5. Struggle for the Ship




      TREVIZE’S first impression was that he was on the set of a hyperdrama-specifically, that of a historical  romance of Imperial days. There was a particular set, with few variations (perhaps only one existed and was used by every hyperdrama producer, for all he knew), that represented the great world-girdling planet-city of Trantor in its prime.

            There were the large spaces, the busy scurry of pedestrians, the small vehicles speeding along the lanes reserved for them.

            Trevize looked up, almost expecting to see air-taxis climbing into dim vaulted recesses, but that at least was absent. In fact, as his initial astonishment subsided, it was clear that the building was far smaller than one would expect on Trantor. It was only a building and not part of a complex that stretched unbroken for thousands of miles in every direction.

            The colors were different, too. On the hyperdramas, Trantor was always depicted as impossibly garish in coloring and the clothing was, if taken literally, thoroughly impractical and unserviceable. However, all those colors and frills were meant to serve a symbolic purpose for they indicated the decadence (a view that was obligatory, these days) of the Empire, and of Trantor particularly.

            If that were so, however, Comporellon was the very reverse of decadent, for the color scheme that Pelorat had remarked upon at the spaceport was here borne out.

            The walls were in shades of gray, the ceilings white, the clothing of the population in black, gray, and white. Occasionally, there was an all-black costume; even more occasionally, an all-gray; never an all-white that Trevize could see. The pattern was always different, however, as though people, deprived of color, still managed, irrepressibly, to find ways of asserting individuality.

            Faces tended to be expressionless or, if not that, then grim. Women wore their hair short; men longer, but pulled backward into short queues. No one looked at anyone else as he or she passed. Everyone seemed to breathe a purposefulness, as though there was definite business on each mind and room for nothing else. Men and women dressed alike, with only length of hair and the slight bulge of breast and width of hip marking the difference.

            The three were guided into an elevator that went down five levels. There they emerged and were moved on to a door on which there appeared in small and unobtrusive lettering, white on gray, “Mitza Lizalor, MinTrans.”

            The Comporellian in the lead touched the lettering, which, after a moment, glowed in response. The door opened and they walked in.

            It was a large room and rather empty, the bareness of content serving, perhaps, as a kind of conspicuous consumption of space designed to show the power of the occupant.

            Two guards stood against the far wall, faces expressionless and eyes firmly fixed on those entering. A large desk filled the center of the room, set perhaps just a little back of center. Behind the desk was, presumably, Mitza Lizalor, large of body, smooth of face, dark of eyes. Two strong and capable hands with long, square-ended fingers rested on the desk.

            The MinTrans (Minister of Transportation, Trevize assumed) had the lapels of the outer garment a broad and dazzling white against the dark gray of the rest of the costume. The double bar of white extended diagonally below the lapels, across the garment itself and crossing at the center of the chest. Trevize could see that although the garment was cut in such a fashion as to obscure the swelling of a woman’s breasts on either side, the white X called attention to them.

            The Minister was undoubtedly a woman. Even if her breasts were ignored, her short hair showed it, and though there was no makeup on her face, her features showed it, too.

            Her voice, too, was indisputably feminine, a rich contralto.

            She said, “Good afternoon. It is not often that we are honored by a visit of men from Terminus.-And of an unreported woman as well.” Her eyes passed from one to another, then settled on Trevize, who was standing stiffly and frowningly erect. “And one of the men a member of the Council, too.”

            “A Councilman of the Foundation,” said Trevize, trying to make his voice ring. “Councilman Golan Trevize on a mission from the Foundation.”

            “On a mission?” The Minister’s eyebrows rose.

            “On a mission,” repeated Trevize. “Why, then, are we being treated as felons? Why have we been taken into custody by armed guards and brought here as prisoners? The Council of the Foundation, I hope you understand, will not be pleased to hear of this.”

            “And in any case,” said Bliss, her voice seeming a touch shrill in comparison with that of the older woman, “are we to remain standing indefinitely?”

            The Minister gazed coolly at Bliss for a long moment, then raised an arm and said, “Three chairs! Now!”

            A door opened and three men, dressed in the usual somber Comporellian fashion, brought in three chairs at a semitrot. The three people standing before the desk sat down.

            “There,” said the Minister, with a wintry smile, “are we comfortable?”

            Trevize thought not. The chairs were uncushioned, cold to the touch, flat of surface and back, making no compromise with the shape of the body. He said, “Why are we here?”

            The Minister consulted papers lying on her desk. “I will explain as soon as I am certain of my facts. Your ship is the Far Star out of Terminus. Is that correct, Councilman?”

            “It is.”

            The Minister looked up. “I used your title, Councilman. Will you, as a courtesy, use mine?”

            “Would Madam Minister be sufficient? Or is there an honorific?”

            “No honorific, sir, and you need not double your words. ‘Minister’ is sufficient, or ‘Madam’ if you weary of repetition.”

