Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Part 8, Chapter 3 - The Penny Drops

The chapter starts with Jonnie spying on the minesite, worrying about Chrissie. It's been two months since he last visited, and for that matter two months since Terl has checked on the miners.

Flashback! Since Jonnie's dangle-work last chapter, the workers have tried to build a platform on the cliff, but the wind keeps flexing the metal so that it gets red-hot where it's connected to the rock. There's already been two mishaps that nearly killed the Scots were it not for safety lines, and they've only got a few pounds of gold for their trouble. They did find a miraculously-intact abandoned mining village down in a nearby valley to move most of their operations to, but still.

Jonnie is worried about Chrissie, since this is the fifth night he's... what? Yes, the transition from the exposition covering the miners' progress and Jonnie spying on the Psychlo base is really that abrupt. Deal with it, I had to. Anyway, this is the fifth night our hero has snuck out with some binoculars, trying to spot Chrissie's fire.

Flashback! When Jonnie started missing the woman-things, the "Council" got all upset since he is of course irreplaceable, Foxy in particular arguing that "chiefs don't scout." In fact, all of the Scots of the camp had gathered around to support the Council, because they care about Jonnie that much.

So they spend someone replaceable, Young Fearghus (no relation to Young Angus MacTavish, and presumably a different character from Chief Fearghus), who got a shoulder burn when some "one-armed" Psychlo sentry fired into a shadow. Fearghus (Young, not Chief) escaped by howling like a wolf in pain to ease the guards' minds, though whether or not it was intentional is unexplained. Oh, and Fearghus (Scorched, not Chief) was "triumphant rather than cowed, for he had proven the majority opinion right." Which is truly an impressive way to spin getting shot.

All the others agreed: Jonnie must not go scouting. Cut back to Jonnie on a hill, scouting. He waxes philosophical while gazing through binoculars too big for him.

Here they were, a tiny group of a vanishing race, on a planet itself small and out of the way, confronting the most powerful and advanced beings in the universes. From galaxy to galaxy, system to system, world to world, the Psychlos were supreme. They had smashed every sentient race that had ever sought to oppose them, and even those that had tried to cooperate. With advanced technology and a pitiless temperament, the Psychlos had never been successfully opposed in all the rapacious eons of their existence.

Yes, Terl is an example of the "most powerful and advanced beings in the universes." And no, no other lifeforms in existence seems to have figured out the Psychlo + uranium = Super Effective! formula.

Warhammer 40,000 is nowhere near a depressing a setting as L. Ron Hubbard's universe here.

Again, Jonnie laments that they have no uranium, or even a way to detect it. Then Jonnie sweeps his binoculars over the breathe-gas dump, containing canisters of some improbable collection of elements that explodes vigorously in the presence of uranium. Which Jonnie can't detect, because he has nothing he could use to see if any was around. If only some device, or substance could indicate if some uranium were nearby!

Somehow it takes only twenty minutes for him to go from the outskirts of the minesight to his work camp. I guess he drove? Without anyone seeing him? Anyway, he announces that he's figured out their uranium detector problem, and that it's time for a raid.

Which will take place next chapter, of course.

Back to Chapter Two

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