Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Part 6, Chapter 7 - The Riddle of Numph: Scottish Treks

Cut to Terl and Jonnie ten miles up in a battered surplus Psychlo troop transport, which Terl carefully went over for any signs of sabotage before leaving. They're headed north over Canada, then down across Greenland and Iceland before their destination: Scotland.

After warning Jonnie not to land in the arctic and freeze to death, Terl informs his human that they're off to recruit fifty man-things (yes-yes! we must capture more man-things quick-quick!) for his project, and Jonnie's gonna help. Turns out the human race isn't quite as near extinction as Jonnie feared, and Terl explains that "there are some groups in various inaccessible places on the planet." Like Scotland, evidently.

Anyway, Terl plans to just swoop down on the Scots and use "stun blasts," then haul the ones he wants on the plane. Which begs the question of why he needs Jonnie along. It's not like the guy is particularly strong. Terl could probably walk around with a human under each arm, so Jonnie won't be adding much.

Jonnie objects, and proposes that he go in to the village and talk to his fellow man. Terl is incredulous. "Animal, if you walked into that village they would drill you like a sieve. Suicide! What a rat brain!"

"Drill you like a sieve" makes no sense. A sieve is like mesh, right? Why would you drill that? Is Terl suggesting that the Scots will perforate Jonnie somehow? Or is he implying that Jonnie will let slip Terl's secrets? That seems more reasonable, though the metaphor needs work.

Again, I'm thinking more than the story warrants. Jonnie proposes that he get dropped off to walk the last five miles to the village alone

With a shake of his head, Terl said, "Too risky. I didn't spend over a year training you just to have to start all over!" Then he realized he might have said too much. He looked suspiciously at Jonnie, thinking: the animal must not consider itself valuable.

"Crap!" said Terl. "All right, animal. You can go ahead and get yourself killed. What's one animal more or less?"

And so Terl makes a decision he knows is bad just to try to cover up a slip of the tongue. After yelling "Crap!" to further advertise his mistake. Our devious, devilish villain, ladies and gentlemen.

Once again I wonder why Terl didn't kill and replace Jonnie back during the beginning of his "training," when it was clear that the man-thing was stubborn, rebellious, cunning, and all-in-all not good slave material. If getting replacements involved nothing more than a quick nip over to Scotland and a barrage of stun blasts, why not make a fresh start? I mean, if you've spent a year building a boat, but it starts to sink once you get out on the water, don't ride it to the bottom - get a new boat.

Or maybe I'm just eager to see Jonnie dead. Next chapter, Scottish stereotypes.

Back to Chapter Six

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