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CHAPTER NINETEEN DECISION
1.
 
 
 
       JANOV PELORAT SAID, WITH A SMALL TRACE OF PETULANCE IN HIS voice, “Really, Golan, no one seems to care for the fact that this is the first time in a moderately long life--nottoo long, I assure you, Bliss--in which I have been traveling through the Galaxy. Yet each time I come to a world, I am off it again and back in space before I can really have a chance to study it. It has happened twice now.”
 
                “Yes,” said Bliss, “but if you had not left the other one so quickly, you would not have met me until who knows when. Surely that justifies the first time.”
 
                “It does. Honestly, my--my dear, it does.”
 
                “And this time, Pel, you may be off the planet, but you have me --andI am Gaia, as much as any particle of it, as much as all of it.”
 
                “Youare , and surely I want no other particle of it.”
 
                Trevize, who had been listening to the exchange with a frown, said, “This is disgusting. Why didn’t Dom come with us? --Space, I’ll never get used to this monosyllabization. Two hundred fifty syllables to a name and we use just one of them. --Why didn’the come, together with all two hundred fifty syllables? If all this is so important--if the very existence of Gaia depends on it--why didn’t he come with us to direct us?”
 
                “Iam here, Trev,” said Bliss, “and I am as much Gaia as he is.” Then, with a quick sideways and upward look from her dark eyes, “Does it annoy you, then, to have me call you ‘Trev’?”
 
                “Yes, it does. I have as much right to my ways as you to yours. My name is Trevize. Two syllables. Tre-vize.”
 
                “Gladly. I do not wish to anger you, Trevize.”
 
                “I am not angry. I am annoyed.” He rose suddenly, walked from one end of the room to the other, stepping over the outstretched legs of Pelorat (who drew them in quickly), and then back again. He stopped, turned, and faced Bliss.
 
                He pointed a finger at her. “Look! I am not my own master! I have been maneuvered from Terminus to Gaia--and even when I began to suspect that this was so, there seemed no way to break the grip. And then, when I get to Gaia, I am told that the whole purpose for my arrival was to save Gaia. Why? How? What is Gaia to me--or I to Gaia--that I should save it? Is there no other of the quintillion human beings in the Galaxy who could do the job?”
 
                “Please, Trevize,” said Bliss--and there was a sudden downcast air about her, all of the gamine affectation disappearing. “Do not be angry. You see, I use your name properly and I will be very serious. Dom asked you to be patient.”
 
                “By every planet in the Galaxy, habitable or not, I don’t want to be patient. If I am so important, do I not deserve an explanation? To begin with, I ask again why Dom did not come with us? Is it not sufficiently important for him to be here on theFar Star with us?”
 
                “He is here, Trevize,” said Bliss. “While I am here, he is here, and everyone on Gaia is here, and every living thing, and every speck of the planet.”
 
                “Youare satisfied that that is so, but it’s not my way of thinking. I’m not a Gaian. We can’t squeeze the whole planet on to my ship, we can only squeeze one person on to it. We have you, and Dom is part of you. Very well. Why couldn’t we have taken Dom, and let you be part of him?”
 
                “For one thing,” said Bliss, “Pel--I mean, Pel-o-rat--asked that I be on the ship with you. I, not Dom.”
 
                “He was being gallant. Who would take that seriously?”
 
                “Oh, now, my dear fellow,” said Pelorat, rising to his feet with his face reddening, “I was quite serious. I don’t want to be dismissed like that. I accept the fact that it doesn’t matter which component of the Gaian whole is on board, and it is more pleasant for me to have Bliss here than Dom, and it should be for you as well. Come, Golan, you are behaving childishly.”
 
                “Am I? Am I?” said Trevize, frowning darkly. “All right, then, I am. Just the same,” again he pointed at Bliss, “whatever it is I am expected to do, I assure you that I won’t do it if I am not treated like a human being. Two questions to begin with-- What am I supposed to do? And why me?”
 
