Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Part 19, Chapter 8 - In Which We Learn Psychlos Are Triple-Jointed

Last time, on Battlefield Earth, we learned that Ker never got his "evil tastes yummy" mind control implant and at no point in his career did anyone bother to do a medical examination to check if he had one. Also, someone had snuck up to the door.

Ker abruptly opens the portal, catching Lars the Nazi of the Year 3000 in the act of putting a listening device on it. This hits him with a wave of breathe-gas that sets him to choking. Jonnie and Angus grab him and haul him to a place with breathable air.

When he recovers, Lars demands to know what they were doing in that closet, but gets a peculiar look on his face when he sees Jonnie. The others just ditch him, Ker explaining to Jonnie that Lars' a bit loopy, what with his dedication to the church of "somebody named Bitter or Hitter."

They get to Terl's ransacked office and start poking around, noticing a lot of locked drawers. So they rustle up Chirk the former secretary.

She was a long way from the smart-looking secretary of the old days. They had her on three chain links attached to a collar. Her fur was all the wrong way. There was no powder on her nosebone and no polish on her triple-jointed claws. She wore just a cloth around her shoulders, no other clothes.

Jonnie apparently has no concept of noncombatants, and is untroubled by a secretary being kept near-naked and chained. They ask about keys, which sets off a narrated rant in which Chirk complains about everybody wanting keys. Jonnie shuts her up by having Ker mention that Terl is moving back into his old office and probably plans on killing all the other Psychlos. This spooks Chirk so much that she stops breathing for half a minute and the onlookers can watch how "the muscles in the middle of her body where her heart was were twitching and leaping." On the verge of tears, she confesses that she doesn't know where the keys are, and she is dragged off by her guards.

The difference between our heroes and the Psychlos is that the Psychlos have implants that force them to be monsters.

Lars shows up to demand what is going on (again) and glare suspiciously at Jonnie (again), but Ker yells at him until he goes away. Then there are echoed snarls and howls from the Psychlo prison, as Jonnie's news that Terl is returning sparks a riot.

Unconcerned, Jonnie bars the office doors, Angus gets out some picks, and they get to work. "They were in business!"

But if you had the lockpicks why did you need the keys for... screw it.

Back to Part Nineteen, Chapter Seven

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Part 19, Chapter 7 - Ker's Belated Backstory

So "Jonnie logged in as Stormalong," Angus and Ker load up in a flying car and drive to Denver, Ker behind the wheel "with the effortless skill of one with years and tens of thousands of hours on a console behind him." There's something wrong and not quite right about that sentence, but I can't put my finger on it...

Jonnie revels in being back in "his country," where it's not rainy or hot and the plains are open and free. Just ignore the fact that his village is up in the mountains. But they eventually reach the reclaimed city, and the humans further disguise themselves with gas masks to slip past Terl, who is anxious to move out of his cage and back indoors.

Ker wants to get to work in Terl's office, but Jonnie orders a detour to pick up a mineral-analysis device. When they have a moment of privacy they use the scanner on the Psychlo for over half an hour, but can find no foreign objects in Ker's skull. Jonnie asks about Ker's childhood.

Our favorite Psychlo was the sixth "pup" born to his mother's "litter," and since it's unusual for Psychlos to have more than four or five critter-kids at a time he turned out to be a runt. As such, he was literally thrown away, but rescued by a slave who took him underground in every sense. Some blue aliens called Balfans taught young Ker the basics of thievery, but secret agent Jayed of the Imperial Bureau of Investigations infiltrated and destroyed the resistance movement. Ker went to the streets, went to jail for theft, and used the fact that he was too small for the shackles to fit...

Really? A malevolent, enslaving culture like the Psychlos only makes manacles sized to fit their own people?  No adjustable cuffs to restraining the lesser races?

Anyway, Ker ferried messages for other criminals and was able to escape when a plague killed the prison guards (?!). He came up with false papers to join the mining company, and the same small size that let him sneak into places he shouldn't be in served him well in the tunnels. And that's his life story.

Jonnie asks if Ker enjoys cruelty, and the alien admits that he has to fake it in order to fit in. When he asks what the point of the questioning is, Jonnie just tells him that he has a different skull structure from other Psychlos, which he takes as a compliment.

And then, (dramatic music), the "telltale" scanner they placed on the door lights up, indicating that someone's outside!

Random fact for this chapter: Ker is forty-one, and Psychlos can live to be up to one hundred and ninety. Don't ask if those are Psychlo years or Earth years or what the conversion ratio between the two is.

Back to Chapter Six

Monday, July 26, 2010

Part 19, Chapter 6 - Duplicity

So Jonnie and Angus, disguised as Stam "Stormalong" Stavenger and Darf McNulty, return to the pilots' academy in Colorado from eastern Africa. For some reason this takes them across the North Pole. I guess this is to add credence to their cover story about returning from Europe, except for the fact that a) anyone monitoring their progress would have noticed the real Stormalong taking a detour to Africa, thus rendering the attempt at duplicity pointless, and b) there's no reason to cross the North Pole for a trans-Atlantic flight.

My theory is that Jonnie just got lost after that left turn at Albuquerque.

After landing, Jonnie shows his incredible cunning: realizing that he has no idea where Stormalong's rooms are, he asks a cadet to take his baggage to his room, claiming weariness, and follows the guy up. Which is admittedly a display of intelligence I respect, and thus grudgingly award Jonnie some points, bringing his score up to -108.

Jonnie takes a nap and is awaken later by Ker, who asks if his letter had been delivered before recognizing Jonnie and guffawing. "Welcome to the deep pit, Jonnie... I mean Jonnie logged in as Stormalong! May the ore fly and the carts roll!" Ker warns that if word gets out Jonnie could get "squash killed," but luckily Ker's criminal background means he's good at this sort of thing.

While Jonnie gets dressed, Ker chatters about how much fun he's having teaching at the Academy, and how he tells tall tales about Jonnie's exploits back during his days as a Psychlo slave. He's also convinced some particularly stupid cadets that his short height comes from a half-human heritage. "I tell them my mother was a female Psychlo that raped a Swede!" After his laughing fit dies down, Ker sighs and says this may be the first time he's had any friends. D'awwww.

Even Jonnie, the cold, unlikeable, borderline-sociopath that he is, finds himself smiling along with Ker, who he admits he's fond of "in a way." After the alien leaves to put their plan into action, though, Jonnie still gets a blast gun for his coat. "He would know within an hour or two whether Ker was playing this straight. Until then...?"

