Jonnie and the two Small Gray Men sit down for a fancy Chinese dinner, complete with paper lanterns, paintings, "some very subdued but kind of squeaky music," and a golden brocade tunic for Jonnie to wear. Half a page is devoted to the courses served, which I'll skip - basically anything you'd see on a take-out menu at the average Chinese eatery. Sucks to be those aliens with specialized diets, I guess.
The Grays manage to tear through a banquet meant for thirty people, making Jonnie wonder about their ancestry. The Gray Men's rough, hairless skin, gill-like ears (what), sharply upturned noses, dull eyes, and double rows of teeth lead Jonnie to conclude that they're descended from sharks.
So yes, these beings from another planet are the end result of an evolutionary process that created lifeforms indistinguishable from Earth's. Given that every species in Hubbard's 'verse is man-shaped and that even the separate universes are functionally identical, this comes as no surprise.
After eating everything, the Grays finally start talking. They deride the Psychlo equipment the humans are forced to use, revealing that the suicidally idiotic Psychlos preferred to blow their money on "half a dozen new females or a ton or two of kerbango," then purchase discount, inferior base defenses.
And those chuckleheads were still the dominant power in the galaxies. What's the other aliens' excuse?
The Grays mention that a quality defensive weapon costs over 120,000 credits, while the AA guns the humans have were only five thousand credits a piece. Jonnie casually asks how much it would cost to properly defend Earth, and the aliens put their heads together before coming up with five hundred billion credits for parts alone.
He asks how they know this, if they're arms traders or something, and only then do the Grays bother to introduce themselves: His Excellency Dries Gloton, branch manager, and Lord Voraz, "Central Director, Chief Executive Officer and Overlord of the Galactic Bank." It is the financial power and prestige of the Galactic Bank that is keeping the conference-going aliens polite, out of fear that the Grays will call in their debts and destroy entire worlds' economies so that "their whole planet could be sold right out from under them."
So those are our new antagonists: bankers. Bankers who give loans, and who are descended from sharks. Loan sharks.
Back to Chapter Two