Monday, December 9, 2013

Part Seventy-Six, Chapter Four - The Perfect Public Storm

Guess we'll have to supply our own sound effect for Madison hitting the ground - last chapter ended with the order to chuck him, and this chapter starts with him picking himself up off the pavement in front of the Royal Prison, so we missed the good stuff.

Flick tells him told ya so, and Madison tries to salvage his image by muttering that "I shouldn't have gone for the guard's saber.  I should have aimed for his windpipe."  Flick is so impressed that he gasps "Comets!"  I'd say "swears 'Comets'" but he isn't (bleeped) out.  Or maybe it's a mild Voltarian swear?

Only peasants make videophone calls from the back of their parked vehicle, so Madison has Flick drive their hoverbus up a few thousand feet before calling Teenie back.  He spins a tale about his meeting with Gris - why, the man was getting fat on grapes, writing his memoirs, and told the most insulting stories about Teenie!  He even told Madison to "give her my best: up her (bleep!)"  But alas, the guards confiscated Madison's knife so he was unable to kill Gris.

The purpose of these lies is to get Teenie so furious that she... won't do anything, so Madison can "try Gris in the press and push it to such a public pitch that the Emperor would have no choice but to issue a Royal order for a trial.  Then, under that guise, he would get Gris to start testifying all sorts of accusations against Hel­ler and he could make these into headlines that would shake the universe."  You know, "Just plain straight PR."

But Madison goes "into sudden alarm" when he realizes that antagonizing the psychotic girl with a hate-on for Gris may not have been the best idea.  Teenie declares that if the system won't put Gris on trial, she'll just have to act herself, and orders Madison to meet her the next morning for a little trip.  A little trip that will turn out to be a waste of time, leading Madison to go through with what he was planning to do in the first place.  That shouldn't count as a spoiler, this is Mission Earth after all.

Speaking of wasting our time, Madison once again reflects on his "quite standard and flawless" plan to create a "public storm" around Gris that could be spread to Heller, even though he just told us about it last page.  And poor Heller really needs a public storm, he's probably shivering in a cave somewhere, near death due to lack of PR.

Madison decides that it's easier to PR Gris or Heller than it is to make sense of an "almost-woman" like Teenie.  He writes another headline out loud about "quote Madison on Edge of Cliff" and tells Flick to drive home, since "Tomorrow is going to be an awful day."  A good place to end the chapter, but it doesn't.

Instead we get a line break, and...

At that very second, but more than twenty-two light-years away, the object of Madison's concern, Jettero Hel­ler, was not shivering in any dark cave.

Oh thank God! Just the idea of Heller being in any sort of discomfort nearly brought me to tears.

He was riding down Fifth Avenue, New York City, Earth, deafened by the roar of the ticker-tape parade that was celebrating the investiture of new top officials for New York, but which was being led by Babe after her assumption of the title Capa di Tutti Capi and whom people were now starting to call "Queen Babe."

Okay, she may not have been elected, but she's certainly popular.  Look at everyone, throwing the mob boss a parade!  So it's like democracy, just with organized crime controlling the city.

Also, after reading these books, I think if I ever tour England and happen to meet the Queen while walking down the street, my first instinct is going to be to slug her in the stomach.  It's nothing personal, Your Majesty, just a conditioned response to your title and crown. 

Heller, resplendent in U. S. Army full dress, on the seat beside her, was smiling into the newsreel and TV cameras, totally oblivious of the storm that threatened his whole future on Voltar and his good name and the future existence of Earth as well.

Heh, so our priorities should be, in order of descending importance: Heller's career, Heller's reputation, and the survival of planet Earth.

The Countess Krak, on the other side, wasn't smiling.  She had a premonition that was giving her nightmares.

It is a scary, scary thing when you can describe the Countess Effing Krak as Mission Earth's Only Sane Woman.

Back to Chapter Three

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