“On the contrary. This is why I’m here, but was it worth your seeing Mother Rittah?”
“If we get out of this, it was.”
Seldon then said in a loud and firm voice, “May we pass?”
One of the men ahead stepped forward. He was fully Seldon’s height of 1.73 meters, but broader in the shoulders and much more muscular. A bit flabby at the waist, though, Seldon noted.
“I’m Marron, “ he said with self-satisfied significance, as though the name ought to have meaning, “and I’m here to tell you we don’t like Outworlders in our district. You want to come in, all right--but if you want to leave, you’ll have to pay.”
“Very well. How much?”
“All you’ve got. You rich Outworlders have credit tiles, right? Just hand them over.”
“No point saying no. We’ll just take them.”
“You can’t take them without killing me or hurting me and they won’t work without my voiceprint. My normal voiceprint.”
“That’s not so, Master-see, I’m being polite-we can take them away from you without hurting you very much.”
“How many of you big strong men will it take? Nine? No.” Seldon counted rapidly. “Ten.”
“Just one. Me.”
“With no help?”
‘ Just me.”
“If the rest of you will clear away and give us room, I would like to see you cry it, Marron.”
“You don’t have a knife, Master. You want one?”
“No, use yours to make the fight even. I’ll fight without one.”
Marron looked about at the others and said, “Hey, this puny guy is a sport. He don’t even sound scared. That’s sort of nice. It would be a shame to hurt him. -I tell you what, Master. I’ll take the girl. If you want me to stop, hand over your credit tile and her tile and use your right voices to activate them. If you say no, then after I’m through with the girl . . . and that’ll take some time”-he laughed--”I’ll just have to hurt you.”
“No, “ said Seldon. “Let the woman go. I’ve challenged you to a fight one to one, you with a knife, me without. If you want bigger odds, I’ll fight two of you, but let the woman go.”
“Stop, Hari!” cried out Dors. “If he wants me, let him come and get me. You stay right where you are, Hari, and don’t move.”
“You hear that?” said Marron, grinning broadly. “‘You stay right where you are, Hari, and don’t move.’ I think the little lady wants me. You two, keep him still.”
Each of Seldon’s arms were caught in an iron grip and he felt the sharp point of a knife in his back.
“Don’t move, “ said a harsh whisper in his ear, “and you can watch. The lady will probably like it. Marron’s pretty good at this.”
Dors called out again. “Don’t move, Hari!” She corned to face Marron watchfully, her half-closed hands poised near her belt.
He closed in on her purposefully and she waited till he had come within arm’s length, when suddenly her own arms flashed and Marron found himself facing two large knives.
For a moment, he leaned backward and then he laughed. “The little lady has two knives-knives like the big boys have. And I’ve only got one. But that’s fair enough.” His knife was swiftly out. “I hate to have to cut you, little lady, because it will be more fun for both of us if I don’t. Maybe I can just knock them out of your hands, huh?”
Dors said, “I don’t want to kill you. I’ll do all I can to avoid doing so. Just the same, I call on all to witness, that if I do kill you, it is to protect my friend, as I am honor-bound to do.”
Macron pretended to be terrified. “Oh, please don’t kill me, little lady.” Then he burst into laughter and was joined by the other Dahlites present.
Macron lunged with his knife, quite wide of the mark. He tried it again, then a third time, but Dors never budged. She made no attempt to fend off any motion that was not truly aimed at her.
Macron’s expression darkened. He was trying to make her respond with panic, but he was only making himself seem ineffectual. The next lunge was directly at her and Dors’s left-hand blade moved flashingly and caught his with a force that pushed his arm aside. Her right-hand blade flashed inward and made a diagonal slit in his T-shirt. A thin bloody line smeared the dark-haired skin beneath.
Macron looked down at himself in shock as the onlookers gasped in surprise. Seldon felt the grip on him weaken slightly as the two who held him were distracted by a duel not going quite as they had expected. He tensed himself.
Now Macron lunged again and this time his left hand shot outward to enclose Dors’s right wrist. Again Dors’s left-hand blade caught his knife and held it motionless, while her right hand twisted agilely and drew downward, even as Macron’s left hand closed upon it. It closed on nothing but the blade and when he opened his hand there was a bloody line down the palm.
Dors sprang back and Macron, aware of the blood on his chest and hand, roared out chokingly, “Someone toss me another knife!”
There was hesitation and then one of the onlookers tossed his own knife underhanded. Macron reached for it, but Dors was quicker. Her right-hand blade struck the thrown knife and sent it flying backward, whirling as it went.
Seldon felt the grips on his arms weaken further. He lifted them suddenly, pushing up and forward, and was free. His two captors turned toward him with a sudden shout, but he quickly kneed one in the groin and elbowed the other in the solar plexus and both went down.
He knelt to draw the knives of each and rose as double-armed as Dors. Unlike Dors, Seldon did not know how to handle the blades, but he knew the Dahlites would scarcely be aware of that
Dor said, ‘ Just keep them off, Hari. Don’t attack yet. -Macron, my next stroke will not be a scratch.”
Macron, totally enraged, roared incoherently and charged blindly, attempting by sheer kinetic energy to overwhelm his opponent. Dors, dipping and sidestepping, ducked under his right arm, kicked her foot against his right ankle, and down he crashed, his knife flying.
She then knelt, placed one blade against the back of his neck and the other against his throat, and said, “Yield!”
With another yell, Macron struck out against her with one arm, pushed her to one side, then scrambled to his feet.
He had not yet stood up completely when she was upon him, one knife slashing downward and hacking away a section of his mustache. This time he yowled like a large animal in agony, clapping his hand to his face. When he drew it away, it was dripping blood.
Dors shouted, “It won’t grow again, Macron. Some of the lip went with it. Attack once more and you’re dead meat.”
She waited, but Macron had had enough. He stumbled away, moaning, leaving a trail of blood.
Dors turned toward the others. The two that Seldon had knocked down were still lying there, unarmed and not anxious to get up. She bent down, cut their belts with one of her knives and then slit their trousers.
“This way, you’ll have to hold your pants up when you walk, “ she said.
She stared at the seven men still on their feet, who were watching her with awestruck fascination. “And which of you threw the knife?”
There was silence.
She said, “It doesn’t matter to me. Come one at a time or all together, but each time I slash, someone dies.”
And with one accord, the seven turned and scurried away.
Dors lifted her eyebrows and said to Seldom “This time, at least, Hummin can’t complain that I failed to protect you.”
Seldon said, “I still can’t believe what I saw. I didn’t know you could do anything like that--or talk like that either.”
Dors merely smiled. “You have your talents too. We make a good pair. Here, retract your knife blades and put them into your pouch. I think the news will spread with enormous speed and we can get out of Billibotton without fear of being stopped.”
She was quite right.
DAVAN- . . . In the unsettled times marking the final centuries of the First Galactic Empire, the typical sources of unrest arose from the fact that political and military leaders jockeyed for “supreme” power (a supremacy that grew more worthless with each decade). Only rarely was there anything that could be called a popular movement prior to the advent of psychohistory. In this connection, one intriguing example involves Davan, of whom little is actually known, but who may have met with Hari Seldon at one time when . . .
Both Hari Seldon and Dors Venabili had taken rather lingering baths, making use of the somewhat primitive facilities available to them in the Tisalver household. They had changed their clothing and were in Seldon’s room when Jirad Tisalver returned in the evening. His signal at the door was (or seemed) rather timid. The buzz did not last long.
Seldon opened the door and said pleasantly, “Good evening, Master Tisalver. And Mistress.”
She was standing right behind her husband, forehead puckered into a puzzled frown.
Tisalver said tentatively, as though he was unsure of the situation, “Are you and Mistress Venabili both well?” He nodded his head as though trying to elicit an affirmative by body language.
“Quite well. In and out of Billibotton without trouble and we’re all washed and changed. There’s no smell left.” Seldon lifted his chin as he said it, smiling, tossing the sentence over Tisalver s shoulder to his wife.
She sniffed loudly, as though testing the matter.
Still tentatively, Tisalver said, “I understand there was a knife fight.”
Seldon raised his eyebrows. “Is that the story?”
“You and the Mistress against a hundred thugs, we were cold, and you killed them all. Is that so?” There was the reluctant sound of deep respect in his voice.
“Absolutely not, “ Dors put in with sudden annoyance. “That’s ridiculous. What do you think we are? Mass murderers? And do you think a hundred thugs would remain in place, waiting the considerable time it would take me-us-to kill them all? I mean, think about it.”
“That’s what they’re saying, “ said Casilia Tisalver with shrill firmness. “We can’t have that sort of thing in this house.”
“In the first place, “ said Seldon, “it wasn’t in this house. In the second, it wasn’t a hundred men, it was ten. In the third, no one was killed. There was some altercation back and forth, after which they left and made way for us.”
“They just made way. Do you expect me to believe that, Outworlders?” demanded Mistress Tisalver belligerently.
Seldon sighed. At the slightest stress, human beings seemed to divide themselves into antagonistic groups. He said, “Well, I grant you one of them was cut a little. Not seriously.”
“And you weren’t hurt at all?” said Tisalver. The admiration in his voice was more marked.
