Despite warning Numph to be careful---copy of warning enclosed---due to the number of criminals in the work force, a criminal whose papers said his name was "Snit" had gotten into the offices with a probable intent to rob, and walking in on Numph, who had shot him. Before he died the criminal had shot Numph. Witnessed statements to hand and enclosed.
The personnel department in the home office could possibly institute physical examinations as this was the second branded criminal received in recent drafts of personnel. It was, of course, necessary for the company to make a profit and understandable that this was a very out-of-the-way planet, but it had only one security officer. But the matter was actually of no great importance, and one would not venture to criticize the practices of the home office since they knew what they were doing. Situation well in hand. A recently appointed deputy had competently assumed the duties of Planet Head. The crime was simple and routine. Bodies en route at next semiannual firing.
"We're fine, we're all fine, now, here. How are you?" Seriously, Terl thinks anyone's going to buy this? Why would you write "whose papers said his name was 'Snit'" unless you knew it was an alias? How could you try to pass off the murder of a Planet Head as routine? And if the Psychlos are such a sneaky and scheming species, won't somebody notice Terl's transparent attempts to cover his ass? Won't anyone get suspicious going through these statements after he suddenly returns to the home planet and somehow acquires a cache of gold?
Terl sends Chirk off to file his report "with a playful paw on her rump," then works on finishing his last few errands before launching the gas drone and finally killing Jonnie. After "punch[ing] the coordinates of the pictures he wanted" from the "receiving machine," he starts flipping through the daily recon drone scans and is floored by what he sees. The humans have a "blade scraper" at the bottom of the cliff, going through the rubble from the avalanche! And there's gold in the pile! The Lode lives!
And so Jonnie's ruse distracts Terl from his equally-erroneous conclusion that the humans had sabotaged his mine, making the now-smiling Psychlo chuckle.
That drone. He didn't have to fire it. It could wait till Day 93. Then for sure, but not now. No, by the crap nebula, not now!
I'm starting to worry that the crap nebula is a real place in Hubbard's 'verse. Next chapter, a visit with Ker.
...we were this close to watching Jonnie die...
Back to Chapter Two