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48.

Hari slept fitfully at irregular intervals. His room was always kept fully lighted, and, of course, he was allowed no artificial sleep aids or eyeshades. He had decided this was Chens way of softening him up before his testimony in the trial.

He would not see Sedjar Boon for at least another day, and he doubted Boon would be able to get Chen to turn out the lights at civilized intervals. Hari coped as best he could. Actually, since an old man slept fitfully and irregularly anyway, the hardship was more to his sense of justice and dignity than to his mental health.

Still, there were odd moments for him when he seemed to slide between waking and dreaming. He would jerk to full consciousness, staring at a blank pastel pink wall, having seen something significant, even wonderful, but not remembering what it was. Memory? Dream? Revelation? All could hold equal weight in this damned unchanging cell. How much worse would it have been in the previous cell?

Hari took to pacing, the famed exercise of the imprisoned man. He had precisely six meters to pace in one direction, three another. A veritable luxury compared to the other cellBut not enough to give him any feeling of accomplishment. After a few hours, he stopped that as well.

He had been in this cell less than four days, and already he was regretting his past love of small, enclosed spaces. He had been born beneath the wide skies of Helicon, and had at first found these covered environs a little daunting, even depressing, but his long decades on Trantor had gradually inured him. Then he had come to prefer them

Until now.

He could not understand why he had ever adopted the use of the Trantorian expletive of Sky!

Again, an hour passed without his notice. He got up from the small desk and rubbed his hands together; they tingled slightly. What if he became ill and died before going to trial? All the preparations, all Haris machinations, all the tugged and woven threads of political influence-for nothing!

He began to sweat. Perhaps his mind was going. Chen would not shy from using drugs to debilitate him, would he? The Chief Commissioner used his dedication to Imperial justice as a convenient mask, surely; but Hari still could not bring himself to believe that Chen was exceptionally intelligent. Blunt measures might suit Chen perfectly, and he had enough power to conceal the evidence, destroy it.

Destroy Hari Seldon, without his even knowing. I hate power. I hate the powerful. Yet Hari had himself once held power, even quietly reveled in it, certainly not shied away from wielding it. Hari had ordered the suppression of the Chaos Worlds-those brief and tragic flowerings of excess creativity and dissent.

Why?

He had imprisoned them in political and financial straitjackets. He regretted that necessity most of all the things he had done in the name of psychohistoryAnd this legacy had been left untouched for the heavy hand of Linge Chen and Klayus to swing like a bludgeon.

He lay back on the cot and stared at the ceiling. Was it night, above the metal skin of Trantor? Night beneath the domes, with the darkling sunset and midnight ceils of the municipalities announcing an end to the days labors?

For him, for Hari, what labors?

He dreamed he was a pan again, in the garden park, with Dors playing an opposite female, their minds welded to the minds of the simians. The threat to his life, and Dors defense. Power and play and danger and victory in such close combinations. Heady.

Now, this punishment.

Claustrophilia. That was what Yugo had called the love of the metal-skinned worlds inhabitants for their confinement. Yet there had always been worlds buried in rock, always been worlds clad at least in part in metal shields against the wet and violent skies. Sky. The curse. Sky. The freedom.

Our Father in Heaven forgives you as He forgives all the transgressions of the saints.

This lovely female voice floated through his vague thoughts. He knew it instantly. There was something at once rich and ancient about it, a voice from a time before most human memory.

Joan! What a strange dream this is. Youre gone, decades gone. You helped me when I was First Minister-but I gave you your freedom to travel with the wraiths, the meme-minds, to the stars. You are an almost forgotten bit of history for me now. How seldom I think of you!

How often I think of you. Saint Hari, who has sacrificed his life for-

Im no saint! Ive suppressed the dreams of billions.

How well I know. Our debate many decades ago collapsed much as the bright candles of a thousand dissenting and restless Renaissance worlds have been snuffedFor the sake of divine order, the grand scheme. We helped you in your first position of power, in exchange for our freedom, and the freedom of all the meme-minds. But Voltaire and I quarreled again-it was inevitable. I was beginning to see a larger picture, encompassing your work as part of the divine plan. Voltaire flew away in disgust, across the Galaxy, leaving me here, to contemplate all I had learned. Now comes your time of Trial, and I fear you risk a darker despair than the time at Gethsemane for our Lord.

