You'd think after how horribly, horribly wrong things went for him last year, there might be just a smidgen of uncertainty in the vast expanses of Terl's skull. But nope.
He hauls everything out to the platform and starts wiring the console up. He sets up a three minute firing, then sets his Happy Fun Box to go off six minutes after he's gone. Terl still has an hour to kill, so he goes back to his office and tosses all his paperwork into the recycler machine. I find it vaguely amusing that the sadistic and thoroughly evil Psychlos are eco-friendly. Then Terl puts on his dress uniform and a parade cap before returning to the platform.
There's five hundred Brigantes forming a perimeter outside the "atmosphere cable" force-field thingy that Terl probably wishes he'd used last year. The subhuman soldiers are ordered to use only poisoned bows and knives due to the danger of shooting around an active teleporter. The tribe's off-duty soldiers and women are hanging around the morgue to see the boys off, and I have the sinking feeling that Hubbard is about to wipe them all out in a huge explosion. I hope I'm wrong.
Brown Limper drops by but is, as always, only interested in whether Jonnie's going to show up. Terl assures them that he will, but notices and confiscates the guns Staffor and Lars are carrying. To make up for it, he gives Brown Limper a present: the bomb.
"It's a nice gift," said Terl. "Open it when I'm gone and you'll find the answer to your most golden dreams. Something to remember me by."
At least he showed a bit more restraint with his False Reassurance. Not enough to not be immediately suspicious, mind you, but he's getting better.
Terl checks on one last bit of baggage, a human hostage all tied up with an air mask for passage to Psychlo. Given that last chapter we were told Robert the Fox went missing, I'm not sure what the point is of keeping the prisoner's identify a secret. Then the big stupid alien hits the platforms firing button, and follows up by activating the time bomb... the bomb he gave to Brown Limper? Does he have a remote control, or are there two bombs?
The chapter ends with Terl noticing a figure in a radiation suit leap out of hiding, and even in an all-encompassing environmental suit Terl recognizes Jonnie. He just mentally laughs that "Brown Limper had gotten his Tyler after all" and goes back to thinking about how wonderful it'll be once he's back on Psychlo in three minutes.
Random fact: Terl mentally swears "by the crap nebula" in this chapter. I'm growing increasingly convinced that not only is the crap nebula real, but it's a Psychlo holy site.
Back to Part Twenty-Three, Chapter Nine