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Chapter 5: Struggle for the Ship
17Trevize's first impression was that he was on the set ofa hyperdrama specifically, that of a historical romance of Imperialdays. There was a particular set, with few variations (perhaps only oneexisted and was used by every hyperdrama producer, for all he knew),that represented the great world-girdling planet-city of Trantor inits prime.
There were the large spaces, the busy scurry of pedestrians, thesmall vehicles speeding along the lanes reserved for them.
Trevize looked up, almost expecting to see air-taxis climbing into dimvaulted recesses, but that at least was absent. In fact, as his initialastonishment subsided, it was clear that the building was far smallerthan one would expect on Trantor. It was only a buildingand not part of a complex that stretched unbroken for thousands of milesin every direction.
The colors were different, too. On the hyperdramas, Trantor wasalways depicted as impossibly garish in coloring and the clothing was,if taken literally, thoroughly impractical and unserviceable. However,all those colors and frills were meant to serve a symbolic purpose forthey indicated the decadence (a view that was obligatory, these days)of the Empire, and of Trantor particularly.
If that were so, however, Comporellon was the very reverse of decadent,for the color scheme that Pelorat had remarked upon at the spaceportwas here borne out.
The walls were in shades of gray, the ceilings white, the clothingof the population in black, gray, and white. Occasionally, there was anall-black costume; even more occasionally, an all-gray; never an all-whitethat Trevize could see. The pattern was always different, however,as though people, deprived of color, still managed, irrepressibly,to find ways of asserting individuality.
Faces tended to be expressionless or, if not that, then grim. Womenwore their hair short; men longer, but pulled backward into shortqueues. No one looked at anyone else as he or she passed. Everyone seemedto breathe a purposefulness, as though there was definite businesson each mind and room for nothing else. Men and women dressed alike,with only length of hair and the slight bulge of breast and width ofhip marking the difference.
The three were guided into an elevator that went down fivelevels. There they emerged and were moved on to a door on which thereappeared in small and unobtrusive lettering, white on gray, "MitzaLizalor, MinTrans."The Comporellian in the lead touched the lettering, which, after amoment, glowed in response. The door opened and they walked in.
It was a large room and rather empty, the bareness of content serving,perhaps, as a kind of conspicuous consumption of space designed to showthe power of the occupant.
Two guards stood against the far wall, faces expressionless andeyes firmly fixed on those entering. A large desk filled the center ofthe room, set perhaps just a little back of center. Behind the deskwas, presumably, Mitza Lizalor, large of body, smooth of face, darkof eyes. Two strong and capable hands with long, square-ended fingersrested on the desk.
The MinTrans (Minister of Transportation, Trevize assumed) had thelapels of the outer garment a broad and dazzling white against thedark gray of the rest of the costume. The double bar of white extendeddiagonally below the lapels, across the garment itself and crossing atthe center of the chest. Trevize could see that although the garment wascut in such a fashion as to obscure the swelling of a woman's breastson either side, the white X called attention to them.
The Minister was undoubtedly a woman. Even if her breasts were ignored,her short hair showed it, and though there was no makeup on her face,her features showed it, too.
Her voice, too, was indisputably feminine, a rich contralto.
She said, "Good afternoon. It is not often that we are honoredby a visit of men from Terminus. And of an unreported woman aswell." Her eyes passed from one to another, then settled on Trevize,who was standing stiffly and frowningly erect. "And one of the men amember of the Council, too.""A Councilman of the Foundation," said Trevize, trying to makehis voice ring. "Councilman Golan Trevize on a mission from theFoundation.""On a mission?" The Minister's eyebrows rose.
"On a mission," repeated Trevize. "Why, then, are we being treated asfelons? Why have we been taken into custody by armed guards and broughthere as prisoners? The Council of the Foundation, I hope you understand,will not be pleased to hear of this.""And in any case," said Bliss, her voice seeming a touch shrill incomparison with that of the older woman, "are we to remain standingindefinitely?"The Minister gazed coolly at Bliss for a long moment, then raised anarm and said, "Three chairs! Now!"A door opened and three men, dressed in the usual somber Comporellianfashion, brought in three chairs at a semitrot. The three people standingbefore the desk sat down.
