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CHAPTER EIGHTEEN COLLISION
1.
 
 
 
       STOR GENDEBAL WAS EDGING TOWARD GAIA ALMOST AS CAUTIOUSLY AS Trevize had--and now that its star was a perceptible disc and could be viewed only through strong filters, he paused to consider.
 
                Sura Novi sat to one side, looking up at him now and then in a timorous manner.
 
                She said softly, “Master?”
 
                “What is it, Novi?” he asked abstractedly.
 
                “Are you unhappy?”
 
                He looked up at her quickly. “No. Concerned. Remember that word? I am trying to decide whether to move in quickly or to wait longer. Shall I be very brave, Novi?”
 
                “I think you are very brave all times, Master.”
 
                “To be very brave is sometimes to be foolish.”
 
                Novi smiled. “How can a master scholar be foolish? --That is a sun, is it not, Master?” She pointed to the screen.
 
                Gendibal nodded.
 
                Novi said, after an irresolute pause, “Is it the sun that shines on Trantor? Is it the Hamish sun?”
 
                Gendibal said, “No, Novi. It is a far different sun. There are many suns, billions of them.”
 
                “Ah! I had known this with my head. I could not make myself believe, however. How is it, Master, that one can know with the head --and yet not believe?”
 
                Gendibal smiled faintly, “In your head, Novi--” he began and, automatically, as he said that, he found himself in her head. He stroked it gently, as he always did, when he found himself there-- just a soothing touch of mental tendrils to keep her calm and untroubled--and he would then have left again, as he always did, had not something drawn him back.
 
                What he sensed was indescribable in any but mentalic terms but, metaphorically, Novi’s brain glowed. It was the faintest possible glow.
 
                It would not be there except for the existence of a mentalic field imposed from without--a mentalic field of an intensity so small that the finest receiving function of Gendibal’s own well-trained mind could just barely detect it, even against the utter smoothness of Novi’s mentalic structure.
 
                He said sharply, “Novi, how do you feel?”
 
                Her eyes opened wide. “I feel well, Master.”
 
                “Are you dizzy, confused? Close your eyes and sit absolutely still until I say, ‘Now.”
 
                Obediently she closed her eyes. Carefully Gendibal brushed away all extraneous sensations from her mind, quieted her thought, soothed her emotions, stroked--stroked-- He left nothing but the glow and it was so faint that he could almost persuade himself it was not there.
 
                “Now,” he said and Novi opened her eyes.
 
                “How do you feel, Novi?”
 
                “Very calm, Master. Rested.”
 
                It was clearly too feeble for it to have any noticeable effect on her.
 
                He turned to the computer and wrestled with it. He had to admit to himself that he and the computer did not mesh very well together. Perhaps it was because he was too used to using his mind directly to be able to work through an intermediary. But he was looking for a ship, not a mind, and the initial search could be done more efficiently with the help of the computer.
 
                And he found the sort of ship he suspected might be present. It was half a million kilometers away and it was much like his own in design, but it was much larger and more elaborate.
 
                Once it was located with the computer’s help, Gendibal could allow his mind to take over directly. He sent it outward--tight-beamed--and with it felt (or the mentalic equivalent of “felt”) the ship, inside and out.
 
                He then sent his mind toward the planet Gaia, approaching it more closely by several millions of kilometers of space--and withdrew. Neither process was sufficient in itself to tell him, unmistakably, which--if either--was the source of the field.
 
                He said, “Novi, I would like you to sit next to me for what is to follow.”
 
                “Master, is there danger?”
 
                “You are not to be in any way concerned, Novi. I will see to it that you are safe and secure.”
 
                “Master, I am not concerned that I be safe and secure. If there is danger, I want to be able to help you.”
 
                Gendibal softened. He said, “Novi, you have already helped. Because of you, I became aware of a very small thing it was important to be aware of. Without you, I might have blundered rather deeply into a bog and might have had to pull out only through a great deal of trouble.”
 
                “Have I done this with my mind, Master, as you once explained?” asked Novi, astonished.
 
