Thursday, January 28, 2010

Part 5, Chapter 9 - Frisk?

Terl doesn't even bother to unpack the cargo of freight and despair, instead sticking on a few ubiquitous "button-cameras" and calling it a night. The next morning he gets to work preparing the cage and his new guests. Pattie and Chrissie get collars and leashes, though the collars feature "red bulges" on them that Jonnie hasn't seen before.

Terl gloats about "dummy-wired" weapons, recon drones, and how he ought to "knock the crap" out of Ker for "not teaching [Jonnie] any better." Again with the crap... though if any word can now be associated with Battlefield Earth, it's "crap."

Next comes Terl's lecture about the new working conditions, which includes a demonstration. He (somehow) caught a coyote earlier, and now tosses it against the cage, and in a "searing puff(?) of light" the hapless critter is reduced to charcoal. As per Terl's instructions, Jonnie advises Chrissie and Pattie not to touch the cage they're in.

Terl then informs Jonnie that the red bumps on the girls' collars are remote-controlled bombs. There's a switch for each hostage, as well as a third bomb under the cage entire, just to be sure. There's multiple detonators, of course, and if Jonnie goes out of a five-mile range from the mine, the big bomb goes off automatically. But the news isn't all bad - the Psychlo severs Jonnie's leash, advising him to "Run around. Feel liberty. Frisk!"

The verb form of "frisk" doesn't mean the same as its adjective or noun forms. Now here's the riddle: is it Terl making the mistake here, or the author?

Jonnie and Terl come to an understanding. In exchange for his help on a project, Terl will "stagger [Jonnie] with gifts," free the girls and horses, and let the humans all go home. Jonnie realizes that he's lying, but knows that Terl holds all the cards here. He promises to do the project, but tells Terl "You're not a monster. You're a devil." Which is quite an insult to devils everywhere - they're much more devious than this drunken buffoon.

The chapter ends with an utterly defeated Jonnie explaining what's going on to his new roommates. And now that the hostages are in place and any thought of escape has been driven from Jonnie's mind, we can finally get to Terl's project and move the plot along.

...though I can't help but wonder if skillful use of Jonnie's slicer/welder could scoop off the bombs and carve through the cage...

Back to Part Five, Chapter Eight

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