"There," said the Minister, with a wintry smile, "are wecomfortable?"Trevize thought not. The chairs were uncushioned, cold to the touch,flat of surface and back, making no compromise with the shape of thebody. He said, "Why are we here?"The Minister consulted papers lying on her desk. "I will explainas soon as I am certain of my facts. Your ship is the Far Star out of Terminus. Is that correct, Councilman?""It is."The Minister looked up. "I used your title, Councilman. Will you,as a courtesy, use mine?""Would Madam Minister be sufficient? Or is there an honorific?""No honorific, sir, and you need not double your words. `Minister'
is sufficient, or `Madam' if you weary of repetition.""Then my answer to your question is: It is, Minister.""The captain of the ship is Golan Trevize, citizen of the Foundationand member of the Council on Terminus a freshman Councilman,actually. And you are Trevize. Am I correct in all this, Councilman?""You are, Minister. And since I am a citizen of theFoundation ""I am not yet done, Councilman. Save your objections till Iam. Accompanying you is Janov Pelorat, scholar, historian, and citizenof the Foundation. And that is you, is it not, Dr. Pelorat?"Pelorat could not suppress a slight start as the Minister turnedher keen glance on him. He said, "Yes, it is, my d " He paused,and began again, "Yes, it is, Minister."The Minister clasped her hands stiffly. "There is no mention in thereport that has been forwarded to me of a woman. Is this woman a memberof the ship's complement?""She is, Minister," said Trevize.
"Then I address myself to the woman. Your name?""I am known as Bliss," said Bliss, sitting erectly and speakingwith calm clarity, "though my full name is longer, madam. Do you wishit all?""I will be content with Bliss for the moment. Are you a citizen ofthe Foundation, Bliss?""I am not, madam.""Of what world are you a citizen, Bliss?""I have no documents attesting to citizenship with respect to anyworld, madam.""No papers, Bliss?" She made a small mark on the papers beforeher. "That fact is noted. What is it you are doing on board the ship?""I am a passenger, madam.""Did either Councilman Trevize or Dr. Pelorat ask to see your papersbefore you boarded, Bliss?""No, madam.""Did you inform them that you were without papers, Bliss?""No, madam.""What is your function on board ship, Bliss? Does your name suityour function?"Bliss said proudly, "I am a passenger and have no other function."Trevize broke in. "Why are you badgering this woman, Minister? Whatlaw has she broken?"Minister Lizalor's eyes shifted from Bliss to Trevize. She said, "Youare an Outworlder, Councilman, and do not know our laws. Nevertheless,you are subject to them if you choose to visit our world. You do notbring your laws with you; that is a general rule of Galactic law,I believe.""Granted, Minister, but that doesn't tell me which of your laws shehas broken.""It is a general rule in the Galaxy, Councilman, that a visitor froma world outside the dominions of the world she is visiting have heridentification papers with her. Many worlds are lax in this respect,valuing tourism, or indifferent to the rule of order. We of Comporellonare not. We are a world of law and rigid in its application. She is aworldless person, and as such, breaks our law."Trevize said, "She had no choice in the matter. I was piloting theship, and I brought it down to Comporellon. She had to accompany us,Minister, or do you suggest she should have asked to be jettisonedin space?""This merely means that you, too, have broken our law, Councilman.""No, that is not so, Minister. I am not an Outworlder. I am a citizenof the Foundation, and Comporellon and the worlds subject to it arean Associated Power of the Foundation. As a citizen of the Foundation,I can travel freely here.""Certainly, Councilman, as long as you have documentation to provethat you are indeed a citizen of the Foundation.""Which I do, Minister.""Yet even as citizen of the Foundation, you do not have the right tobreak our law by bringing a worldless person with you."Trevize hesitated. Clearly, the border guard, Kendray, had notkept faith with him, so there was no point in protecting him. He said,"We were not stopped at the immigration station and I considered thatimplicit permission to bring this woman with me, Minister.""It is true you were not stopped, Councilman. It is true thewoman war not reported by the immigration authorities and was passedthrough. I can suspect, however, that the officials at the entry stationdecided and quite correctly that it was more important to getyour ship to the surface than to worry about a worldless person. Whatthey did was, strictly speaking, an infraction of the rules, and thematter will have to be dealt with in the proper fashion, but I have nodoubt that the decision will be that the infraction was justified. Weare a world of rigid law, Councilman, but we are not rigid beyond thedictates of reason."Trevize said at once, "Then I call upon reason to bend your rigor now,Minister. If, indeed, you received no information from the immigrationstation to the effect that a worldless person was on board ship, then youhad no knowledge that we were breaking any law at the time we landed. Yetit is quite apparent that you were prepared to take us into custodythe moment we landed, and you did, in fact, do so. Why did you do so,when you had no reason to think any law was being broken?"The Minister smiled. "I understand your confusion, Councilman. Pleaselet me assure you that whatever knowledge we had gained or had notgained as to the worldless condition of your passenger had nothingto do with your being taken into custody. We are acting on behalf of theFoundation, of which, as you point out, we are an Associated Power."Trevize stared at her. "But that's impossible, Minister. It's evenworse. It's ridiculous."The Minister's chuckle was like the smooth flow of honey. She said,"I am interested in the way you consider it worse to be ridiculous thanimpossible, Councilman. I agree with you there. Unfortunately for you,however, it is neither. Why should it be?""Because I am an official of the Foundation government, on a missionfor them, and it is absolutely inconceivable that they would wish toarrest me, or that they would even have the power to do so, since I havelegislative immunity.""Ah, you omit my title, but you are deeply moved and that is perhapsforgivable. Still, I am not asked to arrest you directly. I do so onlythat I may carry out what I am asked to do, Councilman.""Which is, Minister?" said Trevize, trying to keep his emotion undercontrol in the face of this formidable woman.
