Foundation and Chaos

Page 28

He had watched Daneel test Dors, and he had no doubt Daneel could find some equally effective way to test him. Before that happened, he would have to undergo another transformation--and find the allies he was almost sure were on Trantor, hidden from Daneel, working to oppose him. Among the Greys. there would be many chances to do research on those who opposed the Chens and Divarts...

Had Lodovik been human, he would have estimated his chances as very slim. Since his concern for his own survival was minimal, a hopeless situation was not particularly disturbing. Far worse was the thought of being disloyal, of contradicting R. Daneel Olivaw.


Brann walked through the main storage wing of the warehouse with surprising speed for a man of his size. The dark spaces and huge tiers of storage racks loomed and made their footsteps sound like the beats of distant drums. Klia kept up with some difficulty, but did not mind; she had not had much exercise in days, and looked upon this assignment as both a break in the routine and a possible avenue of escape.

Being with Brann was pleasant enough, so long as she did not think about her emotional reaction to him, and how inappropriate it was. She wrinkled her nose at the dusty ghosts of hundreds of unfamiliar smells.

“The most popular imports come from Anacreon and Memphio,” Brann said. He paused beside a shadowy equipment alcove to check out a loader/transport. “There are some very wealthy artisan families that live off sales to Trantor alone. Everybody wants Anacreon folk-dolls--I hate them, myself. We also import games and entertainments from Kalgan--of the sort frowned upon by the Commission censors.”

Klia walked beside Brann. The transport glided on floater fields a discreet two meters behind them, lowering small rubber wheels when it wanted to turn sharply or stop.

“We’re going to deliver four crates of dolls to the Trantor Exchange, and some other items to the Agora of Vendors.” These were the two most popular shopping areas in Streeling, well-known around the hemisphere. Well-heeled Greys and meritocrats traveled from thousands of kilometers--some, thousands of light years--just to spend several days browsing among the myriad of shops in each area. The Agora of Vendors boasted of inns spaced at hundred-shop intervals for tired travelers.

The baronial and other noble families of the gentry class had their own means of satisfying acquisitive urges, and, of course, citizens usually lived in quarters too small to allow for the accumulation of many goods.

When Klia had been very young, her mother and father had participated in a communal Dahl bauble exchange, where they borrowed one or two objects considered decorative (and fairly useless) for several days or weeks and then returned them. That seemed satisfactory enough, for those fascinated with material goods; actually owning or even collecting offworld objects seemed ludicrous to Klia.

“This means Plussix trusts me enough to let me go outside, doesn’t it?” Klia said.

Brann looked down on her, his face serious. “This isn’t some mindwipe cult, Klia.”

“How do I know that? What is it, then--a social club for misfit persuaders?”

“You sound pretty unhappy,” Brann said. “But you--”

“Is there anyplace on Trantor where anyone can be happy? Look at all this junk--a substitute for happiness, don’t you think?” She waved her hands at the plastic and scrapwood crates stacked high over their heads.

“I wouldn’t know,” Brann said. “I was going to say, you sound unhappy, but I’ll bet you can’t think of anyplace else to go.”

“Maybe that’s why I’m unhappy,” Klia said in a dark undertone. “I certainly feel like a misfit. Maybe I do belong here.”

Brann turned away with a small grunt and ordered the transport to remove a crate from the third tier. It planted its undercarriage firmly on the floor, then raised its body on pneumatic cylinders and deftly tugged at the crate with mechanical arms.

“Kallusin said we might be able to travel all over,” Klia said. “If we turn out to be loyal, is that...I mean, do you know of anyone who’s left? Been assigned elsewhere?”

Brann shook his head. “Of course, I don’t know everybody. I haven’t been here that long. There are other warehouses.”

Klia had not known this. She filed the fact away, and wondered if Plussix was orchestrating some sort of huge latent underground movement--a rebellion, perhaps. A rebellious merchant broker? It seemed ludicrous--and perhaps the more convincing because of that. But what would he rebel against--the very classes who clamored for his goods? Or the noble and baronial families...who did not?

“We have what we need,” Brann said when the transport carried three crates from three different aisles. “Let’s go.”

“What about the police--the ones searching for me--for us?”

“Plussix says they’re not looking for anybody now,” Brann said.

“And how does he know?”

Brann shook his head. “All I know is, he’s never wrong. Not one of us has ever been taken by the police.”

“Famous last words,” Klia said, but she once again trotted to keep up with him.

Outside the warehouse, the daylight of the dome ceil glowed brightly. She emerged from the cavernous interior to a brighter, larger interior--the only other kind of life she had ever known.


Sinter paced in his small study before the wall image of the human Galaxy with its twenty-five million inhabited worlds marked in red and green. He barely looked up as Vara Liso entered. She immediately dropped her chin and hunched her shoulders. What she saw in Farad Sinter was both frightening and exalting. She had never seem him more calm and steady--not a hint of the slight frown and swagger, the false lineaments of leadership, that he so often projected. He seemed both confident and coldly furious.