                Bliss was wide-eyed and backing away. She said, “Please, I can’t tell you that now. All of Gaia can’t tell you. Youmust come to the place without knowing anything to begin with. Youmust learn it all there. You must then do what you must do--but you must do it calmly and unemotionally. If you remain as you are, nothing will be of use and, one way or another, Gaia will come to an end. You must change this feeling of yours and I do not know how to change it.”
 
                “Would Dom know ifhe were here?” said Trevize remorselessly.
 
                “Domis here,” said Bliss. “He/I/we do not know how to change you or calm you. We do not understand a human being who cannot sense his place in the scheme of things, who does not feel like part of a greater whole.”
 
                Trevize said, “That is not so. You could seize my ship at a distance of a million kilometers and more--and keep us calm while we were helpless. Well, calm me now. Don’t pretend you are not capable of doing it.”
 
                “But wemustn’t . Not now. If we changed you or adjusted you in any way now, then you would be no more valuable to us than any other person in the Galaxy and we could not use you. We can only use you because you areyou --and you must remain you. If we touch you at this moment in any way, we are lost. Please. You must be calm of your own accord.”
 
                “Not a chance, miss, unless you tell me some of what I want to know.”
 
                Pelorat said, “Bliss, let me try. Please go into the other room.”
 
                Bliss left, backing slowly out. Pelorat closed the door behind her.
 
                Trevize said, “She can hear and see--sense everything. What difference does this make?”
 
                Pelorat said, “It makes a difference to me. I want to be alone with you, even if isolation is an illusion. --Golan, you’re afraid.”
 
                “Don’t be a fool.”
 
                “Of course you are. You don’t know where you’re going, what you’ll be facing, what you’ll be expected to do. You have a right to be afraid.”
 
                “But I’m not.”
 
                “Yes, you are. Perhaps you’re not afraid of physical danger in the way that I am. I’ve been afraid of venturing out into space, afraid of each new world I see, afraid of every new thing I encounter. After all, I’ve lived half a century of a constricted, withdrawn and limited life, while you have been in the Navy and in politics, in the thick and hurly-burly at home and in space. Yet I’ve tried not to be afraid and you’ve helped me. In this time that we’ve been together, you’ve been patient with me, you’ve been kind to me and understanding, and because of you, I’ve managed to master my fears and behave well. Let me, then, return the favor and help you.”
 
                “I’m not afraid, I tell you.”
 
                “Of course you are. If nothing else, you’re afraid of the responsibility you’ll be facing. Apparently there’s a whole world depending on you--and you will therefore have to live with the destruction of a whole world if you fail. Why should you have to face that possibility for a world that means nothing to you? ‘What right have they to place this load upon you? You’re not only afraid of failure, as any person would be in your place, but you’re furious that they should put you in the position where you have to be afraid.”
 
                “You’re all wrong.”
 
                “I don’t think so. Consequently let me take your place. I’ll do it. Whatever it is they expect you to do, I volunteer as substitute. I assume that it’s not something that requires great physical strength or vitality, since a simple mechanical device would outdo you in that respect. I assume it’s not something that requires mentalics, for they have enough of that themselves. It’s something that--well, I don’t know, but if it requires neither brawn nor brain, then I have everything else as well as you--and I am ready to take the responsibility.”
 
                Trevize said sharply, “Why are you so willing to bear the load?”
 
                Pelorat looked down at the floor, as though fearing to meet the other’s eyes. He said, “I have had a wife, Golan. I have known women. Yet they have never been very important to me. Interesting. Pleasant. Never very important. Yet, this one--”
 
                “Who? Bliss?”
 
                “She’s different, somehow--to me.”
 
                “By Terminus, Janov, she knows every word you’re saying.”
 
                “That makes no difference. She knows anyhow. --I want to please her. I will undertake this task, whatever it is; run any risk, take any responsibility, on the smallest chance that it will make her--think well of me.”
 
                “Janov, she’s a child.”
 
                “She’s not a child--and what you think of her makes no difference to me.”
 
                “Don’t you understand what you must seem to her?”
 