So "fond of" does not preclude "keep a gun handy in anticipation of betrayal" in Jonnie's mind. I'd like to point out that Ker's only "betrayal" at this point was due to Terl's meddling, and Jonnie forgave him for it, at least out loud. Since then Ker has been nothing but helpful, friendly, and more human than our main character.

Random fact for this chapter: the aircraft Jonnie and Angus take to America is "student battle plane 96290567918." As opposed to, say, plane #7 or the "Lass of Inverness." Because why rename an appropriated piece of alien equipment when you can rattle off an eleven-digit serial number whenever you identify it?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Part 19, Chapter 5 - I Was Getting Tired of Africa Anyway

Robert the Fox's reaction to Ker's letter channels Admiral Ackbar: "It's a trap!" He and Dunneldeen and Colonel Ivan are solidly against Jonnie going back to America, but the MacTyler unconcernedly goes about trimming and dying his beard so that he could pass for Stormalong, then changes clothes with the man and adds a few more touches to his disguise.

Jonnie forbids little Bittie from accompanying him but assigns him to Colonel Ivan, who he orders to seal up to American bunker complex so only Jonnie's loyalists can enter. Then Jonnie eats lunch provided from the locals from the Mountains of the Moon, who have nothing better to do than serve these heroic white men. While in the commissary Jonnie hears about sightings of The Gray Man in India and South America.

And then Jonnie gives some last orders, mostly about Scotsmen pretending to be other Scotsmen, waves, and flies out into a thunderstorm. And that's it for the chapter. I'd like to say something insightful or funny (or what I think is insightful or funny), but I've got nothing to work with here.

Back to Chapter Four

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Part 19, Chapter 4 - Ker's Letter

Seriously, this "chapter" is just over a page long and 80% of it is Ker's letter to Jonnie.

Jonnie inspects the package with "AWFUL SECRET" on it in "the semiliterate curved hooks and loops" that were "Ker's idea of a Psychlo alphabet." He holds it up against the light to see if there's a bomb in the envelope. A bomb, in a letter from Ker, the closest thing Jonnie has to an ally amongst the Psychlos stranded on Earth.

Ker doesn't believe in paragraphs, which is unfortunate in a letter that's close to a page long, and he has a habit of writing out his laughs in the narrative ("Ha. Ha.") But he's got a wry, sarcastic style I appreciate.

He opens with a joke about personal letters being forbidden by company policy, and that he could be docked three months' pay for writing this missive ("Ha. Ha.") Then Ker gets down to business, telling Jonnie that a certain thing he said he'd warn Jonnie about is happening. A flunked-out pilot named Lars, who has been talking to someone Ker won't mention because of security "(security, get it?)", has just been promoted as "you know who"'s assistant.

They ordered some other Psychlos to refit the breathe-gas pumps to a certain someone's quarters, but they refused due to old enmity towards "you know who," who they are certain murdered "old you know who." So Ker got wrangled in to doing the job, and he's making it as complicated as possible to buy time. He's also asked that Jonnie come in incognito to act as his assistant.

Addition: Claw this letter up so it don't cost me three months' pay---or my furry neck. No ha, ha.

Ker might be my favorite character now.

There's some environmental symbolism as Jonnie tears up the letter while a massive storm rolls nearer, and then he's off with Stormalong, racing along in the trike towards the base. "Jonnie knew he had to get to America now. At once!"

Immediately! Posthaste! As soon as possible! Quickly!

"You know who"s - 13
Sarcastic "Ha Ha"s - 5
Non-sarcastic "Ha Ha"s - 1

Back to Chapter Three

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Part 19, Chapter 3 - The Grey Man

Cut to Jonnie on the bluffs overlooking Lake Victoria, throwing rocks. This is... a surprisingly humanizing thing for him to be doing. It's childish and purposeless, and therefore believable. Jonnie's not being worshiped or bending strangers to his whims, he's killing time while thinking.

In the ??? days between now and Part 18, he's been hiking the miles between the minesite and the lake, following a Psychlo-made road. Apparently the aliens liked to go boating or something, but not swimming. Psychlos don't like swimming, Jonnie knows.

Jonnie wonders why the Psychlos hunt people, and remembers the quack MacKendrick's explanation involving "sympathetic nerve vibration." Torturing random wildlife to death isn't enough to satisfy the Psychlos' conditioned cruelty; only a bipedal creature similar to their own form would do. A lot of Psychlo science is concerned with this concept, and in fact the nerve gas they like to use is "attuned" to "more highly developed central nervous systems." And since Psychlo scientists obviously know what they're doing, I'm not going to question this at all.

MacKendrick has been practicing removing those little nerve clamps from the dead Psychlos, whose number has been joined by one of the four wounded captives, so that's the bad news. On the upside, Jonnie realized after the battle that he'd been piloting his flying platform with both hands. The faux-doctor posited that new parts of Jonnie's brain are learning how to control his previously paralyzed limbs, but Jonnie knows better. He moved that dead arm through sheer force of will, dammit. He doesn't need any "science" or "medicine" to tell him what he can or can't do.

This is one of those claims of Dianetics, that you can do things like talk yourself out of needing glasses. Hubbard himself liked to claim (i.e. lie) that he was labeled an invalid by the military after being wounded in glorious combat, but willed himself to full health again. So all those guys with spectacles or wheelchairs just aren't trying, the big babies.

A three-wheeled groundcar drives up and out pops Stam "Stormalong" Stavenger, one of the Jonnie lookalikes from the good old days at The Lode. He's one of those Norwegians who emigrated to Scotland and kept their names, but not their customs. Why, Hubbard? Why are Scots so awesome? Why can't Stormalong be a Norwegian? My guess is that Hubbard doesn't have a stereotype he can attach to Norway beyond "hairy combative Norseman," and he's already got Scots and Russians.

Stormalong has a bunch of news for Jonnie. Those horrible Brigantes are in Denver now, Scotland's all angry over the murder of Allison, Clanfearghus' chief sends his respects ("mind you, not his regards but his respects"), Aunt Ellen married the parson, Bittie sends love to Pattie, and Chrissie sends love to Jonnie. There's our mandatory once-a-hundred-pages mention of Jonnie's beloved. He has no reaction to her well wishes, and doesn't spare her a thought afterward.