At this, Hari had to laugh and half cry at once. Voltaire despised me at the last. Snuffing out freedom, suppressing the Renaissance Worlds. And you didnt think that way about me when last we talked. He seemed to be half awake, and wholly enmeshed in thisvision! I made love to a machine for years. By your conception, your philosophy

I have acquired more wisdom, more understanding. You were given an angel, a partner-protector. She was sent by the emissaries of God, and ordained for her task by the supreme emissary.

Hari was too frightened now, an almost panic darkness in his mind, to ask who that might be, in this imaginary Joans conception. But-Who? Who is that?

The Eternal, who opposes the forces of chaos. Daneel, who was Demerzel.

Now he knew this was out of his own mind, worse than a dream. Once you acquiesced in the killing of the machines-the robots.

I have seen deeper truths.

Hari felt the tight strictures of Daneels controls. Please go, leave me be! he said, and rolled over on the cot.

As he rolled, his eyes swung open and he saw an old, broken-down tiktok standing near him in his cell. He shoved up from the cot.

The cells door was still closed and locked.

The tiktok was marked with prison colors, yellow and black. It must have been a maintenance machine before the tiktoks rebelled, threatened the Empire, and were deactivated. He could not imagine how it would have gotten into the cell, unless it had been sent on purpose.

The tiktok backed away with a sandy whine, and a face appeared in front of the machine, about a meter and a half above the floor, a projection, followed by a body, small and slender and strong, as if brushed in, wrapping around the tiktok like a shadow in a bright room.

Haris neck hair rose with sharp prickles, and his breath seemed to stick in his chest. For a moment, as if caught in a nightmare, he could not speak. Then he sucked in a breath and jerked away from the machine.

Help! he screamed, his voice cracking. Panic darkness seemed to fill him. His chest might have been collapsing. All the fear, all the tension, the anticipation

Do not cry out, Hari! The voice was vaguely female, mechanical in the old tiktok way.

I mean no harm, no concern.

Joan! He breathed this name aloud, but much more softly.

But the old machine was failing, its last power draining. Hari sat up on the side of the bed and watched the lights on its body slowly dim.

Take courage, Hari Seldon. He and I stand in opposition now, once more, as we always did. We have quarrelllleed. The words slurred, slowed. We haaavve seppparrrrateddd.

The tiktok stopped dead.

The hatch burst open with a loud sigh and three guards entered. One immediately fired a bolt weapon that blew the old tiktok down to the floor. The others booted and kicked the small unit into a corner and shielded Hari from anything more it might do. Two more guards entered and dragged Hari out of the cell by his shoulders. Feebly, Hari kicked his heels against the smooth floor to help the men along.

Are you sure you dont want me dead? he asked querulously.

Sky, no! the guard on his right cried out brusquely. It would mean our lives if youre hurt. Youre in the most secure cell on Trantor-

So we thought , the other guard said grimly, and they lifted Hari to his feet and tried to brush him down. They had dragged him ten or fifteen meters down the straight corridor. Hari stared at this immense, welcome distance, this refreshing extension, and caught his breath.

Maybe you should treat an old cuss like me more gently, he suggested, and started to laugh raucously, a cackle, a hoot, a suck of breath, then more laughter. The laughter stopped abruptly and he shouted, Keep the ghosts out of my monks quarters, damn you!

The guards stared at him, then at each other.

It was hours before they took him back into his cell. The intrusion was never explained.

Joan and Voltaire, the resurrected sims or simulated intelligences, modeled after lost historical figures, had given him so much trouble and so much information-decades past, when he had been at the height of his mature youth, First Minister of the Empire, and Dors had constantly been at his side.

Hari had forgotten about them, but now Joan, at least, was back, riding a mechanical contrivance into his prison cell, subverting all the security systems. She had decided against leaving with the meme-minds, to explore the Galaxy

And what about Voltaire? What more trouble could either or both of them cause, with their ancient brilliance and their ability to infiltrate and reprogram the machines and communications and computational systems of Trantor?

They were certainly beyond his control. And if Joan favored Hari, whom would Voltaire favor? They had certainly represented opposite points of view through most of their

careerBut at least someone from the past was still around, professed concern for him! He did not have Dors, or Raych, or Yugoor Daneel

Perversely, the more he thought about the visitation, the less disturbed he became. Hours passed, and he slipped into a deep and restful slumber, as if he had been touched by something profoundly convinced and at peace.


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