Monday, March 10, 2014

Part Eighty-Eight, Chapters Four and Five - Jettero Heller Doesn't Help His Case

The august Lords and leaders of Voltar have finally calmed down from their riot, and Hisst is safely wrapped in chains and set on a balcony out of reach.  Krak shows up to remind Heller that "You just got a sample of what will happen if you try to give Earth an easy ride."

Heller does not react to this dire warning in any way, and instead focuses his attention on his sister and the Master of Palace City, who have also returned.  They have a whispered conversation we can't hear even though Heller is our viewpoint character, in order to preserve dramatic tension.  I say "conversation" even though it's just Heller giving orders.  The Master is like, whoa, "That's awfully short notice!"  And Hightee's like, shut up bitch, "You're dealing with Jettero Heller!  My brother wants it, he'll get it!" 

Bis is here too.  Who's Bis again?  Heller jokingly(?) offers to give him the Viceregal Chairman job, which remember Heller objects to because "Being expected to kill five billion people including friends" is wrong.  The "including friends" qualifier gets me every time.  Bis declines the job, even though presumably he doesn't have any friends on Earth to stop him from killing the five billion strangers, and is instead sent to help guard Lombar.

A medical Army general approached Heller and gave him the casualty figures as though this were a battle, not a conference.  Because electric daggers had been set to paralyze, only knockouts and minor injuries had resulted.

You know what would've helped during that mob scene last chapter?  Some sort of light that rendered people unconscious.  Or perhaps an explosive that made people flee instead of fight.   Or even a "radio nerve paralysis beam."  The sort of nonlethal crowd control that you'd think a bunch of space police would have handy instead of those zappy "stinger" whips.  Especially the Domestic Police assigned to the imperial palace.

Heller tries to get things going again, but is interrupted by another commotion - Noble Stuffy is speaking up with a Lombar-related matter.  His fellow journalists have managed to track down and capture the notorious Dr. Crobe, who is brought in by a half-dozen guards, only to stomp around like he owns the place and announce "I am in charge!  Take off your clothes!"  Stuffy goes on to reveal more crap we already know: Crobe was a rogue cellologist turned nonperson who made freaks for the Apparatus, then learned the dreaded arts of psychiatry and psychology on that loathsome planet Earth.

Getting to the point, Stuffy has a suggestion: Crobe should also be sent to the Confederacy Asylum, and in turn given Lombar Hisst as a patient.  Oh, the heelarious irony.

The audience gasped.  Then it began to please them. 

That sounds... kind of, uh...

Heller unexpectedly blew up.  Always an opponent of inhuman measures, he stood up and pointed a finger straight at Stuffy.  "You have no idea of what you are proposing!  Psychiatrists use tortures you have never even heard of!  They drug their patients and send huge jolts of electricity through their brains to destroy nerve responses!

See, Voltar uses electro-weapons and electrified shackles, but not drugs.  Big difference.

And that isn't all!  At a whim, they take a steel probe, push it under the eyelids and scramble the prefrontal lobes!

Voltar isn't nearly as crude, and can scramble a person's brain with a simple hat, no surgery necessary.

They have no intention of curing anyone: they are simply making it impossible for the victim to get well.  Ever!  AND THEY KNOW IT!

"While we are enlightened enough to merely stick mental patients in a gulag until we decide they're better."

"Psychiatrists say they do not believe in the soul but they work to destroy any soul a man may have.  AND THEY KNOW THEY ARE DOING IT!

Still not sure what the evil psychiatrists gain from this.  Beyond, you know, being evil.  

"I will not tolerate such an inhuman practice on anyone!  Not even Hisst!" 

It's at this point that Heller realizes that a half-page rant about the evils of psychiatry might not be helping the people of Voltar lose their hate-on for Earth.  He can already hear someone whispering "See, Earth is so horrible even a seasoned officer cannot abide it!"

So he modifies Stuffy's proposal: Hisst and Crobe will both be admitted to the asylum, and both placed incommunicado, so that the disease known as psychology will not leave the asylum.  But they'll still be allowed to communicate with each other, or in other words, Crobe can "treat" Hisst.  Heller objects to physical harm, but psychological torment is fine.

Stuffy and the others are pleased by this and sign the proclamation, Crobe rants that "You are all suffering from penis envy!" and Lombar vomits, though whether due to drug withdrawal or his imminent psychological treatment is left unclear.  The last two bad guys in the book are carted away, and that's the second proclamation taken care of.

Now, the Apparatus has already been abolished, and Voltar will never again have an independent intelligence organization, but we need to make things official and burn another one of those blank proclamations.  Heller stupidly brings up the Apparatus' crimes once again, reminding listeners of how the Space CIA recruited criminals and turned them upon their own countrymen, so that he has another near-riot on his hands.  He only calms things down by pulling out his gun and "pantomiming shooting" it, which you can consider a bit of foreshadowing.

Heller motions to formally shut down the Coordinated Information Apparatus, as well as forbid, on pain of death, the use of foreign (Earth) intelligence practices... on citizens of the Confederacy.  To enforce this, Royal Officer Bis, whoever that is, will lead an Anti-Foreign Intelligence Committee made up of representatives from Army and Fleet Intelligence, and one from the Domestic Police.  The crowd goes wild, of course, and Heller mops his forehead during the brief breather.

There was a lot to this statecraft stuff.  Intelligence services, no matter where, had a lot of things in common.  If he had let the original proposal stand, forbidding anything known on Earth to be used by Voltar, it could have crippled Army and Fleet intelligence services, for they did many things similar to those of Earth.  An intelligence service was an intelligence service.

Now wait just a minute.  Do you mean to suggest that the wretched, depraved hellhole called Earth actually has something in common with the blessed sphere of Voltar?  That some of its evil deeds might be deemed necessary or just? 

The thing wrong with the Apparatus--and the way they used the subject on Earth--was that it employed intelligence to repress their own domestic scene instead of enemies in war.  And the result was that the government began to wage war on the citizens!

So once again, morality doesn't depend on the deed so much as who's doing it, and to whom.  

Three down and three to go. The next one would be tougher and the last one the worst of all!

The fifth one's kinda "meh," though.  Not worth making an end-of-chapter cliffhanger out of.

Back to Chapters Two and Three

No comments:

Post a Comment