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