“Not a scratch, “ said Seldon. “Mistress Venabili handles two knives excellently well.”
“I dare say, “ said Mistress Tisalver, her eyes dropping to Dors’s belt, “and that’s not what I want to have going on here.”
Dors said sternly, “As long as no one attacks us here, that’s what you won’t have here.”
“But on account of you, “ said Mistress Tisalver, “we have trash from the street standing at the doorway.”
“My love, “ said Tisalver soothingly, “let us not anger--”
“Why?” spat his wife with contempt. “Are you afraid of her knives? I would like to see her use them here.”
“I have no intention of using them here, “ said Dors with a sniff as loud as any that Mistress Tisalver had produced. “What is this trash from the street you’re talking about?”
Tisalver said, “What my wife means is that an urchin from Billibotton-at least, judging by his appearance-wishes to see you and we are not accustomed to that sort of thing in this neighborhood. It undermines our standing.” He sounded apologetic.
Seldon said, “Well, Master Tisalver, we’ll go outside, find out what it’s all about, and send him on his business as quickly--”
“No. Wait, “ said Dors, annoyed. “These are our rooms. We pay for them. We decide who visits us and who does not. If there is a young man outside from Billibotton, he is nonetheless a Dahlite. More important, he’s a Trantorian. Still more important, he’s a citizen of the Empire and a human being. Most important, by asking to see us, he becomes our guest. Therefore, we invite him in to see us.”
Mistress Tisalver didn’t move. Tisalver himself seemed uncertain.
Dors said, “Since you say I killed a hundred bullies in Billibotton, you surely do not think I am afraid of a boy or, for that matter, of you two.” Her right hand dropped casually to her belt.
Tisalver said with sudden energy, “Mistress Venabili, we do not intend to offend you. Of course these rooms are yours and you can entertain whomever you wish here.” He stepped back, pulling his indignant wife with him, undergoing a burst of resolution for which he might conceivably have to pay afterward.
Dors looked after them sternly.
Seldon smiled dryly. “How unlike you, Dors. I thought I was the one who quixotically got into trouble and that you were the calm and practical one whose only aim was to prevent trouble.”
Dors shook her head. “I can’t bear to hear a human being spoken of with contempt just because of his group identification-even by other human beings. It’s these respectable people here who create those hooligans out there.”
“And other respectable people, “ said Seldon, “who create these respectable people. These mutual animosities are as much a part of humanity--”
“Then you’ll have to deal with it in your psychohistory, won’t you?”
“Most certainly-if there is ever a psychohistory with which to deal with anything at all. -Ah, here comes the urchin under discussion. And it’s Raych, which somehow doesn’t surprise me.”
Raych entered, looking about, clearly intimidated. The forefinger of his right hand reached for his upper lip as though wondering when he would begin to feel the first downy hairs there.
He turned to the clearly outraged Mistress Tisalver and bowed clumsily. “Thank ya, Missus. Ya got a lovely place.”
Then, as the door slammed behind him, he turned to Seldon and Dors with an air of easy connoisseurship. “Nice place, guys.”
“I’m glad you like it, “ said Seldon solemnly. “How did you know we were here?”
“Followed ya. How’d ya think? Hey, lady”-he turned to Dors =‘you don’t fight like no dame.”
“Have you watched many dames fight?” asked Dors, amused.
Raych rubbed his nose, “No, never seen none whatever. They don’t carry knives, except little ones to scare kids with. Never scared me.”
“I’m sure they didn’t. What do you do to make dames draw their knives?”
“Nothin’. You just kid around a little. You holler, ‘Hey, lady, lemme-’ “
He thought about it for a moment and said, “Nothin’.”
Dors said, “Well, don’t try that on me.”
“Ya kiddin’? After what ya did to Marron? Hey, lady, where’d you learn to fight that way?”
“On my own world.”
“Could ya teach me?”
“Is that what you came here to see me about?”
“Akchaly, no. I came to bring ya a kind of message.”
“From someone who wants to fight me?”
“No one wants to fight ya, lady. Listen, lady, ya got a reputation now. Everybody knows ya. You just walk down anywhere in old Billibotton and all the guys will step aside and let ya pass and grin and make sure they don’t look cross-eyed at ya. Oh, lady, ya got it made. That’s why he wants to see ya.”
Seldon said, “Raych, just exactly who wants to see us?”
“Guy called Davan.”
“And who is he?”
“Just a guy. He lives in Billibotton and don’t carry no knife.”
“And he stays alive, Raych?”
“He reads a lot and he helps the guys there when they get in trouble with the gov’ment. They kinda leave him alone. He don’t need no knife.”
“Why didn’t he come himself, then?” said Dors. “Why did he send you?”
“He don’t like this place. He says it makes him sick. He says all the people here, they lick the gov’ment’ s--” He paused, looked dubiously at the two Outworlders, and said, “Anyway, he won’t come here. He said they’d let me in cause I was only a kid.” He grinned. “They almost didn’t, did they? I mean that lady there who looked like she was smellin’ somethin’?”
He stopped suddenly, abashed, and looked down at himself. “Ya don’t get much chance to wash where I come from.”
“It’s all right, “ said Dors, smiling. “Where are we supposed to meet, then, if he won’t come here? After all-if you don’t mind we don’t feel like going to Billibotton.”
“I told ya, “ said Raych indignantly. “Ya get free run of Billibotton, I swear. Besides, where he lives no one will bother ya.”
“Where is it?” asked Seldon.
“I can take ya there. It ain’t far.”
“And why does he want to see us?” asked Dors.
“Dunno. But he says like this--” Raych half-closed his eyes in an effort to remember. “‘Tell them I wanna see the man who talked to a Dahlite heatsinker like he was a human being and the woman who beat Marron with knives and didn’t kill him when she mighta done so.’ I think I got it right.”
Seldon smiled. “I think you did. Is he ready for us now?”
“Then we’ll come with you.” He looked at Dors with a trace of doubt in his eyes.
She said, “All right. I’m willing. Perhaps it won’t be a trap of some sort. Hope springs eternal--”
There was a pleasant glow to the evening light when they emerged, a faint violet touch and a pinkish edge to the simulated sunset clouds that were scudding along. Dahl might have complaints of their treatment by the Imperial rulers of Trantor, but surely there was nothing wrong with the weather the computers spun out for them.
Dors said in a low voice, “We seem to be celebrities. No mistake about that.”
Seldon brought his eyes down from the supposed sky and was immediately aware of a fair-sized crowd around the apartment house in which the Tisalvers lived.
Everyone in the crowd stared at them intently. When it was clear that the two Outworlders had become aware of the attention, a low murmur ran through the crowd, which seemed to be on the point of breaking out into applause.
Dors said, “Now I can see where Mistress Tisalver would find this annoying. I should have been a little more sympathetic.”
The crowd was, for the most part, poorly dressed and it was not hard to guess that many of the people were from Billibotton.
On impulse, Seldon smiled and raised one hand in a mild greeting that was met with applause. One voice, lost in the safe anonymity of the crowd called out, “Can the lady show us some knife tricks?”
When Dors called back, “No, I only draw in anger, “ there was instant laughter.
One man stepped forward. He was clearly not from Billibotton and bore no obvious mark of being a Dahlite. He had only a small mustache, for one thing, and it was brown, not black. He said, “Marlo Tanto of the ‘Trantorian HV News.’ Can we have you in focus for a bit for our nightly holocast?”
“No, “ said Dors shortly. “No interviews.”
The newsman did not budge. “I understand you were in a fight with a great many men in Billibotton--and won.” He smiled. “That’s news, that is.”
“No, “ said Dors. “We met some men in Billibotton, talked to them, and then moved on. That’s all there is to it and that’s all you’re going to get.”
“What’s your name? You don’t sound like a Trantorian.”
“I have no name.”
“And your friend’s name?”
“He has no name.”
The newsman looked annoyed, “Look, lady. You’re news and I’m just trying to do my job.”
Raych pulled at Dors’s sleeve. She leaned down and listened to his earnest whisper.
She nodded and straightened up again. “I don’t think you’re a newsman, Mr. Tanto. What I think you are is an Imperial agent trying to make trouble for Dahl. There was no fight and you’re trying to manufacture news concerning one as a way of justifying an Imperial expedition into Billibotton. I wouldn’t stay here if I were you. I don’t think you’re very popular with these people.”
The crowd had begun to mutter at Dors’s first words. They grew louder now and began to drift, slowly and in a menacing way, in the direction of Tanto. He looked nervously around and began to move away.
Dors raised her voice. “Let him go. Don’t anyone touch him. Don’t give him any excuse to report violence.”
And they parted before him.
Raych said, “Aw, lady, you shoulda let them rough him up.”
“Bloodthirsty boy, “ said Dors, “take us to this friend of yours.”
They met the man who called himself Davan in a room behind a dilapidated diner. Far behind.
Raych led the way, once more showing himself as much at home in the burrows of Billibotton as a mole would be in tunnels underground in Helicon.
It was Dors Venabili whose caution first manifested itself. She stopped and said, “Come back, Raych. Exactly where are we going?”
“To Davan, “ said Raych, looking exasperated. “I told ya.”