            “Then my answer to your question is: It is, Minister.”

            “The captain of the ship is Golan Trevize, citizen of the Foundation and member of the Council on Terminus-a freshman Councilman, actually. And you are Trevize. Am I correct in all this, Councilman?”

            “You are, Minister. And since I am a citizen of the Foundation-”

            “I am not yet done, Councilman. Save your objections till I am. Accompanying you is Janov Pelorat, scholar, historian, and citizen of the Foundation. And that is you, is it not, Dr. Pelorat?”

            Pelorat could not suppress a slight start as the Minister turned her keen glance on him. He said, “Yes, it is, my d-” He paused, and began again, “Yes, it is, Minister.”

            The Minister clasped her hands stiffly. “There is no mention in the report that has been forwarded to me of a woman. Is this woman a member of the ship’s complement?”

            “She is, Minister,” said Trevize.

            “Then I address myself to the woman. Your name?”

            “I am known as Bliss,” said Bliss, sitting erectly and speaking with calm clarity, “though my full name is longer, madam. Do you wish it all?”

            “I will be content with Bliss for the moment. Are you a citizen of the Foundation, Bliss?”

            “I am not, madam.”

            “Of what world are you a citizen, Bliss?”

            “I have no documents attesting to citizenship with respect to any world, madam.”

            “No papers, Bliss?” She made a small mark on the papers before her. “That fact is noted. What is it you are doing on board the ship?”

            “I am a passenger, madam.”

            “Did either Councilman Trevize or Dr. Pelorat ask to see your papers before you boarded, Bliss?”

            “No, madam.”

            “Did you inform them that you were without papers, Bliss?”

            “No, madam.”

            “What is your function on board ship, Bliss? Does your name suit your function?”

            Bliss said proudly, “I am a passenger and have no other function.”

            Trevize broke in. “Why are you badgering this woman, Minister? What law has she broken?”

            Minister Lizalor’s eyes shifted from Bliss to Trevize. She said, “You are an Outworlder, Councilman, and do not know our laws. Nevertheless, you are subject to them if you choose to visit our world. You do not bring your laws with you; that is a general rule of Galactic law, I believe.”

            “Granted, Minister, but that doesn’t tell me which of your laws she has broken.”

            “It is a general rule in the Galaxy, Councilman, that a visitor from a world outside the dominions of the world she is visiting have her identification papers with her. Many worlds are lax in this respect, valuing tourism, or indifferent to the rule of order. We of Comporellon are not. We are a world of law and rigid in its application. She is a worldless person, and as such, breaks our law.”

            Trevize said, “She had no choice in the matter. I was piloting the ship, and I brought it down to Comporellon. She had to accompany us, Minister, or do you suggest she should have asked to be jettisoned in space?”

            “This merely means that you, too, have broken our law, Councilman.”

            “No, that is not so, Minister. I am not an Outworlder. I am a citizen of the Foundation, and Comporellon and the worlds subject to it are an Associated Power of the Foundation. As a citizen of the Foundation, I can travel freely here.”

            “Certainly, Councilman, as long as you have documentation to prove that you are indeed a citizen of the Foundation.”

            “Which I do, Minister.”

            “Yet even as citizen of the Foundation, you do not have the right to break our law by bringing a worldless person with you.”

            Trevize hesitated. Clearly, the border guard, Kendray, had not kept faith with him, so there was no point in protecting him. He said, “We were not stopped at the immigration station and I considered that implicit permission to bring this woman with me, Minister.”

            “It is true you were not stopped, Councilman. It is true the woman was not reported by the immigration authorities and was passed through. I can suspect, however, that the officials at the entry station decided-and quite correctly-that it was more important to get your ship to the surface than to worry about a worldless person. What they did was, strictly speaking, an infraction of the rules, and the matter will have to be dealt with in the proper fashion, but I have no doubt that the decision will be that the infraction was justified. We are a world of rigid law, Councilman, but we are not rigid beyond the dictates of reason.”

            Trevize said at once, “Then I call upon reason to bend your rigor now, Minister. If, indeed, you received no information from the immigration station to the effect that a worldless person was on board ship, then you had no knowledge that we were breaking any law at the time we landed. Yet it is quite apparent that you were prepared to take us into custody the moment we landed, and you did, in fact, do so. Why did you do so, when you had no reason to think any law was being broken?”

            The Minister smiled. “I understand your confusion, Councilman. Please let me assure you that whatever knowledge we had gained-or had not gained-as to the worldless condition of your passenger had nothing to do with your being taken into custody. We are acting on behalf of the Foundation, of which, as you point out, we are an Associated Power.”

            Trevize stared at her. “But that’s impossible, Minister. It’s even worse. It’s ridiculous.”

            The Minister’s chuckle was like the smooth flow of honey. She said, “I am interested in the way you consider it worse to be ridiculous than impossible, Councilman. I agree with you there. Unfortunately for you, however, it is neither. Why should it be?”

