It's x days later, and Terl's visiting the work camp as Jonnie and friends prepare to make their first trip to the gold lode. The Psychlo asks why Jonnie was so interested in a uranium detector "the other day," as it apparently took him awhile to puzzle out what Jonnie was doing.
Jonnie "decide[s] on a sudden verbal attack" and lambastes Terl for sending him into the mountains to get sick, complaining that there's radiation up there that can kill him. Terl admits his surprise that humans don't explode but just get fatally poisoned by the stuff.
And... okay, let's think about this.
The best-case scenario is that Terl is lying, and knew full well that he'd be sending the man-animals to their deaths if there was any radiation around the... wait. The lode itself is not irradiated, or else the gold would be worthless to Terl. But the areas around it are irradiated. So won't the gold get contaminated when the humans ship it out? Unless they lift it straight up and fly it to the minesite. But then why couldn't Psychlos just fly right down to the uncontaminated spot?
Great, while puzzling out one plot hole I fell into another.
The other scenario is that Terl is honestly surprised that humans don't explode near radiation, which doesn't make any sense because he's relying on them to mine his gold in a place he would explode if he tried to approach. Or maybe Terl was lying, but believed that humans were fully immune to radiation, which would mean that he didn't do any research on humans at all and took it for granted that the animals he was rounding up didn't pop like balloons around uranium dust. Surely he noticed how pathetic the specimens from The Village of the Idiots were?
I just... Of all the varied races of the galaxy, how many of them explode around uranium? Are Earth creatures the few lucky ones that don't? If not, why don't... it's all... I mean...
There's a nearly-amusing moment where Jonnie points at lines from The Poems of Robert Burns (I'm not even going to ask) and "reads" about the effects of uranium on the human body, and Terl tries to pretend that he can read English too. But in the end, Terl just laughs and concludes that Jonnie's just going to have to risk uranium poisoning while working for him.
Terl apparently isn't worried that his labor force, the linchpin of his scheme, might fall sick and be unable to work, thus wasting valuable manhours and training due to an avoidable illness. This is because, as you may have noticed by now, Terl is rock stupid.
The two major characters have a meeting, where Jonnie assures Terl that all the men are trained, and the Psychlo shows him a map to The Lode (the greedy glint in Terl's eye makes it a proper noun). He gives sets out the deadline (six and a half months from now), and orders Jonnie to get on the ground at the work site, brainstorm some ideas, then meet with Terl after a week or two for guidance on how to proceed. Then he leaves.
And hours pass, and Jonnie n' friends are flying around looking for The Lode, but there's no chapter division. It's just one paragraph following another, even if it would be an obvious break point.
The Scots are looking around at all the abundant food and space, comparing it favorably to the dump that is Scotland. They see some bighorn sheep. And a bear. And some wolves following the bear. And then the chapter ends, just as Jonnie catches sight of The Lode, in what I guess will have to pass as a cliffhanger.
Some chapters, I can actually feel my IQ dropping as I read.
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