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