            “Because I am an official of the Foundation government, on a mission for them, and it is absolutely inconceivable that they would wish to arrest me, or that they would even have the power to do so, since I have legislative immunity.”

            “Ah, you omit my title, but you are deeply moved and that is perhaps forgivable. Still, I am not asked to arrest you directly. I do so only that I may carry out what I am asked to do, Councilman.”

            “Which is, Minister?” said Trevize, trying to keep his emotion under control in the face of this formidable woman.

            “Which is to commandeer your ship, Councilman, and return it to the Foundation.”


            “Again you omit my title, Councilman. That is very slipshod of you and no way to press your own case. The ship is not yours, I presume. Was it designed by you, or built by you, or paid for by you?”

            “Of course not, Minister. It was assigned to me by the Foundation government.”

            “Then, presumably, the Foundation government has the right to cancel that assignment, Councilman. It is a valuable ship, I imagine.”

            Trevize did not answer.

            The Minister said, “It is a gravitic ship, Councilman. There cannot be many and even the Foundation must have but a very few. They must regret having assigned one of those very few to you. Perhaps you can persuade them to assign you another and less valuable ship that will nevertheless amply, suffice for your mission.-But we must have the ship in which you have arrived.”

            “No, Minister, I cannot give up the ship. I cannot believe the Foundation asks it of you.”

            The Minister smiled. “Not of me solely, Councilman. Not of Comporellon, specifically. We have reason to believe that the request was sent out to everyone of the many worlds and regions under Foundation jurisdiction or association. From this, I deduce that the Foundation does not know your itinerary and is seeking you with a certain angry vigor. From which I further deduce that you have no mission to deal with Comporellon on behalf of the Foundation since in that case they would know where you were and deal with us specifically. In short, Councilman, you have been lying to me.”

            Trevize said, with a certain difficulty, “I would like to see a copy of request you have received from the Foundation government, Minister. I am entitled, I think, to that.”

            “Certainly, if all this comes to legal action. We take our legal forms very seriously, Councilman, and your rights will be fully protected, I assure you. It would be better and easier, however, if we come to an agreement here without the publicity and delay of legal action. We would prefer that, and, I am certain, so would the Foundation, which cannot wish the Galaxy at large to know of a runaway Legislator. That would put the Foundation in a ridiculous light, and, by your estimate and mine, that would be worse than impossible.”

            Trevize was again silent.

            The Minister waited a moment, then went on, as imperturbable as ever. “Come, Councilman, either way, by informal agreement or by legal action, we intend to have the ship. The penalty for bringing in a worldless passenger will depend on which route we take. Demand the law and she will represent an additional point against you and you will all suffer the full punishment for the crime, and that will not be light, I assure you. Come to an agreement, and your passenger can be sent away by commercial flight to any destination she wishes, and, for that matter, you two can accompany her, if you wish. Or, if the Foundation is willing, we can supply you with one of our own ships, a perfectly adequate one, provided, of course, that the Foundation will replace it with an equivalent ship of their own. Or, if, for any reason, you do not wish to return to  Foundation-controlled territory, we might be willing to offer you refuge here and, perhaps, eventual Comporellian citizenship. You see, you have many possibilities of gain if you come to a friendly arrangement, but none at all if you insist on your legal rights.”

            Trevize said, “Minister, you are too eager. You promise what you cannot do. You cannot offer me refuge in the face of a Foundation request that I be delivered to them.”

            The Minister said, “Councilman, I never promise what I cannot do. The Foundation’s request is only for the ship. They make no request concerning you as an individual, or for anyone else on the ship. Their sole request is for the vessel.”

            Trevize glanced quickly at Bliss, and said, “May I have your permission, Minister, to consult with Dr. Pelorat and Miss Bliss for a short while?”

            “Certainly, Councilman. You may have fifteen minutes.”

            “Privately, Minister.”

            “You will be led to a room and, after fifteen minutes, you will be led back, Councilman. You will not be interfered with while you are there nor will we attempt to monitor your conversation. You have my word on that and I keep my word. However, you will be adequately guarded so do not be so foolish as to think of escaping.”

            “We understand, Minister.”

            “And when you come back, we will expect your free agreement to give up the ship. Otherwise, the law will take its course, and it will be much the worse for all of you, Councilman. Is that understood?”

            “That is understood, Minister,” said Trevize, keeping his rage under tight control, since its expression would do him no good at all.




            IT was a small room, but it was well lighted. It contained a couch and two chairs, and one could hear the soft sound of a ventilating fan. On the whole, it was clearly more comfortable than the Minister’s large and sterile office.

            A guard had led them there, grave and tall, his hand hovering near the butt of his blaster. He remained outside the door as they entered and said, in a heavy voice, “You have fifteen minutes.”

