Foundation’s Edge CHAPTER ELEVEN SAYSHELL
Janov Pelorat watched, for the first time in his life, as the bright star graduated into an orb after what Trevize had called a “micro-Jump.” The fourth planet – the habitable one and their immediate destination, Sayshell – then grew in size and prominence more slowly – over a period of days.
A map of the planet had been produced by the computer and was displayed on a portable screening device, which Pelorat held in his lap.
Trevize – with the aplomb of someone who had, in his time, touched down upon several dozen worlds – said, “Don’t start watching too hard too soon, Janov. We have to go through the entry station first and that can be tedious.”
Pelorat looked up. “Surely that’s just a formality.”
“It is. But it can still be tedious.”
“But it’s peacetime.”
“Of course. That means we’ll be passed through. First, though, there’s a little matter of the ecological balance. Every planet has its own and they don’t want it upset. So they make a natural point of checking the ship for undesirable organisms, or infections. It’s a reasonable precaution.”
“We don’t have such things, it seems to me.”
“No, we don’t and they’ll find that out. Remember, too, that Sayshell is not a member of the Foundation Federation, so there’s certain to be some leaning over backward to demonstrate their independence.”
A small ship came out to inspect them and a Sayshellian Customs official boarded. Trevize was brisk, not having forgotten his military days.
“The Far Star, out of Terminus,” he said. “Ship’s papers. Unarmed. Private vessel. My passport. There is one passenger. His passport. We are tourists.”
The Customs official wore a garish uniform in which crimson was the dominating color. Cheeks and upper lip were smooth-shaven, but he wore a short beard parted in such a way that tufts thrust out to both sides of his chin. He said, “Foundation ship?”
He pronounced it “Foundaysun sip,” but Trevize was careful neither to correct him nor to smile. There were as many varieties of dialects to Galactic Standard as there were planets, and you just spoke your own. As long as there was cross-comprehension, it didn’t matter.
“Yes, sir,” said Trevize. “Foundation ship. Privately owned.”
“Very nice. – Your lading, if you please.”
“Your lading. What are you carrying?”
“Ah, my cargo. Here is the itemized list. Personal property only. We are not here to trade. As I told you, we are simply tourists.”
The Customs official looked about curiously. “This is rather an elaborate vessel for tourists.”
“Not by Foundation standards,” said Trevize with a display of good humor. “And I’m well off and can afford this.”
“Are you suggesting that I might be richified?” The official looked at him briefly, then looked away.
Trevize hesitated a moment in order to interpret the meaning of the word, then another moment to decide his course of action. He said, “No, it is not my intention to bribe you. I have no reason to bribe you – and you don’t look like the kind of person who could be bribed, if that were my intention. You can look over the ship, if you wish.”
“No need,” said the official, putting away his pocket recorder. “You have already been examined for specific contraband infection and have passed. The ship has been assigned a radio wavelength that will serve as an approach beam.”
He left. The whole procedure had taken fifteen minutes.
Pelorat said in a low voice. “Could he have made trouble? Did he really expect a bribe?”
Trevize shrugged. “Tipping the Customs man is as old as the Galaxy and I would have done it readily if he had made a second try for it. As it is – well, I presume he prefers not to take – a chance with a Foundation ship, and a fancy one, at that. The old Mayor, bless her cross-grained hide, said the name of the Foundation would protect us wherever we went and she wasn’t wrong. – It could have taken a great deal longer.”
“Why? He seemed to find out what he wanted to know.”
“Yes, but he was courteous enough to check us by remote radioscanning. If he had wished, he could have gone over the ship with a hand-machine and taken hours. He could have put us both in a field hospital and kept us days.”
“What? My dear fellow!”
“Don’t get excited. He didn’t do it. I thought he might, but he didn’t. Which means we’re free to land. I’d like to go down gravitically – which could take us fifteen minutes – but I don’t know where the permitted landing sites might be and I don’t want to cause trouble. That means we’ll have to follow the radio beam, which will take hours – as we spiral down through the atmosphere.”
Pelorat looked cheerful. “But that’s excellent, Golan. Will we be going slowly enough to watch the terrain?” He held up his portable viewscreen with the map spread out on it at low magnification.
