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Chapter 4: On Comporellon
13They were through. The entry station had shrunk to arapidly dimming star behind them, and in a couple of hours they wouldbe crossing the cloud layer.
A gravitic ship did not have to brake its path by a long routeof slow spiral contraction, but neither could it swoop downwardtoo rapidly. Freedom from gravity did not mean freedom from airresistance. The ship could descend in a straight line, but it was stilla matter for caution; it could not be too fast.
"Where are we going to go?" asked Pelorat, looking confused. "I can'ttell one place in the clouds from another, old fellow.""No more can I," said Trevize, "but we have an official holographicmap of Comporellon, which gives the shape of the land masses and anexaggerated relief for both land heights and ocean depths andpolitical subdivisions, too. The map is in the computer and that will dothe work. It will match the planetary land-sea design to the map, thusorienting the ship properly, and it will then take us to the capital bya cycloidic pathway."Pelorat said, "If we go to the capital, we plunge immediately intothe political vortex. If the world is anti-Foundation, as the fellow atthe entry station implied, we'll be asking for trouble.""On the other hand, it's bound to be the intellectual center ofthe planet, and if we want information, that's where we'll find it, ifanywhere. As for being anti-Foundation, I doubt that they will be ableto display that too openly. The Mayor may have no great liking for me,but neither can she afford to have a Councilman mistreated. She wouldnot care to allow the precedent to be established."Bliss had emerged from the toilet, her hands still damp fromscrubbing. She adjusted her underclothes with no sign of concern and said,"By the way, I trust the excreta is thoroughly recycled.""No choice," said Trevize. "How long do you suppose our watersupply would last without recycling of excreta? On what do you thinkthose choicely flavored yeast cakes that we eat to lend spice to ourfrozen staples grow? I hope that doesn't spoil your appetite,my efficient Bliss.""Why should it? Where do you suppose food and water come from on Gaia,or on this planet, or on Terminus?""On Gaia," said Trevize, "the excreta is, of course, as alive asyou are.""Not alive. Conscious. There is a difference. The level ofconsciousness is, naturally, very low."Trevize sniffed in a disparaging way, but didn't try to answer. Hesaid, "I'm going into the pilot-room to keep the computer company. Notthat it needs me."Pelorat said, "May we come in and help you keep it company? I can'tquite get used to the fact that it can get us down all by itself; thatit can sense other ships, or storms, or whatever?"Trevize smiled broadly. "Get used to it, please. The ship is far saferunder the computer's control than it ever would be under mine. Butcertainly, come on. It will do you good to watch what happens."They were over the sunlit side of the planet now for, as Trevizeexplained, the map in the computer could be more easily matched toreality in the sunlight than in the dark.
"That's obvious," said Pelorat.
"Not at all obvious. The computer will judge just as rapidly by theinfrared light which the surface radiates even in the dark. However, thelonger waves of infrared don't allow the computer quite the resolutionthat visible light would. That is, the computer doesn't see quite asfinely and sharply by infrared, and where necessity doesn't drive,I like to make things as easy as possible for the computer.""What if the capital is on the dark side?""The chance is fifty-fifty," said Trevize, "but if it is, once the mapis matched by daylight, we can skim down to the capital quite unerringlyeven if it is in the dark. And long before we come anywhere near thecapital, we'll be intersecting microwave beams and will be receivingmessages directing us to the most convenient spaceport. There'snothing to worry about.""Are you sure?" said Bliss. "You're bringing me down without papers andwithout any native world that these people here will recognize andI'm bound and determined not to mention Gaia to them in any case. Sowhat do we do, if I'm asked for my papers once we're on the surface?"Trevize said, "That's not likely to happen. Everyone will assume thatwas taken care of at the entry station.""But if they ask?""Then, when that time comes, we'll face the problem. Meanwhile,let's not manufacture problems out of air.""By the time we face the problems that may arise, it might well betoo late to solve them.""I'll rely on my ingenuity to keep it from being too late.""Talking about ingenuity, how did you get us through the entrystation?"Trevize looked at Bliss, and let his lips slowly expand into a smilethat made him seem like an impish teenager. "Just brains."Pelorat said, "What did you do, old man?"Trevize said, "It was a matter of appealing to him in the correctmanner. I'd tried threats and subtle bribes. I had appealed to his logicand his loyalty to the Foundation. Nothing worked, so I fell back onthe last resort. I said that you were cheating on your wife, Pelorat.""My wife ? But, my dear fellow, I don't have a wife atthe moment.""I know that, but he didn't."Bliss said, "By `wife,' I presume you mean a woman who is a particularman's regular companion."Trevize said, "A little more than that, Bliss. A legal companion, one with enforceable rights in consequence of thatcompanionship."Pelorat said nervously, "Bliss, I do not have a wife. Ihave had one now and then in the past, but I haven't had one for quitea while. If you would care to undergo the legal ritual ""Oh, Pel," said Bliss, making a sweeping-away movement with her righthand, "what would I care about that? I have innumerable companions thatare as close to me as your arm is close companion to your other arm. Itis only Isolates who feel so alienated that they have to use artificialconventions to enforce a feeble substitute for true companionship.""But I am an Isolate, Bliss dear.""You will be less Isolate in time, Pel. Never truly Gaia, perhaps,but less Isolate, and you will have a flood of companions.""I only want you, Bliss," said Pel.
