RELAX ISLAND, formerly known to the ancients as Teon, stronghold of the since departed sea people. Royal preserve of early Voltarian monarchs but fell into disuse fifty thousand years ago. Deeded to the Royal Family of Flisten after the Treaty of Flisten. Located in the semitropical grid 18/103, Western Ocean, 883 miles from the central continent mainland. Area 305 square miles. Surrounded by vertical black cliffs 2000 to 5000 feet in height, no beaches or harbors. Highest altitude, 9056 feet, Mount Teon located at north end, which, though snow-capped in colder months, blocks inclement storms. Island formed by geological upthrust of volcanic peak but volcano long since extinct. Mean annual temperature 76 degrees. First view, clouds usually clutching Mount Teon or reflective sky discolor. Warning to fishing craft and all aerial traffic, do not attempt to land.
So one proper noun, "Teon," surrounded by the usual "sea people," "Western Ocean," and "central continent mainland." Could've been the Argom people, Venon Ocean, and Radot mainland, but meh, effort. Also, nice of them to add the part about restricted airspace at the very end of the article.
It's been a while since the excitement of the ghost and demons of Madison and Flick's apartment, so the author decides to spice things up with not one but two heart-stopping emergencies in the same half-page. First, Flick gets lost in the poor visibility, belatedly remembers to turn on the Space Radar, or "beams," and "THERE WAS THE MOUNTAIN!" behind them; they not only overshot the island, but came within a few hundred feet of smacking into the mountain.
As if that wasn't enough excitement, they immediately get a call from the planetary defense network, warning that if they don't change course they'll be sent a complimentary Slaughter Warhead. Note that this happened after they went directly over the restricted island without notice. Flick tries to explain that he's under orders to land, space traffic control doesn't buy it, but then Teenie's "major-domo" gets on the line, waves his identoplate, and before you know it the guy on the radio is begging Her Majesty's pardon, "we bow," "we kiss the hem of her robe," etc. Phew. That was tense.
They finally get a good look at Relax Island as they descend for a landing, and it's full of forests and waterfalls and animal herds and flowers and scenic little villages, and Madison assures us that it's "ten times" as good as our puny Earth paradise of Tahiti. There is, of course, a palace to land at, but there's moss and sticks littering the place, it's quite disgraceful.
An old man, Governor Spurt, comes out to yell at the intruders, but is delighted to learn that thanks to Teenie the First and Hopefully Last, "We have a QUEEN!" Yes, the manor staff has been waiting for fifty years, cut off from supplies and the rest of the planet, surviving off the island's bounty, constantly drilling in decorum and protocol so that one day, when some bint with a hoop of metal on her head showed up, they could throw themselves in the dirt and grovel.
Spurt offers his life as recompense, "if it will give you the slightest moment of pleasure," but all Teenie's interested in is the island's dungeons and torture equipment, so she can "put Gris right there in that hole and then every day for the rest of his life I am going to torture him and hear him scream and blubber and beg. I'll carve on him for years and years!"
See this? This is why monarchy is inherently stupid. Because that magic crown that forces you to obey its wearer might end up on the head of some psychopathic preteen. Man, I could be reading Game of Thrones right now.
In the meantime, the island palace has some problems. To start with, the lights don't work...
"Oh, sir," said Spurt, "we ran out of fuel bars way back when I was a boy. Even this wooden torch is a luxury. So many of the people here were nobles and courtiers and high-level technicians that they had quite forgotten folk arts. It took us three years after dear Queen Hora died to work out how to weave the hair of the woolly animals into rope. We never have reevolved the skill of making cloth. We do very well to just weave baskets to carry fish and food, and we could only do that because some of them, as little girls, used to make flower garlands and flower caps. It is a terrible shock, when you are a high-level technology, to suddenly have to flounder with the primitive. The steppingstones upward to a high technology all disappear and one tries in vain to go back down them: everyone has forgotten how."
So the island has an extensive dungeon and a sprawling palace, but not a hoverbus capable of hitting the mainland to pick up some "fuel bars." Much less a windmill or solar panel. Or an internet connection to look up "folk arts."
Now, what Relax Island does have is Queen Hora's personal military regiment. Yeah, as part of that whole Hostage Queen dealie, she was allowed to bring in the best of Flisten's military to replenish her private army. And Teenie's gonna take them, bust open the Royal Prison, antagonize the government that not only gave her a title but controls over a hundred planets, so she can drop Gris in a torture pit and personally put the knife to him. Madison tries to argue that the magic of PR can get Gris tried and put in her custody, but she won't listen to reas... she won't listen to Madison. PR is just too slow, and Gris needs to suffer posthaste.
So the old spurt assembles the regiment as Teenie and Madison hike for half an hour out of the dungeons buried deep in the mountain, dungeons that were actually built by the ancient Sea People, dungeons that then would be fifty thousand years old. If you haven't noticed by now, Hubbard likes to slap a couple of extra zeroes on any numbers to make sure we're properly awed by things' height or age or worth.
Eventually Teenie is able to inspect her personal army, but it turns out...
About five hundred men were standing there in an orderly parade. Their faces were handsome, their physiques magnificent. Obviously the product of noble lines, every one,
God dammit Hubbard, were you trying to suck up to a particular monarchy while you were writing this? Between this and all the British slang, it's like you were hoping to get good with the United Kingdom.
the titled sons of officers of long ago, mothered by titled ladies of Queen Hora's court. They were young and they were splendid, despite their rags.
An old man, evidently their colonel, stood straight as a ramrod before them. At the sight of Teenie, he and the whole regiment knelt.
"Your Majesty," the colonel bawled, "we have not forgotten protocol. We lie ready to do our duty. We are only too anxious to do Your Majesty's bedding."
That's not a typo.
From five hundred throats, a song arose:
Oh, welcome to us,Oh, welcome to us.We greet you, dear Queenie,And promise sex plus!
This may be the worst song in the book.
And then, at a signal from the colonel, they all rose up.
But what had stopped Teenie was the flowers in their hair, whole crowns of them. They had no weapons in their hands nor any sign of any.
They began to form rings by squad and then began to dance, plucking flowers from their garlands and tossing them into the air as they circled with skipping, mincing steps like girls.
Teenie sank down on the top step.
She lowered her head and began to cry.
Yeah. Remember how Queen Hora was a bit of a whore-a? Her "army" is just a bunch of man candy, "bred for bed." Guess that explains why the government of Voltar would - aw, let's face it, they'd have let a bunch of fifty-foot deathbots through customs if they could make a bit of money off them.
So a defeated, sobbing Teenie lets Madison go through with using PR to try and release Gris into her clutches, threatening to torture him to death if he fails. So we're going to go ahead with what Madison was trying to do earlier! Sorry to waste your time with the chapter-long bus ride and the tour of the useless, decaying island of primitives! Be sure to buy the next book!
Back to Part Seventy-Six, Chapter Five