Oh, and Earth might be due for another invasion. Stormalong spotted a big honkin' spaceship, like a sphere with a ring around it, in high orbit. "Spotted" isn't the right word, though: Stormalong pretty much ran into it, or where it should be. It was insubstantial and gone an instant later. Jonnie theorizes that it was traveling faster than light, so the can't-be-Norse pilot flew through an afterimage.

Stormalong consulted his logs after that encounter and traced the UFO to the farm of an old woman, who told him a story. She'd met a strange small gray man (as in gray skin, hair, and suit) standing next to a spherical, ringed object, invited him in for tea, and had a pleasant chat. He had to talk through a box on his throat, which Jonnie assumes was a "vocoder" to translate for him, and asked about newspapers and history books. She had none, but she did show off some of the printed Jonnie money she had and got a pocketknife out of the deal. Then the mysterious stranger got in his ship and flew off in a matter unlike pure teleportation and Psychlo retarded teleportation.

Oh, and Ker wrote a letter for Jonnie, which is next chapter. Like, almost all of next chapter.

Back to Chapter Two

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Part 19, Chapter 2 - The Big One

Brown Limper and Terl have another covert nighttime rendezvous at the Psychlo's cage, with Lars along, dictionary in hand, to act as interpreter when needed. Terl is so excited his claws are twitching, and he has to fight the urge to reach through the bars (which he's de-electrified with a hidden remote) and tear apart his human helpers. Yes, tonight's "the big one," which will make or break his cunning plan to put himself in that cage... and he's still fighting the urge to destroy his human resources.

Maybe I've been too hard on Terl. If the Psychlos' brains have been scrambled to compel them to be as stupidly evil as possible, Terl's schemes, half-baked or not, are quite an accomplishment. Heck, the Psychlos maintaining a dysfunctional society instead of bloody anarchy is a near miracle. Just imagine having to live your life while fighting the urge to bite the bank teller, set the grocery store on fire, or blow up your office building. Instead the Psychlos have learned to vent their bloodlust on captive animals or games of hoops, or drown it in kerbango, so they can work the mines and live a semblance of a normal life. There's an element of tragedy to them.

Anyway. Brown Limper tells how he's shown the four other Senior Mayors some footage from those button cameras, footage of immoral "perversions" with Brigante women, in one case involving "as many as four women at a time." Thus shamed, the rival council members have resigned after passing a resolution to make Brown Limper the new Senior Mayor Planet. He'll have a secretary who's just now learning how to sign his name, but effectively he's in charge of Earth.

Terl congratulates him on his promotion, but senses there's more. Staffor goes on to discuss the huge list of charges he's bringing against Tyler, which includes disrupting the council's plans for the Brigantes, kidnapping, murder, violation of tribal rights, ambush and murder of a Psychlo convoy, and when he turned over the two billion Galactic credits recovered from the Psychlo base there was a full three hundred credits short!

This, or more specifically the billions of credits, gets Terl's attention, because it makes his failed scheme involving golden coffin lids look like "kerbango change." I can't remember how much he was planning to make from that, and frankly I don't care to check. After deducing that old Numph must have been swindling for thirty years, Terl immediately comes up with a plan involving three or four sealed coffins marked "radiation killed."

Let's think about this. The Psychlo biology is such that when exposed to radiation they explode into green flame. What's there to put into a coffin? And if there was something to ship home, why would you send corpses contaminated by radiation to a planet filled with creatures that react explosively to the stuff?

This makes more sense if you remember that the author has some dangerous misconceptions concerning radiation.

Terl's coffin fetish aside, he advises the humans on how to bait Jonnie for his comeuppance. He mentions how Earth is nearly mined-out company property, and that Terl is the resident company agent. Jonnie was trying to buy the entire planet, which is the only reason he kept Terl alive! But Terl knew what an animal that Jonnie was, and refused to sell Earth to him. Brown Limper, on the other hand...

So the deal is struck. In exchange for access to his old office and the supplies and support to build a new teleportation rig, Terl will "sell" Brown Limper the planet, thus letting the evil cripple get Tyler for trespassing or whatever, while incidentally Jonnie is sure to show up when he hears Terl is being sent to Psychlo to fill out the necessary paperwork for the transfer of planetary property.

In reality, Terl is scheming to blow up the whole damn world. The Psychlos don't just abandon planets they've mined "almost through the crust to the liquid core," they have a doomsday weapon they use to explode unwanted planets, because they're evil like that.

Brown Limper is all wild-eyed and ecstatic as he goes to write up a deed, while Terl is struggling to contain his laughter over being the richest Psychlo alive, just as soon as he smokes this stupid planet. Apparently no one is going to care where a security officer whose planet revolted, staged an attack on the Psychlo homeworld, and then exploded, found two billion spacebux.

Remember last chapter: short, not so stupid? This one makes up for it.

Back to Chapter One

Monday, July 19, 2010

Part 19, Chapter 1 - Brown Limper Remembers His Training

Brown Limper Staffor, chairman of the world council, representative of five tribes now with the addition of the Brigantes, and Senior Mayor America, is having a bad day. The other four council members are protesting the fact that the Brigantes security force gets paid twenty times as many credits as council members. Like many politicians before him, Brown Limper suspects that things would run smoother if everyone would just shut up and let him give the orders.

That black fellow from Africa! That yellow creature from Asia! That tan idiot from South America! That dull, bullheaded brute from Europe! Ugh, ugh, ugh, and UGH!

I'm not sure what to make of that. I tempted to call it a diversionary tactic, as if Hubbard was dimly aware of how un-PC some of his passages were and decided to turn Brown Limper into a big enough racist to act as a lightning rod.

Also, sucks to be Australia.

Brown Limper thinks back to all he has learned from Lars about Hitler's message of morality, and what Terl has said about the power of leverage. Inspiration strikes; he tables the current pay debate and instead abruptly proposes a new measure about morality. He gives a speech on the topic that fortunately we're spared, and suggests a law that would remove any officeholder for scandalous conduct. The other four council members, "all reasonably honest men," agree.

Afterward, Brown Limper talks with Lars about "button cameras," speaks with General Snith, and soon posts some of the more attractive Brigante women in the hotel the council members stay at. When he chats with Terl even later, the Psychlo compliments his pupil on his acumen. So it is a very pleased Brown Limper who gets back to his main objective, adding to the list of charges against Jonnie Goodboy Tyler.

