The Cause refused to pay a royalty for The Sphere, a source of endless consternation for Volp. The authority received hundreds of letters a day, now running three to one in favor of the story, and he found the Party’s wholesale theft unconscionable. Eventually he settled on product placement as a way to generate revenue from the success of the series. He instructed Mutt, who in turn instructed Ivy, to work in various references to specific products with predictable comic effect. When Huston high-kicked an enemy agent in the throat instantly killing him, the story carefully labeled his boot as a “genuine Tri-bar leather workboot,” as if that detail mattered to the dead spy. When Posy drank prune juice under the misconception it was a contraceptive, it was identified as “Hollow Farms One Hundred Percent Bug-Free Prune Juice,” as if that might increase sales. The story line was developing beautifully though and readers kept sending letters offering advice on how to raise a love child in a sapper nest, or how to cure Huston’s growing addiction to the nabana peel, or whether Posy’s interest in the undertaker was justified given Huston’s dalliance with the telegraph operator, and so on. Readers agreed that the scene in which Huston’s dead body mysteriously rolled in on an embalming cart just as the undertaker embraced Posy by the vat of formaldehyde, only for Posy to collapse onto the cart declaring her undying love for her departed, with Huston then dramatically awakening and carting her back out the door from whence he came, was a bit overwrought, yet it generated more letters than any other scene.
Despite Ivy’s control of the story Mutt continued to supply many of the plot ideas, including the formaldehyde scene of which he was especially proud. So now Posy had been banished to the vat room by a father angry at her unplanned pregnancy while Huston’s sapper brigade was burying seven tons of dynamite beneath that very same room and he knew he would soon receive orders to blow up the compound but if he did so he would lose the love of his life and their unborn child and if he refused he would lose his own life. He was leaning toward explosion under the evil spell of the telegraph operator while Posy was busily convincing her father that this was a virgin pregnancy and God was speaking through her body all the while still meeting Huston for passionate liaisons through the secret tunnel behind a huge pile of alum laced with toxins.