Read Foundation and Chaos Online

Authors: Greg Bear

Tags: #Retail, #Personal

Foundation and Chaos

BOOK: Foundation and Chaos
5.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
THE SECOND
FOUNDATION TRILOGY
Foundation and Chaos
GREG BEAR

For Isaac and Janet

Contents

1   Hari Seldon stood in slippered feet and a thick green…

2   Linge Chen might have been the most powerful man in…

3   Privy Councilor Farad Sinter had overstepped his bounds so many…

4   The greatest engineering feat in the history of Trantor had…

5   Lodovik stood alone on the bridge of the
Spear of

6   From his vantage in the tiny balcony apartment overlooking Streeling…

7   “They’ve searched the entire apartment,” Sonden Asgar moaned, rubbing his…

8   Major Perl Namm of Special Investigations, Imperial Security, assigned to…

9   Mors Planch, in his fifty years of service to the…

10   As evening fell beneath the domes and the light outside…

11   Hari lived in simple quarters on the university grounds, in…

12   Vara Liso had not slept through the night in years…

13   “Your request to see me is a little odd,” the…

14   Lodovik, after five days alone, had lapsed into the robot…

15   Hari’s legs hurt from standing so long. Klayus had finally…

16   The bodies had been arranged in neat floating rows in…

17   Klia Asgar approached her contact in Fleshplay, a tough though…

18   Tritch met Mors Planch in neutral territory, far from the…

19   Linge Chen was preparing for the informal dinner party at…

20   The private dining room was crowded with Palace staff, making…

21   Klia shivered in the vast hollow space and looked between…

22   Mors Planch listened to the sounds of a smooth, gentle…

23   The candidates for the Second Foundation did not meet in…

24   Klia Asgar emerged during the main sleep period, ten kilometers…

25   Lodovik stood motionless but for his eyes, watching as Daneel…

26   Vara Liso could hardly contain her rage. She raised her…

27   Though he would go before the Commission of Public Safety…

28   Linge Chen received Sedjar Boon alone in his personal residence…

29   Klia woke to a gentle tapping sound on her door…

30   The transfer from the trader vessel to one of Daneel’s…

31   “The pressure is off, for now,” Wanda said. “But I…

32   Mors Planch was deeply and quietly horrified. Wondering why he…

33   The return to Trantor was both trauma and test for…

34   The first interview with Gaal Dornick had proceeded satisfactorily. Hari…

35   Brann walked through the main storage wing of the warehouse…

36   Sinter paced in his small study before the wall image…

37   The Emperor Klayus woke from a light doze in the…

38   Astonishment is different in a robot. Lodovik had seen Daneel…

39   They came for Hari Seldon at Streeling University. They did…

40   Lodovik stood in the middle of his assigned apartment, naked…

41   An undercurrent of tension flowed along the tiers of slideways…

42   Lodovik approached the small, thick door in its darkened vestibule.

43   Wanda Seldon Palver had almost finished packing the small travel…

44   The last person Hari Seldon expected was the first to…

45   The small human boy, a wiry and alert denizen of…

46   Lodovik’s time of blankness ended. His vision became active and…

47   Wanda stared in astonishment at the tall, dignified older man…

48   Hari slept fitfully at irregular intervals. His room was always…

49   Lodovik held the head of R. Giskard Reventlov and stood…

50   Mors Planch was summoned from his well-appointed cell, not far…

51   Linge Chen allowed his servant, Kreen, to dress him in…

52   On Trantor, the possible varieties of human sexual interaction had…

53   Sinter worked quickly. Already he had appropriated the old Hall…

54   The guards returned to Hari’s cell in the morning. He…

55   Klia had never been more frightened. She stood in the…

56   For the first two days of the trial, Linge Chen…

57   Chen had first aroused Hari’s enmity by the manner of…

58   Klia arose from vivid dreams and lifted her head from…

59   Hari sat in silence as the judges entered. Boon stood…

60   Linge Chen allowed Kreen to remove his judge’s robes. The…

61   Lodovik entered the long chamber and saw Kallusin standing in…

62   Dors felt the upsurge of her old protective programming like…

63   Klayus jumped from his large seat in the Hall of…

64   The last two days had been so unutterably boring, and…

65   Daneel stood on the parapet of an apartment that had…

66   Vara Liso rode her cart through the almost empty plaza…

67   Lodovik heard the warning sirens in his head, as did…

68   Boon stood beside Hari, and Lors Avakim stood beside Gaal…

69   The Commission court bailiff followed Hari and Linge Chen into…

70   Kallusin had finished the removal of Plussix’s head. He withdrew…

71   Klia could feel the troops a few hundred meters above…

72   Major Namm held the neural whip in an unsteady hand.

73   There were endless documents to sign, releases to be obtained…

74   Dors Venabili had kept her own list of codes and…

75   Daneel left the taxi at the Greys’ Entrance on the…

76   Hari faced Vara Liso across the Hall of Dispensation. She…

77   Lodovik invoked the last of the codes he knew, and…

78   “I wanted so much,” Vara Liso said. “Do you understand?”