“I realize now that you’ve been going about this search all wrong,” he said. “You’ve been bringing me nothing but human mentalics, curious cases of course, but not what we want or need.”

“I was--”

He raised his hand and made a placating moue. “I accuse you of nothing. You had nothing to work with. Now we have something--perhaps the merest something, but more than we had before. I’ve intercepted a man named Mors Planch. I doubt you’ve heard of him. He’s a very competent fellow, with many talents--engineering among them. He tinkers all the time, I understand.”

Liso raised her eyebrows, meekly indicating she had no idea where all this was going.

“I tracked him after I learned that Linge Chen was using him to conduct a private search for Lodovik Trema. Planch is on Trantor. I’ve spoken with him.”

Liso had heard of Trema. Her eyebrows rose higher.

“He found Trema but did not deliver him to the Chief Commissioner. My agents learned this much. All the rigmarole about Trema being dead, having died bravely in the service of the Emperor--that is, the Commission of Public Safety--all nonsense. He’s still alive. Rather, he’s still operating. He can’t be alive.”

Liso dropped her brows and glowered. Sinter seemed to be enjoying this chance to layout his schemes and successes. He fairly glowed, and she saw, written in his emotions, just the sort of pearly cometary tail she imagined followed a leading light into the constellations of supreme power. The thought made her shiver.

“He survived when all the others on his ship died in a neutrino flux.”

“What is that?” Liso asked softly.

“Nothing to concern us. Fatal. Invariably. Far out between the stars, in normal space. He survived. Planch miraculously or very skillfully found him. A competent man. I would like to have his talent work for me. Maybe that will happen yet, but I doubt Linge Chen will let Planch live once he discovers that he has been betrayed. Planch has some fixed notions of justice, and it appears another contender for the person of Trema came on the scene, and paid Planch more than Chen--so Planch took some mixed-up vengeance against Chen and Trantor for the ruin of Madder Loss. A worthless and defiant Chaos World.”

Vara Liso shook her head again. She knew little about such things, nor was she interested. It made her shudder to think of death between the stars, out in the vast open, away from any comforting interiors. She did not regard a hypership as a true environment--more of a temporary coffin.

“When Planch delivered Trema to a certain man on Madder Loss, he made a record, a secret tape, of the proceedings. Somehow, the recording was not detected. I wonder why?” He scratched his cheek for a moment with one finger, staring at her intently. Liso shrugged; she could not possibly offer an explanation.

“Planch does not remember the delivery itself. But the record shows a meeting...Let me play it for you.”

He took out a small machine and slipped the record--more likely, she thought, a duplicate--into the thin slot. Around them appeared a three dimensional scene, quite convincing but for the slight reduction in resolution. She examined the two apparently male figures from Planch’s perspective. One she recognized as Lodovik Trema; the other was tall, slender, handsome in a sort of nondescript way. She could not, of course, read their emotions clearly, but she had the distinct impression something was not quite right. The figures reenacted their conversation, and the more they talked, the more chilled she became.

“I regret to say you’ll soon forget everything you saw here, and your role in rescuing my friend as well.”


“Yes. We’ve known each other for thousands of years.”

The record ended with part of a taxi ride.

Sinter regarded her curiously.

“A fraud, a joke?” she asked.

“No,” he said. “The record is not a fake. Planch found Lodovik Trema alive. He’s a robot. This other man--he’s a robot, as well. A very old one, possibly the oldest of all. I want you to study this record. Get a feel for these humanlike robots. One or both of them are mentalic. You have the talent to recognize them. Then--we will send you out hunting again. You will find Eternals. Then I will have something to show the Emperor. But for now, I have Planch and this tape, and that can take us all very far, Vara.”

He smiled exuberantly. In his pacing, he had come quite close to her, and with a grin, he gave her a sudden, spontaneous, one-armed hug. She looked up at him, dumfounded, and he folded the record into her hand. She held it with bloodless fingers.

“Study,” he ordered. “I’ll wait for the right moment to convince Klayus we’re onto something.”


The Emperor Klayus woke from a light doze in the empty bed of the seventh sleep chamber, his favorite for afternoon liaisons. He glared around for a moment with some irritation, then stared at the floating image of Farad Sinter. Sinter could not see the Emperor, of course, but that did not make the interruption any less aggravating.

“Your Highness, I have a message from the Commission of Public Safety. They are about to act on an indictment against Professor Hari Seldon.”

Klayus lifted the curtain to the higher sleep field to look for his companion of the past few hours, but she had left the chamber. Perhaps she was in the personal.

“Yes, and so? Linge Chen told us this might happen.”

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