Terl and Jonnie are having a chat in a mine drift about how difficult the project will be. Well, Jonnie is, but Terl's distracted and more paranoid than usual. Because when the new crop of workers showed up last chapter, Terl saw him.
(insert Brokeback Psychlo joke here)
Him is officially Snit on the paperwork, but Terl would recognize that "round jowled face, left front fang splintered, discolored mouth and eyebones, mange eroding his paws" anywhere. It's Jayed, agent of the Imperial Bureau of Investigation! The spook is untouchable by Terl's normal surveillance techniques, and so our nefarious villain has been terrified for days over whether Jayed is investigating Numph or him.
Then the POV floats back to Jonnie without so much as a paragraph transition. Jonnie realizes both that Terl is scared, and that the Psychlo miner is helpfully suggesting plans that could get all the humans killed. Handing over the shiny yellow core sample from last chapter helps focus Terl's attention...
He took hold of it. With one talon he delicately dented the gold. Pure gold!
He fondled it.
Suddenly he saw himself on Psychlo: powerful and rich, living in a mansion, doors open to him everywhere. Talons pointing on the street with whispers. "That's Terl!"
"Beautiful," said Terl. "Beautiful."
I'm just going to cough uncomfortably at Terl fondling a long, thin rod one inch wide and six inches long while fantasizing, and move on. He gives orders for Jonnie to stay away from the compound and fly low elsewhere, but is nice enough to let Jonnie plan one more visit to the walking bombs.
And that's it for this chapter. Next time, hot mining action.
Back to Part Seven, Chapter Eight