            He had no sooner said that than the door slid shut, with a thud.

            Trevize said, “I can only hope that we can’t be overheard.”

            Pelorat said, “She did give us her word, Golan.”

            “You judge others by yourself, Janov. Her so-called ‘word’ will not suffice. She will break it without hesitation if she wants to.”

            “It doesn’t matter,” said Bliss. “I can shield this place.”

            “You have a shielding device?” asked Pelorat.

            Bliss smiled, with a sudden flash of white teeth. “Gaia’s mind is a shielding device, Pel. It’s an enormous mind.”

            “We are here,” said Trevize angrily, “because of the limitations of that enormous mind.”

            “What do you mean?” said Bliss.

            “When the triple confrontation broke up, you withdrew me from the minds of both the Mayor and that Second Foundationer, Gendibal. Neither was to think of me again, except distantly and indifferently. I was to be left to myself.”

            “We had to do that,” said Bliss. “You are our most important resource.”

            “Yes. Golan Trevize, the ever-right. But you did not withdraw my ship from their minds, did you? Mayor Branno did not ask for me; she had no interest in me, but she did ask for the ship. She has not forgotten the ship.”

            Bliss frowned.

            Trevize said, “Think about it. Gaia casually assumed that I included my ship; that we were a unit. If Branno didn’t think of me, she wouldn’t think of the ship. The trouble is that Gaia doesn’t understand individuality. It thought of the ship and me as a single organism, and it was wrong to think that.”

            Bliss said softly, “That is possible.”

            “Well, then,” said Trevize flatly, “it’s up to you to rectify that mistake. I must have my gravitic ship and my computer. Nothing else will do. Therefore, Bliss, make sure that I keep the ship. You can control minds.”

            “Yes, Trevize, but we do not exercise that control lightly. We did it in connection with the triple confrontation, but do you know how long that confrontation was planned? Calculated? Weighed?  It took-literally-many years. I cannot simply walk up to a woman and adjust the mind to suit someone’s convenience.”

            “Is this a time-”

            Bliss went on forcefully. “If I began to follow such a course of action, where do we stop? I might have influenced the agent’s mind at the entry station and we would have passed through at once. I might have influenced the agent’s mind in the vehicle, and he would have let us go.”

            “Well, since you mention it, why didn’t you do these things?”

            “Because we don’t know where it would lead. We don’t know the side effects, which may well turn out to make the situation worse. If I adjust the Minister’s mind now, that will affect her dealings with others with whom she will come in contact and, since she is a high official in her government, it may affect interstellar relations. Until such time as the matter is thoroughly worked out, we dare not touch her mind.”

            “Then why are you with us?”

            “Because the time may come when your life is threatened. I must protect your life at all costs, even at the cost of my Pel or of myself. Your life was not threatened at the entry station. It is not threatened now. You must work this out for yourself, and do so at least until Gaia can estimate the consequence of some sort of action and take it.”

            Trevize fell into a period of thought. Then he said, “In that case, I have to try something. It may not work.”

            The door moved open, thwacking into its socket as noisily as it had closed.

            The guard said, “Come out.”

            As they emerged, Pelorat whispered, “What are you going to do, Golan?”

            Trevize shook his head and whispered, “I’m not entirely sure. I will have to improvise.”




            MINISTER Lizalor was still at her desk when they returned to her office. Her face broke into a grim smile as they walked in.

            She said, “I trust, Councilman Trevize, that you have returned to tell me that you are giving up this Foundation ship you have.”

            “I have come, Minister,” said Trevize calmly, “to discuss terms.”

            “There are no terms to discuss, Councilman. A trial, if you insist on one, can be arranged very quickly and would be carried through even more quickly. I guarantee your conviction even in a perfectly fair trial since your guilt in bringing in a worldless person is obvious and indisputable. After that, we will be legally justified in seizing the ship and you three would suffer heavy penalties. Don’t force those penalties on yourself just to delay us for a day.”

            “Nevertheless, there are terms to discuss, Minister, because no matter how quickly you convict us, you cannot seize the ship without my consent. Any attempt you make to force your way into the ship without me will destroy it, and the spaceport with it, and every human being in the spaceport. This will surely infuriate the Foundation, something you dare not do. Threatening us or mistreating us in order to force me to open the ship is surely against your law, and if you break your own law in desperation and subject us to torture or even to a period of cruel and unusual imprisonment, the Foundation will find out about it and they will be even more furious. However much they want the ship they cannot allow a precedent that would permit the mistreatment of Foundation citizens.-Shall we talk terms?”

            “This is all nonsense,” said the Minister, scowling. “If necessary, we will call in the Foundation itself. They will know how to open their own ship, or they will force you to open it.”

            Trevize said, “You do not use my title, Minister, but you are emotionally moved, so that is perhaps forgivable. You know that the very last thing you will do is call in the Foundation, since you have no intention of delivering the ship to them.”

