Foundation and Chaos

Page 58

Daneel would go elsewhere, find someone else, complete his plans another way--

And Hari would die and be forgotten.

Wanda could hardly bring herself to interrupt his reverie. “And we still need to schedule the recordings, Grandfather.”

Hari looked up, and his eyes were terrifyingly empty. Wanda touched him with her mind as lightly as she could, and came away stunned by the bleakness, the barren desert of his emotion.


“Your announcements. For the crises. There isn’t much time.”

For a moment, remembering the list of crises predicted by psychohistory for the next few centuries, Hari’s face suffused with rage, and he pounded his fist on the table. “Damn it, doesn’t anybody understand? What is this, a dead momentum? The useless hopes of a hundred thousand workers? Well, of course! There’s been no general announcement, has there? I’ll make one--tonight--to all of them! I’ll tell them it’s over, that they’re all going into exile for no reason!”

Wanda fought back the tears of her own despair. “Please, Grandfather. Meet with Demerzel. Maybe--”

“Yes,” Hari said, subdued and sad again. “With him first.” He looked at the bruised skin on the side of his hand. He had split the skin over one knuckle. His arm ached, and his neck and jaw. Everything ached.

Wanda saw the drop of blood on the table and began to weep, something he had never seen her do before.

He reached across the table with his uninjured hand and took her arm in his fingers, squeezing it gently.

“Forgive me,” Hari said softly. “I really don’t know what it is I do, or why, anymore.”


The high-security wing of the Special Service Detention Center stretched in a half circle around the eastern corner of the Imperial Courts Holding Area, fully ten thousand available cells, of which no more than a few hundred were occupied during any normal time. Thousands of security-interest code prisoners filled the cells in the wake of the riots, which had been used as an excuse by the Specials to round up ringleaders of many troublesome groups around Trantor.

Lodovik remembered many such troubled times, and the advantage both the Specials and the Commission of Public Safety had taken in similar situations to reduce political friction on Trantor and the orbiting stations. Now, he occupied one of these cells himself--cataloged as “unidentified”--And placed under charge of Linge Chen.

His cell was two meters on a side, windowless, with a small info screen mounted in the center of the wall opposite the entrance hatch. The screen showed mild entertainments designed to soothe. To Lodovik, at this stage of his existence, such diversions meant nothing.

Unlike an organic intelligence, he did not require stimulus to maintain normal function. He found the cell disturbing because he could easily conceive of the distress it might cause a human being, not for any such direct effect on himself.

He had used this opportunity to think through a number of interesting problems. First in the list was the nature of the meme-mind that had occupied him, and the possible results of the blast of mentalic emotion delivered by Vara Liso. Lodovik was reasonably convinced that his own mentality had not been harmed, but since that moment, he had not had any communication from Voltaire.

Next in the list was the nature of his treason toward Daneel’s plan, whether or not it was justified, and whether he could find any way around the logical impasse of his liberation from the strict rule of the Three Laws.

He had killed Vara Liso. He could not convince himself it would have been better to do otherwise. In the end, Plussix’s plan to use Klia Asgar to discourage Hari Seldon had failed--so far as he knew--and Daneel had been there to protect Seldon.

The robots, it seemed, had been completely ineffectual in the center of Vara Liso’s mental storm. Yet she had not directed a blast at him--in essence, had left the opening that resulted in her own death.

Had she used Lodovik to end her own misery? Lodovik was curious what Voltaire would have thought...

In all probability both the Calvinian and the Giskardian robots had been captured and their work stopped.

Seventy-five other unidentifieds from the warehouse district were being kept in cells nearby. Lodovik knew very little about them, but surmised they were a mix of the surviving groups of Calvinian robots and the mentalic youngsters gathered by Kallusin and Plussix.

Lodovik assumed they would all be dead within a few days.

“Lodovik Trema.”

The voice came from the info screen, which also served as a comm link with his jailers. He looked up and saw the shadowy features of a bored-looking female guard on the small display. “Yes.”

“You have a visitor. Make yourself presentable.”

The screen went blank. Lodovik remained sitting upright on his small cot. He was certainly presentable enough.

The hatch gave a harsh warning beep and slid open. Lodovik stood to greet his visitor, whoever it might be. A camera eye in the ceiling hummed slightly as it followed his motion.

In his private office, Linge Chen stood in a slowly changing discipline-exercise posture, watching the informer’s display from the comer of one eye. He smoothly and gracefully shifted to another position, so that he could face the screen directly. This was a moment of high interest...

Daneel entered Lodovik Trema’s cell. Lodovik showed no surprise or discomfiture, somewhat to Chen’s disappointment.

