Sunday, March 10, 2019
Foundation and Empire 5. The War Begins
From the radiating decimal point of Siwenna, the casts of the empire r sever solelyyed expose guardedly into the black un shaftn of the Periphery. Giant posts passed the vast distances that separated the vagrant stars at the Galaxys rim, and felt their way around the turn upermost edge of Foundation influence.Worlds lengthd in their new barbarism of devil centuries felt the sensation in unriva guide case again of empurpled everywherelords upon their soil. Allegiance was sworn in the face of the ample artillery covering capital cities.Garrisons were left garrisons of work force in Imperial uniform with the Spaceship-and-Sun insignia upon their shoulders. The archaic men took notice and remembered once again the forget tales of their grandfathers fathers of the times when the universe was big, and rich, and peaceful and that same Spaceship-and-Sun ruled all.Then the broad ships passed on to weave their line of forward bases further around the Foundation. And as each wo rld was knotted into its proper place in the fabric, the fib went back to Bel Riose at the General Headquarters he had schematic on the rocky barrenness of a wandering sunless planet. instanter Riose relaxed and smiled grimly at Ducem Barr. Well, what do you telephone, patrician?I? Of what value be my thoughts? I am not a military homosexual. He took in with superstar wearily distasteful glance the crowded disorder of the rock-bound path which had been carved out of the wall of a cavern of artificial air, light, and com impel which marked the single bubble of life in the vastness of a bleak world.For the help I could give you, he muttered, or would neediness to give you, you might return me to Siwenna.Not yet. Not yet. The ecumenic arseholecelled his chair to the comer which held the huge, brilliantly-transp bent sp present that mapped the grizzly Imperial prefect of Anacreon and its neighboring sectors. Later, when this is over, you al pathetic for go back to your book s and to more. Ill see to it that the estates of your family atomic number 18 confrontored to you and to your children for the rest of time.Thank you, tell Barr, with faint irony, but I lack your faith in the dexterous outcome of all this.Riose laughed harshly, Dont start your prophetic croakings again. This map speaks louder than all your woeful theories. He caressed its curved invisible outline gently. Can you read a map in radial projection? You can? Well, here, see for yourself. The stars in gold represent the Imperial territories. The red stars are those in allegiance to the Foundation and the pink are those which are probably within the economic sphere of influence. Now watch-Rioses hand covered a rounded knob, and slowly an area of unverbalized, w stimulatee pinpoints changed into a deepening blue. Like an inverted cup they folded about the red and the pink.Those blue stars go been taken over by my forces, verbalise Riose with quiet satisfaction, and they still adv ance. No opposition has appeared eitherwhere. The barbarians are quiet. And particularly, no opposition has come from Foundation forces. They repose peacefully and vigorous.You spread your force thinly, dont you? asked Barr.As a matter of fact, verbalise Riose, despite appearances, I dont. The signalize points which I garrison and fortify are relatively few, but they are carefully chosen. The result is that the force expended is small, but the strategic result great. in that respect are many advantages, more than would perpetually appear to anyone who hasnt made a careful study of spatial tactics, but it is apparent to anyone, for instance, that I can base an attack from any point in an inclosing sphere, and that when I am finished it will be impossible for the Foundation to attack at flank or rear. I shall leave no flank or rear with respect to them.This strategy of the Previous Enclosure has been tried before, notably in the campaigns of Loris VI, some two thousand years ago, but always imperfectly always with the enjoyledge and attempted interference of the enemy. This is different.The ideal standard case? Barrs voice was languid and indifferent.Riose was impatient, You still think my forces will break dance?They must.You understand that at that place is no case in military narrative where an Enclosure has been completed that the attacking forces have not eventually won, further where an outside Navy exists in sufficient force to break the Enclosure.If you severalize so.And you still adhere to your faith.Yes.Riose shrugged. Then do so.Barr allowed the angry placidity to conserve for a moment, thusly asked quietly, Have you received an answer from the Emperor?Riose aloof a cigarette from a wall container behind his manoeuvre, placed a filter tip between his lips and puffed it aflame carefully. He tell, You entail my request for reinforcements? It came, but thats all. Just the answer.No ships.None. I half-expected that. Frankly, patr ician, I should never have allowed myself to be stampeded by your theories into requesting them in the primary place. It arrogates me in a false light.Does it?Definitely. Ships are at a premium. The civil wars of the last two centuries have smashed up more than half of the Grand fade and whats left is in pretty shaky condition. You turn in it isnt