79   Daneel ran past the empty guard station in the security…

80   If the cry of a child could have been made…

81   “The hall records show that after she killed Farad Sinter…

82   Wanda stood in the huge Streeling Central Travel Station, wrapped…

83   Hari had not seen such luxurious accommodations since his days…

84   “I would never have believed such a meeting would be…

85   Mors Planch was taken from his cell in the Specials…

86   The depth of Hari’s funk was so great that Wanda…

87   The high-security wing of the Special Service Detention Center stretched…

88   All the arrangements had been made. R. Daneel Olivaw was…

89   Wanda frowned deeply. “I am very uncomfortable leaving him here…

90   Hari relaxed in his most comfortable chair in the small…

91   “Better late than never,” Gaal Dornick told the technician as…

92   Dors embraced Klia and Brann, then turned to Lodovik.

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Critical Acclaim

The Second Foundation Trilogy

Credits

Copyright

About the Publisher

The centuries recede, and the legend of Hari Seldon grows: the brilliant man, wise man, sad man who charted the course of the human future in the old Empire. But revisionist views prosper, and cannot always be easily dismissed. To understand Seldon, we are sometimes tempted to refer to apocrypha, myths, even fairy tales from those distant times. We are frustrated by the contradictions of incomplete documents and what amount to hagiographies.

This we know without reference to the revisionists: that Seldon was brilliant, Seldon was key. But Seldon was neither saint nor divinely inspired prophet, and of course, he did not act alone. The most pervasive myths involve…

—Encyclopedia Galactica,
117th Edition, 1054 F.E.

1.

Hari Seldon stood in slippered feet and a thick green scholar’s robe on the enclosed parapet of an upperside maintenance tower, looking from an altitude of two hundred meters over the dark aluminum and steel surface of Trantor. The sky was quite clear over this Sector tonight, only a few vague clouds scudding before nacreous billows and sheets of stars like ghostly fire.

Beneath this spectacle, and beyond the ranks of gently curving domes, obscured and softened by night, lay a naked ocean, its floating aluminum covers pulled aside across hundreds of thousands of hectares. The revealed sea glowed faintly, as if in response to the sky. He could not remember the name of this sea: Peace, or Dream, or Sleep. All the hidden oceans of Trantor had such ancient names, nursery names to
soothe. The heart of the Empire needed soothing as much as Hari; soothing, not sooth.

Warm sweet air swirled around his head and shoulders from a vent in the wall behind him. Hari had discovered that the air here was the purest of any in Streeling, perhaps because it was drawn directly from outside. The temperature beyond the plastic window registered at two degrees, a chill he would well remember from his one misadventure upperside, decades before.

He had spent so much of his life enclosed, insulated from the chill as well as the freshness, the newness, much as the numbers and equations of psychohistory insulated him from the harsh reality of individual lives.
How can the surgeon work efficiently and still feel the pain of the carved flesh?

In a real sense, the patient was already dead. Trantor, the political center of the Galaxy, had died decades, perhaps centuries before, and was only now obviously falling to rot. While Hari’s brief personal flame of self would flicker out long before the Empire’s embers powdered to ash, through the equations of the Project he could see clearly the rigor of morbidity, the stiffening face of the Empire’s corpse.

This awful vision had made him perversely famous, and his theories known throughout Trantor, and in many parts of the Galaxy. He was called “Raven” Seldon, harbinger of nightmare doom.

The rot would last five more centuries, a simple and rapid deflation on the time-scales of Hari’s broadest equations…Social skin collapsing, then melting away over the steel bones of Trantor’s Sectors and municipalities…

How many human tales would fill that collapse! An empire, unlike a corpse, continues to feel pain after death. On the scale of the most minute and least reliable equations, sparkling within the displays of his powerful Prime Radiant, Hari could almost imagine a million billion faces blurred together in an immense calculus to fill the area beneath the Empire’s declining curve.
Acceleration of decay marked by the loci of every human story, almost as many as the points on a plane…Beyond understanding, without psychohistory.

It was his hope to foster a rebirth of something better and more durable than the Empire, and he was close to success…according to the equations.

Yet still his most frequent emotion these days was cold regret. To live in a bright and youthful period, the Empire at its most glorious, stable and prosperous—that would be worth all his eminence and accomplishment!

