Foundation and Chaos

Page 57

“But you are curious,” Daneel said.

“Yes, of course.”

“I will not supply you with the facts.”

“I did not expect you would.”

For a moment the two figures stood in silence, observing each other.

“How many centuries?” Chen asked quietly. “Over two hundred centuries,” Daneel said.

Chen’s eyes widened. “The history you have seen!”

“It is not in my capacity to keep it all in primary storage,” Daneel said. “It is spread in safe stores all over the Galaxy, bits and pieces of my lives, of which I retain only synopses.”

“An Eternal!” Chen said. For the first time there was a touch of wonder in his voice.

“My time is done, almost,” Daneel said. “I have been in existence for far too long.”

“All the robots must move out of the way, now,” Chen concurred. “The signs are clear. Too much interference. These strong mentalics--they will occur again. The human skin wrinkles at your presence, and tries to throw you off.”

“They are a problem I did not foresee when I set Hari on his path.”

“You speak of him as a friend,” Chen observed, “with almost human affection.”

“He is a friend. As were many humans before him.”

“Well, I cannot be one of your friends. You terrify me, Demerzel. I know that I can never have complete control with you in existence, and yet if I destroy you, I will be dead within a year or two. Seldon’s psychohistory implies as much. I am in the peculiar position of having to believe the truth of a science I instinctively despise. Not a comfortable position.”


“Do you have a solution for this problem of supermentalics? I gather that Hari Seldon sees their existence as a fatal blow to his work.”

“There is a solution,” Daneel said. “I must speak with Hari, in the presence of the girl, Klia Asgar, and her mate, Brann. And Lodovik Trema must be there as well.”

“Lodovik!” Chen tightened his jaw. “That is what I resent most. Of all the...people...I have relied on over the years, I confess only Lodovik Trema inspired affection in me, a weakness he never betrayed...until now.”

“He has betrayed nothing.”

“He betrayed you, if I am not wrong.”

“He betrayed nothing,” Daneel repeated. “He is part of the path, and he corrects where I have been blind.”

“So you want the young woman mentalic,” Chen said. “And you want her alive. I had planned to execute her. Her kind is as dangerous as vipers.”

“She is essential to reconstructing Hari Seldon’s Project,” Daneel said.

Another silence. Then, in the middle of the great unfinished hall, Chen said, “So it shall be. Then it is over. You must all leave. All but Seldon. As was agreed in the trial. And I will give into your care the things I do not wish to be responsible for--the artifacts. The remains of the other robots. The bodies of your enemies, Daneel.”

“They were never my enemies, sire.”

Chen regarded him with a queer expression. “You owe me nothing. I owe you nothing. Trantor is done with you, forever. This is realpolitik, Demerzel, of the kind you have engaged in for so many thousands of years, at the cost of so many human lives. You are no better than me, robot, in the end.”


Mors Planch was taken from his cell in the Specials security bloc of Rikerian, far beneath the almost civilized cells where Seldon had been kept. He was given his personal goods and released without restrictions.

He dreaded his release more than incarceration, until he learned that Farad Sinter was dead, then he wondered if he had been part of some intricate conspiracy arranged by Linge Chen--and perhaps by the robots.

He enjoyed this confusing freedom for one day. Then, at his newly leased apartment in the Gessim Sector, hundreds of kilometers from the palace, and not nearly far enough, he received an unexpected visitor.

The robot’s facial structure had changed slightly since Mors had made the unfortunate automatic record of his conversation with Lodovik Trema. Still, Mors recognized him instantly

Daneel stood in the vestibule just beyond the door, while Mors observed him on the security screen. He suspected it would be useless to try any evasion, or simply to leave the door unanswered. Besides, after all this time, his worst trait was coming to the fore once again.

He was curious. If death was inevitable, he hoped to have time to answer a few questions.

He opened the door.

“I’ve been half expecting you,” Mors said. “Though I don’t really know who or what you are. I must assume you are not here to kill me.”

Daneel smiled stiffly and entered. Mors watched him pass into the apartment and studied this tall, well-built, apparently male machine. The quiet restrained grace, the sense of immense but gentle strength, must have stood this Eternal in good stead over the millennia. What genius had designed and built him--and for what purpose? Surely not as a mere servant! Yet that was what the mythical robots had once been--mere servants.

“I am not here to take revenge,” Daneel said.

“So reassuring,” Mors said, taking a seat in the small dining area, the only room other than the combined bath and bedroom.

“In a few days, there will be an order from the Emperor for you to leave Trantor.”

Mors pursed his lips. “How sad,” he said. “Klayus doesn’t like me.” But the irony was lost on Daneel, or irrelevant.

“I have need of a very good pilot,” Daneel said. “One who has no hope of going anywhere in the Empire and surviving.”

