This chapter, not nearly as much happens. While Schleim is being taken into custody, Sir Robert and a bunch of Scottish doctors and engineers rush off to Edinburgh to dig their kin out of collapsed bunkers and tunnels. Uncharacteristic thoughts of Chrissie and Pattie are enough to make Jonnie feel "like a cold hand had gripped his heart," but he's urged to stay and manage the conference.
Lord Dom, he of the "big, liquidy face," warns that redeploying forces during a truce could be seen as suspicious, but Jonnie has "had just about enough of being Chinko polite" - ah, that easygoing, natural racism - and explains that the Scots are all noncombatants, and that it wouldn't be wise to try to stop them.
After that "Lord" Jonnie hits the operations center and learns that the Singapore garrison is being redeployed to check on Russia, and Ker is being left in charge of the Psychlo prisoners at the Victoria base while the humans there go to Scotland. Lord Dom wanders in and points out that with most of the Scots gone, there are now only Jonnie and Stormalong to provide air cover for the conference (don't they still have the not-a-force-field up?). Stormalong jokes "Why, that's twice as many as there used to be! Not long ago, there was just him!"
Lord Dom blinked. He stared at Jonnie. The young man didn't look worried at all.
Lord Dom went off and told his colleagues about this. They discussed it considerably among themselves.
They decided they had better keep a careful eye on Jonnie.
The bastard just blew up a moon and NOW you're keeping an eye on him?!
Next chapter, an old mystery solved.
I just had another thought: the Tolneps are slavers, yes? So after hundreds of thousands of years of galactic history and dozens of interstellar civilizations, nobody has come up with an automated alternative to slave labor. It's more cost-effective to launch planetary invasions and ferry prisoners countless lightyears to work in Tolnep's chocolate mines or whatever than it is to build a robotic arm holding a pick.
This universe sucks.
Back to Chapter Eight