"That's because you know nothing about it. You'll learn."Trevize was concentrating on the viewscreen during that exchange witha look of strained tolerance on his face. The cloud cover had come upclose and, for a moment, all was gray fog.
Microwave vision, he thought, and the computer switched at once tothe detection of radar echoes. The clouds disappeared and the surfaceof Comporellon appeared in false color, the boundaries between sectorsof different constitution a little fuzzy and wavering.
"Is that the way it's going to look from now on?" asked Bliss, withsome astonishment.
"Only till we drift below the clouds. Then it's back to sunlight." Evenas he spoke, the sunshine and normal visibility returned.
"I see," said Bliss. Then, turning toward him, "But what I don't seeis why it should matter to that official at the entry station whetherPel was deceiving his wife or not?""If that fellow, Kendray, had held you back, the news, I said, mightreach Terminus and, therefore, Pelorat's wife. Pelorat would then be introuble. I didn't specify the sort of trouble he would be in, but I triedto sound as though it would be bad. There is a kind of free-masonryamong males," Trevize was grinning, now, "and one male doesn't betrayanother fellow male. He would even help, if requested. The reasoning,I suppose, is that it might be the helper's turn next to be helped. Ipresume," he added, turning a bit graver, "that there is a similarfree-masonry among women, but, not being a woman, I have never had anopportunity to observe it closely."Bliss's face resembled a pretty thundercloud. "Is this a joke?" shedemanded.
"No, I'm serious," said Trevize. "I don't say that      Kendrayfellow let us through only to help Janov avoid angering his wife. Themasculine free-masonry may simply have added the last push to my otherarguments.""But      is horrible. I  is its rules that hold society together andbind it into a whole. Is it such a light   ing to disregard the rulesfor trivial reasons?""Well," said Trevize, in instant defensiveness, "some of the rulesare themselves trivial. Few worlds are very particular about passage inand out of their space in times of peace and commercial prosperity, suchas we have now, thanks to the Foundation. Comporellon, for some reason,is out of step probably because of an obscure matter of internalpolitics. Why should we suffer over that?""T    is beside the point. If we only obey those rules that we   inkare just and reasonable, then no rule will stand, for there is no rulethat some will not   ink is unjust and unreasonable. Andif we wish to push our own individual advantage, as we see it, then wewill always find reason to believe that some hampering rule is unjustand unreasonable. What starts, then, as a shrewd trick ends in anarchyand disaster, even for the shrewd trickster, since he, too, will notsurvive the collapse of society."Trevize said, "Society will not collapse that easily. You speakas Gaia, and Gaia cannot possibly understand the association of freeindividuals. Rules, established with reason and justice, can easilyoutlive their usefulness as circumstances change, yet can remain inforce through inertia. I  is then not only right, but useful, to breakthose rules as a way of advertising the fact      they have becomeuseless or even actually harmful.""Then every   ief and murderer can argue he is serving humanity.""You go to extremes. In the superorganism of Gaia, there is automaticconsensus on the rules of society and it occurs to no one to breakthem. One might as well say that Gaia vegetates and fossilizes. There isadmittedly an element of disorder in free association, but      is theprice one must pay fog the ability to induce novelty and change. Onthe whole, it's a reasonable price."Bliss's voice rose a notch. "You are quite wrong if you   ink Gaiavegetates and fossilizes. Our deeds, our ways, our views are underconstant self-examination. They do not persist out of inertia, beyondreason. Gaia learns by experience and thought; and therefore changeswhen      is necessary.""Even if w    you say is so, the self-examination and learning mustbe slow, because not ing but Gaia exists on Gaia. Here, in freedom, evenwhen almost everyone agrees, there are bound to be a few who disagree and,in some cases, those few may be right, and if they are clever enough,enthusiastic enough, right enough, they will win out in theend and be heroes in future ages like Hari Seldon, who perfectedpsychohistory, pitted his own thoughts against the entire Galactic Empire,and won.""He has won only so far, Trevize. The Second Empire he planned forwill not come to pass. There will be Galaxia instead.""Will there?" said Trevize grimly.