as if the ships we puddle these days are worth anything. I dont think theres a man in the Galaxy today who can build a alright hypernuclear motor.I knew that, said the Siwennian. His look were thoughtful and introspective. I didnt know that you knew it. So his Imperial Majesty can supernumerary no ships. Psychohistory could have predicted that in fact, it probably did. I should say that Hari Seldons dead hand gains the opening round.Riose answered sharply, I have enough ships as it is. Your Seldon wins nothing. Should the situation turn more serious, accordingly more ships will be available. As yet, the Emperor does not know all the story.Indeed? What havent you told him?Obviously your theories. Riose looked sardonic. The story is, with all respect to you, inherently improbable. If developments warrant if events supply me with proof, then, but only then, would I make out the case of mortal danger.And in addition, Riose drove on, casually, the story, unbolstered by fact, has a purport of lese majeste that could scarcely be pleasant to His Imperial Majesty.The old patrician smiled. You regard as that state him his august throne is in danger of subedition by a parcel of ragged barbarians from the ends of the universe is not a monition to be believed or appreciated. Then you expect nothing from him.Unless you count a special envoy as something.And why a special envoy?Its an old custom. A direct representative of the crown is present on every military campaign which is under government auspices.Really? why?Its a method of preserving the symbol of personal Imperial leadership in all campaigns. Its gained a secondary function of insuring the fidelity of generals. It doesnt always practise in that respect.Youll find that inconvenient, general. Extraneous authority, I mean.I dont doubt that, Riose blood-red faintly, but it cant be helped-The receiver at the generals hand glowed warmly, and with an unobtrusive jar, the cylindered dialogue popped into its slot. Riose unrolled it, Good This is itDucem Barr raised a mildly questioning eyebrow.Riose said, You know weve captured one of these Trader people. Alive and with his ship intact.Ive copd discourse of it.Well, theyve just brought him in, and well have him here in a minute. You keep your seat, patrician. I postulate you here when Im questioning him. Its why I asked you here today in the foremost place. You may understand him where I might miss important points.The limen signal sounded and a touch of the generals toe swung the door wide. The man who stood on the threshold was tall and bearded, wore a short coat of a soft, tough plastic, with an attached hood shoved back on his neck. His hands were free, and if he observe the men about him were fortify, he did not trouble to indicate it.He stepped in casually, and looked about with calculating eyes. He favored the general with a rudimentary wave of the hand and a half nod.Your name? demanded Riose, crisply.Lathan Devers. The bargainer hooked his thumbs into his wide and gaudy belt. Are you the boss here?You are a trader of the Foundation?Thats right. Lis disco biscuit, if youre the boss, youd better tell your hired men here to lay off my cargo.The general raised his head and regarded the captive coldly. Answer questions. Do not volunteer orders.All right. Im agreeable. notwithstanding one of your boys blasted a two- pluck hole in his chest already, by viscous his fingers where he wasnt supposed to.Riose shifted his gaze to the lieutenant in charge. Is this man telling the truth? Your report, Vrank, had it that no lives were lost.None were, sir, the l ieutenant spoke stiffly, apprehensively, at the time. thither was later some disposition to search the ship, there having arisen a story that a woman was aboard. Instead, sir, many instruments of unknown nature were located, instruments which the prisoner claims to be his stock in trade. One of them flashed on handling, and the soldier holding it died.The general dark back to the trader. Does your ship carry nuclear explosives?Galaxy, no. What for? That take in grabbed a nuclear puncher, wrong end forward and set at maximum dispersion. Youre not supposed to do that. Might as well point a neut-gun at your head. Id have stopped him, if five men werent sitting on my chest.Riose gestured at the waiting guard, You go. The captured ship is to he certain against all intrusion. Sit down, Devers.The trader did so, in the spot indicated, and withstood stolidly the intemperately scrutiny of the Imperial general and the curious glance of the Siwennian patrician.Riose said, Youre a reasona ble man, Devers.Thank you. Are you impressed by my face, or do you want something? Tell you what, though. Im a good business man.Its about the same thing. You surrendered your ship when you might have decided to waste our ammunition and have yourself short-winded to electron-dust. It could result in good treatment for you, if you continue that sort of brainpower on life.Good treatment is what I by and large crave, boss.Good, and co-operation is what I mostly crave. Riose smiled, and said in a low aside to Ducem Barr, I promise the word crave means what I think it does. Did you ever hear much(prenominal) a barbarous jargon?Devers said blandly, Right. I check you. except what kind of co-operation are you talking about, boss? To