                “Quite so, Novi. No instrument could have been more sensitive. My own mind is not; it is too full of complexity.”
 
                Delight filled Novi’s face. “I am so grateful I can help.”
 
                Gendibal smiled and nodded--and then subsided into the somber knowledge that he would need other help as well. Something childish within him objected. The job was his--his alone.
 
                Yet it could not be his alone. The odds were climbing--
 
 
 
 2.
 
 
 
 On Trantor, Quindor Shandess felt the responsibility of First Speakerhood resting upon him with a suffocating weight. Since Gendibal’s ship had vanished into the darkness beyond the atmosphere, he had called no meetings of the Table. He had been lost in his own thoughts.
 
                Had it been wise to allow Gendibal to go off on his Own? Gendibal was brilliant, but not so brilliant that it left no room for overconfidence. Gendibal’s great fault was arrogance, as Shandess’s own great fault (he thought bitterly) was the weariness of age.
 
                Over and over again, it occurred to him that the precedent of Preem Palver, flitting over the Galaxy to set things right, was a dangerous one. Could anyone else be a Preem Palver? Even Gendibal? And Palver had had his wife with him.
 
                To be sure, Gendibal had this Hamishwoman, but she was of no consequence. Palver’s wife had been a Speaker in her own right.
 
                Shandess felt himself aging from day to day as he waited for word from Gendibal--and with each day that word did not come, he felt an increasing tension.
 
                It should have been a fleet of ships, a flotilla--
 
                No. The Table would not have allowed it.
 
                And yet--
 
                When the call finally came, he was asleep--an exhausted sleep that was bringing him no relief. The night had been windy and he had had trouble falling asleep to begin with. Like a child, he had imagined voices in the wind.
 
                His last thoughts before falling into an exhausted slumber had been a wistful building of the fancy of resignation, a wish be could do so together with the knowledge he could not, for at this moment Delarmi would succeed him.
 
                And then the call came and he sat up in bed, instantly awake.
 
                “You are well?” he said.
 
                “Perfectly well, First Speaker,” said Gendibal. “Should we have visual connection for more condensed communication?”
 
                “Later, perhaps,” said Shandess. “First, what is the situation?”
 
                Gendibal spoke carefully, for he sensed the other’s recent arousal and he perceived a deep weariness. He said, “I am in the neighborhood of an inhabited planet called Gaia, whose existence is not hinted at in any of the Galactic records, as far as I know.”
 
                “The world of those who have been working to perfect the Plan? The Anti-Mules?”
 
                “Possibly, First Speaker. There is the reason to think so. First, the ship bearing Trevize and Pelorat has moved far in toward Gaia and has probably landed there. Second, there is, in space, about half a million kilometers from me, a First Foundation warship.”
 
                “There cannot be this much interest for no reason.”
 
                “First Speaker, this may not be independent interest. I am here only because I am following Trevize--and the warship may be here for the same reason. It remains only to be asked why Trevize is here.”
 
                “Do you plan to follow him in toward the planet, Speaker?”
 
                “I had considered that a possibility, but something has come up. I am now a hundred million kilometers from Gaia and I sense in the space about me a mentalic field--a homogeneous one that is excessively faint. I would not have been aware of it at all, but for the focusing effect of the mind of the Hamishwoman. It is an unusual mind; I agreed to take her with me for that very purpose.”
 
                “You were right, then, in supposing it would be so-- Did Speaker Delarmi know this, do you think?”
 
                “When she urged me to take the woman? I scarcely think so--but I gladly took advantage of it, First Speaker.”
 
                “I am pleased that you did. Is it your opinion, Speaker Gendibal, that the planet is the focus of the field?”
 
                “To ascertain that, I would have to take measurements at widely spaced points in order to see if there is a general spherical symmetry to the field. My unidirectional mental probe made this seem likely but not certain. Yet it would not be wise to investigate further in the presence of the First Foundation warship.”
 
                “Surely it is no threat.”
 
                “It may be. I cannot as yet be sure that it is not itself the focus of the field, First Speaker.”
 
