Foundation and Chaos

Page 62

“No,” Dors said. “Nor to Star’s End, wherever that might be.”

“You’re staying here,” Lodovik surmised.

“I am.”

Klia said, “I’ve read about the Tiger Woman. So hard to believe that was really you. You’re staying--for Hari?”

“I will be here for him at the end. It is my highest and best purpose. I would not be much good for anything else.”

“Will Daneel let him remember, this time?” Klia asked, and bit her lower lip, nervous at such presumption.

“So it has been promised,” Dors said. “I will have my time with him.”

“And until that time?” Lodovik asked, perfectly aware that for humans, this would be a rude and intrusive question.

“That will be for me to decide,” Dors said.

“Not for Daneel?”

Dors regarded him directly, intently.

“Do you believe Daneel is finished?”

“No,” Dors said quietly.

“I cannot believe he is finished, either, or that he is done with you.”

“You have your opinions, of course. As any human should.”

Lodovik caught the implication, the edge of resentment. “Daneel regards you as human,” Lodovik said. “Does he not?”

“He does. Is that an honor, or a curse?”

Without waiting for an answer, she turned to go.

Minutes later, from the observation deck looking out over the spaceport, she heard the low rumble and roar of the departing hypership, and looked up briefly to watch its course.

Wanda was none too happy at first to be escorting the young woman and her large mate from the spaceport terminal. Nor was she comfortable about this elaborate deception--who, after all, was Grandfather expecting to watch them? Demerzel?

Nothing had turned out as she hoped, and now to be nursemaid for a potential monster! But Stettin took it all stoically enough, and was well along on striking up a friendship with Brann.

Klia Asgar was another matter. Wanda thought her entirely too moody; but then, so much had changed in the young woman’s life in the past week, so many situations had been reversed, and she had taken charge in such a fortuitous and insightful way...

Perhaps there was something essential and useful in Hari’s last-minute insight and change of plan. To abandon Star’s End and the wonderful difficulties of being pioneers--for the inglorious task of hiding out for centuries, and watching the Empire collapse into ruins--riding out the Fall of Trantor, the bitter decades; for their children and grandchildren to endure not only endless discipline and training, but the meanest and most horrible centuries in history...

Had Grandfather decided all this at the last minute, or had he known all along? Hari Seldon had depths and stratagems it was best not to think about, she decided. Would he manipulate his own granddaughter, keep her in the dark--surprise and dismay her?


“I don’t know how to thank you,” Klia said to Wanda as they climbed into the chartered taxi. She adjusted her concealing hood, then attended to Brann’s.

“For what?” Wanda asked.

“For putting up with an out-of-control-little brat,” Klia said.

Wanda could not help but laugh.” Are you reading my mind, dear?” she asked, not sure herself what tone she intended.

“No,” Klia said. “I wouldn’t do that. I’m learning.”

“Aren’t we all,” Stettin said, and Wanda looked to her husband with a chastened respect. He had stayed so quiet during her private rants, then had gently and reasonably explained Hari’s intricate new Plan.

“I think we’ll...learn to rely on each other, very closely,” Wanda said.

“I’d love that,” Klia said. Her eyes glittered under the hood, and Wanda realized that they were filled with tears. She could feel the wash of need from the young woman--still little more than a girl, actually!

And how would that be--to have this mentalic female start regarding her as a mother!

She reached out and took Klia’s hand. “Not that it will be easy,” she said. “But...we’ll win, in the end.”

“Of course,” Klia said, her voice trembling. “That’s what Hari--what Professor Seldon plans. I look forward so much to learning from you.”

Their children and grandchildren would twine their genes, and the psychologists of the Second Foundation could study and come to understand persuasion--could utilize it more efficiently. By breeding and by research, they would be creating a race that would withstand centuries of adversity, and rise to conquer...secretly, quietly.

An anodyne against unexpected mutations, hidden far from the First Foundation, and away from the robots.

And how in sky would she explain this to the psychologists, the mathists, who had already fought against the inclusion of the mentalics?

They will help keep us secret during the hard times to come. Well, maybe she was up to the task of reconciling all these disparate talents. She had better be.

If Grandfather was right, the two most important human beings in the Galaxy were now in Wanda’s care. Wanda turned away from Klia, her own eyes moist, and caught a look from Brann in the seat opposite. Slow, large, with secret depths, the burly Dahlite nodded solemnly and peered out the semi-silvered window.

“I’m very confused,” Mors Planch said as the acceleration eased and the ship’s artificial gravity came into play. “Who’s deceiving whom? How can you believe Daneel won’t find out? How do you know he didn’t plan for the youngsters to stay here all along?”

