Jokes of a bawdy and discreditable nature were being buffeted at the departing executives. "Have a saucepan on me at the Claw in Imperial City!" "Don't buy more wives than you can handle in one night!" "Tell them a thing or two at the home office about what it's like out here, the mangy slobs!"
Meanwhile, we are informed by omniscient narration that Angus MacTavish has unlocked the morgue with a master key. Duh dun duhn!
And back to Terl. He's feigning drunkenness, of course, and a sloshed Char staggers over to suggest that "Tell'm a thing or two at the home office" would be a good idea, which causes Terl's eyes to "narrow and flame" dangerously. Terl takes Char outside, promising a present, and leads the other Psychlo to the girls' cage, where there won't be any witnesses. To the present.
There's no one around (or is there?) except a herd of buffalo doing some nighttime grazing, a few horses, and an owl hooting somewhere. Terl asks Char what he meant, and Char slurs that he's an old enough miner to smell the difference between a blast gun and blast cap in Numph's office that night. Char mocks Terl for being so sloppy, especially by appointing Ker as deputy just hours before Numph's murder, and promises that once he's back on Psychlo he'll have some interesting things to say about Terl.
So Terl stabs him. "Ten inches of stainelss steel," the knife Jonnie tried to give Chrissie, right in the heart. Char goes down with one blow, bitterly lamenting that he was born to a species with hearts in their soft, unprotected bellies, rather than behind a thick and sturdy ribcage. Terl throws a tarp over the corpse and goes back to the party before anyone gets too suspicious at his absence.
Meanwhile, humans sneak amongst the buffalo they had herded over to the compound and unload their horses. Bum buh bahm! But they didn't witness Char's murder, and so are "unaware that a new factor had been entered into planning, one they did not know about and had not predicted."
They're on a collision course with wackiness, in other words. Next chapter, Jonnie in a coffin. Don't get too excited.
Back to Part Eleven, Chapter Ten