Thursday, June 10, 2010

Part 15, Chapter 4 - A Heartfelt Appeal for Unity

Just four chapters in and I already want another two week vacation. I had forgotten just how bad this got. I had forgotten about Jonnie's deification. My first readthrough was rushed, not from any time constraints, but because I was eager to finish the stupid book. So I missed stuff. And here I am, going through it one chapter at a time, allowing me to savor the pain.

Jonnie, prince of Scotland by blood transfusion and the living member of forty pantheons, is mopey because he isn't certain that Psychlo got bombed successfully; and even if it did, there's still a bunch of other aliens out there that could be hostile towards humanity.

It haunted him at every awakening; it plagued his sleep. People now looked so happy and industrious, so revived. What cruelty if it were just a brief interlude. How crushed they would be!

Was he this depressed about Chrissie being captured? I don't think so, but don't care to check.

So even while in physical therapy to relearn how to move his arm and walk, Jonnie's obsessing over the possibility of failure. But he notices a big, burly Russian (is there any other kind?) standing at attention "with slightly slanted eyes" and a "bristling black mustache standing straight out on both sides of his big nose. His name was, inevitably, Ivan."

Of course it was.

Through a Scottish translator who is apparently fluent in Russian after mere weeks of book learning, and over the protests of Chrissie who is trying to clean Jonnie's room and let him rest, the man introduces himself as Colonel Ivan Smolensk... good grief. That's about as imaginative as Captain John Milwaukee. Anyway, Ivan's from the Hindu Kush and descended from a Red Army unit who intermarried with the Afghan natives, but identify themselves as Cossacks. After the elimination of isolated Psychlo mining bases suddenly allowed humans to move freely about, these Afghan-Cossacks rode clear to the Ural Mountains and discovered a bunker complex filled with "atom bombs and hardware and dead men."

Jonnie suggests the Russians refit it and move in. This sets the ethnically-confused Russian off, and he makes a stirring speech through the translator as he voices his refusal.

"He says that's what ruined the whole human race. He says the valiant-Red-Army, trying to fight the capitalist-imperialist-warmongers (these are just names to him, Jonnie sir, he doesn't have a political axe to grind) had their attention on each other and didn't cooperate when an invader landed; and he says while tribal wars will and do happen, international wars among whole peoples are against the good welfare of the people. He says he is for the people of Earth and people didn't stick together, but fought, and this must not happen again. He's very emphatic, Jonnie sir, and he says all the other Russian tribes are also."

Stirs the soul, no? If only more people had listened to L. Ron when he was alive, we could have achieved world peace by now.

But the Russian has a plan, complete with documents to sign - ship the South Americans and Alaskans (because most of the North Americans are dead) to man the Russian base and send Russians to man the one in the Rockies. That way nobody will push those big red buttons and send the missiles crashing down on their homelands. Jonnie approves and signs the ordersl.

In return, Ivan the Unimaginatively-Named gives Jonnie a gift, a Red Army marshal's cap recovered from the bunker in the Urals. Now he is "in charge of both bases." And yes, these actions completely bypass the planetary council.

Robert the Fox remarks that "If this had happened a thousand or so years ago, maybe things would have been different." And then after Chrissie shoos everyone out Doctor MacKendrick comes in to exercise Jonnie's arm and legs and remarks that he's showing improvement, but Jonnie bitterly complains "Not improved enough! I may not have been so smart after all." And then the chapter and Part just ends.

Next time, Terl's back.

Back to Part Fifteen, Chapter Three

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