The chapter opens with a line of dialogue from the middle of a "council" meeting, followed by a summary of the past ?? days, because that's how L. Ron rolls.
At the work camp, "[t]hings had been going well, too. Almost too well." The barbarians Jonnie picked up are rapidly becoming adept at using advanced alien technology, the food stores are full of game and scurvy-fightin' veggies, and some men who Jonnie picked because they could pass as him to an idiot like Terl are learning Psychlo, which will allow him to fool the surveillance drones at least.
But Jonnie wants uranium, that amazing element that is Super Effective! against a particular breed of big dumb aliens, and he's discussing his failure to find any with his crew: Robert the Fox, "Doctor" MacDermott the historian, Anonymous the schoolmaster, and Parson Not Important Enough to Be Named.
Parson... I guess Jonnie's village is Anglican? Or else Hubbard doesn't like to use synonyms for holy men. But wait, Ireland uses parsons, but Scotland's predominantly Roman-Catholic, right? Shouldn't they use a title like pastor or minister? Are there still bishops in Jonnie's world? What about the Pope?
Jonnie knows that the nearby mountains are all uraniumy, but the miraculously-preserved texts he's browsed indicate that the local deposits are all mined out. The others discuss visiting the Village of the Idiots for more information, but Jonnie tells them that it's radioactive and full of ignorant mutants (my words, not his). This leads to a tangent where they gush about how Jonnie isn't affected, and he modestly puts it down to wandering around a lot. MacDermott (I refuse to refer to him as a Doctor) supposes that some Idiots might have built up rad resistance. My theory is that Jonnie is just too Special to let things like reality intrude on Hubbard's wish fulfillment.
The meeting gets back on track, and they propose sending out scouts with Geiger counters, assuming they can find some of the devices. MacDermott opens up, I kid you not, a phone book, and finds a store in Denver that may stock Geiger counters. So Young Angus MacTavish (the "young" is used both times he's mentioned, so I guess it's mandatory) undertakes a two-day scavenging mission to the Great Village, and though he comes back with some stainless-steel knives, it turns out that you can't get much from thousand-year ruins. Who'd've thought?
So they decide to keep sending scouts, and at the next council meeting the parson prays for God to "have pity on them and led them somewhere, somehow to a Geiger counter and uranium." I imagine God staring at the printed-up prayer in His office with a "the hell?" look on His face.
Next chapter, Char curses.
Back to Chapter Three