            The smile faded from the Minister’s face. “What nonsense is this, Councilman?”

            “The kind of nonsense, Minister, that others, perhaps, ought not to hear. Let my friend and the young woman go to some comfortable hotel room and obtain the rest they need so badly and let your guards leave, too. They can remain just outside and you can have them leave you a blaster. You are not a small woman and, with a blaster, you have nothing to fear from me. I am unarmed.”

            The Minister leaned toward him across the desk. “I have nothing to fear from you in any case.”

            Without looking behind her, she beckoned to one of the guards, who approached at once and came to a halt at her side with a stamp of his feet. said, “Guard, take that one and that one to Suite 5. They are to stay there and to be made comfortable and to be well guarded. You will be held responsible for any mistreatment they may receive, as well as for any breach of security.”

            She stood up, and not all of Trevize’s determination to maintain an absolute composure sufficed to keep him from flinching a little. She was tall; as tall, at least, as Trevize’s own 1.85 meters, perhaps a centimeter or so taller.  She had a narrow waistline, with the two white strips across her chest continuing into an encirclement of her waist, making it look even narrower, There was a massive grace about her and Trevize thought ruefully that her statement that she had nothing to fear from him might well be correct. In a rough-and-tumble, he thought, she would have no trouble pinning his shoulders to the mat.

            She said, “Come with me, Councilman. If you are going to talk nonsense then, for your own sake, the fewer who hear you, the better.”

            She led the way in a brisk stride, and Trevize followed,’ feeling shrunken in her massive shadow, a feeling he had never before had with a woman.

            They entered an elevator and, as the door closed behind them, she said, “We are alone now and if you are under the illusion, Councilman, that You can use force with me in order to accomplish some imagined purpose, please forget that.” The singsong in her voice grew more pronounced as she said, with clear amusement, “You look like a reasonably strong specimen, but I assure you I will have no trouble in breaking your arm-or your back, if I must. I am armed, but I will not have to use any weapon.”

            Trevize scratched at his cheek as his eyes drifted first down, then up her body. “Minister, I can hold my own in a wrestling match with any man my weight, but I have already decided to forfeit a bout with you. I know when I am outclassed.”

            “Good,” said the Minister, and looked pleased.

            Trevize said, “Where are we going, Minister?”

            “Down! Quite far down. Don’t be upset, however. In the hyperdramas, this would be a preliminary to taking you to a dungeon, I suppose, but we have no dungeons on Comporellon-only reasonable prisons. We are going to my private apartment; not as romantic as a dungeon in the bad old Imperial days, but more comfortable.”

            Trevize estimated that they were at least fifty meters below the surface of the planet, when the elevator door slid to one side and they stepped out.




            TREVIZE looked about the apartment with clear surprise.

            The Minister said grimly, “Do you disapprove of my living quarters, Councilman?”

            “No, I have no reason to, Minister. I am merely surprised. I find it unexpected. The impression I had of your world from what little I saw and heard since arriving was that it was an-an abstemious one, eschewing useless luxury.”

            “So it is, Councilman. Our resources are limited, and our life must be as harsh as our climate.”

            “But this, Minister,” and Trevize held out both hands as though to embrace the room where, for the first time on this world, he saw color, where the couches were well cushioned, where the light from the illuminated walls was soft, and where the floor was force-carpeted so that steps were springy and silent. “This is surely luxury.”

            “We eschew, as you say, Councilman, useless luxury; ostentatious luxury; wastefully excessive luxury. This, however, is private luxury, which has its use. I work hard and bear much responsibility. I need a place where I can forget, for a while, the difficulties of my post.”

            Trevize said, “And do all Comporellians live like this when the eyes of others are averted, Minister?”

            “It depends on the degree of work and responsibility. Few can afford to, or deserve to, or, thanks to our code of ethics, want to.”

            “But you, Minister, can afford to, deserve to-and want to?”

            The Minister said, “Rank has its privileges as well as its duties. And now sit down, Councilman, and tell me of this madness of yours.” She sat down on the couch, which gave slowly under her solid weight, and pointed to an equally soft chair in which Trevize would be facing her at not too great a distance.”

            Trevize sat down. “Madness, Minister?”

            The Minister relaxed visibly, leaning her right elbow on a pillow. “In private conversation, we need not observe the rules of formal discourse too punctiliously. You may call me Lizalor. I will call you, Trevize.-Tell me what is on your mind, Trevize, and let us inspect it.”

            Trevize crossed his legs and sat back in his chair. “See here, Lizalor, you gave me the choice of either agreeing to give up the ship voluntarily, or of being subjected to a formal trial. In both cases, you would end up with the ship.-Yet you have been going out of your way to persuade me to adopt the former alternative. You are willing to offer me another ship to replace mine, so that my friends and I might go anywhere we chose. We might even stay here on Comporellon and qualify for citizenship, if we chose. In smaller things, you were willing to allow me fifteen minutes to consult with my friends. You were even willing to bring me here to your private apartment, while my friends are now, presumably, in comfortable quarters. In short, you are bribing me, Lizalor, rather desperately, to grant you the ship without the necessity of a trial.”