tell you straight, I dont know where I stand. He looked about him, Wheres this place, for instance, and whats the idea?Ah, Ive neglected the other half of the introductions. I apologize. Riose was in good humor. That gentleman is Ducem Barr, Patrician of th e Empire. I am Bel Riose, Peer of the Empire, and General of the Third Class in the armed forces of His Imperial Majesty.The traders jaw slackened. Then, The Empire? I mean the old Empire they taught us about at school? Huh Funny I always had the sort of notion that it didnt exist any more.Look about you. It does, said Riose grimly.Might have known it though, and Lathan Devers pointed his beard at the ceiling. That was a decently polished-looking set of craft that took my tub. No kingdom of the Periphery could have turned them out. His brow furrowed. So whats the game, boss? Or do I chew the fat you general?Me game is war.Empire versus Foundation, that it?Right.Why?I think you know why.The trader stared sharply and move his head.Riose let the other deliberate, then said softly, Im sure you know why.Lathan Devers muttered, Warm here, and stood up to remove his hooded jacket. Then he sat down again and stretched his legs out before him.You know, he said, comfortably, I figure youre thinking I ought to jump up with a cry and lay about me. I can catch you before you could move if I choose my time, and this old feller who sits there and doesnt say anything couldnt do much to stop me.But you wont, said Riose, confidently.I wont, agreed Devers, amiably. beginning off, killing you wouldnt stop the war, I suppose. There are more generals where you came from. truly accurately calculated.Besides which, Id probably be slammed down about two seconds after I got you, and killed fast, or maybe slow, depending. But Id be killed, and I never the like to count on that when Im making plans. It doesnt pay off.I said you were a sensible man.But theres one thing I would like, boss. Id like you to tell me what you mean when you say I know why youre jumping us. I dont and guessing games bother me no end.Yes? Ever hear of Hari Seldon?No. I said I dont like guessing games.Riose flicked a side glance at Ducem Barr who smiled with a narrow gentleness and resumed his inwardly-dreami ng expression.Riose said with a grimace, Dont you play games, Devers. There is a tradition, or a fable, or sober history I dont care what upon your Foundation, that eventually you will put up the Second Empire. I know quite a detailed version of Hari Seldons psychohistorical claptrap, and your eventual plans of aggression against the Empire.That so? Devers nodded thoughtfully. And who told you all that?Does that matter? said Riose with treacherous smoothness. Youre here to question nothing. I want what you know about the Seldon Fable.But if its a Fable-Dont play with words, Devers.Im not. In fact, Ill give it to you straight. You know all I know about it. Its silly stuff, half-baked. Every world has its yams you cant keep it off from them. Yes, Ive heard that sort of talk Seldon, Second Empire, and so on. They put kids to sleep at night with the stuff. The young squirts curl up in the spare rooms with their pocket projectors and suck up Seldon thrillers. But its strictly non-ad ult. Nonintelligent adult, anyway. The trader agitate his head.The Imperial generals eyes were dark. Is that really so? You waste your lies, man. Ive been on the planet, Terminus. I know your Foundation. Ive looked it in the face.And you ask me? Me, when I havent kept foot on it for two months at a piece in ten years. You are wasting your time. But go ahead with your war, if its fables youre after.And Barr spoke for the first time, mildly, You are so confident then that the Foundation will win?The trader turned. He flushed faintly and an old scar on one temple showed whitely, Hm-m-m, the silent partner. Howd you squeeze that out of what I said, atomic number 101?Riose nodded very slightly at Barr, and the Siwennian go along in a low voice, Because the notion would bother you if you thought your world might lose this war, and back up the bitter reapings of whip, I know. My world once did, and still does.Lathan Devers fumbled his beard, looked from one of his opponents to the oth er, then laughed shortly. Does he always talk like that, boss? Listen, he grew serious, whats defeat? Ive seen wars and Ive seen defeats. What if the winner does take over? Whos bothered? Me? Guys like me? He shook his head in derision.Get this, the trader spoke forcefully and earnestly, there are five or six fat slobs who usually survive an average planet. They get the rabbit punch, but Im not losing peace of forefront over them. See. The people? The ordinary run of guys? Sure, some get killed, and the rest pay extra taxes for a while. But it settles itself out it runs itself down. And then its the old situation again with a different five or six.Ducem Barrs nostrils flared, and the tendons of his old right hand jerked but he said nothing.Lathan Devers eyes were on him. They missed nothing. He said, Look. I spend my life in space for my five-and-dime gadgets and my beer-and-pretzel kickback from the Combines. Theres fat fellows back there, his thumb jerked over his shoulder and b ack, that sit menage and collect my years income every minute out of skimmings from me and more like me. intend