“But this is a deserted area. There’s no one living here.” Dors looked about with obvious distaste. The surroundings were lifeless and what light panels were there were did not glower did so only dimly.
“It’s the way Davan likes it, “ said Raych. “He’s always changing around, staying here, staying there. Ya know . . . changing around.”
“Why?” demanded Dors.
“It’s safer, lady.”
“From the gov’ment”
“Why would the government want Davan?”
“I dunno, lady. Tell ya what. I’ll tell ya where he is and tell ya how to go and ya go on alone-if ya don’t want me to take ya.”
Seldon said, “No, Raych, I’m pretty sure we’ll get lost without you. In fact, you had better wait till we’re through so you can lead us back.”
Raych said at once, “What’s in it f’me? Ya expect me to hang around when I get hungry?”
“You hang around and get hungry, Raych, and I’ll buy you a big dinner. Anything you like.”
“Ya say that now. Mister. How do I know?”
Dors’s hand flashed and it was holding a knife, blade exposed, “You’re not calling us liars, are you, Raych?”
Raych’s eyes opened wide. He did not seem frightened by the threat. He said, “Hey, I didn’t see that. Do it again.”
“I’ll do it afterward-if you’re still here. Otherwise”-Dors glared at him “we’ll track you down.”
“Aw, lady, come on, “ said Raych. “Ya ain’t gonna track me down. Ya ain’t that kind. But I’ll be here.” He struck a pose. “Ya got my word.”
And he led them onward in silence, though the sound of their shoes was hollow in the empty corridors.
Davan looked up when they entered, a wild look that softened when he saw Raych. He gestured quickly toward the two others questioningly.
Raych said, “These are the guys.” And, grinning, he left.
Seldon said, “I am Hari Seldon. The young lady is Dors Venabili.”
He regarded Davan curiously. Davan was swarthy and had the thick black mustache of the Dahlite male, but in addition he had a stubble of beard. He was the first Dahlite whom Seldon had seen who had not been meticulously shaven. Even the bullies of Billibotton had been smooth of cheek and chin.
Seldon said, “What is your name, sir?”
“Davan. Raych must have told you.”
“Your second name.”
“I am only Davan. Were you followed here, Master Seldon?”
“No, I’m sure we weren’t. If we had, then by sound or sight, I expect Raych would have known. And if he had not, Mistress Venabili would have.”
Dors smiled slightly. “You have faith in me, Hari.”
“More all the time, “ he said thoughtfully.
Davan stirred uneasily. “Yet you’ve already been found.”
“Yes, I have heard of this supposed newsman.”
“Already?” Seldon looked faintly surprised. “But I suspect he really was a newsman . . . and harmless. We tatted him an Imperial agent at Raych’s suggestion, which was a good idea. The surrounding crowd grew threatening and we got rid of him.”
“No, “ said Davan, “he was what you called him. My people know the man and he does work for the Empire. --but then you do not do as I do. You do not use a false name and change your place of abode. You go under your own names, making no effort to remain undercover. You are Hari Seldon, the mathematician.”
“Yes, I am, “ said Seldon. “Why should I invent a false name?”
“The Empire wants you, does it not?”
Seldon shrugged. “I stay in places where the Empire cannot reach out to take me.”
“Not openly, but the Empire doesn’t have to work openly. I would urge you to disappear . . . really disappear.”
“Like you . . . as you say, “ said Seldom looking about with an edge of distaste. The room was as dead as the corridors he had walked through. It was musty through and through and it was overwhelmingly depressing.
“Yes, “ said Davan. “You could be useful to us.”
“In what way?”
“You talked to a young man named Yugo Amaryl.”
“Yes, I did.”
“Amaryl tells me that you can predict the future.”
Seldon sighed heavily. He was tired of standing in this empty room. Davan was sitting on a cushion and there were other cushions available, but they did not look clean. Nor did he wish to lean against the mildew-streaked wall.
He said, “Either you misunderstood Amaryl or Amaryl misunderstood me. What I have done is to prove that it is possible to choose staffing conditions from which historical forecasting does not descend into chaotic conditions, but can become predictable within limits. However, what those starting conditions might be I do not know, nor am I sure that those conditions can be found by any one person--or by any number of people-in a finite length of time. Do you understand me?”
Seldon sighed again. “Then let me try once more. It is possible to predict the future, but it may be impossible to find out how to take advantage of that possibility. Do you understand?”
Davan looked at Seldon darkly, then at Dors. “Then you cant predict the future.”
“Now you have the point, Master Davan.”
‘Just call me Davan. But you may be able to learn to predict the future someday.”
“That is conceivable.”
“Then that’s why the Empire wants you.”
“No, “ Seldon raised his finger didactically. “It’s my idea that that is why the Empire is not making an overwhelming effort to get me. They might like to have me if I can be picked up without trouble, but they know that right now I know nothing and that it is therefore not worth upsetting the delicate peace of Trantor by interfering with the local rights of this sector or that. That’s the reason I can move about under my own name with reasonable security.”
For a moment, Davan buried his head in his hands and muttered, “This is madness.” Then he looked up wearily and said to Dors, “Are you Master Seldon’s wife?”
Dors said calmly, “I am his friend and protector.”
“How well do you know him?”
“We have been together for some months.”
“Would it be your opinion he is speaking the truth?”
“I know he is, but what reason would you have to crust me if you do not trust him? If Hari is, for some reason, lying to you, might I not be lying to you equally in order to support him?”
Davan looked from one to the other helplessly. Then he said, “Would you, in any case, help us?”
“Who are ‘us’ and in what way do you need help?”
Davan said, “You see the situation here in Dahl. We are oppressed. You must know that and, from your treatment of Yugo Amaryl, I cannot believe you lack sympathy for us.”
“We are fully sympathetic.”
“And you must know the source of the oppression.”
“You are going to cell me that it’s the Imperial government, I suppose, and I dare say it plays its part. On the other hand, I notice that there is a middle class in Dahl that despises the heatsinkers and a criminal class that terrorizes the rest of the sector.”
Davan’s lips tightened, but he remained unmoved. “Quite true. Quite true. But the Empire encourages it as a matter of principle. Dahl has the potential for making serious trouble. If the heatsinkers should go on strike, Trantor would experience a severe energy shortage almost at once . . . with all that that implies. However,
Dahl’s own upper classes will spend money to hire the hoodlums of Billibotton---and of other places-to fight the heatsinkers and break the strike. It has happened before. The Empire allows some Dahlites to prosper-comparatively-in order to convert them into Imperialist lackeys, while it refuses to enforce the arms-control laws effectively enough to weaken the criminal element
“The Imperial government does this everywhere--and not in Dahl alone. They can’t exert force to impose their will, as in the old days when they ruled with brutal directness. Nowadays, Trantor has grown so complex and so easily disturbed that the Imperial forces must keep their hands off--”
“A form of degeneration, “ said Seldon, remembering Hummin’s complaints.
“What?” said Davan.
“Nothing, “ said Seldon. “Go on.”
“The Imperial forces must keep their hands off, but they find that they can do much even so. Each sector is encouraged to be suspicious of its neighbours. Within each sector, economic and social classes are encouraged to wage a kind of war with each other. The result is that all over Trantor it is impossible for the people to take united action. Everywhere, the people would rather fight each other than make a common stand against the central tyranny and the Empire rules without having to exert force.”
“And what, “ said Dors, “do you think can be done about it?”
“I’ve been trying for years to build a feeling of solidarity among the peoples of Trantor.”
“I can only suppose, “ said Seldon dryly, “that you are finding this an impossibly difficult and largely thankless task.”
“You suppose correctly, “ said Davan, “but the party is growing stronger. Many of our knifers are coming to the realization that knives are best when they are not used on each other. Those who attacked you in the corridors of Billibotton are examples of the unconverted. However, those who support you now, who are ready to defend you against the agent you thought was a newsman, are my people. I live here among them. It is not an attractive way of life, but I am safe here. We have adherents in neighboring sectors and we spread daily.”
“But where do we come in?” asked Dors.
“For one thing, “ said Davan, “both of you are Outworlders, scholars. We need people like you among our leaders. Our greatest strength is drawn from the poor and the uneducated because they suffer the most, but they can lead the least. A person like one of you two is worth a hundred of them.”
“That’s an odd estimate from someone who wishes to rescue the oppressed, “ said Seldon.
“I don’t mean as people, “ said Davan hastily. “I mean as far as leadership is concerned. The party must have among its leaders men and women of intellectual power.”
“People like us, you mean, are needed to give your party a veneer of respectability.”
Davan said, “You can always put something noble in a sneering fashion if you try. But you, Master Seldon, are more than respectable, more than intellectual. Even if you won’t admit to being able to penetrate the mists of the future---”
“Please, Davan, “ said Seldon, “don’t be poetic and don’t use the conditional. It’s not a matter of admitting. I can’t foresee the future. Those are not mists that block the view but chrome steel barriers.”
“Let me finish. Even if you can’t actually predict with-what do you call it?-psychohistorical accuracy, you’ve studied history and you may have a certain intuitive feeling for consequences. Now, isn’t that so?”
Seldon shook his head. “I may have a certain intuitive understanding for mathematical likelihood, but how far I can translate that into anything of historical significance is quite uncertain. Actually, I have not studied history. I wish I had. I feel the loss keenly.”
