And now, Jonnie gets a haircut from Mr. Tsung's daughter.
I guess it's not a complete waste of time because it gives Jonnie longer to fret over how he's supposed to deal with this alien overlords controlling hundreds of worlds and trillions of lives, all more experienced at the art of diplomacy than he, a humble warrior relying on ancient Chinese secrets to survive the upcoming conference.
This pretty much assures Jonnie will be triumphant - the only reason the odds against him are ever brought up is to beat the reader over the head with how awesome Jonnie is for winning despite them. A bunch of humans against the Psycho empire? How can he possibly hope to oh, that was anticlimactic. One man trying to crack a secret that aliens have been failing to decipher for thousands of years? Surely there's no way he could huh, that's it?
For reasons known only to L. Ron Hubbard, Tsung's daughter gives Jonnie a haircut based on pictures of "somebody named Sir Francis Drake that had defeated somebody called the Spaniards long, long ago." Maybe we're supposed to view Jonnie as the heir of that Sixteenth Century explorer and privateer? Given some of the controversy surrounding Drake. i.e. slave trading and massacres, this may be more appropriate than Hubbard intended.
Jonnie suddenly takes a moment to listen in to the base radio, and hears Stormalong complaining that the aliens are firebombing Detroit, which is both recognizable enough to be targeted despite a thousand years of neglect and also completely uninhabited. Oh, and Dunneldeen's downed sixteen Hawvin aircraft. On his own. While dodging Edinburgh's anti-aircraft fire. Isn't it exciting when the bad guys are so stupid they bomb uninhabited ruins, and so incompetent that one B-list character can cut them down by the score on his lonesome?
Then it's time for Jonnie to get dressed, and there's over a full page spent describing his fancy new outfit: black silk with lots of buttons coated in "a one-molecule-thick metal spray of an iridium alloy" that sparkles with all the colors of the rainbow. Even Jonnie's boots are coated in the sparkly stuff. And it's topped off with an iridium-plated helmet with a golden-winged, blue-spined, ruby-eyed dragon sculpted onto it, holding a white orb in its mouth.
Point of order: eastern-style dragons don't have wings.
Jonnie asks Tsung about the dragon, and is told a story. It's a story we'll have explained later after some major plottage, but for now all we know is that it invigorates Jonnie and gives him an idea that he rushes to tell Sir Robert about. Poor Foxy only gets a paragraph describing his new digs (a kilt, what a surprise), and warns Jonnie that this new plan is dangerous and might antagonize all the aliens. Which, again, ensures that it will succeed.
Back to Chapter Five