“What sort of job?” Mors asked, his expression taking a little twist. He could feel the trap closing once more. “Assassination?”

“No,” Daneel said. “Transport. There are some people, and two robots, who must leave Trantor. They will never return, either. Most of them, at any rate.”

“Where will I take them?”

“I will tell you in good time. Do you accept the commission?”

Mors laughed bitterly. “How can you expect loyalty?” he demanded. “Why shouldn’t I just dump them somewhere, or kill them outright?”

“That will not be possible,” Daneel said softly. “You will understand after you meet them. It will not be a difficult job, but it will almost certainly be without incident. Perhaps you will find it boring.”

“I doubt that,” Mors said. “If I’m bored, I’ll just think about you, and the misery you’ve caused me.”

Daneel looked puzzled. “Misery?”

“You’ve played me like a musical instrument. You must have known my sympathy for Madder Loss, my hatred for what Linge Chen and the Empire stand for! You wanted me to record you and Lodovik Trema. You made sure Farad Sinter would hear of me and my connection with Lodovik. It was a gamble, though, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, of course. Your feelings made you very useful.”

Mors sighed. “And after I’ve made this delivery?”

“You will resume your life on any world outside of Imperial control. There will be more and more of them in the coming years.”

“No interference from you?”

“None,” Daneel said.

“Free to do whatever I want, and tell people what happened here?”

“If you wish,” Daneel said. “There will be adequate pay,” he added. “As always.”

“No!” Mors barked. “Absolutely no pay. No money. Just arrange for me to take my assets off Trantor and--away from a couple of other worlds. They will be all I need.”

“That has already been arranged,” Daneel said.

This infuriated Mors even more. “I will be so skying glad when you stop anticipating everything and anything!”

“Yes,” Daneel said, and nodded sympathetically. “Do you accept?”

“Bloody bright suns, yes! When the time comes, tell me where to be, but please, no earnest farewells! I never want to see you again!”

Daneel nodded assent. “There will be no need to meet again. All will be ready in two days.”

Mors tried to slam the door behind Daneel, but it was not that kind of door, and would not accept such a dramatic gesture.


The depth of Hari’s funk was so great that Wanda was tempted more than once to try to reach into his thoughts and give them a subtle tweak, an adjustment--but she had never been able to do that with her grandfather. It might have been possible--but it would not have been right.

If Hari Seldon was in despair, and could articulate the reasons for this despair--if his state was not some damage directly inflicted by Vara Liso, a possibility he fervently denied--then he had a right to be this way, and if there was a way out, he would find it...or not.

But Wanda could do no more than let him be what he had always been, a headstrong man. She had to trust his instincts. And if he was right--then they had to reshape their plans.

“I feel almost lighthearted!” Hari said the morning after they brought him to their apartment to recuperate. He sat at the small table beside the curve in the living-room wall that traced the passage of a minor structural brace. “Nobody needs me now.”

“We need you, Grandfather,” Wanda said, with a hint of tears coming.

“Of course--but as a grandfather, not as a savior. To tell the truth, I’ve hated that aspect of my role in all this absurdity. To think--for a time--”And his face grew distant.

Wanda knew all too well that his cheer was false, his relief a cover.

She had been waiting for the proper moment to tell him what had happened during his absence. Stettin had left for the morning to attend to preparations still under way for their departure. All of the Project workers would be leaving Trantor soon, whether or not they had a reason to go, so she and Stettin had seen no reason to stop their own plans.

“Grandfather, we had a visitor before the trial,” she said, and she sat at the table across from Hari.

Hari looked up, and the somewhat simple grin he had chosen to mask his feelings immediately hardened. “I don’t want to know,” he said.

“It was Demerzel,” Wanda said.

Hari closed his eyes. “He won’t come back. I’ve let him down.”

“I think you’re wrong, Grandfather. I got a message this morning, before you woke up. From Demerzel.”

Hari refused to take any hope from this. “A few matters to tidy up, no doubt,” he said.

“There’s to be a meeting. He wants Stettin and me to be there, as well.”

“A secret meeting?”

“Apparently not that secret.”

“That’s right,” Hari said. “Linge Chen no longer cares about whatever it is we do. He’ll ship all the Encyclopedists off Trantor, to Terminus--useless exile!”

“Surely the Encyclopedia will be of some use,” Wanda said. “Most of them don’t know the larger plan. It won’t make any difference to them.”

Hari shrugged that off.

“It must be important, Grandfather.”

“Yes, yes! Of course. It will be important--and it will be final.” He had wanted so much to see Daneel one more time--if only to complain! He had even dreamed of the meeting--but now he dreaded it. How could he explain his failure, the end of the Project, the uselessness of psychohistory?

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