Dors said evenly, “I am the historian, Davan, and I can say a few things if you wish.”
“Please do, “ said Davan, making it half a courtesy, half a challenge.
“For one thing, there have been many revolutions in Galactic history that have overthrown tyrannies, sometimes on individual planets, sometimes in groups of them, occasionally in the Empire itself or in the pre-Imperial regional governments. Often, this has only meant a change in tyranny. In other words, one ruling class is replaced by another sometimes by one that is more efficient and therefore still more capable of maintaining itself-while the poor and downtrodden remain poor and downtrodden or become even worse off.”
Davan, listening intently, said, “I’m aware of that. We all are. Perhaps we can learn from the past and know better what to avoid. Besides, the tyranny that now exists is actual. That which may exist in the future is merely potential. If we are always to draw back from change with the thought that the change may be for the worse, then there is no hope at all of ever escaping injustice.”
Dors said, “A second point you must remember is that even if you have right on your side, even if justice thunders condemnation, it is usually the tyranny in existence that has the balance of force on its side. There is nothing your knife handlers can do in the way of rioting and demonstrating that will have any permanent effect as long as, in the extremity, there is an army equipped with kinetic, chemical, and neurological weapons that is willing to use them against your people. You can get all the downtrodden and even all the respectables on your side, but you must somehow win over the security forces and the Imperial army or at least seriously weaken their loyalty to the rulers.”
Davan said, “Trantor is a multigovernmental world. Each sector has its own rulers and some of them are themselves anti-Imperial. If we can have a strong sector on our side, that would change the situation, would it not? We would then not be merely ragamuffins fighting with knives and stones.”
“Does that mean you do have a strong sector on your side or merely that it is your ambition to have one?”
Davan was silent.
Dors said, “I shall assume that you are thinking of the Mayor of Wye. If the Mayor is in the mood to make use of popular discontent as a way of improving the chance of toppling the Emperor, doesn’t it strike you that the end the Mayor would have in view would be that of succeeding to the Imperial throne? Why should the Mayor risk his present not-inconsiderable position for anything less? Merely for the blessings of justice and the decent treatment of people, concerning whom he can have little interest?”
“You mean, “ said Davan, “that any powerful leader who is willing to help us may then betray us.”
“It is a situation that is all too common in Galactic history.”
“If we are ready for that, might we not betray him?”
“You mean, make use of him and then, at some crucial moment, subvert the leader of his forces--or a leader, at any race--and have him assassinated?”
“Not perhaps exactly like that, but some way of getting rid of him might exist if that should prove necessary.”
“Then we have a revolutionary movement in which the principal players must be ready to betray each other, with each simply waiting for the opportunity. It sounds like a recipe for chaos.”
“You will not help us, then?” said Davan.
Seldon, who had been listening to the exchange between Davan and Dors with a puzzled frown on his face, said, “We can’t put it that simply. We would like to help you. We are on your side. It seems to me that no sane man wants to uphold an Imperial system that maintains itself by fostering mutual hatred and suspicions. Even when it seems to work, it can only be described as metastable; that is, as too apt to fall into instability in one direction or another. But the question is: How can we help? If I had psychohistory, if I could tell what is most likely to happen, or if I could tell what action of a number of alternative possibilities is most likely to bring on an apparently happy consequence, then I would put my abilities at your disposal. --but I don’t have is I can help you best by trying to develop psychohistory.”
“And how long will that take?”
Seldon shrugged. “I cannot say.”
“How can you ask us to wait indefinitely?”
“What alternative do I have, since I am useless to you as I am? But I will say this: I have until very recently been quite convinced that the development of psychohistory was absolutely impossible. Now I am not so certain of that.”
“You mean you have a solution in mind?”
“No, merely an intuitive feeling that a solution might be possible. I have not been able to pin down what has occurred to make me have that feeling. It may be an illusion, but I am trying. Let me continue to try. -Perhaps the will meet again.”
“Or perhaps, “ said Davan, “if you return to where you are now staying, you will eventually find yourself in an Imperial trap. You may think that the Empire will leave you alone white you struggle with psychohistory, but I am certain the Emperor and his toady Demerzel are in no mood to wait forever, any more than I am.”
“It will do them no good to hasten, “ said Seldon calmly, “since I am not on their side, as I am on yours. -Come, Dors.”
They turned and left Davan, sitting alone in his squalid room, and found Raych waiting for them outside.
Raych was eating, licking his fingers, and crumpling the bag in which the food-whatever it was-had been. A strong smell of onions pervaded the air-different somehow, yeast-based perhaps.
Dors, recreating a little from the odor, said, “Where did you get the food from, Raych?”
“Davan’s guys. They brought it to me. Davan’s okay.”
“Then we don’t have to buy you dinner, do we?” said Seldon, conscious of his own empty stomach.
“Ya owe me somethin’“ said Raych, looking greedily in Dors’s direction. “How about the lady’s knife? One of ‘em.”
“No knife, “ said Dors. “You get us back safely and I’ll give you five credits.”
“Can’t get no knife for five credits, “ grumbled Raych.
“You’re not getting anything but five credits, “ said Dors.
“You’re a lousy dame, lady, “ said Raych.
“I’m a lousy dame with a quick knife, Raych, so get moving.”
“All right. Don’t get all perspired.” Raych waved his hand. “This way.”
It was back through the empty corridors, but this time Dors, looking this way and that, stopped. “Hold on, Raych. We’re being followed.”
Raych looked exasperated. “Ya ain’t supposed to hear ‘em.”
Seldon said, bending his head to one side, “I don’t hear anything.”
“I do, “ said Dors. “Now, Raych, I don’t want any fooling around. You tell me right now what’s going on or I’ll rap your head so that you won’t see straight for a week. I mean it.”
Raych held up one arm defensively. “You try it, you lousy dame. You try it. -It’s Davan’s guys. They’re just taking care of us, in case any knifers come along.”
“Yeah. They’re goin’ along the service corridors.”
Dors’s right hand shot out and seized Raych by the scruff of his upper garment. She lifted and he dangled, shouting, “Hey, lady. Hey!”
Seldon said, “Dors! Don’t be hard on him.”
“I’ll be harder still if I think he’s lying. You’re my charge, Hari, not he.”
“I’m not lyin’, “ said Raych, struggling. “I’m not.”
“I’m sure he isn’t, “ said Seldon.
“Well, we’ll see. Raych, tell them to come out where we can see them.” She let him drop and dusted her hands.
“You’re some kind of nut, lady, “ said Raych aggrievedly. Then he raised his voice. “Yay, Davan! Come out here, some of ya guys!”
There was a wait and then, from an unlit opening along the corridor, two dark-mustached men came out, one with a scar running the length of his cheek. Each held the sheath of a knife in his hand, blade withdrawn.
“How many more of you are there?” asked Dors harshly.
“A few, “ said one of the newcomers. “Orders. We’re guarding you. Davan wants you safe.”
“Thank you. Try to be even quieter. Raych, keep on moving.”
Raych said sulkily, “Ya toughed me up when I was telling the truth.”
“You’re right, “ said Dors. “At least, I think you’re right . . . and I apologize.”
“I’m not sure I should accept, “ said Raych, trying to stand tall. “But awright, just this once.” He moved on.
When they reached the walkway, the unseen corps of guards vanished. At least, even Dors’s keen ears could hear them no more. By now, though, they were moving into the respectable part of the sector.
Dors said thoughtfully, “I don’t think we have clothes that would fit you, Raych.”
Raych said, “Why do ya want clothes to fit me, Missus?” (Respectability seemed to invade Raych once they were out of the corridors.) “I got clothes.”
“I thought you’d like to come into our place and take a bath.”
Raych said, “What for? I’ll wash one o’ these days. And I’ll put on my other shirt.” He looked up at Dors shrewdly. “You’re sorry ya roughed me up. Right? Ya tryin’ to make up?”
Dors smiled. “Yes. Sort of.”
Raych waved a hand in lordly fashion. “That’s all right. Ya didn’t hurt. Listen. You’re strong for a lady. Ya lifted me up like I was nothin’.”
“I was annoyed, Raych. I have to be concerned about Master Seldon.”
“Ya sort of his bodyguard?” Raych looked at Seldon inquiringly. “Ya got a lady for a bodyguard?”
“I can’t help it, “ said Seldom smiling wryly. “She insists. And she certainly knows her job.”
Dors said, “Think again, Raych. Are you sure you won’t have a bath? A nice warm bath.”
Raych said, “I got no chance. Ya think that lady is gonna let me in the house again?”
Dors looked up and saw Casilia Tisalver outside the front door of the apartment complex, staring first at the Outworld woman and then at the slum-bred boy. It would have been impossible to tell in which case her expression was angrier.
Raych said, “Well, so long, Mister and Missus. I don’t know if she’ll let either of ya in the house.” He placed his hands in his pocket and swaggered off in a fine affectation of carefree indifference.
Seldon said, “Good evening, Mistress Tisalver. It’s rather late, isn’t it?”
“It’s very late, “ she replied. “There was a near riot today outside this very complex because of that newsman you pushed the street vermin at.”
