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CHAPTER SIXTEEN CONVERGENCE
 1.
 
 
 
       WHEN STOR GENDIBAL FINALLY MADE OUT COMPOR’S SHIP ON HIS viewscreen, it seemed like the end of an incredibly long journey. Yet, of course, it was not the end, but merely the beginning. The journey from Trantor to Sayshell had been nothing but prologue.
 
                Novi looked awed. “Is that another ship of space, Master?”
 
                “Spaceship, Novi. It is. It’s the one we have been striving to reach. It is a larger ship than this one--and a better one. It can move through space so quickly that if it fled from us, this ship could not possibly catch it--or even follow it.”
 
                “Faster than a ship of the masters?” Sura Novi seemed appalled by the thought.
 
                Gendibal shrugged. “I may be, as you say, a master, but I am not a master in all things. We scholars do not have ships like these, nor do we have many of the material devices that the owners of those ships have.”
 
                “But how can scholars lack such things, Master?”
 
                “Because we are masters in what is important. The material advances that these others have are trifles.”
 
                Novi’s brows bent together in thought. “It seems to me that to go so quickly that a master cannot follow is no trifle. Who are these people who are wonder-having--who have such things?”
 
                Gendibal was amused. “They call themselves the Foundation. Have you ever heard of the Foundation?”
 
                (He caught himself wondering what the Hamish knew or did not know of the Galaxy and why it never occurred to the Speakers to wonder about such things. --Or was it only he who had never wondered about such things--only he who assumed that the Hamish cared for nothing more than grubbing in the soil.)
 
                Novi shook her head thoughtfully. “I have never heard of it, Master. When the schoolmaster taught me letter-lore--how to read, I mean--he told me there were many other worlds and told me the names of some. He said our Hamish world had the proper name of Trantor and that it once ruled all the worlds. He said Trantor was covered with gleaming iron and had an Emperor who was an allmaster.”
 
                Her eyes looked up at Gendibal with a shy merriment. “I unbelieve most of it, though. There are many stories the wordspinners tell in the meeting-halls in the time of longer nights. When I was a small girl, I believed them all, but as I grew older, I found that many of them were not true. I believe very few now; perhaps none. Even schoolmasters tell unbelievables.”
 
                “Just the same, Novi, that particular story of the schoolmaster is true--but it was long ago. Trantor was indeed covered by metal and had indeed an Emperor who ruled all the Galaxy. Now, however, it is the people of the Foundation who will someday rule all the worlds. They grow stronger all the time.”
 
                “They will ruleall , Master?”
 
                “Not immediately. In five hundred years.”
 
                “And they will master the masters as well?”
 
                “No, no. They will rule the worlds. We will rulethem --for their safety and the safety of all the worlds.”
 
                Novi was frowning again. She said, “Master, do these people of the Foundation have many of these remarkable ships?”
 
                “I imagine so, Novi.”
 
                “And other things that are very--astonishing?”
 
                “They have powerful weapons of all kinds.”
 
                “Then, Master, can they not take all the worlds now?”
 
                “No, they cannot. It is not yet time.”
 
                “But why can they not? Would the masters stop them?”
 
                “We wouldn’t have to, Novi. Even if we did nothing, they could not take all the worlds.”
 
                “But what would stop them?”
 
                “You see,” began Gendibal, “there is a plan that a wise man once devised--”
 
                He stopped, smiled slightly, and shook his head. “It is hard to explain, Novi. Another time, perhaps. In fact, when you see what will happen before we ever see Trantor again, you may even understand without my explaining.”
 
                “What will happen, Master?”
 
                “I am not sure, Novi. But all will happen well.”
 
                He turned away and prepared to make contact with Compor. And, as he did so, he could not quite keep an inner thought from saying: At least I hope so.
 
                He was instantly angry with himself, for he knew the source of that foolish and weakening drift of thought. It was the picture of the elaborate and enormous Foundation might in the shape of Compor’s ship and it was his chagrin at Novi’s open admiration of it.
 
                Stupid! How could he let himself compare the possession of mere strength and power with the possession of the ability to guide events? It was what generations of Speakers had called “the fallacy of the hand at the throat.”
 
