Terl's so filled with despair about his lack of Leverage that he's stopped hitting the kerbango. He's got some dirt on a few of his coworkers, "peccadillos [sic] with some of the Psychlo female clerks, drunkenness on the job leading to breakage, tapes of mutterings about foremen, personal letters smuggled into the teleportation of ore, but nothing big." So he sets about to find some good stuff.
At the top of his list is Numph, who is up to something with cousin Nipe, but for some reason (see Chapter 4 of the previous section) none of his requests for information are being answered. In fact, no matter what he does, Terl is staunchly ignored by the home office.
With Numph apparently not an option, Terl instead turns on his coworkers. Eying a regulation about theft of personal monies being punishable by vaporization, Terl waits for Zzt to take a break, then puts on a disguise. "He thickened his eyebones" - what? how?! - "added length to his fangs, roughed the fur on his cheeks, and labored to get the resemblance exact. What a master of skills one had to be in security!"
Our villain is a master of disguise, and/or a make-up artist.
Terl puts on some mechanic's clothes, then lets himself in to one of the Chamco brothers' rooms (remember them?). He plants some extra money in a "drinking horn" (what are they, Geats?), activates a hidden camera, then conspicuously "steals" the cash. The cunning plan goes off without a hitch, and he literally rubs his hands together like Snidely Whiplash at his own deviousness. Ugh.
The big question here is: why? Why was it necessary for Terl's plans to be thwarted in the previous chapter? Why couldn't he succeed and get on with things? I guess L. Ron is trying to show how cunning our villain is by showing Terl in action, but it doesn't quite make up for all the stupid things we've seen him do already. It just looks like he was wholly unprepared for his "master plan," even more so than the previous chapters proved. It would've been fine to introduce Terl with leverage already in hand, instead of spending not just this Part, but also the next, describing how Terl finally gets his plan in gear.
So yeah, all we have to look forward to from our villain for the next fifty pages or so is Terl spying on other Psychlos. And we're still hundreds of pages away from the actual "battle" in Battlefield Earth. So... buckle up and prepare for blastoff?
Next chapter, Terl continues to be devious, and I continue to not be entertained.
Back to Chapter One