                “An old man? What’s the difference? She’s part of a greater whole and I am not--and that alone builds an insuperable wall between us. Don’t you think I know that? But I don’t ask anything of her but that she--”
 
                “Think well of you?”
 
                “Yes. Or whatever else she can make herself feel for me.”
 
                “And for that you will do my job? --But Janov, haven’t you been listening. They don’t want you; they wantme for some space-ridden reason I can’t understand.”
 
                “If they can’t have you and if they must have someone, I will be better than nothing, surely.”
 
                Trevize shook his head. “I can’t believe that this is happening. Old age is overtaking you and you have discovered youth. Janov, you’re trying to be a hero, so that you can die for that body.”
 
                “Don’t say that, Golan. This is not a fit subject for humor.”
 
                Trevize tried to laugh, but his eyes met Pelorat’s grave face and he cleared his throat instead. He said, “You’re right. I apologize. Call her in, Janov. Call her in.”
 
                Bliss entered, shrinking a little. She said in a small voice, “I’m sorry, Pel. You cannot substitute. It must be Trevize or no one.”
 
                Trevize said, “Very well. I’ll be calm. Whatever it is, I’ll try to do it. Anything to keep Janov from trying to play the romantic hero at his age.”
 
                “I know my age,” muttered Pelorat.
 
                Bliss approached him slowly, placed her hand on his shoulder. “Pel, I--I think well of you.”
 
                Pelorat looked away. “It’s all right, Bliss. You needn’t be kind.”
 
                “I’m not being kind, Pel. I think--very well of you.”
 
 
 
 2.
 
 
 
 Dimly, then more strongly, Sura Novi knew that she was Suranoviremblastiran and that when she was a child, she had been known as Su to her parents and Vito her friends.
 
                She had never really forgotten, of course, but the facts were, on occasion, buried deep within her. Never had it been buried as deeply or for as long as in this last month, for never had she been so close for so long to a mind so powerful.
 
                But now it was time. She did not will it herself. She had no need to. The vast remainder of her was pushing her portion of itself to the surface, for the sake of the global need.
 
                Accompanying that was a vague discomfort, a kind of itch that was rapidly overwhelmed by the comfort of selfness unmasked. Not in years had she been so close to the globe of Gaia.
 
                She remembered one of the life-forms she had loved on Gaia as a child. Having understood its feelings then as a dim part of her own, she recognized her own sharper ones now. She was a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.
 
 
 
 3.
 
 
 
 Stor Gendibal stared sharply and penetratingly at Novi--and with such surprise that he came within a hair of loosening his grip upon Mayor Branno. That he did not do so was, perhaps, the result of a sudden support from without that steadied him and that, for the moment, he ignored.
 
                He said, “What do you Know of Councilman Trevize, Novi?” And then, in cold disturbance at the sudden and growing complexity of her mind, he cried out, “What are you?”
 
                He attempted to seize hold of her mind and found it impenetrable. At that moment, he recognized that his hold on Branno was supported by a grip stronger than his own. He repeated, “What are you?”
 
                There was a hint of the tragic on Novi’s face. “Master,” she said, “Speaker Gendibal. My true name is Suranoviremblastiran and I am Gaia.”
 
                It was all she said in words, but Gendibal, in sudden fury, had intensified his own mental aura and with great skill, now that his blood was up, evaded the strengthening bar and held Branno on his own and more strongly than before, while he gripped Novi’s mind in a tight and silent struggle.
 
                She held him off with equal skill, but she could not keep her mind closed to him--or perhaps she did not wish to.
 
                He spoke to her as he would to another Speaker. “You have played a part, deceived me, lured me here, and you are one of the species from which the Mule was derived.”
 
                “The Mule was an aberration, Speaker. I/we are not Mules. I/we are Gaia.”
 
                The whole essence of Gaia was described in what she complexly communicated, far more than it could have been in any number of words.
 
                “A whole planet alive,” said Gendibal.
 
                “And with a mentalic field greater as a whole than is yours as an individual. Please do not resist with such force. I fear the danger of harming you, something I do not wish to do.”
 