“After a fashion. We’d have to get beneath the cloud deck, and we’ll be moving at a few kilometers per second. It won’t be ballooning through the atmosphere, but you’ll spot the planetography.”
Trevize said thoughtfully, “I’m wondering, though, if we’ll be on Sayshell Planet long enough to make it worth our while to adjust the ship’s clock to local time.”
“It depends on what we plan to do, I suppose. What do you think we’ll be doing, Golan?”
“Our job is to find Gaia and I don’t know how long that will take.”
Pelorat said, “We can adjust our wrist-strips and leave the ship’s clock as is.”
“Good enough,” said Trevize. He looked down at the planet spreading broadly beneath them. “No use waiting any longer. I’ll adjust the computer to our assigned radio beam and it can use the gravities to mimic conventional flight. So! – Let’s go down, Janov, and see what we can find.”
He stared at the planet thoughtfully as the ship began to move on its smoothly adjusted gravitational potential-curve.
Trevize had never been in the Sayshell Union, but he knew that over the last century it had been steadfastly unfriendly to the Foundation. He was surprised – and a little dismayed – they had gotten through Customs so quickly.
It didn’t seem reasonable.
The Customs official’s name was Jogoroth Sobhaddartha and he had been serving on the station on and off for half his life.
He didn’t mind the life, for it gave him a chance – one month out of three – to view his books, to listen to his music, and to be away from his wife and growing son.
Of course, during the last two years the current Head of Customs had been a Dreamer, which was irritating. There is no one so insufferable as a person who gives no other excuse for a peculiar action than saying he had been directed to it in a dream.
Personally Sobhaddartha decided he believed none of it, though he was careful not to say so aloud, since most people on Sayshell rather disapproved of antipsychic doubts. To become known as a materialist might put his forthcoming pension at risk.
He stroked the two tufts of hair at his chin, one with his right hand and the other with his left, cleared his throat rather loudly, and then, with inappropriate casualness, said, “Was that the ship, Head?”
The Head, who bore the equally Sayshellian name of Namarath Godhisavatta, was concerned with a matter involving some computer-born data and did not look up. “What ship?” he said.
“The Far Star. The Foundation ship. The one I just sent past. The one that was holographed from every angle. Was that the one you dreamed of?”
Godhisavatta looked up now. He was a small man, with eyes that were almost black and that were surrounded by fine wrinkles that had not been produced by any penchant for smiling. He said, “Why do you ask?”
Sobhaddartha straightened up and allowed his dark and luxuriant eyebrows to approach each other. “They said they were tourists, but
I’ve never seen a ship like that before and my own opinion is they’re Foundation agents.” –
Godhisavatta sat back in his chair. “See here, my man, try as I might I cannot recall asking for your opinion.”
“But Head, I consider it my patriotic duty to point out that…”
Godhisavatta crossed his arms over his chest and stared hard at the underling, who (though much the more impressive in physical stature and bearing) allowed himself to droop and take on a somehow bedraggled appearance under the gaze of his superior.
Godhisavatta said, “My man, if you know what is good for you, you will do your job without comment – or I’ll see to it that there will be no pension when you retire, which will be soon if I hear any more on a subject that does not concern you.”
In a low voice, Sobhaddartha said, “Yes, sir.” Then, with a suspicious degree of subservience in his voice, he added, “Is it within the range of my duties, sir, to report that a second ship is in range of our screens?”
“Consider it reported,” Godhisavatta said irritably, returning to his work.
“With,” said Sobhaddartha even more humbly, “characteristics very similar to the one I just sent through.”
Godhisavatta placed his hands on the desk and lifted himself to his feet. “A second one?”
Sobhaddartha smiled inwardly. That sanguinary person born of an irregular union (he was referring to the Head) had clearly not dreamed of two ships. He said, “Apparently, sir! I will now return to my post and await orders and I hope, sir…”
Sobhaddartha could not resist, pension-risk notwithstanding. “And I hope, sir, we didn’t send the wrong one through.”
The Far Star moved rapidly across the face of Sayshell Planet and Pelorat watched with fascination. The cloud layer was thinner and more scattered than upon Terminus and, precisely as the map showed, the land surfaces were more compact and extensive-including broader desert areas, to judge by the rusty color of much of the continental expanse.
