MacKendrick shows up and Jonnie explains that "we're going to do it!" He's referring to the capsules implanted in Psychlos' skulls, but I'll take what amusement the accidental innuendo gives me.
Yes, Jonnie has an idea. He and Mac have known of a hole or gap a "thirty-second of an inch in diameter" where the Psychlo jawbone connects under the ear. Both of them dismissed it as being too small to fit an instrument through, even though it's aligned perfectly with those nefarious brain-scrambling capsules. But Jonnie has... well, it's unclear exactly how he cracked this medical mystery and what thought process allows him to advance the plot. But he's nevertheless figured it out.
The short version is that you can stick some wires through that hole and connect them to a molecular plating gun, which using electrolysis or something will allow you to coat your bit of cerebral short-circuitry with metal transmitted down the length of the wires. Jonnie and MacKendrick manage to implant and remove a device from one of the dead Psychlos, and they're eager to try it on a live one. End chapter.
There, I just condensed four pages of technobabble.
Two other things happen, though: first, Jonnie's magical singing button goes off ("Gone are the days/When my heart was young and gay/Gone are the days...") in the middle of the surgery, so he finally gets rid of the stupid thing.
Second, one of the nurses mentions "I don't think this little girl should be in here during all this," which is when Jonnie finally notices Pattie standing nearby. I almost burst out laughing - after she was overlooked and got to stow away on his plane, she wanders off again! Jonnie "put [her] down" somewhere at the beginning of the chapter, and then everyone forgot about her until she meandered her way into a hospital! And even then it took a while for anybody in surgery to notice there was a little girl hanging around!
But it's all okay, you see, because Pattie is finally acting interested in something (even if it is a Psychlo skull or a vivisected alien), so Jonnie convinces the nurses to let a ten-year-old stay and watch some surgery.
I just realized - if Pattie is ten now, after an indeterminate timeskip that was preceded by a year in captivity, then Chrissie took her into the unknown wilds when she was at best nine years old. She took her nine-year-old sister with her into lands filled with wolves and boars and bears and Psychlos, with no warrior escort, or even a weapon.
Chrissie is criminally stupid.
Wait, that's not fair, Pattie kept following her when she tried to leave. Which means that even at an early age, nobody cared to stop Pattie from wandering around. And since nobody came racing after Chrissie or Pattie once they left, they probably didn't notice Pattie missing back then, either.
Someone get that kid a leash. And maybe one of those collars with a bell on it.
Back to Chapter Five