            “Come, Trevize, are you in no mood to give me credit for humane impulses?”


            “Or the thought that voluntary surrender would be quicker and more convenient than a trial would be?”

            “No! I would offer a different suggestion.”

            “Which is?”

            “A trial has one thing in its strong disfavor; it is a public affair. You have several times referred to this world’s rigorous legal system, and I suspect it would be difficult to arrange a trial without its being fully recorded. If were so, the Foundation would know of it and you would have to hand the ship to it once the trial was over.”

            “Of course,” said Lizalor, without expression. “It is the Foundation owns the ship.”

            “But,” said Trevize, “a private agreement with me would not have to be placed on formal record. You could have the ship and, since the foundation would not know of the matter-they don’t even know that we are on this world-Comporellon could keep the ship. That, I am sure, is what you intend to do.”

            “Why should we do that?” She was still without expression. “Are we not part of the Foundation Confederation?”

            “Not quite. Your status is that of an Associated Power. In any map on which the member worlds of the Federation are shown in red, Comporellon and its dependent worlds would show up as a patch of pale pink.”

            “Even so, as an Associated Power, we would surely co-operate with the Foundation.”

            “Would you? Might not Comporellon be dreaming of total independence; even leadership? You are an old world. Almost all worlds claim to be older than they are, but Comporellon is an old world.”

            Minister Lizalor allowed a cold smile to cross her face. “The oldest, if some of our enthusiasts are to be believed.”

            “Might there not have been a time when Comporellon was indeed the leading world of a relatively small group of worlds? Might you not still dream of recovering that lost position of power?”

            “Do you think we dream of so impossible a goal? I called it madness before I knew your thoughts, and it is certainly madness now that I do.”

            “Dreams may be impossible, yet still be dreamed. Terminus, located at the very edge of the Galaxy and with a five-century history that is briefer than that of any other world, virtually rules the Galaxy. And shall Comporellon not? Eh?” Trevize was smiling.

            Lizalor remained grave. “Terminus reached that position, we are given to understand, by the working out of Hari Seldon’s Plan.”

            “That is the psychological buttress of its superiority and it will hold only as long, perhaps, as people believe it. It may be that the Comporellian government does not believe it. Even so, Terminus also enjoys a technological buttress. Terminus’s hegemony over the Galaxy undoubtedly rests on its advanced technology-of which the gravitic ship you are so anxious to have is an example. No other world but Terminus disposes of gravitic ships. If Comporellon could have one, and could learn its workings in detail, it would be bound to have taken a giant technological step forward. I don’t think it would be sufficient to help you overcome Terminus’s lead, but your government might think so.”

            Lizalor said, “You can’t be serious in this. Any government that kept the ship in the face of the Foundation’s desire to have it would surely experience the Foundation’s wrath, and history shows that the Foundation can be quite uncomfortably wrathful.”

            Trevize said, “The Foundation’s wrath would only be exerted if the Foundation knew there was something to be wrathful about.”

            “In that case; Trevize-if we assume your analysis of the situation is something other than mad-would it not be to your benefit to give us the ship and drive a hard bargain? We would pay well for the chance of having it quietly, according to your line of argument.”

            “Could you then rely on my not reporting the matter to the Foundation?”

            “Certainly. Since you would have to report your own part in it.”

            “I could report having acted under duress.”

            “Yes. Unless your good sense told you that your Mayor would never believe that.-Come, make a deal.”

            Trevize shook his head. “I will not, Madam Lizalor. The ship is mine and it must stay mine. As I have told you, it will blow up with extraordinary power if you attempt to force an entry. I assure you I am telling you the truth. Don’t rely on its being a bluff.”

           You could open it, and reinstruct the computer.”

            “Undoubtedly, but I won’t do that.”

            Lizalor drew a heavy sigh. “You know we could make you change your mind-if not by what we could do to you, then by what we could do to your friend, Dr. Pelorat, or to the young woman.”

            “Torture, Minister? Is that your law?”

            “No, Councilman. But we might not have to do anything so crude. There is always the Psychic Probe.”

            For the first time since entering the Minister’s apartment, Trevize felt an inner chill.

            “You can’t do that either. The use of the Psychic Probe for anything but medical purposes is outlawed throughout the Galaxy.”

            “But if we are driven to desperation-”

            “I am willing to chance that,” said Trevize calmly, “for it would do you no good. My determination to retain my ship is so deep that the Psychic Probe would destroy my mind before it twisted it into giving it to you.” (That was a bluff, he thought, and the chill inside him deepened.) “And even if you were so skillful as to persuade me without destroying my mind and if I were to open the ship and disarm it and hand it over to you, it would still do you no good. The ship’s computer is even more advanced than the ship is, and it is designed somehow-I don’t know how-to work at its full potential only with me. It is what I might call a one-person computer.”

