Saturday, February 11, 2006

9. The Far Star

Golan Trevize and the other members of the Comporellian engineering team followed Kuel Denrun as he led them up a moving stairway to the Ministry of Transportation's roof garage. After a brief exchange with a black-uniformed guard, Denrun led them to a large conveyance. The others filed into the back, while Trevize joined Denrun at the front. Denrun conferred with a traffic controller, and a large hinged door opened out into the cold Comporellian afternoon. Denrun flew them out into the daylight, then set the controls on automatic and let the vehicle's computer fly them to the spaceport.

Once at the spaceport, Denrun resumed control of the vehicle and landed them thirty meters from the Far Star. He looked at her through the front windows and said, "She's a beauty."

"She is indeed," said Trevize. The ship had seen him through thick and thin for the last six months. It had become more of a home to him, he realized, than any of the apartments and houses he had lived in since leaving the Navy. Lately, it had even come to feel as though the ship and he were growing together, becoming parts of a single organism. For a moment, he wondered if being on Gaia had somehow changed the ship, made it part of the Gaian collective consciousness. But Bliss had assured him that it would have required a stay of years, even decades, before an inert Isolated object like the Far Star could be absorbed into the Gaian consciousness. Even Janov Pelorat would never truly become a part of Gaia, even if he spent the rest of his life there, which seemed likely to actually happen. Trevize finally decided that any symbiosis between the ship and himself was all on his part, the same sort of bond that had developed between people and the machines they worked with since before the dawn of recorded history. He felt a momentary impulse to ask Janov about it before he remembered that Janov was unavailable. "I'll miss you, my friend," he thought silently to the historian.

"How does she handle?" said Denrun, interrupting Trevize's reverie.

"Like a dream," said Trevize. "She enters hyperspace so smoothly you don't even notice the Jumps. The ship's computer can calculate Jumps so quickly you could travel from here to Terminus by way of Trantor in less than an hour."

Denrun gave a low whistle. Gesturing with his hand, he said, "Lead the way."

Trevize felt a twinge of conscience as he led the Comporellian engineering team into the airlock of the Far Star. Despite the way Mayor Branno had deprived him of his Council seat, he still thought of himself as a Foundationer, and the Far Star was Foundation property. Wasn't he really just stealing something that wasn't his, acting in petty spite to avenge a perceived wrong at the hands of Branno the Bronze? When you got right down to it, wasn't what he was doing nothing less than an act of treason?

Like all schoolchildren on Terminus, Trevize had grown up hearing about Han Pritcher, who had betrayed the Foundation in its hour of need and joined its enemy the Mule. Of course, later on when he learned the facts of the case, he had come to the conclusion that Pritcher had been cast in the role of villain unfairly. After all, it wasn't as if he had acted freely; when the Mule Converted somebody, that person's free will disappeared. Nevertheless, "Han Pritcher" was a synonym for "traitor" on Terminus, and probably would remain so for the rest of time. Unless, of course, treason gained a new exemplar named Golan Trevize.

He shook his head. The Far Star was his property. Branno had forfeited the Foundation's right to the ship when she tried to take it from him in the middle of his mission. Besides, giving the ship to Mitza Lizalor and Comporellon felt right. Trevize didn't think he would ever grow accustomed to the Gaians' belief in his intuition, and he hoped he never came to rely upon it too heavily, but he knew that the Comporellians ought to have the ship's gravitic drive. They would, he realized with a chill, need it in the not too distant future. He didn't know how he knew, for his intuition was beyond his conscious control, but he knew. If the Comporellians didn't have the gravitic drive, something disastrous would befall them.

His conscience clear, and determined to help his newfound countrymen, Trevize opened the far airlock door and ushered in Denrun's team.


Anonymous said...

"from here Terminus" should be "from here to Terminus".

Johnny Pez said...