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?

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