Thursday, April 1, 2010

Part 11, Chapter 4 - Midgets in Positions of Authority

Terl's Day, part 3. Now he bounces into the office of the Planetship where Ker is sitting in a chair too big for him, looking depressed and out of place. He has no clue why Numph ordered him appointed as his second, and his sudden and suspicious promotion has earned nothing but resentment from the other workers.

Awww. Poor lil' guy. Whoosa itty bitty sad lil' Psychlo? Issit you? Yessit is!

Terl, with a wonderful smile on his mouthbones, stepped closer. "Now what I'm going to tell you, Ker, I will deny emphatically I ever said, and there is no record and you'll forget this conversation."

Ker was instantly alert. As a hardened criminal he knew better than to trust security chiefs. Ker wriggled in the chair that was too big for him.

"Numph," said Terl, "didn't appoint you."

Ker got very alert!

There's just something inherently pathetic/hilarious about the phrase "got very alert!"

Terl drops his bombshell that it was his machinations that got Ker promoted, but as long as the midget follows orders things will work out swell. Ker is dubious, and theorizes that they'll just teleport in a new Planet Head on the next personnel exchange during Day 92, but Terl shows off his stockpiled evidence about Numph's scam. It's a "hundred-million-credit-a-year swindle" that Ker can keep Numph's usual half of, so long as he continues the practice of denying bonuses, offering half-pay, and greatly overcharging for expenses.

But Ker isn't as stupid as Terl, and wonders what the other Psychlo gets out of this. He doesn't buy Terl's "I am really doing it because I am your friend. Haven't I always protected you?" reply, and points out that Terl has enough dirt on him to get him killed. The other Psychlo admits that he wants Ker to issue the orders Terl wants, but is nice enough to give Ker the cipher Numph used to communicate with Numph's Nephew Nipe, as well as a message assuring the unfortunate relative that though the situation has changed but the arrangement has not. "Condolences. Happy future association."

Ker thinks about if for a few moments, smiles, and slaps paws with Terl to signal his agreement. Terl's only worry is that Ker could get a big head and make some dumb mistake with his new position of power, but comforts himself that he'll be off the planet soon and that "Any potential alliance Jonnie might have had with Ker was wholly and totally severed."

Well, I think that's Terl's thoughts. That last sentence is in a separate paragraph and the last words in the chapter, so it could be a sudden outbreak of Omniscient Narrator. It's kind of an odd thing to say, since it's been several Parts since Ker and Jonnie have had any interaction, and a "potential alliance" wasn't exactly much of a sub-plot. Instead we got to see Terl obsess about Jayed.

I was briefly considering trying to do an April Fool's joke for this chapter. I'd describe how Terl enters Ker's office only to be confronted by a scarily cool and in control Ker, who holds up the evidence Terl thought he hid away safely "in case of death," shoots Terl in the face, launches the gas drone, and draws up plans to attach a remote-controlled crane for the recon drone so that he can pick up the gold from The Lode. But I figured such a shocking outbreak of sudden competence wouldn't fool anybody.

Next chapter, Terl rather transparently foreshadows his inevitable betrayal.

...If he had just been patient, he could have bumped off Numph and taken his half of the scam, but noooo, he had to have gold...

Back to Chapter Three

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