Friday, January 17, 2014

Part Eighty-One, Chapter Two - The Trial of Soltan Gris, Abridged

We've now reached the trial of the books' primary character, a chance for the villainous Gris to finally get what's coming to him, so of course we're going to skim it.

A trial which, by Voltar standards, should have taken ten minutes was, artfully, due to Madison's careful coaching, being dragged out Earth-style for days and weeks and, he hoped, months.

And it gave headlines every day and provided hours of Homeview.

Gris' not-attorneys, veteran judges and executioner that they are, use every trick and defense they've ever heard to make the trial as drawn-out as possible.  They call in witness after witness who go on at great length and detail of Gris' numerous crimes, which are often reenacted for the court.  They even dig up some corpses and haul them in to stink up the place, for what I'm sure is a good reason.

And Gris?  Still self-destructively stupid.  Still going along with Madison's plan to commit suicide on the stand so that Heller's name gets in the news.

Gris was becoming more confident, even cockier, in the limelight.  When, after a day or two or even three was spent upon a crime, he would again be put upon the stand, he would confess that the evidence was true, that he had done it and that as an Apparatus officer he pleaded guilty to it BUT he would qualify the statement by declaring each time, "JETTERO HELLER MADE ME DO IT.  IT WAS ALL BECAUSE OF HIM."

So the viewing public is going nuts, enough for tanks to be parked around the courthouse now, and Lord Turn is going nuts because he fails to see how this helps Gris' case, and the Fleet is going nuts after hearing what the Apparatus is up to through Gris' testimony, and Lombar is getting worried because a Fleet deputation is on its way to his office.  He begs Madison for help, so Madison gets a pre-signed declaration from the Council, readies his camera crew, and prepares a speech for his "boss."

The Fleet heads are met with a wall of bluster, as Lombar harangues them for daring to question the Dictator of Voltar, and unleashes a load of new edicts:

"A) No officer or personnel of the Fleet may mention the name of Jettero Heller.
"B) No officer or personnel of the Fleet may speak ill of the Apparatus.
"C) No officer or personnel of the Fleet may complain about myself, Lombar Hisst, in any way, or ques­tion any order that I issue, no matter how or where.
"D) Fleet officers must salute any officer or personnel of the Apparatus.
"E) Any offender against these regulations shall be docked a year's pay.

"The deputation before me is dismissed.  Get out of here at once!"

An officer points out that this decree lacks the magical Royal seal to make it official, immediately placing him in violation of Section C, so that Hisst produces another prepared proclamation putting the Fleet on lockdown under Army enforcement.  And the Fleet guys, who just pointed out that Lombar's orders are illegal, and despite hearing about the Apparatus' misdeeds in the news, and despite outnumbering the shouty twerp in front of them, comply and leave.

Good thing Heller decided to keep the Apparatus coup secret, who knows what sort of trouble would've been caused if that got out.

Lombar was ecstatic.  "They obeyed!" he said to Madison.  "Did you see their faces?  Almost purple!  But they are cowed!  Why, I suddenly realize

Hubbard, you hurt me.

I can use them to relieve the Apparatus on Calabar and begin to organize the invasion of Blito-P3 in earnest!"

You just confined them to their ships and naval bases.  They hate your guts.  And you think they're safe to use in battle.

"Oh, yes, indeed," said Madison.  "Today you've taken a giant step forward to assuming total power and the Crown."

"I certainly have," said Lombar, expanding.  "When we capture Rockecenter and put him back on his throne there, I'm going to have to tell him what a truly magnificent aide you are."

And now we finally have a logical motivation for Madison to be doing what he's doing: Hisst promising to ensure that Madison is richly rewarded as part of the Apparatus regime on Earth after using his PR to make Lombar an emperor.  Unfortunately, but predictably, the author did this bass-ackwards, so that Madison has been spending the book pursuing that same goal with absolutely no guarantee that he'll ever see Earth again, under the bizarre logic that this is what his former boss (who's still on Earth) would want him to do.

Madison grinned.

This was cream on top of cream.

Yes, his homecoming would be glorious.

He just had to make sure that he had finished his job with Heller.

Which has nothing to do with making Hisst emperor.  Immediately after coming up with a new justification for his behavior, Madison is falling back on his Heller obsession.  Well, the end of Book Nine is probably too late to hope for any character development, much less glimmers of intelligence.

Back to Chapter One 

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