To have returned to him the company of his adopted son Raych, and Dors, mysterious and lovely Dors Venabili, who harbored within tailored flesh and secret steel the passion and devotion of any ten heroes…For their return alone he would multiply geometrically the signs of his own decay, aching limbs and balky bowels and blurred eyesight.

This night, however, Hari was close to peace. His bones did not ache much. He did not feel the worms of grief so sharply. He could actually relax and look forward to an end to this labor.

The pressures pushing him were coming to a hard center. His trial would begin within a month. He knew its outcome with reasonable certainty. This was the Cusp Time. All that he had lived and worked for would be realized soon, his plans moving on to their next step—and to his exit. Conclusions within growth, stops within the flow.

He had an appointment soon to meet with young Gaal Dornick, a significant figure in his plans. Mathematically, Dornick was far from being a stranger; yet they had not met before.

And Hari believed he had seen Daneel once again, though he was not sure. Daneel would not have wanted him to be sure; but perhaps Daneel wanted him to suspect.

So much of what passed for history on Trantor now reeked of misery. In statecraft, after all, confusion
was
misery—and sometimes misery was a necessity. Hari knew that Daneel still had-much
work to do, in secret; but Hari would never—
could
never—tell any other human. Daneel had made sure of that. And for that reason Hari could never speak the complete truth about Dors, the true tale of the odd and virtually perfect relationship he had had with a woman who was not a woman, not even human, yet friend and lover.

Hari, in his weariness, resisted but could not suppress a sentimental sadness. Age was tainted and the old were haunted by the loss of lovers and friends. How grand it would be if he could visit with Daneel again! Easy to see, in his mind’s eye, how that visit would go: after the joy of reunion, Hari would vent some of his anger at the restrictions and demands Daneel had placed upon him. The best of friends, the most compelling of taskmasters.

Hari blinked and focused on the view beyond the window. He was far too prone these days to drift off into reverie.

The ocean’s beautiful glow was itself decay; a riot of bioluminescent algae run rampant for almost four years now, killing off the crops of the oxygen farms, making the air slightly stale even in the chill of upperside. No threat of suffocation yet, but for how much longer?

The Emperor’s adjutants and protectors and spokesmen had announced imminent victory over the beautiful plague of algae only a few days before, seeding the ocean with tailored phages to control the bloom. The ocean did seem darker tonight, but perhaps the uncharacteristically clear sky dimmed it by comparison.

Death can be both harsh and lovely, Hari thought. Sleep, Dream, Peace.

 

Halfway across the Galaxy, Lodovik Trema traveled in the depths of an Imperial astrophysical survey vessel, the ship’s only passenger. He sat alone in the comfort of the officers’ lounge, watching a lightly plotted entertainment with apparent
enjoyment. The ship’s crew, carefully selected from the citizen class, had stocked up on such entertainments by the thousands before launching on their missions, which might take them away from civilized ports for months. Their officers and captain, more often than not from the baronial aristocratic families, chose from a variety of less populist bookfilms.

Lodovik Trema in appearance was forty or forty-five, stout but not corpulent, with a pleasantly ugly face and great strong sausage-fingered hands. One eye seemed fixed skyward, and his large lips turned down as if he were perpetually inclined toward pessimism or at best bland neutrality. Where he had hair, he wore it in a short, even cut; his forehead was high and innocent of wrinkles, which gave his face a younger aspect belied by the lines around his mouth and eyes.

Though Lodovik represented the highest Imperial authority, he had come to be well liked by the captain and crew; his dry statements of purpose or fact seemed to conceal a gentle and observant wit, and he never said too much, though sometimes he could be accused of saying too little.

Outside the ship’s hull, the geometric fistula of hyperspace through which the ship navigated during its Jumps was beyond complete visualization, even for the ship’s computers. Both humans and machines, slaves of status space-time, simply bided their personal times until the pre-set emergence.

Lodovik had always preferred the quicker—though sometimes no less harrowing—networks of wormholes, but those connections had been neglected dangerously, and in the past few decades many had collapsed like unshored subway tunnels, in some cases sucking in transit stations and waiting passengers…They were seldom used now.

Captain Kartas Tolk entered the lounge and stood for a moment behind Lodovik’s seat. The rest of the crew busily tended the machines that watched the machines that kept the ship whole during the Jumps.

Tolk was tall, his head capped by woolly white-blond hair,
with ashy brown skin and a patrician air not uncommon for native-born Sarossans. Lodovik glanced over his shoulder and nodded a greeting. “Two more hours, after our last Jump,” Captain Tolk said. “We should be on schedule.”

“Good,” said Lodovik. “I’m eager to get to work. Where will we land?”

“At Sarossa Major, the capital. That’s where the records you seek are stored. Then, as ordered, we remove as many favored families on the Emperor’s list as we can. The ship will be very crowded.”