"Which is to commandeer your ship, Councilman, and return it to theFoundation.""What?""Again you omit my title, Councilman. That is very slipshod of youand no way to press your own case. The ship is not yours, I presume. Wasit designed by you, or built by you, or paid for by you?""Of course not, Minister. It was assigned to me by the Foundationgovernment.""Then, presumably, the Foundation government has the right to cancelthat assignment, Councilman. It is a valuable ship, I imagine."Trevize did not answer.
The Minister said, "It is a gravitic ship, Councilman. There cannotbe many and even the Foundation must have but a very few. They mustregret having assigned one of those very few to you. Perhaps you canpersuade them to assign you another and less valuable ship that willnevertheless amply, suffice for your mission. But we must havethe ship in which you have arrived.""No, Minister, I cannot give up the ship. I cannot believe theFoundation asks it of you."The Minister smiled. "Not of me solely, Councilman. Not of Comporellon,specifically. We have reason to believe that the request was sent out toevery one of the many worlds and regions under Foundation jurisdictionor association. From this, I deduce that the Foundation does not knowyour itinerary and is seeking you with a certain angry vigor. From whichI further deduce that you have no mission to deal with Comporellon onbehalf of the Foundation since in that case they would know whereyou were and deal with us specifically. In short, Councilman, you havebeen lying to me."Trevize said, with a certain difficulty, "I would like to see a copyof request you have received from the Foundation government, Minister. Ientitled, I think, to that.""Certainly, if all this comes to legal action. We take our legal formsvery seriously, Councilman, and your rights will be fully protected,I assure you. It would be better and easier, however, if we come to anagreement here without the publicity and delay of legal action. We wouldprefer that, and, I am certain, so would the Foundation, which cannotwish the Galaxy at large to know of a runaway Legislator. That would putthe Foundation in a ridiculous light, and, by your estimate and mine,that would be worse than impossible."Trevize was again silent.
The Minister waited a moment, then went on, as imperturbable asever. "Come, Councilman, either way, by informal agreement or by legalaction, we intend to have the ship. The penalty for bringing in aworldless passenger will depend on which route we take. Demand the lawand she will represent an additional point against you and you will allsuffer the full punishment for the crime, and that will not be light,I assure you. Come to an agreement, and your passenger can be sent awayby commercial flight to any destination she wishes, and, for that matter,you two can accompany her, if you wish. Or, if the Foundation is willing,we can supply you with one of our own ships, a perfectly adequateone, provided, of course, that the Foundation will replace it with anequivalent ship of their own. Or, if, for any reason, you do not wish toreturn to Foundation-controlled territory, we might be willing to offeryou refuge here and, perhaps, eventual Comporellian citizenship. You see,you have many possibilities of gain if you come to a friendly arrangement,but none at all if you insist on your legal rights."Trevize said, "Minister, you are too eager. You promise what you cannotdo. You cannot offer me refuge in the face of a Foundation request thatI be delivered to them."The Minister said, "Councilman, I never promise what I cannot do. TheFoundation's request is only for the ship. They make no request concerningyou as an individual, or for anyone else on the ship. Their sole requestis for the vessel."Trevize glanced quickly at Bliss, and said, "May I have yourpermission, Minister, to consult with Dr. Pelorat and Miss Bliss for ashort while?""Certainly, Councilman. You may have fifteen minutes.""Privately, Minister.""You will be led to a room and, after fifteen minutes, you will be ledback, Councilman. You will not be interfered with while you are therenor will we attempt to monitor your conversation. You have my word onthat and I keep my word. However, you will be adequately guarded so donot be so foolish as to think of escaping.""We understand, Minister.""And when you come back, we will expect your free agreement to giveup the ship. Otherwise, the law will take its course, and it will bemuch the worse for all of you, Councilman. Is that understood?""That is understood, Minister," said Trevize, keeping his rage undertight control, since its expression would do him no good at all.
18It was a small room, but it was well lighted. Itcontained a couch and two chairs, and one could hear the soft sound ofa ventilating fan. On the whole, it was clearly more comfortable thanthe Minister's large and sterile office.
A guard had led them there, grave and tall, his hand hovering nearthe butt of his blaster. He remained outside the door as they enteredand said, in a heavy voice, "You have fifteen minutes."He had no sooner said that than the door slid shut, with a thud.
