Friday, August 27, 2010

Part 22, Chapter 3 - Earmuffs Save the Day

Now we're back with Half-Captain Rogodeter Snowl of the Tolnep Elite Space Navy (I guess they have more than one navy), who has been monitoring radio messages. Yes, he has "vocodor" circuits "from ages back" to translate English for him. No, we're not told why he has English to Tolnep translation software, or how such a device was made, or why such a device was made, or if he brought along electronic dictionaries for any of Earth's hundreds of other near-dead languages. Who knows, he might be crazy-prepared like that.

Anyway, half-Capt. Snowl learns that a V.I.P. is due to appear at a place called Lhasa, and hatches a half-baked plan. He tells the other aliens that someone really ought to be guarding the far side of the planet, moves into orbit over Tibet, and targets this unknown person of importance for kidnapping and interrogation. He'll get some information, use the V.I.P. to force a planetary surrender, and sell everyone off to pay his gambling debts and retire.

To do this he sends three of his men.

Cut to Jonnie gawking at the Himalayas as he's flown to Lhasa. Then he gawks at the chrome-plated AK-47 he was given last chapter which I missed because I was dwelling on the stupid helmet. Then he gawks at the marvelous ruins of Lhasa. Then there's the requisite mob of two hundred or so Jonnie fanboys at the landing zone... but somethings amiss...

The crowd's just standing, motionless, "like people with a gun trained on them." Instincts make Jonnie look around, just in time to see three figures running at him.

They were gray. There [sic] were about the size of men. They wore big faceplates.


Well, it's time for another Battlefield Earth action sequence. Jonnie fires his blinged-up '47, but its "slugs" have no effect. Then he remembers from reading his manual on alien races that Tolneps are half-blind without their faceplates, so he drops to a knee, switches to single-fire, and starts making headshots. In an odd case of things not going entirely his way, he isn't fast enough.

It had taken too long.

The leading one was almost upon him.



No time to fire.

So the oncoming alien gets a rifle butt to the face, followed up by "a slash of the barrel" that knocks the alien aside. Jonnie leaps out of range of the alien's poison fangs... which are a threat through the faceplate? ...then shoots the Tolnep point-blank with his blast-gun, cracking the faceplate and knocking the alien out.

Of the other two aliens, one is blundering into the ruins blindly, while the other is trying to make its way back towards his tiny, diamond-shaped launch. Jonnie gets his blast rifle from his ship, sets it to "Flame" and "Maximum" after his first shot has no effect, and explodes the fleeing Tolnep into "a pillar of fire." Then with an amazing shot Jonnie blows up the other's weapon.

After that it's just a matter of tying up the survivor, marveling at its super-dense, ironlike "flesh," and noticing that the crowd has yet to react to any of this. Jonnie, of course, is more interested in the Tolnep ship than whatever's up with the crowd. While inspecting the alien vessel, he notices that one of its cannons is "more than a cannon," with "two barrels, one over the other." When he gets in front of this cannon+ he feels a strange lethargy, so he yanks out a cable to shut it off. The crowd immediately collapses.

Nobody remembers the battle, the tribal leaders bow and scrape over having "lost face" due to Jonnie's landing ceremony being ruined, and for all everyone knows it's nine in the morning instead of two in the afternoon.

So why wasn't Jonnie affected? His stupid helmet, of course! It had extra-thick ear protectors to help deal with engine noise, making it proof against the sonic attack the Tolneps use to stun targets during slave raids. What a happy coincidence!

Then there's an amusing section where Jonnie sends a radio message to Robert the Fox while making up code on the fly. "The little birds tried to sing here." "...our friend Ivan in his new hole must have a ceiling." "Have our own band play 'Swenson's Lament.'" Which Foxy is able to translate as "just attacked by three aliens," "Colonel Ivan needs air cover," and "maintain radio silence" because there's no such song as "Swenson's Lament." Clever, clever.

So let's see... Bolbods trying to sabotage a dam: three soldiers. Hockers trying to eliminate a radio telescope: five soldiers. Tolneps trying to kidnap the most important (gag) person on the planet: three soldiers, and for good measure this attempt was made after seeing the spectacular failures of the aforementioned missions.

Not really what you're expecting when you see Battlefield in the title. I think it picks up later, though, so we may see as many as a dozen aliens on the planet at the same time.

Back to Chapter Two

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