I like this chapter. It's just over two pages long and the stupidity doesn't go far above the normal background levels for Battlefield Earth. Next chapter, it's "the big one!"

Back to Part Eighteen, Chapter Nine

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Part 18, Chapter 9 - Things Somehow Manage to Get Dumber

But enough of a deluded Swede enduring the stench of an African cannibal "in the name of spreading the righteous creed of fascism and the great military leader, Hitler." Back to our heroes.

An underground room in the Lake Victoria base has been refitted with air conditioners to serve as a morgue, and Dr. MacKendrick, Angus, Sir Robert, Dunneldeen, and Jonnie are using the metal and mineral analysis machine to take a look into the skull of one of the dead Psychlos.

Massive, more than eighteen inches in diameter, the ugly head of the Psychlo corpse lay on the machine's plate. Such a head was mostly bone. It bore considerable resemblance to a human head and could be mistaken for one in bad light, but where a human had hair, eyebrows, fleshy lips, nose and ears, the Psychlo had bone whose shape was more of less the same as the corresponding human features, and the distribution and spacing was similar; the result was a kind of caricature of a human head. Until you touched the features, they did not seem to be bone, but contact proved them hard and unyielding.

So there you have it, the mystery of the "mouthbones" revealed. They really are solid bone that somehow stretches and warps like the supple lips of a human. What's more, according to this inelegant and badly-written paragraph, even a Psychlo's hair is bone. But otherwise they look like big bulky humans. Aside from the glowing eyes and asymmetrical fingers, and the fact that the entire top half of their skulls is solid bone, leaving their brains crammed down low next to their neck. Oh, and they explode around radiation.

This is just stupid. And what's more, Hubbard is finally giving us a good description of his aliens' faces five hundred and sixty-eight pages into this wretched story, after most of them have been killed.

After some thrilling "Angus fiddling with dials" action, the five named characters discover there is something bronze in the Psychlo's skull, which amuses Jonnie. " struck him as funny that an advanced technical race should be using ancient bronze in a skull." I guess he'd have been impressed if he'd found aluminum because ooh, shiny and high-tech!

The doctor manages to extract two half-circles wrapped around cord-like nerves. Along the way he notices some things about Psychlo biology and posits that their bodies aren't cellular, but viral. The Psychlos are walking clumps of super-dense viruses that somehow evolved into specialized organs and systems in utter violation of what it means to be a virus in the first place.

Since this is so jaw-droppingly at odds with biology both known and hypothetical, clearly the good doctor is an imbecile.

The imbecile plays with electricity and gets the cadaver to twitch for him and starts tagging nerves so he knows what each does. The others are a bit disturbed by this, so the imbecile starts chatting.

MacKendrick saw their reaction. "Nothing new in this. Just electrical impulses approximating brain commands. Some man-scientist did this maybe thirteen hundred years ago and thought he'd found the secret of all thought and made up a cult he called 'psychology.' Forgotten now. It wasn't the secret of thought; it was just the mechanics of bodies. They started with frogs. I'm cataloging this body's communications channels, that's all."

And here's your Scientology tie-in. I haven't really addressed the issue, at least not directly, because for the most part Hubbard had been keeping his cult's themes somewhat subdued. This is one of the few places they blatantly make an appearance, a sudden aside in which the author condemns a field of science before moving on to the next plot point. But there's more to come.

The imbecile MacKendrick does enough tests to theorize that the implant was installed at infancy on the intersection of nerves that handle taste, sexual impulses, emotion, and action, because that's totally how a neurological system works, with dedicated nerves for specific actions and thoughts. Anyway, the implant could have originally been designed to make Psychlos happy only if they were working, but all they really did was make the aliens enjoy cruelty, finding it as Terl put it "delicious."

In other words, these monstrous aliens are evil because someone did a botched attempt at mind-control. They're compelled to hurt others.

Jonnie and friends agree that the Pscyhlos are indeed complete monsters, and move on. This is their only reaction to the news that their enemies were essentially forced to be evil. There is no shock that they may have obliterated a race under mental compulsion, no remorse for waging war on slaves. There is no flicker of sympathy for the Psychlos. Instead, Jonnie gets the imbecile to bring up another head, since the current one belonged to a lowly miner, while a higher-ranking Psychlo might have different implants.

And whadya know, it does. They extract a cylinder that Jonnie is sure acts as a "thought wavelength vibrator," which sounds dirty. Such a device would cause impulses under the right stimuli, such as a desire to kill oneself after being questioned on a certain subject. Having made this discovery, the next step is to successfully extract such a mind-control unit from a living Psychlo, a task made difficult because there's no Psychlo medical books because apparently the aliens don't believe in hospitals, and just let the wounded die and get carted back to Psychlo.

After getting hit with hair-bones and the cult of psychology, I'm extremely grateful when the chapter ends. Then I look ahead and see more Brown Limper in my future, and my relief is short-lived.

Back to Part Eighteen, Chapter Eight

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Part 18, Chapter 8 - A Legion of Doom, of Sorts

Meanwhile, in Brown Limper's subplot...
Remember Lars the neo-neo-neo-Nazi? He flunked out of pilot school after trying one of Terl's maneuvers, which ended up wrecking his plane and cracking his neck. Terl's compulsive dickishness nearly cost him an asset.

Anyway, an encasted Lars brings a new, stinky visitor for Terl - General Snith of the Brigantes. Terl knows all about the Brigantes, of course, since he's the security officer and apparently the mongrelfolk have provided "hundreds of thousands of Bantu and Pygmies" for the local miners' entertainment. "The only attraction that place had was that you could occasionally buy a human creature to torture." And of course there was no mention of this in earlier chapters, almost as if Hubbard was throwing this story together as he went along and didn't want to go back and revise

So it's not the Psychlo directly that keep the other humans down, it's the Brigantes. So why haven't the other African tribes ganged up and taken down the slavers? Humans have been killing other humans for thousands of years, so it shouldn't be difficult.

Anyway. Now that the Brigantes have been brought to the world capital of Denver, Brown Limper Staffor is grooming them to be his private army since those ruggedly handsome, free-spirited Scots are firmly allied with Jonnie. But problem arises when he tries to hammer out the terms of the arrangement, so he goes to Terl for mediation.

