Across another night, twenty-two and more light-years away, Heller was talking on a viewer-phone in his New York office to Prahd on another one in the hospital in Afyon, Turkey. There was no problem in being overheard: the viewer-phone operated on a time-skip at the topmost quiver of energy bands and Earth was far from being up to that technology.
You might think that mixing instantaneous communications with "time-skip" functionality might cause problems viz a viz picking up a phone call that hasn't been dialed yet, but that's just your primitive Earth understanding of science holding you back again.
Prahd and Heller are discussing His Majesty's miserable condition - the cellologist is basically rebuilding the emperor's nervous system by soaking him in the magical medical healing tub, but the patient remains unconscious. They could try to wake him up with another hit of speed, but that'd probably kill him, and that would be bad. Better keep him in the pickle jar then.
Heller then switches lines to talk to Krak, who is organizing defenses against an unspecified enemy. Heller doesn't see the point.
Heller shrugged. "All right. But I don't think anybody will come. Ghoul-face doesn't know we came here.
I've been giving this some thought and it's almost funny that he'd issue a general warrant for me: they're questionable on a Royal officer-courts usually just throw them out. It would take a Royal warrant and he just plain can't get one issued. It would have to be signed by the person who's lying there unconscious.
Wait, so is "Ghoul-face" Hisst? Why would you suddenly invent a nickname for him a quarter of the way through Book Nine?
Actually, Ghoul-face must be having fits. There was no mention of His Majesty on that broadcast and I don't think Hisst will admit he's gone.
And now it kinda sounds like "Ghoul-face" and Lombar are two different people. Oy.
If he were to do so, the whole Confederacy would go into chaos. There is no heir: the other Royal princes are dead and Mortiiy is forbidden succession for starting a revolt. The Grand Council would have to have a body before they would proclaim Cling dead. So all Lombar can do is blunder around trying to locate me.
So hey, why isn't the whole Confederacy already going into chaos because His Majesty is old and heirless? Why isn't this a major issue, completely overshadowing the fate of some backwater planet on the future Invasion Timetable? Why was no one on the Council calling for reconciliation so Mortiiy to be eligible to take the throne, to ensure the ever-so-sacred royal succession of this backward government?
He's only got the Apparatus, a small force.
It's not like one man with advanced Voltarian technology can completely alter the fate of Earth. What could several men with advanced Voltarian technology accomplish?
The Fleet and Army won't cooperate on the basis of just a general warrant on me. The Fleet would laugh at him. The 'drunk' is on the spot. If he doesn't dare admit I have the Emperor, then I can't think of anything he could say or do to get people incensed against me. He's only got the Apparatus and I'm not afraid of 'drunks.' So I quit worrying."
In summation, the hero who conquered Earth with space magic is not at all concerned that the villain's men could do the same. After being the victim of a smear campaign that turned him into a pariah, Heller cannot conceive of a way for anyone else to turn people against him. He assumes that the spymaster who has been making a bid for power behind everyone's backs will use the expected channels and processes to operate.
The tactical mind of seasoned space commando Jettero Heller, ladies and gentlemen.
After this big, stupid half-page paragraph, Krak worries that Heller may be too calm, but his insists "That's my profession. Keeping calm." Then he states that he's tired of being separated and has, in a gross abuse of his power, ordered Mr. Bury to get the "air force" (no caps, it's just a nonspecific force in the air) to send a "Boeing Mach 3 Raider" capable of vertical take-off and landings to go pick Krak up at Afyon. In the secret alien volcano base?
Oddly enough, it's not the potential Code Break that Krak worries about.
"WHO?" said the Countess Krak.
"A Boeing," said Heller. "All the airlines are messed up trying to get back into operation and their backlogs are awful. You'll be only three hours in flight. I'll have you met at La Guardia."
"I mean BURY!" said the Countess, still in shock.
"Oh, he works for us now. I forgot to mention it.
And it's been how many days since Rockecenter died? ...Does your girlfriend even know you now rule the world? Or is that one of those little things you "forgot to mention," like working with the man who tried to kill you?
But it's someone else I want you to meet. You'll like her."
"Yes," said Heller. "We need her permission to get engaged."
Wasn't there something about trusting each other, and communicating with each other, following that stupid temporary break-up following Madison's devastating campaign of published fiction?
Heller orders the future Mrs. Heller to pack light for the plane ride. Krak's still trying to get a handle on the situation.
"Wait a minute, Jettero. You've got me all in a spin."
"They better not spin or we'll court-martial the whole air force. Wear your best smile. Tell you all about it when I see you. Love you. Bye-bye."
It's endearing when someone takes total control of the relationship, leaving the other to be dragged along behind, right?
"Jettero," wailed the Countess Krak, "do you think your estimate of this situation is safe?"
But he had clicked off and the screen was dead.
Yeah. Guess we've established that the hero is dangerously underestimating his enemies, continuing a theme of his honorable nature being able to comprehend his depraved foes, or something like that. And the emperor is still sick. And... the USAF has a neat new plane?
It's a chapter that doesn't contain any sex crimes, so I'll call it a good chapter.
Back to Chapter Two