So the alien delegates are outside around the transhipment platform, enjoying the night air and chatting amiably amongst themselves. The representative from Splandorf offers to buy a dog from a Chinese refugee for six thousand credits. They have no idea what Jonnie has in store for them.
After apologizing once more for getting sidetracked by Schleim and piracy, Jonnie takes the stage and vows to settle the Tolnep issue once and for all with "a demonstration of excessive appetite." Two techs roll out a minecar, presumably on tracks laid on specifically for this demonstration.
And on the cart sat a dragon like the one on his helmet. It was about five feet long. It had wings. It had a neck. And it had a very ferocious head, a gaping fanged mouth, glaring red eyes and horns. And from head to tail it had spines jutting out all the way along. A gold-scaled, scarlet-mouthed dragon.
Schleim states the obvious: "That's just a painted figure made of clay!" But the other aliens are impressed by Jonnie's theatrics and shush the Tolnep. Jonnie explains that the "beast" is a dragon, and gestures at its "mother," the dolled-up teleportation console, as well as the dragon on his helmet. But he goes on to point out the key difference - the beast on his helmet has been fed. The one on the cart "is an imperial dragon! It eats moons and planets!"
The assembled ambassadors chuckle at the joke, and how the technicians "pet" and "catch" the "wild animal" to be hauled onto the teleportation platform. Jonnie walks over, leans down, and whispers into the statue's ear: "I know you are hungry. SO GO EAT UP ASART!"
And so the "ultimate bomb" within the dragon is armed, and it is teleported away.
A few minutes go by, then Jonnie borrows a "picto-recorder" from the emissary from Fowljopan - foul Japan? - and teleports the recorder away. When it comes back a short time later, it's freezing cold. The recorder is uploaded to the projector, which implies that if nothing else these diverse aliens have agreed upon a universal media storage format. An image of the harbor moon of Asart materializes in the air, but...
They didn't see anything strange for a moment. And then as the picture rolled off the disk, they saw a hole. A hole occurring in the upper right surface of Asart. Just a hole. No, there was a bit of black around the edge of it.
Schleim, still listening for the Tolnep fleet, dismisses it as more of Jonnies theatrics, but the other aliens are now afraid. Another camera is teleported away and back, and the resulting screens show how the hole is growing.
A breath of terror trembled through the gathering. But Jonnie was not going to let it become a riot.
"You see, my lords, the dragon was hungry." He laughed lightly. "He is also a very obedient dragon. Told to eat the moon, he is eating Asart! A very controllable dragon after all!"
Had he hit them with ice water he could not have produced a more chilling effect. Their eyes focused on him in growing horror.
Jonnie has now become a more effective villain than Terl.
Schleim declares that this is just a trick, that Jonnie is showing them pictures of a model or something. But he offers to use his own recorder to verify things, which gives him an excuse to go to his room and grab a hamper loaded with spare weaponry (has he noticed he's been pickpocketed yet?). When he returns, Schleim reveals that there is a diamond emblem on the "back" of Asart done with "hyperband nullifying material" that can only be seen with special Tolnep equipment. He puts his camera on the teleportation platform, confident that he's about to uncover Jonnie's deception. All the while awaiting reinforcements.
The really depressing thing- well, more depressing than the "good guys" blowing up a planetoid - is that by the aliens' reactions, there's no indication that the Psychlos ever did this. Which means that 1) the big bad Psychlos have once again improperly utilized their technology and 2) the depraved and thoroughly evil Psychlos have nothing on Jonnie.
Maybe I'll be proven wrong later. Maybe Jonnie is merely just as vicious as the Psychlos, rather than more so.
Random fact for the chapter: Schleim mentally explains "Theatrics, good Lord" at one point, and wonders "what in the name of fifty devils was going on" at another, which raises some fascinating theological questions that unfortunately go unanswered.
Another random fact: one of the alien diplomats is some sort of tree-person, with bark for skin and leaves for hair. Why the hell not.
Back to Chapter Six