            “Suppose, then, you retained your ship, and remained its pilot. Would you consider piloting it for us-as an honored Comporellian citizen? A large salary. Considerable luxury. Your friends, too.”


            “What is it you suggest? That we simply let you and your friends launch your ship and go off into the Galaxy? I warn you that before we allow you to do this, we might simply inform the Foundation that you are here with your ship, and leave all to them.”

            “And lose the ship yourself?”

            “If we must lose it, perhaps we would rather lose it to the Foundation than to an impudent Outworlder.”

            “Then let me suggest a compromise of my own.”

            “A compromise? Well, I will listen. Proceed.”

            Trevize said carefully, “I am on an important mission. It began with Foundation support. That support seems to have been suspended, but the mission remains important. Let me have Comporellian support instead and if I complete the mission successfully, Comporellon will benefit.”           

            Lizalor wore a dubious expression. “And you will not return the ship to the Foundation?”

            “I have never planned to do that. The Foundation would not be searching for the ship so desperately if they thought there was any intention of my casually returning it to them.”

            “That is not quite the same thing as saying that you will give the ship to us.”

            “Once I have completed the mission, the ship may be of no further use to me. In that case, I would not object to Comporellon having it.”

            The two looked at each other in silence for a few moments.

            Lizalor said, “You use the conditional. The ship ‘may be.’ That is of no value to us.”

            “I could make wild promises, but of what value would that be to you? The fact that my promises are cautious and limited should show you that they are at least sincere.”

            “Clever,” said Lizalor, nodding. “I like that. Well, what is your mission and how might it benefit Comporellon?”

            Trevize said, “No, no, it is your turn. Will you support me if I show you that the mission is of importance to Comporellon?”

            Minister Lizalor rose from the couch, a tall, overpowering presence. “I am hungry, Councilman Trevize, and I will get no further on an empty stomach. I will offer you something to eat and drink-in moderation. After that, we will finish the matter.”

            And it seemed to Trevize that there was a rather carnivorous look of anticipation about her at that moment, so that he tightened his lips with just a bit of unease.




            THE MEAL might have been a nourishing one, but it was not one to delight the palate. The main course consisted of boiled beef in a mustardy sauce, resting on a foundation of a leafy vegetable Trevize did not recognize. Nor did he like it for it had a bitter-salty taste he did not enjoy. He found out later it was a form of seaweed.

            There was, afterward, a piece of fruit that tasted something like an apple tainted by peach (not bad, actually) and a hot, dark beverage that was bitter enough for Trevize to leave half behind and ask if he might have some cold water instead. The portions were all small, but, under the circumstances, Trevize did not mind.

            The meal had been private, with no servants in view. The Minister had herself heated and served the food, and herself cleared away the dishes and cutlery.

            “I hope you found the meal pleasant,” said Lizalor, as they left the dining room.

            “Quite pleasant,” said Trevize, without enthusiasm.

            The Minister again took her seat on the couch. “Let us return then,” she said, “to our earlier discussion. You had mentioned that Comporellon might resent the Foundation’s lead in technology and its overlordship of the Galaxy. In a way that’s true, but that aspect of the situation would interest only those who are interested in interstellar politics, and they are comparatively few. What is much more to the point is that the average Comporellian is horrified at the immorality of the Foundation. There is immorality in most worlds, but it seems most marked in Terminus. I would say that any anti-Terminus animus that exists on this world is rooted in that, rather than in more abstract matters.”

            “Immorality?” said Trevize, puzzled. “Whatever the faults of the Foundation you have to admit it runs its part of the Galaxy with reasonable efficiency and fiscal honesty. Civil rights are, by and large, respected and-”

            “Councilman Trevize, I speak of sexual morality.”

            “In that case, I certainly don’t understand you. We are a thoroughly moral society, sexually speaking. Women are well represented in every facet of social life. Our Mayor is a woman and nearly half the Council consists of-”

            The Minister allowed a look of exasperation to fleet across her face. “Councilman, are you mocking me? Surely you know what sexual morality meant.  Is, or is not, marriage a sacrament upon Terminus?”

            “What do you mean by sacrament?”

            “Is there a formal marriage ceremony binding a couple together?”

            “Certainly, if people wish it. Such a ceremony simplifies tax problems and inheritance.”

            “But divorce can take place.”

            “Of course. It would certainly be sexually immoral to keep people tied to, each other, when-”

            “Are there no religious restrictions?”

            “Religious? There are people who make a philosophy out of ancient cults, but what has that to do with marriage?”

