Starting Part 20 of 32 on page 609 of 1083. Strange to think the book's over halfway over. The story had a nice conclusion several Parts ago, but now we're stuck in the stuff that couldn't make it as a standalone sequel.
Anyway, back to Jonnie and his cohorts working towards their next objective: "really bugging the place more thoroughly than any place had ever been bugged while still preventing the bugs from being discovered by one who, although quite mad, was one of the sharpest security chiefs to walk out of the mine schools."
Short version: they're gonna bug the hell out of Terl's office.
They want pictures and video of him drawing up the schematics for a "transhipment console," allowing them to crack the secrets of Psychlo teleportation. Then they can use it to learn what happened to the Psychlo homeworld and make contact with the other races of the universe(s). But Terl is wily and paranoid (even though he makes self-incriminating statements to corpses when the plot requires), and will surely sweep the room with a probe. To make the stakes even higher, that lovely little implant in Terl's skull will make him commit suicide if he suspects he's being watched.
It's a tense situation, but all Angus can think about is how awesome Jonnie is for having to foresight to keep Terl as a prisoner instead of just shooting him, and how courageous Jonnie is for working towards this supposedly-hopeless goal, even if it means his own death.
Angus, I want to toss a caber at yon head, ye ken?
The Scottish technical expert manages to jimmy the locks on Terl's drawers, which sounds like a disturbing double entendre. Inside are papers about the mineral content of Earth, and Jonnie learns that there's sixteen other gold deposits out there, as well as numerous other metals. Terl had just stolen the records for his own ends. This is all thanks to the Psychlo "semicore" mining tactics, which "go down almost to the molten core, to the very bottom of the crust without breaking through." Screw you, mantle.
Then they get their hands on their real objective, Terl's probe, which again sounds dirty. Sorry. Jonnie uses his incredible technical ability to rig the bug-scanner to emit a signal when the device is turned on. This signal would in turn close little lead-coated shutters over the bugs they've planted. The short version is that every time Terl turns on his bug detector, the listening devices and cameras will be shielded from detection, at least until he turns the thing off. The long version involves terms like "microbutton transmitters" and "molecular spray," and prose like "But the eye that could detect them unaided had never been made."
Jonnie and Angus test out the compromised device to their satisfaction, then go around the building collecting any other bug detectors, or even components that could make a bug detector. They realize that they've skipped lunch. Jonnie writes a note to Dunneldeen, ordering him to take the Psychlos held in the compound to Cornwall and report them "crashed at sea." The not-doctor needs to see if he can extract those mind-controlling devices from live subjects...
And Ker goes to get them something to eat from the Academy. Didn't want to end this on a cliffhanger. Rest assured, our heroes will be fed.
Back to Part Nineteen, Chapter Eight