See, Snith wants the back pay due to his men from the bank: a hundred thou a man per day, or as Terl quickly does the math, over thirty-six billion dollars. He plays it safe and gasps "that's more than a million!" to confirm that the Brigantes are indeed stupid.

Terl, showing remarkable knowledge of human history for someone who just recently figured out mankind was sentient, points out that the Brigantes' ancestors were hired to take over Kishangani and Kinshasa, but only succeeded at the former. He also claims that the human bank was bought out by "the Galactic Bank, located in the Gredides System, Universe Eight."

Gredides... Greedy? Ugh.

The caged alien goes on to claim that he's a representative of the Galactic Bank, and as such is willing to pay for half the job done, a whopping five hundred thousand dollars. Snith is very happy to hear this, though his goodwill fades when Terl recommends the Brigantes try cleaning up a bit and getting proper uniforms.

The conservation moves on to the Brigantes' accommodations, which are fine, and their food, which is not. "There be plenty of dead bodies in those houses, but they be old and dried and unfit to eat. There would got to be a clause in any future contract about better food!"

Yes, apparently conditions in Denver are enough to mummify corpses so that they last a thousand years instead of decaying into powder like they would in a rational universe. Alternatively, the Chinkos got carried away when they preserved that library and laminated all the bodies they found, to seal in the freshness.

Terl tells Snith that the cannibals will just have to put up with beef, which they don't like. These guys love man-flesh so much that their numbers have recently taken a drop due to the unpalatable food situation here, and back in Africa would only reluctantly settle for water buffalo and monkey and elephant.

And this just doesn't work. Cannibalism happens during food shortages, or during religious rites, or as result of mental illness. But a society based around eating humans? No way. Humans don't grow fast enough or provide enough meat, so you'd be spending a lot of time and energy chasing down and munching on your neighbors, when you could be doing things like farming. And Hubbard wants us to believe that a couple thousand cannibals have survived for a millennia in a world in which humans are nearly extinct?

Not that the latter makes much sense either, but anyway.

Snith also complains about the money the council tried to pay him with, which Terl dismisses as a counterfeit. The Brigante leader mentions that this "Jonnie" was the one who attacked his men in Africa, and Terl assures him that if they work together, they'll all get their revenge.

Isn't that exciting? Sure, our heroes can take down Psychlos by the hundreds, but can they survived the combined attack of a green-eyed cripple, a sub-human commando, and a scheming alien whose idiocy was the downfall of his entire species?

Back to Chapter Seven

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Part 18, Chapter 7 - Suicide by Copyright Infringement

So three days after the Best-Planned Raid in History, the humans have managed to set up shop in the Lake Victoria minesite. The four surviving Psychlos are put away in a dorm as the doctor tries to keep them alive, while the much more plentiful cadavers have been dumped on Mount Elgon in the nearby Mountains of the Moon.

There's a few human tribes in those mountains, "brown and black and even some whites remaining," who managed to hold on because the mountains were mined with tactical nukes during the Psychlo invasion. I guess in Hubbard's universe the Nuclear Landmine doctrine gained sudden and unexplained popularity just before the invasion.  And was employed to defend scenic mountains.

Oh, and some of the locals noticed all the explosions of the battle, and are very happy to hear the Psychlos are gone. Tradition kept them away from the mining camp, and rather than going somewhere else to hunt they stayed up in their mountains and starved. There was feasting and dancing and the grateful natives declared a holiday, "Tyler Battleday." And every time people do something like this I want the Psychlos to win.

While the humans are moping about in the Psychlo base, Jonnie gives a speech explaining their objective: to find out why the Chamcos offed themselves. Or more accurately, we are told Jonnie gave a speech.

He told them that they did not know whether or not Psychlo was still there as a functioning planet. He told them about the Galactic Bank note and all the races listed on it, and he remembered he had one and passed it around.

They realized what he was saying. Earth was wide open to counterattack. If the Psychlo planet was still there, it would eventually counterattack with new gas drones. And these other races possibly had means of reaching Earth swiftly. And when they found there were no Psychlo defenses here, they could slaughter the place if they had a mind to.

The only way to find out was to rebuild the teleportation shipment rig and get it cracking.

But the Psychlos put on the project had attacked him when he questioned them on the subject.

They got it. They also got the fact that no other group or organization was working to handle these problems or the defenses of the planet.

And that's pretty much the plot of the rest of the book: figure out teleportation while dodging bankers and aliens and alien bankers.

Again, it's been weeks since Jonnie tried to explode the Psychlo homeworld. It's either dead or pretty uninterested in Earth. And why are Jonnie and friends the only people working to save the planet? Isn't this something the planetary government should know about? Oh, that's right, the gub'ment is corrupt and fascist, we can't trust it. We must put our faith, lives, and fortunes behind this charismatic leader with wild tales of alien overlords and imminent conquest.

Well, Jonnie has an idea about the sudden suicide of the Chamcos. He remembers reading a "man-book" about surgeons and engineers experimenting with babies by implanting electric capsules to regulate their behavior with the push of a button. Everyone voices their disgust at the idea, but Jonnie points out that the Chamcos only killed themselves after he asked about teleportation, and that the Psychlos sent their bodies to be buried on their homeworld for a reason. He also relates a story Ker told him about a Psychlo engineer who went out drinking, killed an alien, then killed himself. In other words, the Psychlos are under the mother of all forms of patent protection.

The chapter closes with the statement that under a hundred heroes, with a mere four or five pilots, are trying to protect an entire planet. This sounds nice and dramatic until you realize that the heroes have basically been curbstomping these big bad Psychlos every time they meet, which defuses any tension.

Back to Chapter Six

Monday, July 12, 2010

Part 18, Chapter 6 - The Best-Planned Raid in History, Part Two

The Psychlo convoy is bottled up in a canyon, their super-dangerous tanks are proving vulnerable to mortar fire, and things are going well - but then the narrator opens the chapter with "Debacle!"

Bittie shouts over the radio that the ambushers' command post took a tank shell, which knocked out Colonel Ivan and Robert the Vulpes vulpes. So there's no one to translate Jonnie's orders for the Russians. I guess this is pretty bad, even though to my recollection Jonnie hasn't given any commands since deployment.

The Psychlos take advantage of the swinging momentum by disembarking, grabbing their guns, and charging up the hill towards their attackers. Jonnie's not too worried since anyone not stupid would simply wait for Dunneldeen to swoop in and strafe them.

