"We don't know enough about Psychlo diseases," he told Jonnie, "and their cadavers might be very infective to them when decayed. They are built of viruses and there may be a virus smaller than viruses. So change your clothes and get brand-new wires and equipment."
Mac has now gone from "obviously not a real doctor" to "dangerous to have around medical equipment."
Jonnie takes a minecart to pick up Chirk - y'know, the Psychlos are supposed to be the ones with a mining fixation, but every time Jonnie or another human needs to have something moved, they push it on a minecart. Psychlo corpses, hologram projectors, you name it, they never get a dolly or wheelbarrow. Always a minecart.
Anyway, the two Psychlo females caring for Chirk are incredulous at his claims of trying to take her in for surgery. They think he's here to torture or kill her, the only treatments the "catrists" allowed for "lapsin." Some narration (not dialogue) explains that the "catrists" were "the medical scientist cult that really ran Psychlo," and "lapsin" was a disease that Psychlo females could get, most commonly at young ages. It's explained that it was illegal to try to cure lapsin, or for "an unauthorized person to trifle with the mind." Anyone who came down with it was simply executed.
Jonnie carts Chirk out anyway, hauls her in for surgery, and just under two hours later her mental wiring is extracted. Mac says it'll be another four hours until the anesthesia (Psychlos get conked out by methane, which just begs for a fart joke) wears off. The two other females are astonished when Jonnie brings Chirk back alive, but assume that he's going to order them to kill her instead. After kicking them out he ends up standing guard outside her room lest someone else get any "odd Psychlo ideas."
Oh, and Jonnie has a "Poor Chirk" moment when he sees how thin she is. Didn't he have fun getting her all terrified half a book ago?
Back to Chapter Six