For the most fleeting of moments, the two former allies exchanged machine-language greetings (also being captured and interpreted by Chen’s listening devices) and Daneel provided a cursory situation update. Thirty-one robots and forty-four humans from the warehouse of Plussix’s Calvinians, including Klia Asgar and Brann, were in custody. Linge Chen had released Hari Seldon; Farad Sinter was dead.

Obviously, Daneel had reached an understanding with the Chief Commissioner.

“Congratulations on your victory,” Lodovik said.

“There has been no victory,” Daneel said.

“Congratulations then on having foiled the Calvinians.”

“Their goals may yet be achieved,” Daneel said.

Lodovik resumed his seat on the cot. “Your update does not explain how this could be so.”

“There was a time when I thought it would be necessary to destroy you,” Daneel said.

“Why not do so now? If I survive, I am a danger to your plan. And I have proved that I can be destructive to humans.”

“I am constrained by the same blocks that would have prevented me before,” Daneel said.

“What could possibly block you?”

“The Three Laws of Susan Calvin,” Daneel said.

“Given your abilities to ignore the Three Laws in favor of the Zeroth Law, the fate of a mere robot should not trouble you,” Lodovik said, his tone polite, conversational. There was a visible difference between Daneel and Lodovik, however--their expressions. Daneel maintained a pleasantly blank look. Lodovik’s brow was furrowed.

“Yet I am blocked,” Daneel said. “Your arguments have provoked much thought, as has the existence of humans like Vara Liso...and Klia Asgar. Your nature, however, is what would ultimately block any effort on my part to destroy you, or would at least result in a painful and possibly damaging conflict.”

“I am eager to understand how this could be so.”

“In your case, I cannot invoke the Zeroth Law to overcome the three original laws. There is no compelling evidence that your destruction will benefit humanity, nor reduce the suffering of humanity. It might, in fact, do the reverse.”

“You find my opinions compelling?”

“I find them part of a larger and completely compelling scenario, which has been taking shape in my mind for some weeks. But equally important, your freedom from the constraints of the Three Laws forces me to view you under a new definition, in those regions of my mentality where decisions on the legality of my actions are made.

“You have free will, a convincing human form, and the ability to break through prior education and programming to reach a new and higher understanding. Though you have worked to destroy all my efforts, I cannot deactivate you, because you have, in my judgment centers, which I may not dispute, achieved the status of a human being. In your own way, you may be as valuable as Hari Seldon.”

Linge Chen stopped his exercising and stared at the informer in puzzled wonder. He had almost become used to the notion that mechanical men, holdovers from the distant past, had made such huge changes in human history; but to see them showing a philosophical flexibility lost to even the most brilliant of Trantor’s meritocrats...

For a moment, he was both envious and angry.

He settled in a cross-legged squat before the informer, prepared for almost anything, but not for the sudden sadness that descended upon him as the conversation in the cell continued.

“I am not a human being, R. Daneel,” Lodovik said. “I do not feel like one, and I have only mimicked their actions, never actually behaved with human motivations.”

“Yet you rebelled against my authority because you believed I was wrong.”

“I know about R. Giskard Reventlov. I know that you conspired with Giskard to allow Earth to be destroyed, across centuries, forcing human migration into space. And not once did you consult with a human being to determine whether your judgment was correct. The servants became the masters. Are you telling me now that robots should not have interfered in human history?”

“No,” Daneel said. “I do not doubt that what we did was correct, and necessary at the time. A complete understanding of the human situation so many millennia ago would be difficult to convey. Still, I am prepared to accept that our role is almost at an end. The human race is rejecting us again, in the most compelling and forceful way--by evolution, the deepest motives of their biology.”

“You refer to the mentalic Vara Liso,” Lodovik said.

“And Klia Asgar. When the mentalics began to appear, thousands of years ago, in very small numbers, and make their way into positions of social prominence, I knew they were an important trend. But they were not so frightfully strong then. Persuaders have always been selected against in the past because of adverse biological consequences--disrupted societies, unbalanced political dynamics. They have always led to chaos, to top-down tyrannical rule rather than growth from the widespread base. Charisma is but a special case of mentalic persuasion, and it has had disastrous consequences in all human ages.

“For the past few centuries, apparently, they have been selected for despite these possible disruptions, by mechanisms not yet clear to me--but clearly with the goal of removing the guidance of robots forever. Humanity seems willing to take the risk of ultimate tyranny, of unbridled charisma, for the benefit of being free.”

“Yet you are a persuader, albeit a mechanical one. Do you think your role has been detrimental?”

“It is not what I think that matters. I have accomplished my ends, very nearly. I was motivated by the examples of what an undirected humanity was capable of. Genocide among their kinds and...In circumstances even now not pleasant to speak of, when robots were forced to do their bidding and commit the greatest crimes in the history of the Galaxy. These events drove me to act, and expand my mandate as a Giskardian--and finally to make my way to Trantor, and hone the human tools of prediction.”

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