So Jonnie leaves on his top secret expedition in a huge troop transport with a cargo bay full of soldiers and weapons and two fighters flying escort, because half the cast heard about this hush-hush raid and wanted in on it. There's Dunneldeen and five of his chosen Scots, Colonel Ivan and forty Cossacks, Dwight and Dr. MacKendrick. And Bittie MacLeod. And then Pattie, who rushes over to give Bittie a smooch because they're suddenly totally in love (and what, in their early teens?). And then Chrissie, who comes with Pattie but gets wrangled by an old lady who wants to take her to Scotland. And then Robert the Fox. And Glencannon is one of the escort pilots.
There will be a test later, so memorize this list.
This chapter's a conversation between Jonnie, Robert, and a coordinator named David Fawkes who has some experience from a mission to "what used to be called the rain forest." They call it Susan now.
Anyway, the tribe in the area is a weird one because they didn't welcome the Federation emissaries with open arms, so you know they're ultimately evil. Instead the coordinators were greeted with a crude blackpowder grenade hurled by a decrepit old man, who apologized after guessing they were from "the bank." The council ordered that these Brigantes be brought in, which may fit in with their tribal legends that some day the bank will fulfill its ancient promise to "pull them out."
The Brigantes, you see, are a group descended from a band of multiethnic mercenaries hired way back before the Psychlo invasion to topple an African state on behalf of an international bank, because the post-colonial government refused to pay its debts after the coup. You know, like banks do all the time. These mercs survived the apocalypse by their convenient proximity to an old salt mine, "picked up" women from the surviving native populations, and turned into a mongrel, militaristic tribe.
Oh, and they're slavers, too. They somehow forged an arrangement with the local Psychlos and exchanged prisoners for trinkets or fabrics, at least until they ran out of other populations to prey upon. The Brigantes' own numbers are kept around a thousand by their practice of leaving the elderly to die and their high mortality rate, especially in children, both tempered by the fact they don't believe in marriage but just "use" women. Also, they hunt elephants with grenades used at point-blank range.
Now, before you wonder if these guys are the dumbest humans on the planet, keep in mind that yes, the Brigantes are hunting huge, dangerous animals when smaller and easier to kill wildlife abounds, using suicidal tactics with unreliable weapons... but said weapons are made of clay and simple blackpowder. Meanwhile the Village of the Idiots has regressed to the paleolithic, and Jonnie once got bit by a window.
Oh yeah, this is rich: the Psychlos haven't hunted the Brigantes down because of the terrain. You see, the swamps make their "bodies too heavy to walk, ground too soggy for tanks, trees too tall to fly into." I call B.S. Buffalo, elephants, moose, and other large animals can stomp their way through swamps. I know Hubbard hasn't made it clear, but the Psychlos have vehicles that can at least hover. And can't they just blast the trees with their superior firepower, the stuff that knocks over buildings? Heck, given how "invincible" their armor is, they should just ram through obstacles.
This is on top of the fact that the Psychlos' status as terrifying raiders is largely an informed ability.
So yeah, the Brigantes, a bunch of degenerate Africans with a low opinion of women, idiotic hunting practices, and a cheerfully direct solution to overpopulation. Things could only be worse if they were cannibals, too. Oh wait, just a few chapter from now... But that's later.
Yes, Bittie and Pattie are now officially a couple. Yes, Hubbard spends a whole sentence on this development. No, the relationship is not explored in any previous chapters. Heck, can you recall the last time Pattie was even mentioned, much less given dialogue? It must be like Jonnie and Chrissie's relationship, something so sweeping and beautiful that it's just obvious, you don't even need to describe it.
Back to Chapter Three