                “But they--”
 
                “First Speaker, with respect, allow me to interrupt. We do not know what technological advances the First Foundation has made. They are acting with a strange self-confidence and may have unpleasant surprises for us. It must be decided whether they have learned to handle mentalics by means of some of their devices. In short, First Speaker, I am facing either a warship of mentalics or a planet of them.
 
                “If it is the warship, then the mentalics may be far too weak to immobilize me, but they might be enough to slow me--and the purely physical weapons on the warship may then suffice to destroy me. On the other hand, if it is the planet that is the focus, then to have the field detectable at such a distance could mean enormous intensity at the surface--more than even I can handle.
 
                “In either case, it will be necessary to set up a network--a total network--in which, at need, the full resources of Trantor can be placed at my disposal.”
 
                The First Speaker hesitated. “Atotal network. This has never been used, never even suggested--except in the time of the Mule.”
 
                “This crisis may well be even greater than that of the Mule, First Speaker.”
 
                “I do not know that the Table would agree.”
 
                “I do not think you should ask them to agree, First Speaker. You should invoke a state of emergency.”
 
                “What excuse can I give?”
 
                “Tell them what I have told you, First Speaker.”
 
                “Speaker Delarmi will say that you are an incompetent coward, driven to madness by your own fears.”
 
                Gendibal paused before answering. Then he said, “I imagine she will say something like that, First Speaker, but let her say whatever she likes and I will survive it. What is at stake now is not my pride or self-love but the actual existence of the Second Foundation.”
 
 
 
 3.
 
 
 
 Harla Branno smiled grimly, her lined face setting more deeply into its fleshy crags. She said, “I think we can push on with it. I’m ready for them.”
 
                Kodell said, “Do you still feel sure you know what you’re doing?”
 
                “If I were as mad as you pretend you think I am, Liono, would you have insisted on remaining on this ship with me?”
 
                Kodell shrugged and said, “Probably. I would then be here on the off chance, Madam Mayor, that I might stop you, divert you, at least slow you, before you went too far. And, of course, if you’re not mad--”
 
                “Yes?”--
 
                “Why, then I wouldn’t want to have the histories of the future give you all the mention. Let them state that I was here with you and wonder, perhaps, to whom the credit really belongs, eh, Mayor?”
 
                “Clever, Liono, clever--but quite futile. I was the power behind the throne through too many Mayoralties for anyone to believe I would permit such a phenomenon in my own administration.”
 
                “We shall see.”
 
                “No, we won’t, for such historical judgments will come after we are dead. However, I have no fears. Not about my place in history and not aboutthat ,” and she pointed to the screen.
 
                “Compor’s ship,” said Kodell.
 
                “Compor’s ship, true,” said Branno, “but without Compor aboard. One of our scoutships observed the changeover. Compor’s ship was stopped by another. Two people from the other ship boarded that one and Compor later moved off and entered the other.”
 
                Branno rubbed her hands. “Trevize fulfilled his role perfectly. I cast him out into space in order that he might serve as lightning rod and so he did. He drew the lightning. The ship that stopped Compor was Second Foundation.”
 
                “How can you be sure of that, I wonder?” said Kodell, taking out his pipe and slowly beginning to pack it with tobacco.
 
                “Because I always wondered if Compor might not be under Second Foundation control. His life was too smooth. Things always broke right for him--and he was such an expert at hyperspatial tracking. His betrayal of Trevize might easily have been the simple politics of an ambitious man--but he did it with such unnecessary thoroughness, as though there were more than personal ambition to it.”
 
                “All guesswork, Mayor.”
 
                “The guesswork stopped when he followed Trevize through multiple Jumps as easily as if there had been but one.”
 
                “He had the computer to help, Mayor.”
 
                But Branno leaned her head back and laughed. “My dear Liono, you are so busy devising intricate plots that you forget the efficacy of simple procedures. I sent Compor to follow Trevize, not because I needed to have Trevize followed. What need was there for that? Trevize, however much he might want to keep his movements secret, could not help but call attention to himself in any non-Foundation world he visited. His advanced Foundation vessel--his strong Terminus accent--his Foundation credits--would automatically surround him with a glow of notoriety. And in case of any emergency, he would automatically turn to Foundation officials for help, as he did on Sayshell, where we knew all that he did as soon as he did it-- and quite independently of Compor.
 