The Russians immediately start running to take the high ground and engage the Psychlos, right in Dunneldeen's line of fire.

Jonnie tries to get them to hold back, but the Ruskies' blood is up and they can't understand him, and evidently no one thought to use those magical learning machines to teach them Psychlo. They charge downhill into the advancing Psychlos.

The Psychlos are hulking, thousand-pound monstrosities capable of carrying a horse under an arm, with weaponry far in advance of anything humanity's come up with. What's more, they're used to a high-gravity world, which means charging up a slope like this wouldn't cause them to so much as sweat.

So of course the Russians slaughter them with a 100:3 kill ratio, without even using radioactive rounds.

Still, it counts as a disaster because Jonnie wanted to take some Psychlos alive. He finds four survivors out of the whole convoy - everyone decided to disembark and run up into an entrenched position, so the only ones left behind were the crew of the tank that got flipped, and they're all "crushed and suffocated."

Oh, and nobody in the command post got killed, just knocked out and concussed and bruised.

Sir Robert started to speak and Jonnie joined him in chorus.

"The best-planned raid in history!"

I'm trying to decide if Little Bittie saved the day. He did alert Jonnie to a problem, but Jonnie couldn't fix it. And it wasn't a disastrous problem, just something that turned a clear victory into a near-victory.

Hmm. Little Bittie sounds like a rapper name.

Anyone wanting to know what the action scenes in Battlefield Earth are like without my paraphrasing, see below for the Russian-Psychlo clash in its entirety.

The Russians were in among the Psychlos, firing ceaselessly!

The remaining Psychlos tried to run back to their vehicles. The Russians were right on top of them!

Huge bodies went tumbling down the slope. Isolated groups tried to stand their ground. Assault rifles ratcheted into solid sheets of sound. Then one last Psychlo almost made it to the cab of a truck. A Russian knelt, sighted, and cut him in two.

A cheer went up from the Russians.

The slope went quiet.

See what you're missing?

Back to Chapter Five

Friday, July 9, 2010

Part 18, Chapter 5 - The Best-Planned Raid in History, Part One

Jonnie's truck catches up with one sent ahead, which has wrecked in a river. Though the wonky teleport-engines can handle level water alright, the driver managed to hit a bump on the riverbank and flip his floating vehicle. Just go with it.

After taking on the junked truck's mortar and floating platform, Jonnie's flatbed putters along until it bursts out of the jungle and onto the savanna, where they can see the Psychlo convoy three miles ahead, nearing a ravine in some mountain foothills. That's the ambush spot. They're up against fifty enemy vehicles, mostly transports overloaded with supplies, but five are tanks, including a Basher "Bash Our Way to Glory" tank. So you know it's serious.

Jonnie's strategy is to hide one flying mortar battery behind a knoll on the south side of the canyon. The mortar in the advance party he sent earlier will cause an avalanche to cut off the convoy once it's in the canyon, then the mortar Jonnie just deployed will seal in the back, at which point Jonnie will try to convince the bloodthirsty aliens to surrender. This is explained to a Russian soldier, and then repeated again in Jonnie's thoughts a paragraph later, I guess to make sure we can grasp this dazzlingly complex tactical maneuver.

So the first mortar goes off with a "BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!", a sound effect I've never associated with light artillery, and the ambush is on. As Jonnie watches from his command post, the other floating platform now hovering a thousand feet above the forest edge, things immediately go wrong. The three tanks bringing up the rear hadn't made it into the canyon before the avalanche, and turn to make a run for it.

So Jonnie maneuvers his own platform to fire his mortar at the trees along the jungle road. And this stops the floating, nigh-invulnerable tanks packing explosive shells right in their non-existant tracks. I mean, it's improvised walls of solid wood! Instead of shooting or ramming through the barriers of glorified kindling, the tanks take potshots at Jonnie's platform, but Dunneldeen in his plane swoops out of the sky to start strafing the tanks.

But then the trapped convoy tightens its formation, and the three tanks, "mindful of their duty to protect it," rush back into the canyon, apparently independently of the fact that they're under aerial attack. There they join one of the other tanks in attempting to nose up a hill so they can fire on the ambush party - despite being godlike pieces of alien armor, Basher tanks are unable to elevate their guns very far.

The humans oblige them by firing the other mortar to start the final avalanche, sealing the Psychlos in right and proper. To add insult to injury, a mortar lands underneath one tank and manages to flip it over, which begs the question of why the humans never tried shelling the enemy directly.

Jonnie drew a deep breath. He was just about to tell Dunneldeen to open up on a bullhorn and demand surrender and was reaching for his belt mine radio to do so, when their fortunes reversed.

Oooh, cliffhanger ending!

Let's review the actions of those three tanks, because they really are quite baffling. They're assigned to protect a convoy. While said convoy navigates a canyon, it's ambushed and a rockfall blocks off the trail ahead. So the tanks turn tail and flee towards the jungle, dense terrain they can't navigate save for a miserable dirt road. Then some trees get knocked across the road, so the tanks spread out on the plains and uselessly try to hit a floating platform a thousand feet above them. Then they're attacked by a plane, which they pretty much ignore. Then they suddenly remember they're on escort duty and rush back into the canyon, where they are sealed in by another rockfall.

I'm reminded of some humorous AI bugs you can exploit in a few of my favorite games, where you can lock the computer's units into running back and forth ineffectually as it tries to come up with a response to your actions. Guess Hubbard really was ahead of his time.

Back to Chapter Four

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Part 18, Chapter 4 - A Bloodsoaked Scrap of Plaid

Enough of a puking cripple, back to our sweaty, hairy heroes.

Jonnie's riding in a Psychlo flatbed, trying and failing to take a nap thanks to the rough terrain they're traveling over.

The ground drive of these things was supposed to keep them floating one to three feet off the ground. But when the ground varied eight to ten feet from level every few feet, the effect was far from floating. It was bone jarring.

The teleportation-type drive sought to automatically adjust itself to the sensed ground distance. It corrected and recorrected and the result was a whining, racing, dying, racing combination of rumbles and screeches that hurt the ears.

Again, why is this teleportation-based engine a good idea? At best it behaves like conventional engines (instead of cutting travel distance, which is the entire freaking point of teleportation), and at worst it does stupid stuff like this. They'd have been better off using helicopters. Or a dirigible with good engines.