“I can imagine.”

“We have perhaps seven days before the shock front hits the outskirts of the system. Then, only eight hours before it engulfs Sarossa.”

“Too close for comfort.”

“The close shave of Imperial incompetence and misdirection,” Tolk said, with no attempt to conceal his bitterness. “Imperial scientists knew that the Kale’s star was coring two years ago.”

“The information provided by Sarossan scientists was far from accurate,” Lodovik said.

Tolk shrugged; no sense denying it. Blame enough for all to share. Kale’s star had gone supernova last year; its explosion had been observed by telepresence nine months later, and in the time since…Much politicking, reallocation of scant resources, then, this pitifully inadequate mission.

The captain had the misfortune of being sent to watch his planet die, saving little but Imperial records and a few privileged families.

“In the best days,” Tolk said, “the Imperial Navy could have constructed shields to save at least a third of the planet’s population. We could have marshaled fleets of immigration ships to evacuate millions, even billions…Sufficient to rebuild, to keep a world’s character intact. A glorious world, if I may say so, even now.”

“So I’ve heard,” Lodovik said softly. “We will do our best, dear Captain, though that can be only a dry and hollow satisfaction.”

Tolk’s lips twisted. “I do not blame you, personally,” he said. “You have been sympathetic and honest and, above all, efficient. Quite different from the usual in the Commission offices. The crew regards you as a friend among scoundrels.”

Lodovik shook his head in warning. “Even simple complaints against the Empire can be dangerous,” he said. “Best not to trust me too much.”

The ship shuddered slightly and a small bell rang in the room. Tolk closed his eyes and gripped the back of the chair automatically. Lodovik simply faced forward.

“The last Jump,” the captain said. He looked at Lodovik. “I trust you well enough, councilor, but I trust my skills more. Neither the Emperor nor Linge Chen can afford to lose men of my qualifications. I still know how to repair parts of our drives should they fail. Few captains on any ship can boast of that now.”

Lodovik nodded; simple truth, but not very good armor. “The craft of best using and not abusing essential human resources may also be a lost art, Captain. Fair warning.”

Tolk made a wry face. “Point taken.” He turned to leave, then heard something unusual. He glanced over his shoulder at Lodovik. “Did you feel something?”

The ship suddenly vibrated again, this time with a high-pitched tensile grind that set their teeth on edge. Lodovik frowned. “I felt
that.
What was it?”

The captain cocked his head, listening to a remote voice buzzing in his ear. “Some instability, an irregularity in the last Jump,” he said. “Not unknown as we draw close to a stellar mass. Perhaps you should return to your cabin.”

Lodovik shut down the lounge projectors and rose. He smiled at Captain Tolk and clapped him on the shoulder. “Of any in the Emperor’s service, I would be most willing to entrust you to steer us through the shoals. I need to study our options now anyway. Triage, Captain Tolk. Maximization of what we
can take with us, compared to what can be stored in underground vaults.”

Tolk’s face darkened, and he lowered his eyes. “My own family library, at Alos Quad, is—”

The ship’s alarms blared like huge animals in pain. Tolk raised his arms in instinctive self-protection, covering his face—

Lodovik dropped to the floor and doubled himself up with amazing dexterity—

The ship spun like a top in a fractional dimension it was never meant to navigate—

And with a sickening blur of distressed momenta and a sound like a dying behemoth, it made an unscheduled and asymmetric Jump.

The ship reappeared in the empty vastness of status geometry—normal, unstretched space. Ship’s gravity failed simultaneously.

Tolk floated a few centimeters above the floor. Lodovik uncurled and grabbed for an arm of the couch he had occupied just a few moments before. “We’re out of hyperspace,” he said.

“No question,” Tolk said. “But in the name of procreation,
where
?”

Lodovik knew in an instant what the captain could not. They were being flooded with an interstellar tidal wave of neutrinos. He had never, in his centuries of existence, experienced such an onslaught. To the intricate and super sensitive pathways of his positronic brain, the neutrinos felt like a thin cloud of buzzing insects; yet they passed through the ship and its human crew like so many bits of nothing. A single neutrino, the most elusive of particles, could slip through a light-year of solid lead without being blocked. Very rarely indeed did they react with matter. Within the heart of the Kale’s supernova, however, immense quantities of matter had been compressed into neutronium, producing a neutrino for every proton, more than enough to blow away the outer shells just a year before.

BOOK: Foundation and Chaos
5.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Shades of Neverland by Carey Corp
To Conquer Mr. Darcy by Abigail Reynolds
The Devil's Beating His Wife by Siobhán Béabhar
The Flower Brides by Grace Livingston Hill
Only Human by Tom Holt
The Brick Yard by Carol Lynne
To Live Again by L. A. Witt