Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Part 12, Chapter 8 - Don't Panic

Even from twenty miles away, Jonnie can see the drone launch. He also sees two bazookas explode against it from the fire teams camping the hangar exit, but the Psychlos' armor technology sneers at things like physics and the drone climbs into the sky without pausing. It's quickly followed by an old 32 fighter flying as an escort, which similarly ignores two bazooka impacts. The two alien craft soar off into the northeast.

Jonnie goes "ice cold," and tells himself to stay calm and not panic. This would be significant if he was in the habit of emoting. He ignores Terl's suggestion that he might as well put down the gun and try to make a deal, instead threatening the Psychlo by waving his gun "suggestively." Eww.

Pattie earns points by urging Jonnie to just shoot Terl, since he was a jerk who often failed to feed them and liked suggesting to the girls that Jonnie had been killed (despite not understanding English?!). But Jonnie's being cunning: Terl reluctantly tells him that the drone is set to go to Africa first, then China, Russia, Italy, and finally back here. Because Terl didn't mention Scotland, and that was vaguely the direction the drone was headed in, Jonnie knows that's where it's going. Because the drone couldn't be flying a convoluted course to throw off pursuit, or be headed towards another target to the northeast, such as half of the former US or Canada.

And then Thor, the Scot Jonnie spotted approaching, shows up. His "anti-radiation suit" is torn up and bloodstained, injuries sustained from bailing out of his fighter during the dogfight with Terl, though Chrissie has sacrificed her jacked to make him some bandages. Jonnie tells him to cover Terl, and even gives little Pattie his pistol to help out. Not Chrissie though. Chrissie is useless. Jonnie then uses a knife to strip Terl of his jumpsuit, leaving him in his breathing mask and matted, sweaty fur. Thanks, Hubbard.

Then Jonnie takes the time to rig up some belts to tie Terl's hands behind his neck so that he'll choke himself if he tries to move, but keeps him alive for now. Killing Terl would "solve nothing," you see, and he's probably full of valuable information that he certainly won't distort in order to do as much damage to the humans as possible. Also, we need him as an antagonist for later. And so Jonnie instructs his minions/friends to guard the Psychlo even though Pattie keeps asking if she can shoot him now. Pattie only avoids becoming my favorite character because of what I remember her doing towards the end of the book.

Jonnie reckons it'll take about an hour to ride the twenty miles back to the mining base, where an explosion marks a plane exiting the hangar only to take a bazooka to the face. You'd think the guys inside would catch on by now. From there, Jonnie figures he can steal another fighter, which will be fast enough to catch up to the lumbering gas drone. Terl gives him one last chance to make a deal, adding that even if the humans tried to teleport uranium onto Psychlo, "it's been tried before," and there are forefields strong enough to seal off the whole platform in case of a uranium flash. Since the Psychlo counterattack is inevitable, surely he'd need Terl to help mediate?

Jonnie just looks at him, waves 'bye to the girls, and rides off.

As he raced across the plain, he put out of his mind a thought that kept crowding in. Not all the armed forces of the United States in its days of power had been able to do anything at all to that gas drone. Not with planes, missiles, atomic bombs, or even suicide crashes.

Yes, one thought "crowds" Jonnie's mind, L. Ron confirms it. Also no mention of the rest of the world's military pitching in against the thing. U-S-A! U-S-A!

So ends Part 12, the great human uprising that tried to put the battle in Battlefield Earth. What we got was Jonnie running around pulling cords, a goofy dogfight, and descriptions of a distant skirmish. Told ya it'd be a disappointment.

Back to Part Twelve, Chapter Seven

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