It'd be nice if the Psychlos' stubborn, stupid reliance on teleport tech was a part of their civilization's characterization. Like if they were arrogant enough to consider teleportation the pinnacle of scientific achievement, and refused to reduce themselves to "lower" technologies. Or if they're a culture of pirates who stole and mastered teleportation, but few other technologies to supplement it. Or if they're so stagnated that they've forgotten everything else.

Instead, it just comes across as the Psychlos being dumb. Again.

Jonnie and the gang's progress is delayed by a herd of elephants (in a jungle) and then a leopard, in case you'd forgotten they're adventuring in Africa. The next morning they come across another of the small Psychlo rest huts that dot the road, but this one has a trail marking pointing at it. Jonnie and some men disembark to investigate.

After smelling human blood - that's actually kind of distressing, that Jonnie can differentiate between human blood and other species' blood - and startling a rat, they find a pile of mangled meat in a pool of blood, and a scrap of a kilt. It's the missing Scot, Allison, or at least what's left of him.

A closer examination showed that every artery and major vein had been left unsevered. Careful Psychlo claws had ripped away the flesh around them, slice by slice. The whole body had been shredded in such a fashion.

It must have taken hours for him to die.

They had left the throat and jaws until last and much of them still remained. Interrogation, Psychlo-style!

There was something in the remains of the hand. A sharp-edged tool Psychlos often carried in their pockets to clean motor points. A major artery on the inside of the leg was parted.

Allison had effected his own death. He must have seized the tool from an unguarded pocket and finished himself.

Oh no not Allison how sad. Yes, the Psychlos really started torturing him back at the jungle outpost, then lugged him along with them for more torturing. All without the guy going into shock from intense physical trauma, or bleeding to death. Apparently the Psychlos all took human anatomy classes to avoid all those arteries.

I suddenly wonder why a race with technology that beams information into beings' brains cannot reverse the process and make a device to extract information.

Jonnie concludes that there was no way for them to catch up and save Allison, the Scots promise to return for the body with blood on their blades, and Jonnie realizes that the Scots now have a blood feud with the Brigantes. Oh, and he has to remind himself why he needs the Psychlos alive, he's so angry over Allison's death.

When was the last time he thought of Chrissie?

Back to Chapter Three

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Part 18, Chapter 3 - Money Woes

Meanwhile, in the remarkably well-preserved ruins of Denver...

While Jonnie's been contemplating (more) genocide, Brown Limper Staffor has been consolidating power under the tutelage of Terl. Instead of thirty tribal council members, now there's just five representing whole continents - five new guys, relatives of the older, competent former council members who decided to go home and manage their tribal affairs directly. And these five members are working out the details of a two-man executive, one of which will be Brown Limper, of course.

There was some resistance from the Scots, since they got lumped with Europe and their continental representative is now a Swiss-German, but the council overrode their concerns. This just irritated the Scots, who are now stubbornly opposing everything Brown Limper does. But the other people of the world are fine with things, especially after the council gave the tribes control of the lands around them and a bunch of thousand-year ruins. Incidentally, this means that Brown Limper can claim the entirety of America as his property.

Oh, a baffling little detail about population numbers: there are four American tribes including the Village of the Idiots. "Tribes" such as the two people found in British Columbia, and the four people from the Sierra Nevada. Not "peoples," as in tribes or clans or populations, but individuals. What the hell? A thousand years and that's how far humanity has recovered, despite our ability to pop out a new generation every twenty years or so? What was keeping the numbers down so much?

Anyway. Denver's capitol has been refurbished for use by the planetary council, and the city designated the world capital - though one man has plans to rename it "Staffor." Now on the agenda is the establishment of the Earth Planetary Bank, with currency backed by The Tribal Lands of Earth. Wouldn't you know it, but there's a German who's good at printing with woodcutting blocks? And there's whole sheets of thousand-year-old currency paper in the ruins of London? And there's hand presses in a town called Zurich?

I guess one way to get through a millennium of barbarism is to stubbornly cling to your national stereotypes at all costs, apocalypse be damned.

The first printed note had a lukewarm reception, since everyone was fine with the barter system. A second note was designed and printed, and everyone loved it, save for Brown Limper Staffor, who is nauseous just looking at it. Any guess who's on it?

It had, squarely in the center of it, in a big oval, a portrait of Jonnie Goodboy Tyler!

They had copied a picture of him somebody had taken with a picto-recorder. There he was in a buckskin hunting shirt, bareheaded, a silly look on his face somebody thought must be noble or something. And of all things he had a blast gun in his hand.

Worse! There was his name curled over the top of the picture: Jonnie Goodboy Tyler.

And even worse! On the scroll under the picture it said, Conqueror of the Psychlos.

Nauseating. Awful.

And not in the least bit surprising. The man's already been promoted into pantheons, after all. Ending up on the dollar is a step down for him. That said, they used his full name, which means that you'll hear slang about something costing ten Goodboys. And "Conqueror of the Psychlos?" Isn't that a bit optimistic, since humanity is still wondering whether or not Jonnie's attack succeeded (even though there's been no response for weeks, so it probably has)? And he hasn't conquered anything. No Psychlo territory has been gained, and Jonnie hasn't set foot off-world. At best he's liberated the planet, though given the Psychlo presence in Africa he hasn't quite finished yet.

Staffor complained about the new bill, but MacAdam, the Scot who thought up the bank, explained how even people who weren't interested in money were eager to have some Goodboys to frame on their walls. And now I'm feeling nauseous. Staffor tried to argue that the note's art is inflammatory what with the pistols and the Conqueror title, and the council had earlier voted unanimously to ban war between tribes. But it's too late, the notes have been issued, and it's too much trouble to recall them.

There's nothing left for our new antagonist to do but tear the bill into little pieces, throw them around, gather them up and burn them, then pound on the ashes. Then when somebody comes in to show off another one, Staffor has to go find a place to throw up.

Our villain, ladies and gents.

I miss Terl.

Back to Chapter Two

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Part 18, Chapter 2 - In Which Our Heroes Return to a Location, Talk a Bit, and Leave

After reluctantly choosing not to butcher three thousand men, women and children, our heroes fly back to the jungle minesite, where the local scavengers are fighting over the corpses of the slain Brigantes.  Who the heroes evidently left where they fell, unconcerned with burial rites, even before learning how wretched the Brigantes were.