There were no signs of anything living. It seemed a world of sterile desert, gray plain, of endless wrinkles that might have represented mountainous areas, and, of course, of ocean.
“It looks lifeless,” muttered Pelorat.
“You don’t expect to see any life-signs at this height,” said Trevize. “As we get lower, you’ll see the land turn green in patches. Before that, in fact, you’ll see the twinkling landscape on the nightside. Human beings have a penchant for lighting their worlds when darkness falls; I’ve never heard of a world that’s an exception to that rule. In other words, the first sign of life you’ll see will not only be human but technological.”
Pelorat said thoughtfully, “Human beings are diurnal in nature, after all. It seems to me that among the very first tasks of a developing technology would be the conversion of night to day. In fact, if a world lacked technology and developed one, you ought to be able to follow the progress of technological development by the increase in light upon the darkened surface. How long would it take, do you suppose, to go from uniform darkness to uniform light?”
Trevize laughed. “You have odd thoughts, but I suppose that comes from being a mythologist. I don’t think a world would ever achieve a uniform glow. Night light would follow the pattern of population density, so that the continents would spark in knots and strings. Even Trantor at its height, when it was one huge structure, let light escape that structure only at scattered points.”
The land turned green as Trevize had predicted and, on the last circling of the globe, he pointed out markings that he said were cities. “It’s not a very urban world. I’ve never been in the Sayshell Union before, but according to the information the computer gives me, they tend to cling to the past. Technology, in the eyes of all the Galaxy, has been associated with the Foundation, and wherever the Foundation is unpopular, there is a tendency to cling to the past, except, of course, as far as weapons of war are concerned. I assure you Sayshell is quite modern in that respect.”
“Dear me, Golan, this is not going to be unpleasant, is it? We are Foundationers, after all, and being in enemy territory…”
“It’s not enemy territory, Janov. They’ll be perfectly polite, never fear. The Foundation just isn’t popular, that’s all. Sayshell is not part of the Foundation Federation. Therefore, because they’re proud of their independence and because they don’t like to remember that they are much weaker than the Foundation and remain independent only because we’re willing to let them remain so, they indulge in the luxury of disliking us.” –
“I fear it will still be unpleasant, then,” said Pelorat despondently. “Not at all,” said Trevize. “Come on, Janov. I’m talking about the official attitude of the Sayshellian government. The individual people on the planet are just people, and if we’re pleasant and don’t act as though we’re Lords of the Galaxy, they’ll be pleasant, too. We’re not coming to Sayshell in order to establish Foundation mastery. We’re just tourists, asking the kind of questions about Sayshell that any tourist would ask.
“And we can have a little legitimate relaxation, too, if the situation permits. There’s nothing wrong with staying here a few days and experiencing what they have to offer. They may have an interesting culture, interesting scenery, interesting food, and – if all else fails – interesting women. We have money to spend.”
Pelorat frowned, “Oh, my dear chap.”
“Come on,” said Trevize. “You’re not that old. Wouldn’t you be interested?”
“I don’t say there wasn’t a time when I played that role properly, but surely this isn’t the time for it. We have a mission. We want to reach Gaia. I have nothing against a good time – I really don’t – but if we start involving ourselves, it might be difficult to pull free.” He shook his head and said mildly, “I think you feared that I might have too good a time at the Galactic Library on Trantor and would be unable to pull free. Surely, what the Library is to me, an attractive dark-eyed damsel – or five or six – might be to you.”
Trevize said, “I’m not a rakehell, Janov, but I have no intention of being ascetic, either. Very well, I promise you we’ll get on with this business of Gaia, but if something pleasant comes my way, there’s no reason in the Galaxy I ought not to respond normally.”
“If you’ll just put Gaia first…”
“I will. Just remember, though, don’t tell anyone we’re from the Foundation. They’ll know we are, because we’ve got Foundation credits and we speak with strong Terminus accents, but if we say nothing about it, they can pretend we are placeless strangers and be friendly. If we make a point of being Foundationers, they will speak politely enough, but they will tell us nothing, show us nothing, take us nowhere, and leave us strictly alone.”
Pelorat sighed. “I will never understand people.”
