Jonnie's high in the sky, looking for the dilapidated yet invulnerable automated bomber with enough toxic gas to depopulate Earth (again). And his mind's wandering. He actually worries about Chrissie and Pattie for a few moments, which is a little strange. I mean, they're with the Scots now and as safe as they can be, while when they were hostages with bombs strapped to their necks Jonnie barely gave them a thought.
Then he laments radio silence preventing him from warning the other pilots that the gas drone is aloft, but he realizes that blowing their surprise could cost the Scots their lives. And even if he fails, there should still be time for Foxy the Robert to try a last-ditch attack that could save Scotland, at least. And it's still boggling my mind that Terl didn't sound the alarm when he was up in the air earlier, and that none of the attacked bases got off a single message, and that no Psychlos are worried about the ominous silence shrouding the planet.
Jonnie picks up the "strafer" flying escort to the gas drone, which is good since the latter craft is probably "wave canceled," presumably a needlessly fancy way of saying "stealth." There's a lot of armor on the escort fighter, and Jonnie remembers the two bazooka shots that did nothing to it. He wonders how he's going to deal with the thing until he remembers one of Robert the Fox's sayings: "When you only have two inches of claymore, use ten feet of guile."
Ladies and gentlemen, take note - a cursory Google search suggests that this is not a Scottish proverb. Instead, this is something L. Ron Hubbard came up with for Battlefield Earth that does not completely suck. Well, okay, the whole claymore thing is a bit stereotypical and forced, like saying every Japanese military aphorism involves katanas in some way, but at this point I'll take what I can get.
So Jonnie uses all two inches of his guile and opens up the short-ranged radio to contact the escorting ship, using the name Snit. He gets Executive Administrator Nup, who is very cranky about how things are being run. Nup isn't entirely an idiot, though, and when he notices "Snit"'s accent from learning Psychlo from Chinko instruction discs, he gets suspicious and asks if he's a Bolbod. Jonnie assures the Psychlo that he was born here. "Oh, a colonial!" responds Nup, and that's it.
Guess I was premature about Nup. There's been no sign of young Psychlos on Earth, and Nup seems to think that a child would be learning his primary language from a learning machine rather than naturally, in which case all Psychlos would have Chinko accents.
Jonnie "explains" that the drone's target has changed, and he was sent to tell Nup in person due to the planet-wide radio silence in response to the Bolbod attack (which implies that Nup didn't try to raise anyone at any point during his flight. Geez). Since Nup's running low on fuel, "Snit" suggests the Psychlo magnetically attach his craft to the front end of the drone and ride it until they're near a minesite, at which point he'll be able to drop off and land. The not-sufficiently-suspicious Nup complies.
The only affect this has on the drone is to cause it to roll back and forth slightly from the weight of the off-centered plane now attached to its front. Not enough to change course. What will Jonnie do?!
Back to Chapter Four