Jonnie listens to the radio and realizes that with all the talk about Moscow needing fuel and Grozny wanting ore freighters, any eavesdropping Psychlos will have a good catalog of targets to hit. You know, assuming they learn the man-names for the world they've conquered. He considers ordering radio silence, but figures the damage has been done and it could tip off the convoy they're trying to ambush.

Instead he prepares a battle plan for the upcoming bushwhacking. The plane will come in low to avoid detection, the mortar battery on the floating platform will cut off escape, use non-radioactive rounds and non-lethal blast gun shots so there are Psychlos to capture, and so forth. Oh, and Allison the captured Scot might be alive and in the convoy, so try not to kill him either.

Robert the Fox complains about how the only coordinator who speaks Russian is currently with Colonel Ivan as he gets into position, meaning the majority of Jonnie's men can't be briefed. Jonnie cheers everyone up with a joke: there's a hundred Psychlos and fifty humans, so they've got the aliens outnumbered one-half to one. Laugh, dammit!

And then there's Bittie, who's expecting to come along for the battle. Here we're told that yes, Bittie's a romantic who lives in the world of two thousand years ago, with knights and damsels and fire-breathing dragons, and when he grows up he wants to be just like Dunneldeen or Jonnie. Whereas I probably would have put Bittie on mine clearance duty, or possibly traded him to the Brigantes for a screen of disposable mercenaries, Jonnie displays superhuman patience and orders the brat to stay on the plane and radio Jonnie if things start to go wrong, which makes the kid's day.

I have the sinking suspicion that little Bittie will end up saving everyone's bacon with a well-timed radio message. I'm not sure if it's from a dim memory of the upcoming ambush, or if I'm being genre savvy.

And so Jonnie and friends depart, "off in a truck to do combat with tanks." But don't expect another tepid battle scene next chapter, no. Next is another evening with Brown Limper.

Back to Chapter One

Monday, July 5, 2010

Part 18, Chapter 1 - Savages

After a flight memorable for how the Brigante prisoners stank up the passenger bay, Jonnie and friends and their prisoners land in the savages' base, containing two-and-a-half to three thousand of the mongrelfolk. Oh, and Bittie is there too, carrying "a blast rifle as tall as himself" and making himself useful by fussing over Jonnie's clothing so that the demigod is presentable. For his part, Jonnie has tried twice to convince Bittie to stay on the ship, but the little "squire" is determined to follow his "knight" into danger.

I know he's called "Sir" Robert, but other than that, has there been any indication that Scotland has knights? There wasn't a warrior caste, or mounted fighters, just a bunch of guys in skirts and bonnets and a few tribal chieftains. I guess Bittie just heard a bunch of old, old stories and decided to be a squire in a burst of youthful feudalistic tendencies.

The Brigantes turn out to be "worse than animals. Far worse." There's a suspicious absence of elderly townspeople, while the children are filthy, scabbed, pot-bellied, and obviously not taken care of. The population carelessly tramples a half-grown field of crops. When they need to relieve themselves, they stop whatever they're doing and let 'er rip. Bittie spots a male throw a woman down and start "fornicating right out in public," and looks away only to see "a man making a child do something unspeakable."

Men they passed gave them a funny salute with a raised finger. Ugly, contemptuous faces. Faces of all colors and mixed colors. And all dirty. Their clothing was a kind of joke of a uniform, and not worn with any style, just sloppy.

They seemed to speak some strange kind of English like they had oatmeal in their mouths. [...] these people didn't seem to care if the words even got out of their stinky mouths!

While Bittie is nauseous over the barbarism of these people, Jonnie finds one that speaks Psychlo and gets directions to find their leader, General Snith, a bloated man with the yellowish tinge of malaria to his skin. Snith chews out Arf for not bringing back his "stiffs," screaming "Howjer oxpect ter eat, den!" Yep, cannibals too. Bittie throws up after he discovers the haunch Snith chucked in his fury was a human arm.

Jonnie makes two discoveries in the Brigante village. There's one of those "definitely-not-magic-because-this-is-pure-sci-fi" language tutoring machines, which explains how the Brigantes and the Psychlos were able to communicate. Also, there's two other Scots hanging about, some of those "coordinators" sent by the world government to round up the scattered tribes into one convenient target in Colorado. As suspected, they're missing the third of their number, a man named Allison, who the Brigantes assured them probably fell into a croc-infested river or something and was most definitely not sold to the Psychlos.

Sir Robert theorizes that one of the cannibals heard Allison speaking Psychlo and singled him out so that the aliens could better interrogate him, which I guess implies that the Brigantes have come across enough people who speak Psychlo to learn that the aliens consider them priority targets. The coordinators don't really react to the news, and instead insist on following their orders to bring in the Brigantes. So Jonnie and Robert the Fox tie the two up and dump them in the plane. One of their pilots recommends dusting off and strafing the Brigantes from low altitude, just to be sure, and while the heroes are tempted, in the end they decide that some would probably escape into the trees, and then there'd be a "bloody feud" on their hands while they're dealing with those nearby Psychlos.

Their business with the Brigantes concluded, Jonnie 'n friends leave, and Bittie, for the chapter's hilarious stinger, looks back at the godforsaken barbarians and wonders aloud "how in all this rain can they be so dirty?"

This is a pretty important chapter, not because anything important happens in it, but because it's one of the reasons to read Battlefield Earth. These pages just reek of a sort of racism that'd fit in well with the Victorian-era imperial powers' view of those unpleasant yellow/brown/black/red fellows out in the colonies. Hubbard's presentation of this mixed-race African tribe is so vile and damning that it's quite refreshing after page after page of boredom and non-action scenes.

I have to wonder - why did the Brigantes have to be cannibalistic pedophiles with no bowel control? What does it add to the story? Does Hubbard really think the Brigantes are what would happen if some European mercenaries intermarried with African tribes over a thousand years, or does he think all Africans are like this but decided that making the Brigantes mixed-race would be more acceptable?

Couldn't there have been a tribe of humans with the positive qualities Hubbard slavishly assigns to the Scots, but who nonetheless cooperated with the Psychlos? I guess that'd be too much moral ambiguity. You either love Jonnie and support him unconditionally, or you're a filthy rapist who tosses granny to the wolves, a sub-human wretch worthy only of extermination. Or a Psychlo.

I'm having Iron Dream flashbacks...

Back to Part Seventeen, Chapter Eight