                “Even as a living planet, you are not stronger than the sum of my colleagues on Trantor. We, too, are, in a way, a planet alive.”
 
                “Only some thousands of people in mentalic co-operation, Speaker, and you cannot draw upon their support, for I have blocked it off. Test that and you will see.”
 
                “What is it you plan to do, Gaia?”
 
                “I would hope, Speaker, that you would call me Novi. What I do now I do as Gaia, but I am Novi also--and with reference to you, I am only Novi.”
 
                “What is it you plan to do, Gaia?”
 
                There was the trembling mentalic equivalent of a sigh and Novi said, “We will remain in triple stalemate. You will hold Mayor Branno through her shield, and I will help you do so, and we will not tire. You, I suppose, will maintain your grip on me, and I will maintain mine on you, and neither one of us will tire there either. And so it will stay.”
 
                “To what end?”
 
                “As I have told you-- We are waiting for Councilman Trevize of Terminus. It is he who will break the stalemate--as he chooses.”
 
 
 
 4.
 
 
 
 The computer on board theFar Star located the two ships and Golan Trevize displayed them together on the split screen.
 
                They were both Foundation vessels. One was precisely like theFar Star and was undoubtedly Compor’s ship. The other was larger and far more powerful.
 
                He turned toward Bliss and said, “Well, do you know what’s going on? Is there anything you can now tell me?”
 
                “Yes! Do not be alarmed! They will not harm you.”
 
                “Why is everyone convinced I’m sitting here all a-tremble with panic?” Trevize demanded petulantly.
 
                Pelorat said hastily, “Let her talk, Golan. Don’t snap at her.”
 
                Trevize raised his arms in a gesture of impatient surrender. “I will not snap. Speak, lady.”
 
                Bliss said, “On the large ship is the ruler of your Foundation. With her--”
 
                Trevize said in astonishment, “The ruler? You mean Old Lady Branno?”
 
                “Surely that is not her title,” said Bliss, her lips twitching a little in amusement. “But she is a woman, yes.” She paused a little, as though listening intently to the rest of the general organism of which she was part. “Her name is Harlabranno. It seems odd to have only four syllables when one is so important on her world, but I suppose non-Gaians have their own ways.”
 
                “I suppose,” said Trevize dryly. “You would call her Brann, I think. But what is she doing here? Why isn’t she back on-- I see. Gaia has maneuvered her here, too. Why?”
 
                Bliss did not answer that question. She said, “With her is Lionokodell, five syllables, though her underling. It seems a lack of respect. He is an important official of your world. With them are four others who control the ship’s weapons. Do you want their names?”
 
                “No. I take it that on the other ship there is one man, Munn Li Compor, and that he represents the Second Foundation. You’ve brought both Foundations together, obviously. Why?”
 
                “Not exactly, Trev--I mean, Trevize--”
 
                “Oh, go ahead and say Trev. I don’t give a puff of comet gas.”
 
                “Not exactly, Trev. Compor has left that ship and has been replaced by two people. One is Storgendibal, an important official of the Second Foundation. He is called a Speaker.”
 
                “An important official? He’s got mentalic power, I imagine.”
 
                “Oh yes. A great deal.”
 
                “Will you be able to handle that?”
 
                “Certainly. The second person, on the ship with him, is Gaia.”
 
                “One ofyour people?”
 
                “Yes. Her name is Suranoviremblastiran. It should be much longer, but she has been away from me/us/rest so long.”
 
                “Is she capable of holding a high official of the Second Foundation?”
 
                “It is not she, it is Gaia who holds him. She/I/we/all are capable of crushing him.”
 
                “Is that what she’s going to do? She’s going to crush him and Branno? What is this? Is Gaia going to destroy the Foundations and set up a Galactic Empire of its own? The Mule back again? A greater Mule--”
 
                “No no, Trev. Do not become agitated. You must not. All three are in a stalemate. They are waiting.”
 
                “For what?”
 
                “For your decision.”
 
............
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