"I  was your decision, and, however much you argue withme in favor of Isolates and of their freedom to be foolish and criminal,there is somet ing in the hidden recesses of your mind that forced youto agree with me/us/Gaia when you made your choice.""W    is present in the hidden recesses of my mind," said Trevize,more grimly still, "is w    I seek. There, to begin with," he added,pointing to the viewscreen where a gre   city spread out  o the horizon,a cluster of low structures climbing to occasional heights, surroundedby fields th   were brown under a light frost.
Pelorat shook his head. "Too bad. I meant to watch the approach,but I got caught up in listening to the argument."Trevize said, "Never mind, Janov. You can watch when we leave. I'llpromise to keep my mouth shut   en, if you can persuade Bliss to controlher own."And the Far Star descended a microwave beam to a landing atthe spaceport.
14Kendray looked grave when he returned to the entrystation and watched the Far Star pass through. He was stillclearly depressed at the close of his shift.
He was sitting down to his closing meal of the day when one of hismates, a gangling fellow with wide-set eyes, thin light hair, and eyebrowsso blond they seemed absent, sat down next to him.
"What's wrong, Ken?" said the other.
Kendray's lips twisted. He said, "That was a gravitic ship that justpassed through, Gatis.""The odd-looking one with zero radioactivity?""That's why it wasn't radioactive. No fuel. Gravitic."Gatis nodded his head. "What we were told to watch for, right?""Right.""And you got it. Leave it to you to be the lucky one.""Not so lucky. A woman without identification was on it and Ididn't report her."" What? Look, don't tell me . I don't wantto know about it. Not another word. You may be a pal, but I'm not goingto make myself an accomplice after the fact.""I'm not worried about that. Not very much. I had tosend the ship down. They want that gravitic or any gravitic. Youknow that.""Sure, but you could at least have reported the woman.""Didn't like to. She's not married. She was just picked upfor for use.""How many men on board?""Two.""And they just picked her up for for that. They must be fromTerminus.""That's right.""They don't care what they do on Terminus.""That's right.""Disgusting. And they get away with it.""One of them was married, and he didn't want his wife to know. If Ireported her, his wife would find out.""Wouldn't she be back on Terminus?""Of course, but she'd find out anyway.""Serve the fellow right if his wife did find out.""I agree but I can't be the one to be responsiblefor it.""They'll hammer you for not reporting it. Not wanting to make troublefor a guy is no excuse.""Would you have reported him?""I'd have had to, I suppose.""No, you wouldn't. The government wants that ship. If I had insistedon putting the woman on report, the men on the ship would have changedtheir minds about landing and would have pulled away to some otherplanet. The government wouldn't have wanted that.""But will they believe you?""I think so. A very cute-looking woman, too. Imagine a womanlike that being willing to come along with two men, and married men withthe nerve to take advantage. You know, it's tempting.""I don't think you'd want the missus to know you said that oreven thought that."Kendray said defiantly, "Who's going to tell her? You?""Come on. You know better than that." Gatis's look of indignationfaded quickly, and he said, "It's not going to do those guys any good,you know, you letting them through.""I know.""The people down surface-way will find out soon enough, and even ifyou get away with it, they won't.""I know," said Kendray, &q............
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