                To think that he was not yet immune to its allures.
 
 
 
 2.
 
 
 
 Munn Li Compor was not in the least sure as to how he ought to comport himself. For most of his life, he had had the vision of all-powerful Speakers existing just beyond his circle of experience-- Speakers, with whom he was occasionally in contact and who had, in their mysterious grip, the whole of humanity.
 
                Of them all, it had been Stor Gendibal to whom, in recent years, he had turned for direction. It was not even a voice he had encountered most times, but a mere presence in his mind--hyperspeech without a hyper-relay.
 
                In this respect, the Second Foundation had gone far beyond the Foundation. Without material device, but just by the educated and advanced power of the mind alone, they could reach across the par. sees in a manner that could not be tapped, could not be infringed upon. It was an invisible, indetectable network that held all the worlds fast through the mediation of a relatively few dedicated individuals.
 
                Compor had, more than once, experienced a kind of uplifting at the thought of his role. How small the band of which he was one; how enormous an influence they exerted. --And how secret it all was. Even his wife knew nothing of his hidden life.
 
                And it was the Speakers who held the strings--and this one Speaker, this Gendibal, who might (Compor thought) be the next First Speaker, the more-than-Emperor of a more-than-Empire.
 
                Now Gendibal was here, in a ship of Trantor, and Compor fought to stifle his disappointment at not having such a meeting take place on Trantor itself.
 
                Couldthat be a ship of Trantor? Any of the early Traders who had carried the Foundation’s wares through a hostile Galaxy would have had a better ship than that. No wonder it had taken the Speaker so long to cover the distance from Trantor to Sayshell.
 
                It was not even equipped with a unidock mechanism that would have welded the two ships into one when the crosstransfer of personnel was desired. Even the contemptible Sayshellian fleet was equipped with it. Instead, the Speaker had to match velocities and then cast a tether across the gap and swing along it, as in Imperial days.
 
                That was it, thought Compor gloomily, unable to repress the feeling. The ship was no more than an old-fashioned Imperial vessel-- and a small one at that.
 
                Two figures were moving across the tether--one of them so clumsily that it was clear it had never attempted to maneuver through space before.
 
                Finally they were on board and removed their space suits. Speaker Stor Gendibal was of moderate height and of unimpressive appearance; he was not large and powerful, nor did he exude an air of learning. His dark, deep-set eyes were the only indication of his wisdom. But now the Speaker looked about with a clear indication of being in awehimself .
 
                The other was a woman as tall as Gendibal, plain in appearance. Her mouth was open in astonishment as she looked about.
 
 
 
 3.
 
 
 
 Moving across the tether had not been an entirely unpleasant experience for Gendibal. He was not a spaceman--no Second Foundationer was--but neither was he a complete surface worm, for no Second Foundationer was allowed to be that. The possible need for space flight was, after all, always looming above them, though every Second Foundationer hoped the need would arise only infrequently. (Preem Palver--the extent of whose space travels was legendary-- had once said, ruefully, that the measure of the success of a Speaker was the fewness of the times he was compelled to move through space in order to assure the success of the Plan.)
 
                Gendibal had had to use a tether three times before. This was his fourth use and even if he had felt tension over the matter, it would have disappeared in his concern for Sura Novi. He needed no mentalics to see that stepping into nothingness had totally upset her.
 
                “I be afeared, Master,” she said when he explained what would have to be done. “It be naughtness into which I will make footstep.” If nothing else, her sudden descent into thick Hamish dialect showed the extent of her disturbance.
 
                Gendibal said gently, “I cannot leave you on board this ship, Novi, for I will be going into the other and I must have you with me. There is no danger, for your space suit will protect you from all harm and there is no place for you to fall to. Even if you lose your grip on the tether, you will remain nearly where you are and I will be within arm’s reach so that I can gather you in. Come, Novi, show me that you are brave enough--as well as bright enough--to become a scholar.”
 
                She made no further objection and Gendibal, unwilling to do anything that might disturb the smoothness of her mind-set, nevertheless managed to inject a soothing touch upon the surface of her mind.
 