“We didn’t push anyone on anyone, “ said Dors.
“I was there, “ said Mistress Tisalver intransigently. “I saw it.”
She stepped aside to let them enter, but delayed long enough to make her reluctance quite plain.
“She acts as though that was the last straw, “ said Dors as she and Seldon made their way up to their rooms.
“So? What can she do about it?” asked Seldon.
“I wonder, “ said Dors.
RAYCH- . . . According to Hari Seldon, the original meeting with Raych was entirely accidental. He was simply a gutter urchin from whom Seldon had asked directions. But his life, from that moment on, continued to be intertwined with that of the great mathematician until .
The next morning, dressed from the waist down, having washed and shaved, Seldon knocked on the door that led to Dors’s adjoining room and said in a moderate voice, “Open the door, Dors.”
She did. The short reddish-gold curls of her hair were still wet and she too was dressed only from the waist down.
Seldon stepped back in embarrassed alarm. Dors looked down at the swell of her breasts indifferently and wrapped a towel around her head. “What is it?” she asked.
Seldon said, looking off to his right, “I was going to ask you about Wye.”
Dors said very naturally, “About why in connection with what? And for goodness sake, don’t make me talk to your ear. Surely, you’re not a virgin.”
Seldon said in a hurt tone, “I was merely trying to be polite. If you don’t mind, I certainly don’t. And it’s not why about what. I’m asking about the Wye Sector.”
“Why do you want to know? Or, if you prefer: Why Wye?”
“Look, Dors, I’m serious. Every once in a while, the Wye Sector is mentioned-the Mayor of Wye, actually. Hummin mentioned him, you did, Davan did. I don’t know anything about either the sector or the Mayor.”
“I’m not a native Trantorian either, Hari. I know very little, but you’re welcome to what I do know. Wye is near the south pole quite large, very populous--”
“Very populous at the south pole?”
“We’re not on Helicon, Hari. Or on Cinna either. This is Trantor. Everything is underground and underground at the poles or underground at the equator is pretty much the same. Of course, I imagine they keep their day-night arrangements rather extreme -- long days in their summer, long nights in their winter-almost as it would be on the surface. The extremes are just affectation; they’re proud of being polar.”
“But Upperside they must be cold, indeed.”
“Oh yes. The Wye Upperside is snow and ice, but it doesn’t lie as thickly there as you might think. If it did, it might crush the dome, but it doesn’t and that is the basic reason for Wye’s power.”
She turned to her mirror, removed the towel from her head, and threw the dry-net over her hair, which, in a matter of five seconds, gave it a pleasant sheen. She said, “You have no idea how glad I am not to be wearing a skincap, “ as she put on the upper portion of her clothing.
“What has the ice layer to do with Wye’s power?”
“Think about it. Forty billion people use a great deal of power and every calorie of it eventually degenerates into heat and has to be gotten rid of. It’s piped to the poles, particularly to the south pole, which is the more developed of the two, and is discharged into space. It metes most of the ice in the process and I’m sure that accounts for Trantor’s clouds and rains, no matter how much the meteorology boggins insist that things are more complicated than that.”
“Does Wye make use of the power before discharging it?”
“They may, for all I know. I haven’t the slightest idea, by the way, as to the technology involved in discharging the heat, but I’m talking about political power. If Dahl were to stop producing usable energy, that would certainly. inconvenience Trantor, but there are other sectors that produce energy and can up their production and, of course, there is stored energy in one form or another. Eventually, Dahl would have to be dealt with, but there would be time. Wye, on the other hand-’
“Well, Wye gets rid of at least 90 percent of all the heat developed on Trantor and there is no substitute. If Wye were to shut down its heat emission, the temperature would start going up all over Trantor.”
“In Wye too.”
“Ate, but since Wye is at the south pole, it can arrange an influx of cold air. It wouldn’t do much good, but Wye would last longer than the rest of Trantor. The point is, then, that Wye is a very touchy problem for the Emperor and the Mayor of Wye is--or at least can be-extremely powerful.”
“And what kind of a person is the present Mayor of Wye?”
“That I don’t know. What I’ve occasionally heard would make it seem that he is very old and pretty much a recluse, but hard as a hypership hull and still cleverly maneuvering for power.”
“Why, I wonder? If he’s that old, he couldn’t hold the power for long.”
“Who knows, Hari? A lifelong obsession, I suppose. Or else it’s the game . . . the maneuvering for power, without any real longing for the power itself. Probably if he had the power and took over Demerzel’s place or even the Imperial throne itself, he would feel disappointed because the game would be over. Of nurse he might, if he was still alive, begin the subsequent game of keeping power, which might be just as difficult and just as satisfying.”
Seldon shook his head. “It strikes me that no one could possibly want to be Emperor.”
“No sane person would, I free, but the ‘Imperial wish, ‘ as it is frequently called, is like a disease that, when caught, drives out sanity. And the closer you get to high office, the more likely you are to catch the disease. With each ensuing promotion--”
“The disease grows still more acute. Yes, I can see that. But it also seems to me that Trantor is so huge a world, so interlocking in its needs and so conflicting in its ambitions, that it makes up the major part of the inability of the Emperor to rule. Why doesn’t he just leave Trantor and establish himself on some simpler world?”
Dors laughed. “You wouldn’t ask that if you knew your history. Trantor is the Empire through thousands of years of custom. An Emperor who is not at the Imperial Palace is not the Emperor. He is a place, even more than a person.”
Seldon sank into silence, his face rigid, and after a while Dors asked, What’s the matter, Hari?”
“I’m thinking, “ he said in a muffled voice. “Ever since you told me that hand-on-thigh story, I’ve had fugitive thoughts that-Now your remark about the Emperor being a place rather than a person seems to have struck a chord.”
“What kind of chord?”
Seldon shook his head. “I’m still thinking. I may be all wrong.” His glance at Dors sharpened, his eyes coming into focus. “In any case, we ought to go down and have breakfast. We’re late and I don’t think Mistress Tisalver is in a good enough humor to have it brought in for us.”
“You optimist, “ said Dors. “My own feeling is that she’s not in a good enough humor to want us to stay-breakfast or not. She wants us out of here.”
“That may be, but we’re paying her.”
“Yes, but I suspect she hates us enough by now to scorn our credits.”
“Perhaps her husband will feel a bit more affectionate concerning the rent.”
“If he has a single word to say, Hari, the only person who would be more surprised than me to hear it would be Mistress Tisalver. -Very well, I’m ready.”
And they moved down the stairs to the Tisalver portion of the apartment to find the lady in question waiting for them with less than breakfast--and with considerably more too.
Casilia Tisalver stood ramrod straight with a tight smile on her round face and her dark eyes glinting. Her husband was leaning moodily against the wall. In the center of the room were two men who were standing stiffly upright, as though they had noticed the cushions on the floor but scorned them.
Both had the dark crisp hair and the chick black mustache to be expected of Dahlites. Both were thin and both were dressed in dark clothes so nearly alike that they were surely uniforms. There was thin white piping up and over the shoulders and down the sides of the tubular trouser legs. Each had, on the right side of his chest, a rather dim Spaceship-and-Sun, the symbol of the Galactic Empire on every inhabited world of the Galaxy, with, in this case, a dark “D” in the center of the sun.
Seldon realized immediately that these were two members of the Dahlite security forces.
“What’s all this?” said Seldon sternly.
One of the men stepped forward. “I am Sector Officer Lanel Russ. This is my partner, Gebore Astinwald.”
Both presented glittering identification holo-tabs. Seldon didn’t bother looking at them. “What it is you want?”
Russ said calmly, “Are you Hari Seldon of Helicon?”
“And are you Dors Venabili of Cinna, Mistress?”
“I am, “ said Dors.
“I’m here to investigate a complaint that one Hari Seldon instigated a riot yesterday.”
“I did no such thing, “ said Seldon.
“Our information is, “ said Russ, looking at the screen of a small computer pad, “that you accused a newsman of being an Imperial agent, thus instigating a riot against him.”
Dors said, “It was I who said he was an Imperial agent, Officer. I had reason to think he was. It is surely no crime to express one’s opinion. The Empire has freedom of speech.”
“That does not cover an opinion deliberately advanced in order to instigate a riot.”
“How can you say it was, Officer?”
At this point, Mistress Tisalver interposed in a shrill voice, “I can say it, Officer. She saw there was a crowd present, a crowd of gutter people who were just looking for trouble. She deliberately said he was an Imperial agent when she knew nothing of the sort and she shouted it to the crowd to stir them up. It was plain that she knew what she was doing.”
“Casilia, “ said her husband pleadingly, but she cast one look at him and he said no more.
Russ turned to Mistress Tisalver. “Did you lodge the complaint, Mistress?”
“Yes. These two have been living here for a few days and they’ve done nothing but make trouble. They’ve invited people of low reputation into my apartment, damaging my standing with my neighbours.”
“Is it against the law, Officer, “ asked Seldon, “to invite clean, quiet citizens of Dahl into one’s room? The two rooms upstairs are our rooms. We have rented them and they are paid for. Is it a crime to speak to Dahlites in Dahl, Officer?”
