Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Part Seventy-Six, Chapter Five - The Hostage Queen

More Teenie stuff.  Of all the characters I'd cut from these books if I were editor, I can think of few I'd chuck with such enthusiasm.

Madison and Flick show up at Teenie's palace the next morning, the former nervous, the latter with a black eye after having sang too many praises about Hightee Heller around his busty footwoman and dedicated bedtime buddy.  Teenie marches aboard the gilded bus in her crown and black suit, accompanied by armed guards and her "major-domo" because Madison's "a PR and they don't deliver, ever."  Once everyone's seated in Madison's car, they take off for a three hour tour.  A three hour tour.

The publicist is a little freaked that Flick's map of their destination looks blank, and tries to put on some music to improve Teenie's mood, but she shuts it down so she can concentrate on her "military campaign."  This evidently doesn't take too long, so when Madison asks where they're going she's willing to explain.

See, she owns an island.  Or at least Queen Hora did, as a retreat.  She was what you call a "Hostage Queen," and there's a treaty involved.  And also embezzlement.

"About thirty thousand years ago, Voltar conquered the planet Flisten.  The only reason the planet surrendered finally was Voltar promising that the Royal Family of Flisten would be preserved.  This was all right with Voltar because it gave them an axe to hold over Flisten's head and the Royal Family was moved to Palace City as hostages.  It's a pretty common Voltar maneuver: there's four or five such hostage families in Palace City.

There's just a sickness in people's minds, I guess, that makes them believe the people who rule them are inherently better than them, and in fact are so valuable that it's better to hand over the whole.  Damned.  Planet.  Than risk harm coming to those special people in their special hats.  Maybe it's a type of radiation poisoning from main phase stars?

"Anyway, the Flisten Royal line finally dwindled out because Queen Hora, in spite of all her time in bed, never had any children.  

Fast forward thirty thousand years and somehow that precious royal family held in splendid captivity has managed to die out because one trollop couldn't get knocked up?  No branches or anything formed by royal aunts or uncles?  No bastards running around?  Thirty thousand years of having a single heir to pass on the family name?  Say what you will about these aliens, but they are firm believers in family planning!  If not fertility medicine.

Also, thirty thousand years and that royal blood is not watered down a whit, hmm?  Still just as sparkly as it was back in the good old days of Free Flisten?

And when she died on Relax Island--"

"So that's the name of the place we're going to," said Madison.

"Don't interrupt," said Teenie.  "I'm trying to complete your education.  So when Queen Hora died on Relax Island about fifty years ago, it put the Exterior Division on the spot.  You see, the maintenance of the Flisten Royal Palace--my palace--and the Flisten island--my island--was paid for out of Flisten taxes.  

Thirty thousand years.  Thirty thousand years of taxes to fund the housing of a royal family from a long, long dead regime.  That is a terrifying commitment to international law.

The treaty was executed by the Exterior Division even though the planet is now under the Interior Division.  The Flisten Royal Family stayed under the Exterior Division--"

"You're getting me all mixed up."

"You don't need any help.  Get the wax out of your ears and listen.  So when Queen Hora died, it put the Exterior Division on the spot, like I been trying to tell you if you'd just stop fidgeting.  Old Endow and the other officials count on the Flisten taxes for graft.  And they been trying to justify to the Flisten taxpayers how come they still paid the Royal tax. 

I wonder if the lack of Flisten royalty is due to some Flistenese nationalist attempting to cut back on expenses?  That'd make me feel a lot better, actually. 

And when I showed up, Endow put me in the slot.  The old treaty is still valid, the Exterior Division still get their rake-off and everybody is happy as clams.  Of course, I can't never go there, because that's part of the treaty, but I'm the real Queen of Flisten, sure enough.  It's even awfully legal: about ten years ago His Majesty, Cling the Lofty, issued an order to Endow to head off a Flisten tax revolt by appointing a Hostage Queen of Flisten. 

Ain't no rule saying that the Hostage Queen of Flisten has to be an actual queen, or from Flisten.

But old Endow couldn't find anyone that wasn't from the Confederacy and who could be trusted to keep their mouths shut about the graft.  So when Too-Too showed up and Endow was ecstatic over him, the old (bleepard) suddenly remembered the order and with one stroke of the pen, between strokes on Too-Too,

Thanks, Hubbard.

he executed the blank patent Cling had signed.  So there.  I'm no fake.  I'm a real queen!"

No you're not.

So, the tl,dr version: Voltarians aren't so stupid that they'll confuse a movie star with royalty, they're just so greedy and corrupt that they'll install a prisoner as a captive monarch just to skim a few bucks off palace upkeep for a thirty-thousand-year-old-dynasty.  And Old Endow only remembered to do this after some homosexual relations with a professional catamite, for whatever reason.

The important thing is that "Queen" Teenie has an island mansion in addition to her regular mansion.  And not just an island, but we'll have to wait for the next chapter to learn more.

Madison tries to talk some sense into her, telling the girl that they'll both be able to return to Earth once Madison finishes his important work making Heller the most famous outlaw in the galaxy.  Teenie reiterates her point about "Hostage Queens" - if the Apparatus invades our lousy planet, they'll kill all the royalty there and Teenie will become the Hostage Queen of Earth... who nobody on Earth knows or cares about aside from a pair of sadistic former lesbians in New York City.  And who nobody on Earth will pay any money to support, thus making the appointment entirely pointless as either a hostage or money-making venture.  And then that would leave the crooks in the Exterior Division with another vacancy for Hostage Queen of Flisten, putting them back into square one.  Unless there's no rule that the Hostage Queen of Flisten can't also be the Hostage Queen of Earth...

This book, and the characters in it.

The chapter ends with Madison trying to give Busty Nameless Footwoman directions to Relax Island to pass on to their driver, but she refuses to speak to Flick until he stops prattling on about Hightee Heller and "re-reform."  Madison for the nth time concludes that women are trouble.

He had the sensation that his best-laid plans were going up in smoke.  He thought sadly about poor Heller-Wister as they flew across what seemed an endless sea, going further and further, as he thought, from any sensible PR approach.  What the blazes did Teenie mean by "military"?

You can replace "any sensible PR approach" with "the sodding plot" and the sentence would work just as well.  267 pages into the book, 212 spent with the publicist Madison, and the only actual PRing that's happened was when Madison showed Lombar footage of an event the guy was present for, and when he convinced Hightee Heller to star in his rat-brained outlaw musical.  It's almost like all those books stuck with alien spy Gris while he sat around in Turkey doing no spying whatsoever.

Back to Chapter Four

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