                “You can still speak to me,” he said, after they were each enclosed in a space suit. “I can hear you if you think hard. Think the words hard and clearly, one by one. You can hear me now, can’t you?”
 
                “Yes, Master,” she said.
 
                He could see her lips move through the transparent faceplate and he said, “Say it without moving your lips, Novi. There is no radio in the kind of suits that scholars have. it is all done with the mind.”
 
                Her lips did not move and her look grew more anxious: Can you hear me, Master?
 
                Perfectly well, thought Gendibal--and his lips did not move either: Do you hear me?
 
                I do, Master.
 
                Then come with me and do as I do.
 
                They moved across. Gendibal knew the theory of it, even if he could handle the practice only moderately well. The trick was to keep one’s legs extended and together and to swing them from the hips alone. That kept the center of gravity moving in a straight line as the arms swung forward in steady alternation. He had explained this to Sura Novi and, without turning to look at her, he studied the stance of her body from the set of the motor areas of her brain.
 
                For a first-timer, she did very well, almost as well as Gendibal was managing to do. She repressed her own tensions and she followed directions. Gendibal found himself, once again, very pleased with her.
 
                She was, however, clearly glad to be on board ship again--and so was Gendibal. He looked about as he removed his space suit and was rather dumbfounded at the luxury and style of the equipment. He recognized almost nothing and his heart sank at the thought that he might have very little time to learn how to handle it all. He might have to transfer expertise directly from the man already on board, something that was never quite as satisfactory as true learning.
 
                Then he concentrated on Compor. Compor was tall and lean, a few years older than himself, rather handsome in a slightly weak way, with tightly waved hair of a startling buttery yellow.
 
                And it was clear to Gendibal that this person was disappointed in, and even contemptuous of, the Speaker he was now meeting for the first time. What was more, he was entirely unsuccessful in hiding the fact.
 
                Gendibal did not mind such things, on the whole. Compor was not a Trantorian--nor a full Second Foundationer--and he clearly had his illusions. Even the most superficial scan of his mind showed that. Among these was the illusion that true power was necessarily related to the appearance of power. He might, of course, keep his illusions as long as they did not interfere with what Gendibal needed, but at the present moment, this particular illusiondid so interfere.
 
                What Gendibal did was the mentalic equivalent of a snap of the fingers. Compor staggered slightly under the impress of a sharp but fleeting pain. There was an impress of enforced concentration that puckered the skin of his thought and left the man with the awareness of a casual but awesome power that could be utilized if the Speaker chose.
 
                Compor was left with a vast respect for Gendibal.
 
                Gendibal said pleasantly, “I am merely attracting your attention, Compor, my friend. Please let me know the present whereabouts of your friend, Golan Trevize, and his friend, Janov Pelorat.”
 
                Compor said hesitantly, “Shall I speak in the presence of the woman, Speaker?”
 
                “The woman, Compor, is an extension of myself. There is no reason, therefore, why you should not speak openly.”
 
                “As you say, Speaker. Trevize and Pelorat are now approaching a planet known as Gaia.”
 
                “So you said in your last communication the other day. Surely they have already landed on Gaia and perhaps left again. They did not stay long on Sayshell Planet.”
 
                “They had not yet landed during the time I followed them, Speaker. They were approaching the planet with great caution, pausing substantial periods between micro-Jumps. it is clear to me they have no information about the planet they are approaching and therefore hesitate.”
 
                “Doyou have information, Compor?”
 
                “I have none, Speaker,” said Compor, “or at least my ship’s computer has none.”
 
                “This computer?” Gendibal’s eyes fell upon the control panel and he asked in sudden hope, “Can it aid usefully in running the ship?”
 
                “It can run the ship completely, Speaker. One need merely think into it.”
 
                Gendibal felt suddenly uneasy. “The Foundation has gone that far?”
 
                “Yes, but clumsily. The computer does not work well. I must repeat my thoughts several times and even then I get but minimal information.”
 
                Gendibal said, “I may be able to do better than that.”
 
                “I am sure of it, Speaker,” said Compor respectfully.
 