Trevize said, "I can only hope that we can't be overheard."Pelorat said, "She did give us her word, Golan.""You judge others by yourself, Janov. Her so-called `word' will notsuffice. She will break it without hesitation if she wants to.""It doesn't matter," said Bliss. "I can shield this place.""You have a shielding device?" asked Pelorat.
Bliss smiled, with a sudden flash of white teeth. "Gaia's mind is ashielding device, Pel. It's an enormous mind.""We are here," said Trevize angrily, "because of the limitations ofthat enormous mind.""What do you mean?" said Bliss.
"When the triple confrontation broke up, you withdrew me from theminds of both the Mayor and that Second Foundationer, Gendibal. Neitherwas to think of me again, except distantly and indifferently. I was tobe left to myself.""We had to do that," said Bliss. "You are our most importantresource.""Yes. Golan Trevize, the ever-right. But you did not withdraw my shipfrom their minds, did you? Mayor Branno did not ask for me; she had nointerest in me, but she did ask for the ship. She has notforgotten the ship."Bliss frowned.
Trevize said, "Think about it. Gaia casually assumed that I included myship; that we were a unit. If Branno didn't think of me, she wouldn'tthink of the ship. The trouble is that Gaia doesn't understandindividuality. It thought of the ship and me as a single organism,and it was wrong to think that."Bliss said softly, "That is possible.""Well, then," said Trevize flatly, "it's up to you to rectify thatmistake. I must have my gravitic ship and my computer. Nothing elsewill do. Therefore, Bliss, make sure that I keep the ship. You cancontrol minds.""Yes, Trevize, but we do not exercise that control lightly. Wedid it in connection with the triple confrontation, but do youknow how long that confrontation was planned? Calculated? Weighed?
It took literally many years. I cannot simply walk up to awoman and adjust the mind to suit someone's convenience.""Is this a time "Bliss went on forcefully. "If I began to follow such a course ofaction, where do we stop? I might have influenced the agent's mind atthe entry station and we would have passed through at once. I mighthave influenced the agent's mind in the vehicle, and he would have letus go.""Well, since you mention it, why didn't you do these things?""Because we don't know where it would lead. We don't know the sideeffects, which may well turn out to make the situation worse. If I adjustthe Minister's mind now, that will affect her dealings with others withwhom she will come in contact and, since she is a high official in hergovernment, it may affect interstellar relations. Until such time asthe matter is thoroughly worked out, we dare not touch her mind.""Then why are you with us?""Because the time may come when your life is threatened. I must protectyour life at all costs, even at the cost of my Pel or of myself. Yourlife was not threatened at the entry station. It is not threatenednow. You must work this out for yourself, and do so at least until Gaiacan estimate the consequence of some sort of action and take it."Trevize fell into a period of thought. Then he said, "In that case,I have to try something. It may not work."The door moved open, thwacking into its socket as noisily as ithad closed.
The guard said, "Come out."As they emerged, Pelorat whispered, "What are you going to do,Golan?"Trevize shook his head and whispered, "I'm not entirely sure. I willhave to improvise."19Minister Lizalor was still at her desk when they returnedto her office. Her face broke into a grim smile as they walked in.
She said, "I trust, Councilman Trevize, that you have returned totell me that you are giving up this Foundation ship you have.""I have come, Minister," said Trevize calmly, "to discuss terms.""There are no terms to discuss, Councilman. A trial, if you insiston one, can be arranged very quickly and would be carried through evenmore quickly. I guarantee your conviction even in a perfectly fairtrial since your guilt in bringing in a worldless person is obviousand indisputable. After that, we will be legally justified in seizingthe ship and you three would suffer heavy penalties. Don't force thosepenalties on yourself just to delay us for a day.""Nevertheless, there are terms to discuss, Minister, because nomatter how quickly you convict us, you cannot seize the ship without myconsent. Any attempt you make to force your way into the ship withoutme will destroy it, and the spaceport with it, and every human beingin the spaceport. This will surely infuriate the Foundation, somethingyou dare not do. Threatening us or mistreating us in order to forceme to open the ship is surely against your law, and if you break yourown law in desperation and subject us to torture or even to a periodof cruel and unusual imprisonment, the Foundation will find out aboutit and they will be even more furious. However much they want the shipthey cannot allow a precedent that would permit the mistreatment ofFoundation citizens. Shall we talk terms?""This is all nonsense," said the Minister, scowling. "If necessary,we will call in the Foundation itself. They will know how to open theirown ship, or they will force you to open it."Trevize said, "You do not use my title, Minister, but you areemotionally moved, so that is perhaps forgivable. You know that thevery last thing you will do is call in the Foundation, since you haveno intention of delivering the ship to them."The smile f............
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