            “Councilman, here on Comporellon, every aspect of sex is strongly controlled. It may not take place out of marriage. Its expression is limited even within marriage. We are sadly shocked at those worlds, at Terminus, particularly, where sex seems to be considered a mere social pleasure of no great importance to be indulged in when, how, and with whom one pleases without regard to the values of religion.”

            Trevize shrugged. “I’m sorry, but I can’t undertake to reform the Galaxy, or even Terminus-and what has this to do with the matter of my ship?”

            “I’m talking about public opinion in the matter of your ship and how it limits my ability to compromise the matter. The people of Comporellon would be horrified if they found you had taken a young and attractive woman on board to serve the lustful urges of you and your companion. It is out consideration for the safety of the three of you that I have been urging you to accept peaceful surrender in place of a public trial.”

            Trevize said, “I see you have used the meal to think of a new type of persuasion by threat. Am I now to fear a lynch mob?”

            “I merely point out dangers. Will you be able to deny that the woman you have taken on board ship is anything other than a sexual convenience?”

            “Of course I can deny it. Bliss is the companion of my friend, Dr. Pelorat. He has no other competing companion. You may not define their state as marriage, but I believe that in Pelorat’s mind, and in the woman’s, too, there is a marriage between them.”

            “Are you telling me you are not involved yourself?”

            “Certainly not,” said Trevize. “What do you take me for?”

            “I cannot tell. I do not know your notions of morality.”

            “Then let me explain that my notions of morality tell me that I don’t trifle with my friend’s possessions-or his companionships.”

            “You are not even tempted?”

            “I can’t control the fact of temptation, but there’s no chance of my giving in to it.”

            “No chance at all? Perhaps you are not interested in women.”

            “Don’t you believe that. I am interested.”

            “How long has it been since you have had sex with a woman?”

            “Months. Not at all since I left Terminus.”

            “Surely you don’t enjoy that.”

            “I certainly don’t,” said Trevize, with strong feeling, “but the situation is such that I have no choice.”

            “Surely your friend, Pelorat, noting your suffering, would be willing to share his woman.”

            “I show him no evidence of suffering, but if I did, he would not be willing to share Bliss. Nor, I think, would the woman consent. She is not attracted to me.”

            “Do you say that because you have tested the matter?”

            “I have not tested it. I make the judgment without feeling the need to test it. In any case, I don’t particularly like her.”

            “Astonishing! She is what a man would consider attractive.”

            “Physically, she is attractive. Nevertheless, she does not appeal to me. For one thing, she is too young, too child-like in some ways.”

            “Do you prefer women of maturity, then?”

            Trevize paused. Was there a trap here? He said cautiously, “I am old enough to value some women of maturity. And what has this to do with my ship?”

            Lizalor said, “For a moment, forget your ship.-I am forty-six years old, and I am not married. I have somehow been too busy to marry.”

            “In that case, by the rules of your society, you must have remained continent all your life. Is that why you asked how long it had been since I have had sex? Are you asking my advice in the matter?-If so, I say it is not food and drink. It is uncomfortable to do without sex, but not impossible.”

            The Minister smiled and there was again that carnivorous look in her eyes. “Don’t mistake me, Trevize. Rank has its privileges and it is possible to be discreet. I am not altogether an abstainer. Nevertheless, Comporellian men are unsatisfying. I accept the fact that morality is an absolute good, but it does tend to burden the men of this world with guilt, so that they become unadventurous, unenterprising, slow to begin, quick to conclude, and, in general, unskilled.”

            Trevize said, very cautiously, “There is nothing I can do about that, either.”

            “Are you implying that the fault may be mine? That I am uninspiring?”

            Trevize raised a hand. “I don’t say that at all.”

            “In that case, how would you react, given the opportunity? You, a man from an immoral world, who must have had a vast variety of sexual experiences of all kinds, who is under the pressure of several months of enforced abstinence even though in the constant presence of a young and charming woman. How would you react in the presence of a woman such as myself; who is the mature type you profess to like?”

            Trevize said, “I would behave with the respect and decency appropriate to your rank and importance.”

            “Don’t be a fool!” said the Minister. Her hand went to the right side of her waist. The strip of white that encircled it came loose and unwound from her chest and neck. The bodice of her black gown hung noticeably looser.

            Trevize sat frozen. Had this been in her mind since-when? Or was it a bribe to accomplish what threats had not?

            The bodice flipped down, along with its sturdy reinforcement at the breasts. The Minister sat there, with a look of proud disdain on her face, and bare from the waist up. Her breasts were a smaller version of the woman herself-massive, firm, and overpoweringly impressive.

            “Well?” she said.

            Trevize said, in all honesty, “Magnificent!”

            “And what will you do about it?”

            “What does morality dictate on Comporellon, Madam Lizalor?”

            “What is that to a man of Terminus? What does your morality dictate?-And begin. My chest is cold and wishes warmth.”

            Trevize stood up and began to disrobe.


Foundation and Earth
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