The aliens are in an uproar over the huge, non-planet-destroying explosion they saw. Except for The Gray Man, who for the first time is feeling hopeful after catching that trace of a teleporter, though he's the only one who caught it.
Instead his fellow xenoforms are discussing the next course of action. They conclude that the explosion was a nuclear bomb going off as part of that yellow-robed priesthood's takeover of the planetary government, making now the perfect time to strike, while the enemy is disorganized. But then someone floats the idea of this world being the one and not even realizing it, which adds the extra incentive of reward money to an invasion of Earth.
While the other aliens argue over who would be in charge of a coalition of the greedy, The Gray Man watches a human convoy go to a river and wash themselves off to decontaminate themselves. "Radiation! The way to get rid of contamination was copious use of water. The particles could be washed down and away due to their weight."
I'm going to float a theory here: L. Ron Hubbard didn't like the idea of subatomic particles or rays of energy or anything like that. To him everything needs to have concrete substance, be it gamma radiation or alien souls. Hence his conception of radiation as a sort of dust that you can just wash off, rather than something invisible and insubstantial that gets soaked up by matter and remains dangerous for generations. And the whole Thetan thing.
We're also told that the Psychlos have viciously suppressed knowledge of nuclear weapons, making them "a nearly forgotten chapter of ancient warfare." Even though the aliens just mentioned one and obviously know what an A-bomb is. I'm also curious as to how these advanced, spacefaring species would have been able to develop without discovering atomic theory, splitting some atoms, and realizing the military applications. I guess this is to handwave why no other species has nuked the Psychlos into oblivion yet.
The Gray Man keeps watching his screens, noticing the teleportation console being loaded up into a plane and correctly surmising what the recent battle was over. Unfortunately the other aliens see it too and get even more excited. But then the six planes that are loading up all of Jonnie's men and the console do a confusing bit of tight flying, which with the static makes it impossible to figure out which plane is carrying what.
Then two planes start flying northeast, racing along a course that takes them to the "pagoda place" in Africa. The other four craft head towards Singapore, where the aliens know there's an old Psychlo minesite. The aliens conclude that the two ships headed to Africa are a feint, and set a course to Singapore and presumably the humans' headquarters... except for Quarter-Admiral Snowleter of the carrier Capture. He starts towards Kariba in Africa, the "pagoda place."
The reason was that he hated all religions. Religious people were zealots and upset governments and always had to be crushed. This obviously was a religious revolt and they even had evidence of it. A religious order had upset the government of the planet and had now stolen a console. This planet was the one and he ordered them all to head for the pagoda objective.
Aw, someone was feeling persecuted when he wrote this part. Hubbard, honey: America loves religions. We're one of the most faithful Western countries. We were founded by religious zealots. Our political parties routinely pander to the devout when it comes time for elections. We've got Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Wicca, Deists, Agnostics, Atheists, Pastafarians, and a myriad of denominations and sects within those categories. There's no government conspiracy trying to suppress your movement. It's just that Americans know religions, and they can tell the difference between a spiritual movement and a cult-like attempt to get tax-exempt status.
Well, most of us, anyway. There's something in the water in Hollywood, apparently...
Anyway, here comes the last lurching gasp of action in this wartime epic, as the aliens try a full-blown invasion instead of sending their men in convenient waves of three to six. At least for a few chapters. Then there's over a hundred pages of talking. And talking. Also, a makeover.
Back to Part Twenty-Four, Chapter Six