Still hung up on Madison not fully utilizing the media back on Earth. Totally a missed opportunity. Just imagine the satirical potential of Madison using a wealthy old megalomaniac's connections with Hollywood elites to advance a sinister agenda. Wonder why Hubbard left out a plot like that?
Anyway, while Madison's flying away from that productive meeting with Hightee, Flick tells him that he got a video-phone call from... argh, Teenie. The author reminds us that Teenie's been "busily misrepresenting herself as royalty and holding her position through making page boys into catamites," in case we had managed to suppress our memories of Part Seventy-Two, Chapter Four through Part Seventy-Three, Chapter Two.
Also, the call is a bit of a big deal since "apparently, due to time lag, it was difficult to call from Palace City." So the whole black hole defense system for Voltar's capitol doesn't actually prevent anyone from reaching it, but it does make getting messages out of the place - kind of important for a capitol - more difficult. Aliens are stupid.
Madison calls Teenie back, Teenie threatens him over his lack of progress regarding Gris, meaning we now have to put the main PR plot on hold, just after making an inch of progress, to work on the Gris subplot. Hooray.
So Madison sets a course to Government City, Royal Courts and Prison... hmm. Palace City is where His Majesty lives, where Gris got taken to hear that super important report back in Book One, and is important enough to warrant black hole "defenses." But there's a separate complex for "government," which seems to consist of the legal and penal systems, but that doesn't get any special defenses. Aliens are stupid.
Anyway, Flick takes Madison to that Royal Prison, and oh it's very scary and suspenseful, as Flick acts like Madison's doomed for even going near the place and tells him "It was great while it lasted," and the guards are "stiff as statues" and utterly ignore Madison, identoplate or no. Eventually someone comes out to investigate the disturbance, and shoos the publicist off... at least until he tries to introduce himself as a friend of Gris.
The gates are opened, guards escort Madison into the prison with a "Hup! Hup! Hup!" and it's still very suspenseful, as he wonders if he's under arrest. Unfortunately, he's only taken to a judge, who tries to get to the bottom of why Madison's here. He claims to be Gris' friend checking on him, but he doesn't have a Royal order, despite being close to Lombar Hisst, or know anything (he's willing to share) about Gris' crimes, and while he knows Heller he doesn't know where he is either, or why Heller would send Gris to prison in the first place. But he's "got lines out" for Heller, see, he's looking!
The Judge - not Your Honor, but Your Lordship, thank you very much - concludes that Madison's an assassin sent by Lombar to silence a potential witness, makes sure Gris is safe and sound, and boots Madison out, adding an order for imprisonment if he hears Madison learned of Heller's location without telling anybody else. So, hey! A sane, competent character! Let's get a black hole to protect this guy, eh? Or maybe they offered and he was smart enough to turn it down as a waste of time.
The chapter abruptly ends with the guards being ordered to take Madison away, rather than a more conventional "how could he PR Heller now?" cliffhanger. I guess the moment's meant to be so shocking that there's nothing more to add?
Back to Chapter Two