Jonnie meets up with Robert the Fox at the minesite, where the humans have set up camp around the besieged Psychlos. Some of the old women who followed the Scots over are even cooking. Foxy's worried that Jonnie doesn't have his radiation suit on, but our hero waves off his concerns with assurances the water is washing it all away. Now a good author would describe the clouds of mist sweeping across the minesite, the beads of moisture collecting on the suits and cloaks of the Scots, or even wax poetic over how the sunlight scattered into rainbows over the battlefield. Hubbard mentions the water once and forgets about it. Jonnie even sits down on the ground to change clothes, and it's not even damp.
Foxy does a sitrep while Jonnie gets a sammich. Apparently our friend "Bash Our Way to Glory" rolled/floated out of a hangar and took two bazookas to no effect (when other vehicles went down in flames), but didn't counterattack, instead driving into a ravine before surrendering. The Chamco brothers have defected to the "Hockners" for promises of pay; before getting a knife in the gut/heart, Char told them about Terl's murder of Numph, and the Chamcos are convinced Terl has sold them out and launched the drone to wipe out the other Psychlo bases.
Jonnie wants to get going to take down that gas drone, but Robert keeps talking about the sixteen levels of compound below them full of machine shops and vehicles and weapons they'll need to defend the planet, and how one wrong move could turn the place into one big bomb. The Chamcos accidentally let slip that a shot from the air could disable the intake pipes for the breathe-gas recirculators' cooling system and flood the base with that most lethal of substances, air, which would be the best way to take the complex intact.
Robert wants Jonnie to take the shot, but our hero realizes that Foxy is stalling so that other pilots can return and handle the drone. Jonnie's not having any of it, and prepares to leave. The omniscient narrator informs us that Robert has guessed that Jonnie plans on a suicidal attack to disable the drone, and so his farewells are tinged with sadness, but the chapter ends with Jonnie thinking that "Surely, the old man hadn't guessed it." Comedy!
Next chapter, Dunneldeen blows stuff up. Oh yeah, we're still operating under "radio silence" in order to give the Scots flying to the other Psychlo bases the element of surprise. The attack was launched hours ago and none of the other aliens have received a message of warning or wondered why communications have cut off from the main base. We'll see just how embarrassingly sloppy the Psychlos are next chapter.
Back to Chapter One