“There’s nothing to it. All you have to do is take a close look at yourself and you will understand everyone else. We’re in no way different ourselves. How would Seldon have worked out his Plan, and I don’t care how subtle his mathematics was – if he didn’t understand people; and how could he have done that if people weren’t easy to understand? You show me someone who can’t understand people and I’ll show you someone who has built up a false image of himself – no offense intended.”
“None taken. I’m willing to admit I’m inexperienced and that I’ve spent a rather self-centered and constricted life. It may be that I’ve never really taken a good look at myself, so I’ll let you be my guide and adviser where people are concerned.”
“Good. Then take my advice now and just watch the scenery. We’ll be landing soon and I assure you you’ll feel nothing. The computer and I will take care of everything.”
“Golan, don’t be annoyed. If a young woman should…”
“Forget it! Just let me take care of the landing.”
Pelorat turned to look at the world at the end of the ship’s contracting spiral. It would be the first foreign world upon which he would ever stand. This thought somehow filled him with foreboding, despite the fact that all the millions of inhabited planets in the Galaxy had been colonized by people who had not been born upon them.
All but one, he thought with a shudder of trepidation/delight.
The spaceport was not large by Foundation standards, but it was well kept. Trevize watched the Far Star moved into a berth and locked in place. They were given an elaborate coded receipt.
Pelorat said in a low voice, “Do we just leave it here?”
Trevize nodded and placed his hand on the other’s shoulder in reassurance. “Don’t worry,” he said in an equally low voice.
They stepped into the ground-car they had rented and Trevize plugged in the map of the city, whose towers he could see on the horizon.
“Sayshell City,” he said, “the capital of the planet. City – planet – star – all named Sayshell.”
“I’m worried about the ship,” insisted Pelorat.
“Nothing to worry about,” said Trevize. “We’ll be back tonight,
because it will be our sleeping quarters if we have to stay here more than a few hours. You have to understand, too, that there’s an interstellar code of spaceport ethics that – as far as I know – has never been broken, even in wartime. Spaceships that come in peace are inviolate. If that were not so, no one would be safe and trade would be impossible. Any world on which that code was broken would be boycotted by the space pilots of the Galaxy. I assure you, no world would risk that. Besides…”
“Well, besides, I’ve arranged with the computer that anyone who doesn’t look and sound like one of us will be killed if he – or she tries to board the ship. I’ve taken the liberty of explaining that to the Port Commander. I told him very politely that I would love to turn off that particular facility out of deference to the reputation that the Sayshell City Spaceport holds for absolute integrity and security – throughout the Galaxy, I said – but the ship is a new model and I didn’t know how to turn it off.”
“He didn’t believe that, surely.”
“Of course not! But he had to pretend he did, as otherwise he would have no choice but to be insulted. And since there would be nothing he could do about that, being insulted would only lead to humiliation. And since he didn’t want that, the simplest path to follow was to believe what I said.”
“And that’s another example of how people are?”
“Yes. You’ll get used to this.”
“How do you know this ground-car isn’t bugged?”
“I thought it might be. So when they offered me one, I took another one at random. If they’re all bugged – well, what have we been saying that’s so terrible?”
Pelorat looked unhappy. “I don’t know how to say this. It seems rather impolite to complain, but I don’t like the way it smells. There’s an – odor.”
“In the ground-car?”
“Well, in the spaceport, to begin with. I suppose that’s the way spaceports smell, but the ground-car carries the odor with it. Could we open the windows?”
Trevize laughed. “I suppose I could figure out which portion of the control panel will do that trick, but it won’t help. This planet stinks. Is it very bad?”
“It’s not very strong, but it’s noticeable – and somewhat repulsive. Does the whole world smell this way?”
“I keep forgetting you’ve never been on another world. Every inhabited world has its own odor. It’s the general vegetation, mostly, though I suppose the animals and even the human beings contribute. And as far as I know, nobody ever likes the smell of any world when he first lands on it. But you’ll get used to it, Janov. In a few hours, I promise you won’t notice.”
“Surely you don’t mean that all worlds smell like this.”
“No. As I said, each has its own. If we really paid attention or if our noses were a little keener – like those of Anacreonian dogs – we could probably tell which world we were on with one sniff. When I first entered the Navy I could never eat the first day on a new world; then I learned the old spacer trick of sniffing a handkerchief with the world-scent on it during the landing. By the time you get out into the open world, you don’t smell it. And after a while, you get hardened to the whole thing; you just learn to disregard it. – The worst of it is returning home, in fact.”