                “But never mind that for the moment. Why does it have no information on Gaia?”
 
                “I do not know, Speaker. It claims to have--as far as a computer may be said to be able toclaim --records on every human-inhabited planet in the Galaxy.”
 
                “It cannot have more information than has been fed into it and if those who did the feeding thought they had records of all such planets when, in actual fact, they had not, then the computer would labor under the same misapprehension. Correct?”
 
                “Certainly, Speaker.”
 
                “Did you inquire at Sayshell?”
 
                “Speaker,” said Compor uneasily, “there are people who speak of
 
                Gaia on Sayshell, but what they say is valueless. Clearly superstition. The tale they tell is that Gaia is a powerful world that held off even the Mule.”
 
                “Is that what they say, indeed?” said Gendibal, suppressing excitement. “Were you so sure that this was superstition that you asked for no details?”
 
                “No, Speaker. I asked a great deal, but what I have just told you is all that anyone can say. They can speak on the subject at great length, but when they have done so, all that it boils down to is what I have just said.”
 
                “Apparently,” said Gendibal, “that is what Trevize has heard, too, and he goes to Gaia for some reason connected with that--to tap this great power, perhaps. And he does so cautiously, for perhaps he also fears this great power.”
 
                “That is certainly possible, Speaker.”
 
                “And yet you did not follow?”
 
                “I did follow, Speaker, long enough to make sure he was indeed making for Gaia. I then returned here to the outskirts of the Gaian system.”
 
                “Why?”
 
                “Three reasons, Speaker. First, you were about to arrive and I wanted to meet you at least partway and bring you aboard at the earliest moment, as you had directed. Since my ship has a hyperrelay on board, I could not move too far away from Trevize and Pelorat without rousing suspicion on Terminus, but I judged I could risk moving this far. Second, when it was clear that Trevize was approaching Gaia Planet very slowly, I judged there would be time enough for me to move toward you and hasten our meeting without being overtaken by events, especially since you would be more competent than I to follow him to the planet itself and to handle any emergency that might arise.”
 
                “Quite true. And the third reason?”
 
                “Since our last communication, Speaker, something has happened that I did not expect and do not understand. I felt that--for that reason, too--I had better hasten our meeting as soon as I dared.”
 
                “And this event that you did not expect and do not understand?”
 
                “Ships of the Foundation fleet are approaching the Sayshellian frontier. My computer has picked up this information from Sayshellian news broadcasts. At least five advanced ships are in the flotilla and these have enough power to overwhelm Sayshell.”
 
                Gendibal did not answer at once, for it would not do to show that he had not expected such a move--or that he didn’t understand it. So, after a moment, he said negligently, “Do you suppose that this has something to do with Trevize’s movement toward Gaia?”
 
                “It certainly came immediately afterward--and if B follows A, then there is at least a possibility that A caused B,” said Compor.
 
                “Well then, it seems we all converge upon Gaia--Trevize, and I, and the First Foundation. --Come, you acted well, Compor,” said Gendibal, “and here is what we will now do. First, you will show me how this computer works and, through that, how the ship may be handled. I am sure that will not take long.
 
                “After that, you will get into my ship, since by then I will have impressed on your mind how to handle it. You will have no trouble maneuvering it, although I must tell you (as you have no doubt guessed from its appearance) that you will find it primitive indeed. Once you are in control of the ship, you will keep it here and wait for me.”
 
                “How long, Speaker?”
 
                “Until I come for you. I do not expect to be gone long enough for you to be in danger of running out of supplies, but if I am unduly delayed, you may find your way to some inhabited planet of the Sayshell union and wait there. Wherever you are, I will find you.”
 
                “As you say, Speaker.”
 
                “And do not be alarmed. I can handle this mysterious Gaia and, if need be, the five ships of the Foundation as well.”
 
 
 
 4.
 
 
 
 Littoral Thoobing had been the Foundation’s Ambassador to Sayshell for seven years. He rather liked the position.
 
                Tall and rather stout, he wore a thick brown mustache at a time when the predominant fashion, both in the Foundation and in Sayshell, was smooth-shaven. He had a strongly lined countenance, though he was only fifty-four--and was much given to a schooled indifference. His attitude toward his work was not easily seen.
 
