There were people there who would be telling their great-grandchildren that they personally had been present when the Jonnie had gone into that cage, and who would gain no small importance and notoriety because of it.
No. Wrong. You don't become famous and important because you saw some famous guy talk to another famous guy. What you do get is a story you break out at parties and family reunions in a sad attempt to earn second-hand attention, gaining only the scorn and annoyance of others.
Robrob the Rob is annoyed that Jonnie put himself at risk, and reminds Jonnie that he's "a symbol now." Jonnie insists that he's just Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, then laughs good-naturedly and adds "MacTyler."
Any concern Robert the Fox had felt melted. What could you do with this laddie? He was glad the day seemed a happy one again to Jonnie.
Make of that what you will.
Jonnie arrives at the Chamcos' dome and sees them working at their upholstered (?) desks through the transparent sides. There's a repeat of the "the guards want to protect Jonnie but Jonnie is fearless" thing from earlier. Oh, and the frickin' crowd has followed him and the Cossacks and the Scots and Bittie the Squire over. Nobody has anything better to do today than bask in the glory of Jonnie the demigod.
He enters and asks how the Chamcos' progress in rebuilding the "trans-shipment rig" is coming. Their replies are unusually clipped, and Jonnie notices strange looks in their eyes. He puts it down to "a Psychlo being a Psychlo" until he picks up a textbook and Chamco the Younger leaps at him with a roar! Action scene!
He saw an enormous paw blurring the air, coming at him.
He knelt and did a left-hand draw.
Talons raked the side of his face.
The recoil threw him back against the door and
Well, you get the picture. Jonnie brings down one of them with his pistol set for stun, but then the big Chamco draws a gun of his own and aims it at his own head. Jonnie, of course, is able to blow the weapon out of the alien's paw, left-handed. The guards finally burst in once both Psychlos are down and out, because they, the people stationed outside the dome containing an alien atmosphere, couldn't find their gas masks.
I give humanity two, maybe three years, tops.
More murmurs from the amazed crowd, "why did they attack him," Colonel Ivan taking charge, blah blah blah... Jonnie asks for "picto-recorders" of his conversation to try to figure out what he said that set them off, he gets fifteen... Ivan mentions that Jonnie lives dangerously, Jonnie replies that "perhaps at heart, [he's] just a Cossack!" Retch.
Three days later Jonnie gets a message from the council, who by a slim majority have decided that "in the interest of his personal safety and to curtail any embarrassment, realizing his value to the state, it is decreed that Jonnie Goodboy Tyler not again visit the compound located until this place until such prohibition is formally rescinded by constituted authority."
Later he would look back on it as a turning point and criticize himself for not realizing how ominous it was.
Yep. Not only does Jonnie face his old foe Terl, older not-quite-a-foe-but-slightly-more-than-an-annoyance Brown Limper, and the distant but deadly threat of intergalactic bankers, now Jonnie must ready himself to do battle with that most lethal of enemies, the gub'ment.
The good news is that this chapter and section ends on page 500, which means we're tantalizingly close to the book's halfway point.
Back to Part Sixteen, Chapter Four