setting up in such unknown terrain. Then he got off into headlines that kept drifting through his head: 18 point, FLEET OFFICER GOES RENEGADE but he kept discarding them. They were sort of pale and lacked punch. He realized this would require a lot of careful planning to really make it good. He had no support troops, he had no lines and the fact that these people on Voltar were ignorant of real PR was both a blessing and a curse. Every trick of the trade would be brand-new to them, but on the other hand, there were no traditional supports. It was sort of like a man approaching a virgin: the question was, how willing would she be to be raped?
I was following along just fine until the last line, Maddie old bean. I guess this is further evidence that Madison has a vocabulary problem.
Also, author, why are you having the publicist who's terrified of women use a sex analogy? For that matter, where did he pick up all this military lingo?
Eventually they get to the Finance Department desk that handles Identoplate Changes, and this is all kinda confusing. Madison's carrying the paperwork for his new pay raise in person to the central office. There's no ability to, say, pass the document to a clerk in Palace City, who enters the pay raise into the Apparatus computer network, which will then pop up whenever someone scans Madison's ID. He's gotta take it to a central location and get his identoplate - which contains enough science to alternate between displays of his picture, thumbprint, pay grade, etc. - manually switched to a different value. It seems a bit backward, is what I'm saying.
The clerk is of course flabbergasted by the order for "UNLIMITED PAY?" and soon Madison is surrounded by security, but the order is all official and genuine and everything. The real question is how to handle the nebulous title of "PR Man" and what budget he'll be drawing from - naturally, there are separate accounts for the Apparatus, Palace City, and of course Royal expenditures. The Apparatus is overdrawn, only half of Palace City's budget is being used due to its tanking population, while Royal expenditures are at an all-time low. This is what happens when you try to run a galactic empire while keeping an imperial government.
Everyone's confused and afraid that Madison will use his bottomless credit card to buy Industrial City or something. But all Madison asks for is a pay status on all three accounts, and he agrees to sign a statement that the most he'll ask for at once would be, oh, let's say a billion spacebux.
And the clerks go for it. "It would keep the computers from locking up," after all. Identoplate Pay Status: Unlimited.
Madison accepted it with a very straight face. Never in his whole career had he ever had a billion-dollar drawing account! Oh, what he could do with that!
First, it's not dollars, it's spacebux. Second, what could you do with that? What's the exchange rate between US dollars and Voltarian credits? Will a billion spacebux buy you a planet, a mansion, a breakfast, what?
They had the look of men who had bested him. And he was very solemn as he walked away.
A BILLION-DOLLAR DRAWING ACCOUNT!
I guess we're supposed to be impressed, and assume that Voltar works exactly like Earth does. Which it doesn't, as we'll see next chapter.
Back to Part Seventy-Three, Chapter Five