Wha- no. That's not how numbers work. You don't start a new Part and a second "Envoi" but continue the lowercase Roman numerals from last chapter! Hubbard, are you even listening to - ah, right, I'm yelling at a dead man.
After a big dinner, Monte is led into the boudoir of Pratia Tayl, who was ever-so-briefly Pratia Gris before she was "murdered" in one of the greatest news events in Voltarian history, which doesn't seem to have impacted her later life much. Her bedroom has floating furniture, white and gold decor, and dozens of leering cupids looking down on the bed. Tayl sits down and picks up a knitting kit, but Monte's relief proves short-lived when she still orders him to strip and get on the bed with nothing but a sheet for modesty. Once he's in position, Tayl calls in her green-eyed, blond granddaughters Asa and Lik, twenty-one and nineteen respectively.
"Girls," said Pratia, "this is a real, live author named Monte Pennwell. Isn't he nice?"
The girls promptly began to get out of their clothes, shedding them with an alarming speed.
I hysterically pulled the sheet up over my head!
"Now, don't get alarmed," Pratia said to me. "They are both virgins. I wouldn't dream of letting them indulge in actual sex. I am just making sure I am bringing them up right. We're very proper people: I wouldn't condone letting them touch their brothers and it's almost never that we get a nice young man to practice on."
Well... while we're getting an aggressively gratuitous sex scene, at least the author isn't having the 150-year-old crone participate, so yay? Also, glad to see that Tayl draws the line at direct incest, even if having siblings simultaneously share the same partner isn't much better.
At any rate, the chapters alternate between the girls performing heavily implied sex acts that do not threaten their virginity, and a hefty chunk of exposition. Let's focus on the exposition.
Five years after Mortiiy's coronation, when everyone had mostly forgotten about Hisst, Relax Island, and the near-collapse of the empire, a fisherman arrived at Tayl's estate, bearing a bona fide message in a bottle promising a monetary reward if it was delivered to her. Though it's not so much a message as it is a news story. You can guess who wrote it.
Tell Papers Headline
HUGE PLAGUE WIPING OUT RELAX ISLAND
POPULATION DYING LIKE FLIES
The exile colony of Queen Teenie, Hostage Monarch of Flisten, not only imperilled but doomed!
Unburied dead littering the roads are making an unbearable stench.
The piteous moan of infants rends the air.
Death stalks from the crown of Mount Teon down to the southernmost cliff, planting its crushing hooves into the guts and brains of this defenseless and shuddering population.
No medical supplies exist.
Unless immediate help is received, there is no hope.
PS: For God's sakes, get this to the papers, Pratia!
Tayl did forward the story to the papers, but they never printed it. Fortunately Prahd had opened his little side clinic in her backyard by this point, and Heller was off-planet on business, so Prahd went under the radar, contacted the Lord of Health, and cleared a humanitarian mission with Planetary Defense. Tayl went along disguised as a nurse, because.
Prahd and Tayl's rescue mission arrived at Relax Island during the "changing of the guard," which is to say a half-dozen guys walked out of Teenie's bedroom adjusting their clothes. Evidently five years "hadn't changed her much," suggesting that Teenie will never finish puberty, but the "queen" was surprised to hear of the medical emergency. Then she exploded after reading the letter.
Teenie led them to Madison's "press office," where he lived having horrifying non-incestuous dubiously-consenting intercourse with Flip, found the man in bed, and started hitting him with a chain for risking having them all evacuated from their sticky, sexy paradise. The punchline: Madison had a mere cold/allergy but was feeling seriously ill for lack of headlines. Teenie tore open his skull with her chain. This is humor.
"Madison broke down and wept. 'All my genius is gone,' he said. 'Ever since I began to sleep with Flip, I am deserted by real ideas. I started to PR the governor and almost got him executed and then Teenie found out and put me in a dungeon for three awful weeks. I'm a failure. I can't even get a minor revolt going! She won't even let me start up a paper!'
After fixing Madison's horrifying head injury, Prahd gave him something for impotence and stuck around doctoring the locals, while Tayl moved in with Teenie to learn the way of the slut. Monte is surprised that Prahd didn't get jealous, since all of Pratia's children have his eyes and hair, but Tayl insists that he's too professional to (bleep) his patients. Underage nurses are a different story, of course. Teenie ended up teaching Tayl every last filthy Earth sex trick in exchange for fifty years' worth of fuel rods, since Relax Island was in danger of running out and Teenie needed them to power the "necessary screens and probes" to train the island's female population. Tayl eventually graduated "Magna Cum Loud," hur hur hur.
Monte asks about Gris, but Tayl claims that "Teenie might get angry but she was never cruel" and probably got bored after tearing out a few of Gris' fingernails, and when Tayl asked her about him Teenie just shrugged with disinterest. So after all we went through to appease Teenie, all that garbage with Madison and the media trials, all that sideplot... she lost interest in her torture toy in a week or less.
For all the deviant sex in these books, I think the author's real fetish is for wasting the audience's time.
The more important thing is what happened after Tayl and Prahd got the shipment of fuel rods sent over. Three days later there was a tremendous earthquake and tsunami, and "RELAX ISLAND HAD BEEN BLOWN TO BITS!"
Heller returned and immediately questioned Prahd, who insisted that the fuel was all stored in separate containers, and he had very specifically told them not to stack them in one huge explosive pile.
"And Jettero said, 'I know what happened. Madison said he'd put it on the map: he didn't. He took it off forever. It was only a volcanic bubble. I warned Teenie. Madison blew up Relax Island just to get a headline!'
"And the sad part of it was," said Pratia, "he didn't even get a single mention of it in the papers. Not even his own obituary. And that was the end of all of them, and Relax Island, too."
This is what I meant about Hubbard's cake. He was able to paint Heller in a merciful light by having our hero merely "exile" Teenie and the Catamites to an island paradise where they could party all the time, party all the time, party all the time. But to ensure that these monsters got their just deserts, he had Madison kill them all in an achingly stupid publicity stunt. It's neat, convenient, and basically cheating.
On another note, Madison was literally too dumb to live. The Confederacy was nearly destroyed by a suicidal attention whore. The book's most successful bad guy, the one who enabled the other antagonists to come as close as they did to victory, blew himself up for a headline.
This does not make the villains look dangerous, Hubbard. This does not make the heroes look awesome for overcoming such deadly foes. If your bad guy can be defeated if you ignore him for long enough, he's not bringing much to your story, is he? Or if he is, what does that say about the rest of the story?
Back to Part Ninety, Envoi I-v-vii