                “No,” she went on thoughtfully, “Compor was sent out to testCompor . And that succeeded, for we gave him a defective computer quite deliberately; not one that was defective enough to make the ship unmaneuverable, but certainly one that was insufficiently agile to aid him in following a multiple Jump. Yet Compor managed that without trouble.”
 
                “I see there’s a great deal you don’t tell me, Mayor, until you decide you ought to.”
 
                “I only keep those matters from you, Liono, that it will not hurt you not to know. I admire you and I use you, but there are sharp limits to my trust, as there is in yours for me--and please don’t bother to deny it.”
 
                “I won’t,” said Kodell dryly, “and someday, Mayor, I will take the liberty of reminding you of that. --Meanwhile, is there anything else that I ought to know now? What is the nature of the ship that stopped them? Surely, if Compor is Second Foundation, so was that ship.”
 
                “It is always a pleasure to speak to you, Liono. You see things quickly. The Second Foundation, you see, doesn’t bother to hide its tracks. It has defenses that it relies on to make those tracks invisible, even when they are not. It would never occur to a Second Foundationer to use a ship of alien manufacture, even if they knew how neatly we could identify the origin of a ship from the pattern of its energy use. They could always remove that knowledge from any mind that had gained it, so why bother taking the trouble to hide? Well, our scout ship was able to determine the origin of the ship that approached Compor within minutes of sighting it.”

                “And now the Second Foundation will wipe that knowledge from our minds, I suppose.”
 
                “If they can,” said Branno, “but they may find that things have changed.”
 
                Kodell said, “Earlier you said you knew where the Second Foundation was. You would take care of Gaia first, then Trantor. I deduce from this that the other ship was of Trantorian origin.”
 
                “You suppose correctly. Are you surprised?”
 
                Kodell shook his head slowly. “Not in hindsight. Ebling Mis, Toran Darell and Bayta Darell were all on Trantor during the period when the Mule was stopped. Arkady Darell, Bayta’s granddaughter, was born on Trantor and was on Trantor again when the Second Foundation was itself supposedly stopped. In her account of events, there is a Preem Palver who played a key role, appearing at convenient times, and he was a Trantorian trader. I should think it was obvious that the Second Foundation was on Trantor, where, incidentally, Hari Seldon himself lived at the time he founded both Foundations.”
 
                “Quite obvious, except that no one ever suggested the possibility. The Second Foundation saw to that. It is what I meant when I said they didn’t have to cover their tracks, when they could so easily arrange to have no one look in the direction of those tracks--or wipe out the memory of those tracks after they had been seen.”
 
                Kodell said, “In that case, let us not look too quickly in the direction in which they may simply be wanting us to look. How is it, do you suppose, that Trevize was able to decide the Second Foundation existed? Why didn’t the Second Foundation stop him?”
 
                Branno held up her gnarled fingers and counted on them. “First, Trevize is a very unusual man who, for all his obstreperous inability to use caution, hassomething about him that I have not been able to penetrate. He may be a special case. Second, the Second Foundation was not entirely ignorant. Compor was on Trevize’s tail at once and reported him to me. I was relied on to stop Trevize without the Second Foundation having to risk open involvement. Third, when I didn’t quite react as expected--no execution, no imprisonment, no memory erasure, no Psychic Probe of his brain--when I merely sent him out into space, the Second Foundation went further. They made the direct move of sending one of their own ships after him.”
 
                And she added with tight-lipped pleasure, “Oh, excellent lightning rod.”
 
                Kodell said, “And our next move?”
 
                “We are going to challenge that Second Foundationer we now face. In fact, we’re moving toward him rather sedately right now.”
 
 
 
 4.
 
 
 
 Gendibal and Novi sat together, side by side, watching the screen.
 
                Novi was frightened. To Gendibal, that was quite apparent, as was the fact that she was desperately trying to fight off that fright. Nor could Gendiba............
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