“No, it is not, “ said Russ. “That is not part of the complaint. What gave you reason, Mistress Venabili, to suppose the person you so accused was, in fact, an Imperial agent?”
Doss said, “He had a small brown mustache, from which I concluded he was not a Dahlite. I surmised he was an Imperial agent”
“You surmised? Your associate, Master Seldon, has no mustache at all. Do you surmise he is an Imperial agent?”
“In any case, “ said Seldon hastily, “there was no riot. We asked the crowd to take no action against the supposed newsman and I’m sure they didn’t.”
“You’re sure, Master Seldon?” said Russ. “Our information is that you left immediately after making your accusation. How could you witness what happened after you left?”
“I couldn’t, “ said Seldon, “but let me ask you-Is the man dead? Is the man hurt?”
“The man has been interviewed. He denies he is an Imperial agent and we have no information that he is. He also claims he was handled roughly.”
“He may well be lying in both respects, “ said Seldon. “I would suggest a Psychic Probe.”
“That cannot be done on the victim of a crime, “ said Russ. “The sector government is very firm on that. It might do if you two, as the criminals in this case, each underwent a Psychic Probe. Would you like us to do that?”
Seldon and Dors exchanged glances for a moment, then Seldon said, “No, of course not.”
“Of course not, “ repeated Russ with just a tinge of sarcasm in his voice, “hut you’re ready enough to suggest it for someone else.”
The other officer, Astinwald, who had so far not said a word, smiled at this.
Russ said, “We also have information that two days ago you engaged in a knife fight in Billibotton and badly hurt a Dahlite citizen named”-he struck a button on his computer pad and studied the new page on the screen- “Elgin Marron.”
Doss said, “Dot your information tell you how the fight started?”
“That is irrelevant at the moment, Mistress. Do you deny that the fight took place?”
“Of course we don’t deny the fight took place, “ said Seldon hotly, “but we deny that we in any way instigated that. We were attacked. Mistress Venabili was seized by this Marron and it was clear he was attempting to rape her. What happened afterward was pure self-defense. Or does Dahl condone rape?”
Russ said with very little intonation in his voice, “You say you were attacked? By how many?”
“And you alone-with a woman-defended yourself against tea men?”
“Mistress Venabili and I defended ourselves. Yes.”
“How is it, then, that neither of you shows any damage whatever? Are either of you cut or bruised where it doesn’t show right now?”
“How is it, then, that in the fight of one-plus a woman-against ten, you are in no way hurt, but that the complainant, Elgin Marron, has been hospitalized with wounds and will require a skin transplant on his upper lip?”
“We fought well, “ said Seldon grimly.
“Unbelievably well. What would you say if I told you that three men have testified that you and your friend attacked Marron, unprovoked?”
“I would say that it belies belief that we should. I’m sure that Marron has a record as a brawler and knifeman. I tell you that there were ten there. Obviously, six refused to swear to a lie. Do the other three explain why they did not come to the help of their friend if they witnessed him under unprovoked attack and in danger of his life? It must be clear to you that they are lying.”
“Do you suggest a Psychic Probe for them?”
“Yes. And before you ask, I still refuse to consider one for us.”
Russ said, “We have also received information that yesterday, after leaving the scene of the riot, you consulted with one Davan, a known subversive who is wanted by the security police. Is that true?”
“You’ll have to prove that without help from us, “ said Seldon. “We’re not answering any further questions.”
Russ put away his pad. “I’m afraid I must ask you to come with us to headquarters for further interrogation.”
“I don’t think that’s necessary, Officer, “ said Seldon. “We are Outworlders who have done nothing criminal. We have tried to avoid a newsman who was annoying us unduly, we tried to protect ourselves against rape and possible murder in a part of the sector known for criminal behavior, and we’ve spoken to various Dahlites. We see nothing there to warrant our further questioning. It would come under the heading of harassment.”
“We make these decisions, “ said Russ. “Not you. Will you please come with us?”
“No, we will not, “ said Dors.
“Watch out!” cried out Mistress Tisalver. “She’s got two knives.”
Officer Russ sighed and said, “Thank you, Mistress, but I know she does.” He turned to Dors. “Do you know it’s a serious crime to carry a knife without a permit in this sector? Do you have a permit?”
“No, Officer, I don’t.”
“It was clearly with an illegal knife, then, that you assaulted Marron? Do you realize that that greatly increases the seriousness of the crime?”
“It was no crime, Officer, “ said Dors. “Understand that. Marron had a knife as well and no permit, I am certain.”
“We have no evidence to that effect and while Marron has knife wounds, neither of you have any.”
“Of course he had a knife, Officer. If you don’t know that every man in Billibotton and most men elsewhere in Dahl carry knives for which they probably don’t have permits, then you’re the only man in Dahl who doesn’t know. There are shops here wherever you turn that sell knives openly. Don’t you know that?”
Russ said, “It doesn’t matter what I know or don’t know in this respect. Nor does it matter whether other people are breaking the law or how many of them do. All that matters at this moment is that Mistress Venabili is breaking the anti-knife law. I must ask you to give up those knives to me right now, Mistress, and the two of you must then accompany me to headquarters.”
Dors said, “In that case, take my knives away from me.”
Russ sighed. “You must not think, Mistress, that knives are all the weapons there are in Dahl or that I need engage you in a knife fight. Both my partner and I have blasters that will destroy you in a moment, before you can drop your hands to your knife hilt-however fast you are. We won’t use a blaster, of course, because we are not here to kill you. However, each of us also has a neuronic whip, which we can use on you freely. I hope you won’t ask for a demonstration. It won’t kill you, do you permanent harm of any kind, or leave any marks--but the pain is excruciating. My partner is holding a neuronic whip on you right now. And here is mine. -Now, let us have your knives, Mistress Venabili.”
There was a moment’s pause and then Seldon said, “It’s no use, Dors. Give him your knives.”
And at that moment, a frantic pounding sounded at the door and they all heard a voice raised in high-pitched expostulation.
Raych had not entirely left the neighborhood after he had walked them back to their apartment house.
He had eaten well while waiting for the interview with Davan to 6e done and later had slept a bit after finding a bathroom that more or less worked. He really had no place to go now that all that was done. He had a home of sorts and a mother who was not likely to be perturbed if he stayed away for a while. She never was.
He did not know who his father was and wondered sometimes if he really had one. He had been told he had to have one and the reasons for that had been explained to him crudely enough. Sometimes he wondered if he ought to believe so peculiar a story, but he did find the details titillating.
He thought of that in connection with the lady. She was an old lady, of course, but she was pretty and she could fight like a man better than a man. It filled him with vague notions.
And she had offered to let him take a bath. He could swim in the Billibotton pool sometimes when he had some credits he didn’t need for anything else or when he could sneak in. Those were the only times he got wet all over, but it was chilly and he had to wait to get dry.
Taking a bath was different. There would be hoc water, soap, towels, and warm air. He wasn’t sure what it would feel like, except that it would be nice if she was there.
He was walkway-wise enough to know of places where he could park himself in an alley off a walkway that would 6e near a bathroom and still be near enough to where she was, yet where he probably wouldn’t be found and made to run away.
He spent the night thinking strange thoughts. What if he did learn to read and write? Could he do something with that? He wasn’t sure what, but maybe the could cell him. He had vague ideas of being paid money to do things he didn’t know how to do now, but he didn’t know what those things might be. He would have to be cold, but how do you get told?
If he stayed with the man and the lady, they might help. But why should they want him to stay with them?
He drowsed off, coming to later, not because the light was brightening, but because his sharp ears caught the heightening and deepening of sounds from the walkway as the activities of the day began.
He had learned to identify almost every variety of sound, because in the underground maze of Billibotton, if you wanted to survive with even a minimum of comfort, you had to be aware of things before you saw them. And there was something about the sound of a ground-car motor that he now heard that signaled danger to him. It had an official sound, a hostile sound
He shook himself awake and stole quietly toward the walkway. He scarcely needed to see the Spaceship-and-Sun on the groundcar. Its lines were enough. He knew they had to be coming for the man and the lady because they had seen Davan. He did not pause to question his thoughts or to analyze them. He was off on a run, beating his way through the gathering life of the day.
He was back in less than fifteen minutes. The ground-car was still there and there were curious and cautious onlookers gazing at it from all sides and from a respectful distance. There would soon be more. He pounded his way up the stairs, trying to remember which door he should bang on. No time for the elevator.
He found the door-at least he thought he did---and he banged, shouting in a squeak, “Lady! Lady!”
He was too excited to remember her name, but he remembered part of the man’s. “Hari!” he shouted. “Let me in.”
The door opened and he rushed in-tried to rush in. The rough hand of an officer seized his arm. “Hold it, kid. Where do you think you’re going?”
“Leggo! I ain’t done nothin’.” He looked about. “Hey, lady, what’re they Join’?”
“Arresting us, “ said Dors grimly.
“What for?” said Raych, panting and struggling. “Hey, leggo, you Sunbadger. Don’t go with him, lady. You don’t have to go with him. “
“You get out, “ said Russ, shaking the boy vehemently.
“No, I ain’t, You ain’t either, Sunbadger. My whole gang is coming. You ain’t gettin’ out, less’n you let these guys go.”
