Music began to be heard in the conference room. It was slow, dignified music. Ponderous. Impressive. The emissaries looked about with some interest, wondering what was going to happen.
In walks a huge beefy Mongolian stripped to the waist, carrying something invisible, a "glassine electronics table used by Psychlos for small electric work that required light from every angle. It had been sawed down and sprayed with lens spray that passed light one hundred percent and so reflected nothing." Yes, Hubbard's 'verse has spray-on invisibility, just in case you were still taking it seriously.
After that comes two "beautifully gowned Chinese boys" carrying pillows bearing a Dictionary of the Psychlo Language and Intergalactic Laws By Treaties of Governing Nations. Then the boys leave, the music stops, and a drumroll accompanies someone announcing "Masters of all planets! Lords of the great and powerful realms of sixteen galaxies! May I now introduce to your august presence, LORD JONNIE! He who embodies the spirit of Earth!" And with a fanfare, Jonnie enters.
Jonnie came walking down the aisle. He was walking slowly, heavily, commanding, as though he weighed a thousand pounds. He was dressed in black and silver and he carried a silver wand. But it wasn't silver; it looked so, but when the light caught it on the slightest movements it flashed with blindingly bright rainbow colors.
A costume so fancy Hubbard had to describe it twice.
He came to the platform, stepped up, moved behind the table, and turned.
At that instant a mine spotlight placed just above the door flamed on. He stood there in black and silver and yet a blaze of living color.
He did not speak. Feet apart, not blocked from their view by the table, he held the silver wand between his two hands and simply looked at them with a stern and even disdainful expression. Dominant.
The gilded and bejeweled alien diplomats are impressed despite the usual pomp and pretentiousness they have to deal with, partly because of Jonnie's helmet.
That beast on the helmet! It looked alive. The trick of the light, the play of the silver metal that flashed, the glowing red coals of eyes, whatever it was, it looked alive. Was he wearing a live winged beast on his helmet?
No, it's a sculpture you morons. These guys are seasoned political animals used to ceremony and gaudy wardrobes, yet are still intimidated by a garish helmet? And so what if the "dragon" was alive - sixteen universes and they've never encountered a species that wore a pet while at a conference? It's just... arrrgh... everything Jonnie does has to be impressive and awesome, even if it's something these aliens should have been used to.
Lord Schleim, on the other hand, is snidely pleased after Jonnie is introduced as "the spirit of Earth," because the Psychlo term for "spirit" could mean "mind," "angel," or "demon." Wait, what? One of those things is not like the others, and the other two are diametrically-opposed. What a great language.
So Schleim questions this "devil"'s credentials, but Jonnie makes a big show of having him repeat himself because of his "uncouth Tolnep accent," which gets the other aliens laughing at the rustic representative ("Tolneps were really quite rural; they had only one planet, and that was quite distant from the center of things.")
So one of the Top 30 species that dominates interdimensional affairs never founded a single colony.
To add insult to injury, Jonnie uses his wand/flashlight to illuminate Schleim's dirty blue booties, stifling a laugh. But he moves on, using all the deferential and polite words and mannerisms from those Chinko instructional discs, and explains that such an august assembly shouldn't be meeting for a minor dispute - such as, say, piracy.
Jonnie looks the term up in the provided dictionary and finds the expected definition, but when he checks the book of law he finds that the Psychlos defined "pirate" as "one who feloniously steals or mines minerals." Everyone laughs at those greedy Psychlos, and Jonnie suggests that the conference pick a definition to determine if "the Tolnep fleet officers and crewmen are to be slowly vaporized individually as pirates or simply shot as military men when court-martialed."
This makes Schleim spit venom as he protests such a prejudiced slander, and Jonnie explains that he believes the other aliens were coerced into following the Tolnep's lead on their attack on Earth. Schleim counters that the other Tolneps were following government orders and that this talk of pirates is just a waste of time they could be spent negotiating Earth's surrender. The chapter ends on this... well, it's not a cliffhanger so much as it is an impasse or pause in a conversation. Maybe it's a commercial break.
If nothing else, this chapter makes me regret that there won't be a sequel to the Battlefield Earth movie. It'd be hilarious to see the result of trying to film this chapter as it's written...
Back to Part Twenty-Six, Chapter Seven