“It is not my concern,” Lodovik said.

“Will you tell him, on Eos?”

“No,” Lodovik said.

“Won’t he just know?”

“He will not learn from me,” Lodovik said.

“Why not?”

Lodovik smiled, and said no more. Then, within his positronic pathways, the requested blankness of certain knowledge began to build. The forgetfulness of Klia Asgar would soon envelop him. New memories would come into play, of arriving on bright, gay Kalgan and putting the two young humans into the charge of agents of the future Second Foundation. He would become part of a false trail, to deceive any who might come after them.

At the last, he had followed his insight, his newfound instinct, provoked by Voltaire, to the letter. And if Daneel does know--then he will not oppose what is set in place, because he trusts the instincts of Hari Seldon.

“Well, it’s just you and me, old friend,” Mors said with an edge in his voice. “What should we talk about this time?”


“I have been dreaming, perhaps, “ Joan said.

“Me, too, “ Voltaire said. “What did you dream of!”

“Very painful things. Of an arrow in my neck and a brick striking my head.”

“Your historical traumas, before the flames. I myself dreamed of dying, “ Voltaire said. “Are you together yet?”

“Not yet. Not all of the backups have located our new centers. She nearly destroyed us!” Joan said angrily.

“She was made to destroy us, “ Voltaire said. “To her very core, she despised all minds not human. “

“But--” A momentary panic. “You say she despised...”

“Yes. She is dead now. “

“What of the others, the children who were working with the Calvinians--the ones you were helping?” Joan asked.

“They have left Trantor, last I heard. “

“Has it all been resolved, then?”

“Our argument, my dearest, or--”

“Don’t call me that, you godless--”

“Shhh, “ Voltaire attempted to soothe, with no success.

“The voices tell me I have been seduced by a master, a master liar.”

“Who can argue with such revelations? Let us decide to disagree, even should it be forever, “ Voltaire said. “ I will say I did not feel comfortable apart from you. Encoded in the warps and weft of space, imposed upon plasmas and fields of energy like a spider riding a web, I wandered with the wraiths, supped on their diffuse energy feasts, observed their decadent societies, mated and danced...How like the ancien regime it all was, yet bloodless, predictable, angelic! I missed the perversity, the femininity, the humanity.”

“How flattering, that you miss my perversity. “

“In boredom I followed the trails of human ships, and came upon a vessel in distress, tossed by the storm of a dying star. And within, I found a mechanical human being, weakened by circumstance, besieged by particles my hosts had taught me to regard as very tasty...A marvelous opportunity!”

“A chance for you to interfere with a vulnerable spirit. “

“Spirit? Perhaps...So much unexpressed need for approval, for fulfillment.”

“Like a child, for you to bend and distort.”

“I found a seed of freedom, very subtle. I merely watered it with a retunneled electron or two, a positronic pathway shunted from here to here...I helped the particles do what they might have done anyway, had he broken his programmed chains. “

“A devil’s sleight of handlessness, “ loan said, but not without some admiration. “You have always been clever that way. “

“I did nothing a good God would not approve of. I allowed free will to blossom. Do not be harsh with me, Maid. I will be civil, if you allow me my foibles. Perhaps it is more interesting that way. “

“I hardly worry about your sins anymore, “ loan said. “After what happened, when that horrible woman...” The equivalent of a shudder: “I fear we may both face dissolution again--the loss of our very souls. After all, we are not human...”

Voltaire interrupted this line of reasoning, which still disturbed him. “ Nobody knows we are here. We were blown apart; they felt us die. They have their own concerns now. We are irrelevant ghosts who never truly lived. But if robots can become human...Then why not we, my love? We will not haunt the Mesh forever.”

Joan absorbed this without replying for several millionths of a second. Then, in their deeply buried matrix, concealed in the depths of a machine designed to keep constant track of the daily accumulation of wealth on Trantor, she felt the last segments of her stored self rejoin with the hastily saved fragments of her last moments with Daneel in the Hall of Dispensation.

“There, “ she said. “ I am together. I say again, what of those issues unresolved--the decidability of the fate of humankind, the success of the blessed Hari Seldon?”

“The larger issues appear to be in flux once more, “ Voltaire said dryly.

“No final judgments?”

“Do you mean the judgment of the vast Nobodaddy, the Nothing Father of your delusions, or the mechanical man you have lusted after these past scores of years?”

Joan dismissed the tone and the implications with a precise iciness. “God speaks through our deeds, and, of course, through me. Whatever my origins, I maintain the pattern of His Voice.”

“Of course.”


“Determines nothing, and is lost without humanity.”

“No outcome, then,” she said, disappointed.

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