“Do you think Terminus doesn’t smell?”
“Are you telling me it does?”
“Of course it does. Once you get acclimated to the smell of another world, such as Sayshell, you’ll be surprised at the stench of Terminus. In the old days, whenever the locks opened on Terminus after a sizable tour of duty, all the crew would call out, ‘Back home to the crap. ‘”
Pelorat looked revolted.
The towers of the city were perceptibly closer, but Pelorat kept his eyes fixed on their immediate surroundings. There were other ground-cars moving in both directions and an occasional air-car above, but Pelorat was studying the trees.
He said, “The plant life seems strange. Do you suppose any of it is indigenous?”
“I doubt it,” said Trevize absently. He was studying the map and attempting to adjust the programming of the car’s computer. “There’s not much in the way of indigenous life on any human planet. Settlers always imported their own plants and animals – either at the time of settling or not too long afterward.”
“It seems strange, though.”
“You don’t expect the same varieties from world to world, Janov.
I was once told that the Encyclopedia Galactica people put out an atlas of varieties which ran to eighty-seven fat computer-discs and was incomplete even so – and outdated anyway, by the time it was finished.”
The ground-car moved on and the outskirts of the city gaped and engulfed them. Pelorat shivered slightly, “I don’t think much of their city architecture.”
“To each his own,” said Trevize with the indifference of the seasoned space traveler.
“Where are we going, by the way?”
“Well,” said Trevize with a certain exasperation, “I’m trying to get the computer to guide this thing to the tourist center. I hope the computer knows the one-way streets and the traffic regulations, because I don’t.”
“What do we do there, Golan?”
“To begin with, we’re tourists, so that’s the place where we’d naturally go, and we want to be as inconspicuous and natural as we can. And secondly, where would you go to get information on Gaia?”
Pelorat said, “To a university – or an anthropological society – or a museum. – Certainly not to a tourist center.”
“Well, you’re wrong. At the tourist center, we will be intellectual types who are eager to have a listing of the universities in the city and the museums and so on. We’ll decide where to go to first and there we may find the proper people to consult concerning ancient history, galactography, mythology, anthropology, or anything else you can think of. – But the whole thing starts at the tourist center.”
Pelorat was silent and the ground-car moved on in a tortuous manner as it joined and became part of the traffic pattern. They plunged into a sub-road and drove past signs that might have represented directions and traffic instructions but were in a style of lettering that made them all-but-unreadable.
Fortunately the ground-car behaved as though it knew the way, and when it stopped and drew itself into a parking spot, there was a sign that said: SAYSHELL OUT-WORLD MILIEU in the same difficult printing, and under it: SAYSHELL TOURIST CENTER in straightforward, easy-to-read Galactic Standard lettering.
They walked into the building, which was not as large as the facade had led them to believe. ft was certainly not busy inside.
There were a series of waiting booths, one of which was occupied by a man reading the news-strips emerging from a small ejector; another contained two women who seemed to be playing some intricate game with cards and tiles. Behind a counter too large for him, with winking computer controls that seemed far too complex for him, was a bored-looking Sayshellian functionary wearing what looked like a multicolored checkerboard.
Pelorat stared and whispered, “This is certainly a world of extroverted garb.”
“Yes,” said Trevize, “I noticed. Still, fashions change from world to world and even from region to region within a world sometimes. And they change with time. Fifty years ago, everyone on Sayshell might have worn black, for all we know. Take it as it comes, Janov.”
“I suppose I’ll have to,” said Pelorat, “but I prefer our own fashions. At least, they’re not an assault upon the optic nerve.”
“Because so many of us are gray on gray? That offends some people. I’ve heard it referred to as ‘dressing in dirt. ‘ Then too, it’s Foundation colorlessness that probably keeps these people in their rainbows – just to emphasize their independence. It’s all what you’re accustomed to, anyway. – Come on, Janov.”
The two headed toward the counter and, as they did so, the man in the booth forsook his news items, rose, and came to meet them, smiling as he did so. His clothing was in shades of gray.
Trevize didn’t look in his direction at first, but when he did he stopped dead.
He took a deep breath, “By the Galaxy – My friend, the traitor!”