“What whole gang?” said Russ, frowning.
“They’re right outside now. Prob’ly takin’ your ground-car apart. And they’ll take yore apart.”
Russ turned toward his partner, “Call headquarters. Have them send out a couple of trucks with Macros.”
“No!” shrieked Raych, breaking loose and rushing at Astinwald. “Don’t call!”
Russ levelled his neuronic whip and fired.
Raych shrieked, grasped at his right shoulder, and fell down, wriggling madly.
Russ had not yet turned back to Seldon, when the latter, seizing him by the wrist, pushed the neuronic whip up in the air and then around and behind, while stamping on his foot to keep him relatively motionless. Hari could feel the shoulder dislocate, even while Russ emitted a hoarse, agonized yell.
Astinwald raised his blaster quickly, but Dors’s left arm was around his shoulder and the knife in her right hand was at his throat.
“Don’t move!” she said. “Move a millimeter, any part of you, and I cut you through your neck to the spine. -Drop the blaster. Drop it! And the neuronic whip.”
Seldon picked up Raych, still moaning, and held him tightly. He turned to Tisalver and said, “There are people out there. Angry people. I’ll have them in here and they’ll break up everything you’ve got. They’ll smash the walls. If you don’t want that to happen, pick up those weapons and throw them into the next room. Take the weapons from the security officer on the door and do the same. Quickly! Get your wife to help. She’ll think twice next time before sending in complaints against innocent people. -Dors, this one on the floor won’t do anything for a while. Put the other one out of action, but don’t kill him.”
“Right, “ said Dors. Reversing her knife, she struck him hard on the skull with the haft. He went to his knees.
She made a face. “I hate doing that.”
“They fired at Raych, “ said Seldon, trying to mask his own sick feeling at what had happened.
They left the apartment hurriedly and, once out on the walkway, found it choked with people, almost all men, who raised a shout when they saw them emerge. They pushed in close and the smell of poorly washed humanity was overpowering.
Someone shouted, “Where are the Sunbadgers?”
“Inside, “ called out Dors piercingly. “Leave them alone. They’ll be helpless for a while, but they’ll get reinforcements, so get out of here fast”
“What about you?” came from a dozen throats.
“We’re getting out too. We won’t be back.”
“I’ll take care of them, “ shrilled Raych, struggling out of Seldon’s arms and standing on his feet. He was rubbing his right shoulder madly. “I can walk. Lemme past.”
The crowd opened for him and he said, “Mister, lady, come with me. Fast!”
They were accompanied down the walkway by several dozen men and then Raych suddenly gestured at an opening and muttered, “In here, folks. I’ll rake ya to a place no one will ever find ya. Even Davan prob’ly don’t know it. Only thing is, we got to go through the sewer levels. No one will see us there, but it’s sort of stinky . . . know what I mean?”
“I imagine we’ll survive, “ muttered Seldon.
And down they went along a narrow spiralling ramp and up rose the mephitic odors to greet them.
Raych found them a hiding place. It had meant climbing up the metal rungs of a ladder and it had led them to a large loft like room, the use of which Seldon could not imagine. It was filled with equipment, bulky and silent, the function of which also remained a mystery. The room was reasonably clean and free of dust and a steady draft of air wafted through that prevented the dust from settling and-more important seemed to lessen the odor.
Raych seemed pleased. “Ain’t this nice?” he demanded. He still rubbed his shoulder now and then and winced when he rubbed too hard.
“It could be worse, “ said Seldon. “Do you know what this place is used for, Raych?”
Raych shrugged or began to do so and winced. “I dunno, “ he said. Then he added with a touch of swagger, “Who cares?”
Dors, who had sat down on the floor after brushing it with her hand and then looking suspiciously at her palm, said, “If you want a guess, I think this is part of a complex that is involved in the detoxification and recycling of wastes. The stuff must surely end up as fertilizer.”
“Then, “ said Seldon gloomily, “those who run the complex will be down here periodically and may come at any moment, for all we know.”
“I been here before, “ said Raych. “I never saw no one here.”
“I suppose Trantor is heavily automated wherever possible and if anything calls for automation it would be this treatment of wastes, “ said Dors. “We may be safe . . . for a while.”
“Not for long. We’ll get hungry and thirsty, Dors.”
“I can get food and water for us, “ said Raych. “Ya got to know how to make out if you’re an alley kid.”
“Thank you, Raych, “ said Seldon absently, “but right now I’m not hungry.” He sniffed. “I may never be hungry again.”
“You will be, “ said Dors, “and even if you lose your appetite for a while, you’ll get thirsty. At least elimination is no problem. We’re practically living over what is clearly an open sewer.”
There was silence for a while. The light was dim and Seldon wondered why the Trantorians didn’t keep it dark altogether. But then it occurred to him that he had never encountered true darkness in any public area. It was probably a habit in an energy-rich society. Strange that a world of forty billion should be energy-rich, but with the internal heat of the planet to draw upon, to say nothing of solar energy and nuclear fusion plants in space, it was. In fact, come to think of it, there was no energy-poor planet in the Empire. Was there a time when technology had been so primitive that energy poverty was possible?
He leaned against a system of pipes through which-for all he knew sewage ran. He drew away from the pipes as the thought occurred to him and he sat down next to Dors.
He said, “Is there any way we can get in touch with Chetter Hummin?”
Dors said, “As a matter of fact, I did send a message, though I hated to.”
“You hated to?”
“My orders are to protect you. Each time I have to get in touch with him, it means I’ve failed.”
Seldon regarded her out of narrowed eyes. “Do you have to be so compulsive, Dons? You can’t protect me against the security officers of an entire sector.”
“I suppose not. We can disable a few--”
“I know. We did. But they’ll send out reinforcements . . . armored ground-cars . . . neuronic cannon . . . sleeping mist. I’m not sure what they have, but they’re going to throw in their entire armory. I’m sure of it.”
“You’re probably right, “ said Dons, her mouth tightening.
“They won’t find ya, lady, “ said Raych suddenly. His sharp eyes had moved from one to the other as they talked. “They never find Davan.”
Dors smiled without joy and ruffled the boy’s hair, then looked at the palm of her hand with a little dismay. She said, “I’m not sure if you ought to stay with us, Raych. I don’t want them finding you. “
“They won’t find me and if I leave ya, who’ll get ya food and water and who’ll find ya new hidin’ places, so the Sunbadgers’ll never know where to look?”
“No, Raych, they’ll find us. They don’t really look too hard for Davan. He annoys them, but I suspect they don’t take him seriously. Do you know what I mean?”
“You mean he’s just a pain in the . . . the neck and they figure he ain’t worth chasing all over the lot.”
“Yes, that’s what I mean. But you see, we hurt two of the officers very badly and they’re not going to let us get away with that. If it takes their whole force-if they have to sweep through every hidden or unused corridor in the sector-they’ll get us.”
Raych said, “That makes me feel like . . . like natin’n’. If I didn’t run in there and get zapped, ya wouldn’t have taken out them officers and ya wouldn’t be in such trouble.”
“No, sooner or later, we’d have-uh-taken them out. Who knows? We may have to take out a few more.”
“Well, ya did it beautiful, “ said Raych. “If I hadn’t been aching all over, I could’ve watched more and enjoyed it.”
Seldon said, “It wouldn’t do us any good to try to fight the entire security system. The question is: What will they do to us once they have us? A prison sentence, surely.”
“Oh no. If necessary, we’ll have to appeal to the Emperor, “ put in Dors.
“The Emperor?” said Raych, wide-eyed. “You know the Emperor?”
Seldon waved at the boy. “Any Galactic citizen can appeal to the Emperor. -That strikes me as the wrong thing to do, Dors. Ever since Hummin and I left the Imperial Sector, we’ve been evading the Emperor.”
“Not to the extent of being thrown into a Dahlite prison. The Imperial appeal will serve as a delay-in any case, a diversion--and perhaps in the course of that delay, we can think of something else.”
“Yes, there is, “ said Dors uneasily, “but we can’t consider him the doit-all. For one thing, even if my message reached him and even if he was able to rush to Dahl, how would he find us here? And, even if he did, what could he do against the entire Dahlite security force?”
“In that case, “ said Seldon. “We’re going to have to think of something we can do before they find us.”
Raych said, “If ya follow me, I can keep ya ahead of them. I know every place there is around here.”
“You can keep us ahead of one person, but there’ll be a great many, moving down any number of corridors. We’ll escape one group and bump into another.”
They sat in uncomfortable silence for a good while, each confronting what seemed to 6e a hopeless situation. Then Dors Venabili stirred and said in a tense, low whisper, “They’re here. I hear them.”
For a while, they strained, listening, then Raych sprang to his feet and hissed, “They comin’ that way. We gotta go this way.”
Seldon, confused, heard nothing at all, but would have been content to trust the others’ superior hearing, but even as Raych began moving hastily and quietly away from the direction of the approaching tread, a voice rang out echoing against the sewer walls. “Don’t move. Don’t move.”
And Raych said, “That’s Davan. How’d he know we were here?”
“Davan?” said Seldon. “Are you sure?”
“Sure I’m sure. He’ll help.”
Davan asked, “What happened?”
