Terl uses a pre-signed form to elevate Ker to deputy head of planet, then browbeats Numph into setting up a meeting with "Snit"/Secret Agent Jayed just before midnight, when there will be no nearby witnesses. Terl also advises Numph to keep a loaded handgun nearby, and promises to hide behind a handy curtain... Psychlos have curtains? This barbaric and sadistic race? In a spartan mining camp? Just... anyway, Terl will be hiding in the same room, for Numph's "protection," of course. Numph, of course, trusts the guy who's blackmailing him.
Jayed shows up a little late, but soon sits down to talk with His Planetship. Then Terl makes his appearance, carrying an "assassin pistol." It shoots silenced energy blasts. Somehow.
[Jayed] stepped back. He raised his mangy paws. "Wait. Terl! You don't understand---!"
What was he trying to do? Open his shirt? Reach for a secret weapon?
It made no difference. Terl stepped into position and raised the gun, putting it on a direct line from Numph to Jayed.
Terl fired one accurate, deadly shot into Jayed's heart.
Well that was easy.
Terl gloats mentally over how frightened Jayed was, then turns to Numph, who is just "sitting there in terror." He assures the old coot that he's just saved his life, and the panting puppet ruler puts down his gun. Then Terl puts the muzzle of his gun to Numph's head and blows a hole through it.
Then all that's left to do is plant a pistol on Jayed, wrap the corpse's paws around the new gun, and put remote-controlled blast caps in Numph and Jayed's weapons. Next Terl ambles into the rec center from the outside and orders some kerbango, and a few minutes later, hits the button in his pocket.
The sound of gunfire draws attention, of course, but Terl barges his way through the crowd and seals off the crime scene, starts taking statements from the spectators, sends the corpses off to the morgue, and plans tomorrow's paperwork - a murder-suicide by Numph, while a follow-up investigation will reveal the executive's embezzlement.
So there it is, the perfect crime. Either the Psychlos don't have dedicated forensics divisions, or just don't care to use them on a mining outpost like Earth. Terl's gotten rid of two potential threats and helped cover his tracks.
Why didn't he do this before? If he was so scared of Jayed, why didn't he eliminate him if it was this simple? I'm no criminal mastermind, but wouldn't you want to secure your position before you launched your big scheme, instead of hoping to clean things up afterward?
Tomorrow afternoon, as soon as he had verified the animals were still there, he would launch the drone and obliterate "the foolish experiment Numph had been engaged upon." All evidence would be covered, all tracks obliterated. Whatever Jayed had been after, it made no difference now.
Terl felt very calm, very cool, very masterful. He had brought off the perfect crime.
It was odd that he couldn't sleep and kept twitching.
Oh no, the humans are doomed. We end on page 331 of 1083, ensuring that there is no way that Jonnie and his friends are in any sort of danger.
Back to Part Ten, Chapter Eight