you run the Foundation. Youll still need us. Youll need us more than ever the Combines do because youd not know your way around, and we could bring in the hard cash. Wed make a better deal with the Empire. Yes, we would and Im a man of business. If it adds up to a plus mark, Im for it.And he stared at the two with sardonic belligerence.The silence remained unskintn for minutes, and then a cylinder rattled into its slot. The general flipped it open, glanced at the neat printing and in-circuited the visuals with a sweep.Prepare plan indicating position of each ship in action. Await orders on full-armed defensive.He reached for his cape. As he fastened it about his shoulders, he whispered in a stiff-lipped matted to Barr, Im leaving this man to you. Ill expect results. This is war and I can be cruel to failures. Remember He left, with a salute to both.Lathan Devers looke d after him, Well, somethings hit him where it hurts. What goes on?A battle, obviously, said Barr, gruffly. The forces of the Foundation are coming out for their first battle. Youd better come along.There were armed soldiers in the room. Their charge was respectful and their faces were hard. Devers followed the proud old Siwennian patriarch out of the room.The room to which they were led was smaller, barer. It contained two beds, a visi-screen, and shower and sanitary facilities. The soldiers marched out, and the thick door boomed hollowly shut.Hmp? Devers stared disapprovingly about. This looks permanent.It is, said Barr, shortly. The old Siwennian turned his back.The trader said irritably, Whats your game, doc?I have no game. Youre in my charge, thats all.The trader rose and advanced. His bulk towered over the unmoving patrician. Yes? But youre in this cell with me and when you were marched here the guns were pointed just as hard at you as at me. Listen, you were all boiled up abo ut my notions on the subject of war and peace.He waited fruitlessly, All fight, let me ask you something. You said your country was licked once. By whom? Comet people from the outmost nebulae?Barr looked up. By the Empire.That so? Then what are you doing here?Barr maintained an articulate silence.The trader thrust out a lower lip and nodded his head slowly. He slipped off the flat-linked bracelet that hugged his fight wrist and held it out. What do you think of that? He wore the mate to it on his left.The Siwennian took the ornament. He responded slowly to the traders gesture and put it on. The odd tingling at the wrist passed away quickly.Devers voice changed at once. Right, doc, youve got the action now. Just speak casually. If this room is wired, they wont get a thing. Thats a Field Distorter youve got there genuine Mallow design. Sells for twenty-five credits on any world from here to the outer rim. You get it free. Hold your lips still when you talk and take it easy. Youve go t to get the trick of it.Ducem Barr was suddenly weary. The traders boring eyes were lucent and urging. He felt unequal to their demands.Barr said, What do you want? The words chummy from between unmoving lips.Ive told you. You make mouth noises like what we call a patriot. Yet your own world has been mashed up by the Empire, and here you are playing ball with the Empires fair-haired general. Doesnt make sense, does it?Barr said, I have make my part. A conquering Imperial viceroy is dead because of me.That so? lately?Forty years ago.Forty years ago The words seemed to have meaning to the trader. He frowned, Thats a long time to live on memories. Does that young squirt in the generals uniform know about it?Barr nodded.Devers eyes were dark with thought. You want the Empire to win?And the old Siwennian patrician broke out in sudden deep anger, May the Empire and all its works perish in universal catastrophe. All Siwenna prays that daily. I had brothers once, a sister, a father. But I have children now, grandchildren. The general knows where to find them.Devers waited.Barr continued in a whisper, But that would not stop me if the results in medical prognosis warranted the risk. They would know how to die.The trader said gently, You killed a viceroy once, huh? You know, I write out a few things. We once had a mayor, Hober Mallow his name was. He visited Siwenna thats your world, isnt it? He met a man named Barr.Ducem Barr stared hard, suspiciously. What do you know of this?What every trader on the Foundation knows. You might be a smart old fellow put in here to get on my right side. Sure, theyd point guns at you, and youd hate the Empire and be all-out for its smashing. Then Id retort all over you and pour out my heart to you, and wouldnt the general be pleased. Theres not much chance of that, doc.But just the same Id like to have you prove that youre the son of Onum Barr of Siwenna the sixth and youngest who escaped the massacre.Ducem Barrs hand shook as h e opened the flat metal box in a wall recess. The metal object he withdrew clanked softly as he thrust it into the traders hands. Look at that, he said.Devers stared. He held the egotistic central link of the chain close to his eyes and swore softly. Thats Mallows monogram, or Im a space-struck rookie, and the design is fifty years old if its a day.He looked up and smiled.Shake, doc. A man-sized nuclear shield is all the proof I need, and he held out his large hand.