The difference between these chapters and the rest of Mission Earth is that a character in the story is actually acknowledging what a stupid waste of time this is. Madison tries to get Flick to go back to the townhouse they just bought, but Flick retorts "That would be cheating!" Madison threatens to take his "gang" there, the prospect of a "gang war" spooks Flick, and they agree to only occupy the first of the five floors until they're ready to rob their own bloody apartment I hate this book so much.
But just when you thought the plot was ready to shudder forward three paces, Flick announces that unloading fifty ragged, filthy passengers would attract the po-po, and declares that they're going to Classy Togs Warehouse to get them some swanky clothes. His footwoman in particular has "awful big breasts and is going to need a big selection to choose a uniform from, or we won't get a fit." And of course they're going to steal everything even though they have that unlimited pay grade, because this story wallows in stupid like a pig in muck.
Oh no! The flying convoy gets going, but after a bit Madison looks back and finds "NO COACHES!" are following them. There's even "NO BLIPS!" on the radar! Who would have thought that a bunch of criminals suddenly released and given transportation might make a runner? Madison and Flick take the Angel Bus and backtrack, soon spotting "A BLIP. TWO BLIPS. THREE BLIPS!" parked on the beach. When they land to investigate, they find that "THE COACHES ARE EMPTY!" What drama! What suspense! Did some sort of space monster eat everyone, did they slip off into the desert, or did they-
The group wasn't inland. It was down in the surf. Were they fighting?
The Model 99 swooped nearer and landed with a thunk in the sand. Madison leaped out.
Convicts were running everywhere!
"WHEE!" they were shouting. "WHEE!"
Madison caught an arm of a naked woman as she raced by. But she was gone, shouting, "Whee!"
-go streaking on the beach. Okay.
The cons heard Flick talking about getting new clothes, and decided that they should get rid of their old ones. Immediately. And then run around naked on the beach squealing like schoolchildren. Flick and Madison are heavily outnumbered, so they have to humor their new workers as they start a bonfire, hold hands, form two rings around it, and start rotating in opposite directions in a sort of dance... I guess these are hippies? On top of being evil PR workers-to-be and criminals?
Then, mysteriously, sweetbuns and sparklewater from the lockers of the Model 99 began to get tossed from hand to hand. They had robbed the airbus!
Then they were all sitting, toasting sweetbuns on long sticks and guzzling sparklewater from jugs. And somebody began to sing a song!
And here's a cheerTo the boys in blueAnd here's to the consThey love to screw.So let's screw the blueboysScrew, screw, screw.And chaw [sic] on their carcassesChew, chew, chew!Up their buttsAnd off with their nutsAnd here's to a life of crime!
No, looks like they're evil criminals who just happen to like to sing and hold hands. And despite their song, this is an entirely non-sexual naked beach romp. At worst there's some horseplay with people getting tossed into the water.
Is this real? Did somebody sneak some chapters from a different story into this one and change the names to fit?
Madison tries to wrap things up, but some naked circus girls grab him, strip him, and toss him into the water. Then some other cons pick him up and carry him out, and oh, it's very tense and frightening! Madison is sure they're "going to wipe him out!"
In the lights from the bonfire and the car, eyes were glittering. Like wolves?
Suddenly they began to chant, "Hup! Hup! Hup! Hup!" Was this some sort of a convict or guard cry that marched them about?
They were going to the fire. Were they going to throw him in?
They were marching around the fire. Some sort of savage ritual. "Hup! Hup! Hup! Hup!" Like Indians or wild animals!
Oh, L. Ron. Also, I think this is the closest we've come to a proper Hubbard Action Sequence since Madison's heart-stopping ordeal in Teenie's bedroom.
Then suddenly they all stopped. A male voice--the director's?--began a chant, calling one line and being answered by all the rest.
"Who's the gang?"
"WE'RE THE GANG!"
"Who's the mob?"
"WE'RE THE MOB!"
"Who's the chief?"
"HE'S THE CHIEF!"
And threw Madison in the water!
He came up spluttering.
They paid no further attention to him. They were now trooping off to the air-coaches.
And when he gets his clothes back, his identoplate's still there, but "HIS WALLET AND FORTY-EIGHT THOUSAND CREDITS WERE GONE!" Goodness knows where a bunch of naked criminals are hiding that much cash.
And that's the chapter. Flick invents another sidetrip for us, but we don't even get started on it so we can have a bunch of naked beach hijinks. We are on page 188 of Book Nine, people. We have a book and a half to wrap this story up. And this is how the author has plotted his sci-fi espionage romance satire epic.
Back to Chapters Five and Six