Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Part 15, Chapter 2 - In Which I Lose All Faith in Humanity

The chapter opens with the information that Jonnie's been in a coma for three days, then we spend a page going over what happened three days ago. I wonder if this counts as a motif on Hubbard's part.

Jonnie's in the new and improved, salt-filtered missile base under the Rockies, where he and the other wounded Scots are recuperating in a thousand-year-old infirmary under the care of Doctors Allen and MacKendrick. Mac was the guy from the underground hospital introduced last chapter, but I've already forgotten who Allen is.

Oh, Chrissie's hanging around too.

Jonnie records a missive to Robert the Fox, and passes on the advice that if another gas drone shows up, they should land thirty recon drones on it using those magnetic grappels and run their engines on "reverse coordinates" to burn out the gas drone's engines, which is one of those ideas I'm flabbergasted that none of the myriad of other alien races opposing the Psychlos have come up with. Then Jonnie passes out.

MacKendrick and Angus argue over treating Jonnie. Mac wants to use the old radiological machines, but Angus is leery over anything with "radiation" in its name. "No, man, not on Jonnie! Radiation is for killing Psychlos. You're daft!" Hmm, this brings up the issue of Psychlo medical treatment. How do you get a good look at a patient's insides without an X-Ray? What advances in technology were necessary to get around their explosive weakness to radiation? Did this inability to care for their sick and wounded contribute to the Psychlos' callous and brutal society? That would be an interesting angle.

Angus argues that even though the X-Ray equipment is intact (somehow), the gas tubes running them are long expired. So he goes to the section of the base home to the sixty or so "unreconstructed" (man does that sound like a Soviet euphemism) Psychlos are kept in rooms filled with breathe-gas (from where?). He finds the ever-helpful Ker and asks about devices allowing you to see through solid objects. When Ker learns it's to help Jonnie, the Psychlo goes all quiet, turning a gold ring over and over in his paws. Then he abruptly lunges into action and demands a breathe-mask and escort.

Kinda a big moment for Ker. Sad thing is, it all happens in one paragraph, narrated, no dialogue at all. My summary of it is about as long and in-depth as how it appears in the book.

So Ker goes to the Psychlo workshops and finds a device used on mineral samples, utilizing "sub-proton field emanation" wavelengths to make a three-dimensional image of objects' innards. After some tests on cats and volunteer Scots, the doctors use it on Jonnie and discover that there's a sliver of metal in his head. But Angus won't let them operate. Instead he goes to the Chamco Brothers for advice, who identify the metal shard as "ferrous daminite," which is commonly found in landing gear struts and incidentally magnetic. So at the end of the day, the doctors use an electro-coil to extract the metal from Jonnie's head.

Yay. His fever breaks, his color returns, and his breathing gets back to normal. And they get on the radios and spread the news, and there is much rejoicing, with bagpipes and drums and bonfires and an annual holiday is declared (I'm dead serious) and there are jubilant throngs of people all over the world and it's a good thing I don't have a knife or anything sharp within hand's reach right now.

I repeat, every person on the planet's happiness is tied directly to Jonnie. Scot pilots have been flying around the world to those pockets of humanity, sending representatives for their World Federation and checking in once a week. Mankind is advancing towards a world government, but all they want to do with it is make a pilgrimage to Jonnie's side.

Mankind was better off extinct.

Back to Chapter One

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