Remember the Tolnep who "looked like trouble?" His name's Lord Schleim, which sounds like both a Captain Planet villain and a Jewish caricature. Subtle Hubbard ain't. Schleim is wondering why so many "august persons" have been called by "an upstart lot of barbarians involved in a petty, local dispute," and all the jewel-encrusted and gilded aliens with him are inclined to agree.
This is mind-boggling. The invitations were teleported to their capitols. They were teleported to this planet. And the people doing the teleporting weren't Psychlos. The long and inexplicable Psychlo monopoly on the god-like power of teleportation has been broken, and these aliens are wondering what the big deal is.
Sixteen known universes and no signs of intelligent life.
There's a heart-pounding moment where they question Foxy's credentials, and then the tension rises when Schleim wonders if the humans can afford the monetary costs for holding a conference. Next Sir Robert loses his temper at the Tolnep's suggestion that they're meeting to discuss terms of surrender, and has to remind Schleim that the Capture is a blasted hulk just a few miles away. For Schleim is, like all diplomats, an arrogant, condescending twerp able to ignore unpleasant facts when convenient... sarcasm aside, how do you run a galactic empire if these are the chuckleheads you send to negotiate treaties and foster good relations with your neighbors?
Lord Schleim goes on to run a video of the twenty-five (abandoned, ruined) cities that alien bombers have set aflame, which he claims as proof that the war for Earth is practically over. He offers "very liberal terms," moved as he is by pity: Earth's population will be sold into slavery to cover the costs of the invasion ("over fifty percent survive such transportation on the average"), Earth's "king" can go into exile on Tolnep, and the other aliens will divvy up the planet's loot as restitution for "this unprovoked attack upon their peaceful ships." And the other aliens go along with it, convinced as they are that "they had been called here just to witness some surrender terms in a petty war."
YOU! WERE! TELEPORTED! HERE!
Sir Robert stubbornly insists that the meeting is to discus the aliens' surrender, but knows that he's beaten. So gives the signal to summon Jonnie to save the day.
He knew he had failed miserably. He hoped he had not hurt any chances Jonnie might have. Forlorn hope. It was all up to Jonnie now. But what could the poor lad possibly do?
Like I said: save the day. Now brace yourself. It's about to get really stupid.
Back to Part Twenty-Six, Chapter Six