And now we're at the Emergency Fleet Reserve back on Voltar, with nary an explanation as to how we got here or how long it took. Though it's probably safe to assume that Heller was able to effortlessly slip past any hostile eyes thanks to the tug's invisibility cloak and false ID codes. It really ramps up the tension when the hero can go anywhere without any real effort - case in point, the rest of this chapter.
Commander Crup and Old Atty and some other extras are flabbergasted to see Heller there when there's a warrant out for his arrest, and I'm not exaggerating much when I say that someone tells him "you're insane!" on every page, only for him to breezily shrug the danger off like the dashing rogue he is.
Underneath that sort of fluff, the meat of the chapter starts with Heller getting the tug refueled and restocked (on Interior Division credit, of course), and taking a moment to crash at his apartment for some hot tup and sweetbuns, maybe squeeze in a shower. Then he has a friend hand over all the Apparatus blackmail material he swiped from Gris' office, which Heller plans to give to Gris' defense team just to raise further hell during the upcoming trial. He also gets an aircar, an ugly yellow Apparatus jumpsuit, and an Apparatus identoplate - Fleet Intelligence has been spying on their fellow government servants, you see. Just not well enough to get wind of that whole "take over the empire" plot, obviously.
With all that, Heller is able to infiltrate Camp Kill as "Captain Fal," a feat the Fleet Intelligence hasn't pulled off yet despite having the very resources Heller used to succeed. He tracks down and chats with Captain Snelz after using the phrase "got any thudder dice for sale?" as a password. Remember the thudder dice? The whole Part spent on Gris trying to cheat at dice? Well, now it's relevant!
Snelz is quite reasonably shocked to see Heller here right under the Apparatus' nose, especially since Hisst has put out a hundred thousand credit reward for clues to his whereabouts ("The man always was cheap," observes Heller). But Heller plans on Hisst learning his whereabouts, and gives Snelz a sealed... envelope. Not, like a data crystal, or memory stick, or anything like that, but a piece of paper wrapped in other paper. Well, maybe he used a futuristic, alien pen to write it.
Anyway, Heller tells Snelz to make sure that this letter marked "Private. Personal. Secret." makes its way to Lombar Hisst, and two hours later he's "spaceward ho for Calabar" in his restocked tugboat. But will the correspondence arrive at its intended destination? Will Lombar go through his inbox in a timely manner? Tune in next time for another thrilling chapter!
Back to Chapter Six