Seldon felt minimally relieved. Surely, the addition of Davan could scarcely count against the full force of the Dahl Sector, but, then again, he commanded a number of people who might create enough confusion
He said, “You should know, Davan. I suspect that many of the crowd who were at Tisalver’s place this morning were your people.”
“Yes, a number were. The story is that you were being arrested and that you manhandled a squadron of Sunbadgers. But why were you being arrested?”
“Two, “ said Seldon, lifting two fingers. “Two Sunbadgers. And that’s bad enough. Part of the reason we were being arrested was that we had gone to see you.”
“That’s not enough. The Sunbadgers don’t bother with me much as a general thing.” He added bitterly, “They underestimate me.”
“Maybe, “ said Seldon, “out the woman from whom we rent our rooms reported us for having started a riot . . . over the newsman we ran into on our way to you. You know about that. With your people on the scene yesterday and again this morning and with two officers badly hurt, they may well decide to clean out these corridors--and that means you will suffer. I really am sorry. I had no intention or expectation of being the cause of any of this.”
But Davan shook his head. “No, you don’t know the Sunbadgers. That’s not enough either. They don’t want to clean us up. The sector would have to do something about us if they did. They’re only too happy to let us rot in Billibotton and the other slums. No, they’re after you. What have you done?”
Dors said impatiently, “We’ve done nothing and, in any case, what does it matter? If they’re not after you and they are after us, they’re going to come down here to flush us out. If you get in the way, you’ll be in deep trouble.”
“No, not me. I have friends-powerful friends, “ said Davan. “I told you that last night. And they can help you as well as me. When you refused to help us openly, I got in touch with them. They know who you are, Dr. Seldon. You’re a famous man. They’re in a position to talk to the Mayor of Dahl and see to it that you are left alone, whatever you have done. But you’ll have to be taken a way out of Dahl.”
Seldon smiled. Relief flooded over him. He said, “You know someone powerful, do you, Davan? Someone who responds at once, who has the ability to talk the Dahl government out of taking drastic steps, and who can take us away? Good. I’m not surprised.” He turned to Dors, smiling. “It’s Mycogen all over again. How does Hummin do it?”
But Dors shook her head. “Too quick. -I don’t understand.”
Seldon said, “I believe he can do anything.”
“I know him better than you do--and longer--and I don’t believe that.”
Seldon smiled, “Don’t underestimate him.” And then, as though anxious not to linger longer on that subject, he turned to Davan. “But how did you find us? Raych said you knew nothing about this place.”
“He don’t, “ shrilled Raych indignantly. “This place is all mine. I found it.”
“I’ve never been here before, “ said Davan, looking about. “It’s an interesting place. Raych is a corridor creature, perfectly at home in this maze.”
“Yes, Davan, we gathered as much ourselves. But how did you find it?”
“A heat-seeker. I have a device that detects infra-red radiation, the particular thermal pattern that is given off at thirty-seven degrees Celsius. It will react to the presence of human beings and not to other heat sources. It reacted to you three.”
Dons was frowning. “What good is that on Trantor, where there are human beings everywhere? They have them on other worlds, but--”
Davan said, “But not on Trantor. I know. Except that they are useful in the slums, in the forgotten, decaying corridors and alleyways.”
“And where did you get it?” asked Seldon.
Davan said, “It’s enough that I have it. --but we’ve got to get you away, Master Seldon. Too many people want you and I want my powerful friend to have you.”
“Where is he, this powerful friend of yours?”
“He’s approaching. At least a new thirty-seven-degree source is registering and I don’t see that it can be anyone else.”
Through the door strode a newcomer, but Seldon’s glad exclamation died on his lips. It was not Chetter Hummin.
WYE- . . . A sector of the world-city of Trantor . . . In the latter centuries of the Galactic Empire, Wye was the strongest and stablest portion of the world-city. Its rulers had long aspired to the Imperial throne, justifying that by their descent from early Emperors. Under Mannix IV, Wye was militarized and (Imperial authorities later claimed) was planning a planet-wide coup .
The man who entered was tall and muscular. He had a long blond mustache that curled up at the tips and a fringe of hair that went down the sides of his face and under his chin, leaving the point of his chin and his lower lip smoothly bare and seeming a little moist. His head was so closely cropped and his hair was so fight that, for one unpleasant moment, Seldon was reminded of Mycogen.
The newcomer wore what was unmistakably a uniform. It was red and white and about his waist was a wide belt decorated with silver studs.
His voice, when he spoke, was a rolling bass and its accent was not like any that Seldon had heard before. Most unfamiliar accents sounded uncouth in Seldon’s experience, but this one seemed almost musical, perhaps because of the richness of the low tones.
“I am Sergeant Emmer Thalus, “ he rumbled in a slow succession of syllables. “I have come seeking Dr. Hari Seldon.”
Seldon said, “I am he.” In an aside to Dors, he muttered, “if Hummin couldn’t come himself, he certainly sent a magnificent side of beef to represent him.”
The sergeant favored Seldon with a stolid and slightly prolonged look. Then he said, “Yes. You have been described to me. Please come with me, Dr. Seldon.”
Seldon said, “Lead the way.”
The sergeant stepped backward. Seldon and Dors Venabili stepped forward.
The sergeant stopped and raised a large hand, palm toward Dors. “I have been instructed to take Dr. Hari Seldon with me. I have not been instructed to take anyone else.”
For a moment, Seldon looked at him uncomprehendingly. Then his look of surprise gave way to anger. “It’s quite impossible that you have been told that, Sergeant. Dr. Dors Venabili is my associate and my companion. She must come with me.”
“That is nor in accordance with my instructions, Doctor.”
“I don’t care about your instructions in any way, Sergeant Thalus. I do not budge without her.”
“What’s more, “ said Dors with clear irritation, “my instructions are to protect Dr. Seldon at all times. I cannot do that unless I am with him. Therefore, where he goes, I go.”
The sergeant looked puzzled. “My instructions are strict that I see to it that no harm comes to you, Dr. Seldon. If you will not come voluntarily, I must carry you to my vehicle. I will try to do so gently.”
He extended his two arms as though to seize Seldon by the waist and carry him off bodily.
Seldon skittered backward and out of reach. As he did so, the side of his fight palm came down on the sergeant’s right upper arm where the muscles were thinnest, so that he struck the bone.
The sergeant drew a sudden deep breath and seemed to shake himself a bit, but turned, face expressionless, and advanced again. Davan, watching, remained where he was, motionless, but Raych moved behind the sergeant
Seldon repeated his palm stroke a second time, then a third, but now Sergeant Thalus, anticipating the blow, lowered his shoulder to catch it on hard muscle.
Dors had drawn her knives.
“Sergeant, “ she said forcefully. “Turn in this direction, I want you to understand I may be forced to hurt you severely if you persist in attempting to carry Dr. Seldon off against his will.”
The sergeant paused, seemed to take in the slowly waving knives solemnly, then said, “It is not in my instructions to refrain from harming anyone but Dr. Seldon.”
His right hand moved with surprising speed toward the neuronic whip in the holster at his hip. Dors moved as quickly forward, knives flashing.
Neither completed the movement.
Dashing forward, Raych had pushed at the sergeant’s back with his left hand and withdrew the sergeant’s weapon from its holster with his right He moved away quickly, holding the neuronic whip in both hands now and shouting, “Hands up, Sergeant, or you’re gonna get it!”
The sergeant whirled and a nervous look crossed his reddening face. It was the only moment that its stolidity had weakened. “Put that down, sonny, “ he growled. “You don’t know how it works.”
Raych howled, “I know about the safety. It’s off and this thing can fire. And it will if you try to rush me.”
The sergeant froze. He clearly knew how dangerous it was to have an excited twelve-year-old handling a powerful weapon.
Nor did Seldon feel much better. He said, “Careful, Raych. Don’t shoot. Keep your finger off the contact.”
“I ain’t gonna let him rush me.”
“He won’t. -Sergeant, please don’t move. Let’s get something straight. You were told to take me away from here. Is that right?”
“That’s right, “ said the sergeant, eyes somewhat protruding and firmly fixed on Raych (whose eyes were as firmly fixed on the sergeant).
“But you were not cold to take anyone else. Is that right?”
“No, I was not, Doctor, “ said the sergeant firmly. Not even the threat of a neuronic whip was going to make him weasel. One could see that.
“Very well, but listen to me, Sergeant. Were you told not to take anyone else?”
“I just said-
“No no. Listen, Sergeant. There’s a difference. Were your instructions simply ‘Take Dr. Seldon!’? Was that the entire order, with no mention of anyone else, or were the orders more specific? Were your orders as follows: ‘Take Dr. Seldon and don’t take anyone else’?”
The sergeant turned that over in his head, then he said, “I was told to take you, Dr. Seldon.”
“Then there was no mention of anyone else, one way or the other, was there?”
“You were not told to take Dr. Venabili, but you were not told not to take Dr. Venabili either. Is that right?”
“So you can either take her or not take her, whichever you please?”
Long pause. “I suppose so.”
“Now then, here’s Raych, the young fellow who’s got a neuronic whip pointing at you your neuronic whip, remember--and he is anxious to use it.”
“Yay!” shouted Raych.