                Still, he rather liked the position. It kept him away from the hurly-burly of polities on Terminus--something he appreciated-- and it gave him the chance to live the life of a Sayshellian sybarite and to support his wife and daughter in the style to which they had become addicted. He didn’t want his life disturbed.
 
                On the other hand, he rather disliked Liono Kodell, perhaps because Kodell also sported a mustache, though one which was smaller, shorter, and grayish-white. In the old days, they had been the only two people in prominent public life who had worn one and there had been rather a competition between them over the matter. Now (thought Thoobing) there was none; Kodell’s was contemptible.
 
                Kodell had been Director of Security when Thoobing was still on Terminus, dreaming of opposing Harla Branno in the race for Mayor, until he had been bought off with the ambassadorship. Branno had done it for her own sake, of course, but he had ended up owing her goodwill for that.
 
                But not to Kodell, somehow. Perhaps it was because of Kodell’s determined cheerfulness--the manner in which he was always such afriendly person--even after he had decided on just exactly the manner in which your throat was to be cut.
 
                Now he sat there in hyperspatial image, cheerful as ever, brimming over with bonhomie. His actual body was, of course, back on Terminus, which spared Thoobing the necessity of offering him any physical sign of hospitality.
 
                “Kodell,” he said. “I want those ships withdrawn.”
 
                Kodell smiled sunnily. “Why, so do I, but the old lady has made up her mind.”
 
                “You’ve been known to persuade her out of this or that.”
 
                “On occasion. Perhaps. When she wanted to be persuaded. This time she doesn’t want to be. --Thoobing, do your job. Keep Sayshell calm.”
 
                “I’m not thinking about Sayshell, Kodell. I’m thinking about the Foundation.”
 
                “So are we all.”
 
                “Kodell, don’t fence. I want you to listen to me.”
 
                “Gladly, but these are hectic times on Terminus and I will not listen to you forever.”
 
                “I will be as brief as I can be--when discussing the possibility of the Foundation’s destruction. If this hyperspatial line is not being tapped, I will speak openly.”
 
                “It is not being tapped.”
 
                “Then let me go on. I have received a message some days ago from one Golan Trevize. I recall a Trevize in my own political days, a Commissioner of Transportation.”
 
                “The young man’s uncle,” Kodell said.
 
                “Ah, then you know the Trevize who sent the message to me. According to the information I have since gathered, he was a Councilman who, after the recent successful resolution of a Seldon Crisis, was arrested and sent into exile.”
 
                “Exactly.”
 
                “I don’t believe it.”
 
                “What is it that you don’t believe?”
 
                “That he was sent into exile.”
 
                “Why not?”
 
                “When in history has any citizen of the Foundation been sent into exile?” demanded Thoobing. “He is arrested or not arrested. If he is arrested, he is tried or not tried. If he is tried, he is convicted or not convicted. If he is convicted, he is fined, demoted, disgraced, imprisoned, or executed. No one is sent into exile.”
 
                “There is always a first time.”
 
                “Nonsense. In an advanced naval vessel? What fool can fail to see that he is on a special mission for your old woman? Whom can she possibly expect to deceive?”
 
                “What would the mission be?”
 
                “Supposedly to find the planet Gaia.”
 
                Some of the cheerfulness left Kodell’s face. An unaccustomed hardness entered his eyes. He said, “I know that you feel no overwhelming impulse to believe my statements, Mr. Ambassador, but I make a special plea that you believe me in this one case. Neither the Mayor nor I had ever heard of Gaia at the time that Trevize was sent into exile. We have heard of Gaia, for the first time, just the other day. If you believe that, this conversation may continue.”
 
                “I will suspend my tendency toward skepticism long enough to accept that, Director, though it is difficult to do so.”
 
                “It is quite true, Mr. Ambassador, and if I have suddenly adopted a formal note to my statements it is because when this is done, you will find that you have questions to answer and that you will not find the occasion joyful. You speak as though Gaia is a world familiar to you. How is it th............
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