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67.

Lodovik heard the warning sirens in his head, as did all the robots within the warehouse. He had worked out the evacuation plan with Kallusin the night before. Kallusin had told him that Plussix had anticipated a general disruption, possibly a discovery

And now most of their avenues of escape were blocked by Imperial Specials. Kallusin and the other robots were busy in another part of the warehouse, carrying the heads and other precious Calvinian items: thousands of years of robot history and traditions, the memories of dozens of key robots, stored in dissected memory nodes or, in a few cases, in the whole heads. There was a religious aspect to the respect Kallusin held for these relics. But Lodovik had little time to contemplate the peculiarities of this robot society.

Lodovik found Klia and Brann in the dining hall at ground level. The young woman looked determined but scared-wide-eyed, face flushed. Brann seemed uncertain but not frightened, merely nervous.

Lodovik ignored a communication from Voltaire, a commentary on romantic oppositions that seemed completely useless.

We are leaving now, Lodovik said.

Were packed, Brann said, and lifted a small cloth bag that contained all their worldly goods.

I can feel her. Shes looking for us, Klia said.

Perhaps, Lodovik said. But there are hidden passages out of the lower levels that have not been used in thousands of years. Some emerge close to the palace detention center where Seldon is kept-

You know the palace-the codes for entry?

If they have not been changed. There is a certain inertia in the amendment of palace procedures. The codes for the Emperors quarters are changed twice a day, but in other portions of the extended palace, there are codes that have been in place for ten or fifteen years. We will have to take some risks-

The codes that you do not know, I can access, Voltaire told him.

Just get us out of here! Klia said. I dont want to have to fight her.

We may have to fight others, Lodovik said. To persuade them, or to defend ourselves.

Klia shook her head with stubborn boldness. I dont care about them. Not one in a thousand persuaders can hold a candle to Brann and me working together. But that woman-

We can beat her, Brann said. Klia glared at him, then shivered and shrugged her shoulders.

Maybe, she said.

Do you know robot mental structures well enough? Lodovik inquired as they walked toward the elevators.

What do you mean? Klia asked. The ancient elevator doors opened with the smooth heaviness of Old Empire engineering. A feeble green emergency light blinked on within. They stepped into the ghoulish glow.

Can you persuade a robot? Lodovik asked.

I dont know, Klia said. Ive never tried. Except with Kallusin-once-and I didnt know he was a robot. He fended me off.

We have a few minutes, Lodovik said. Practice on me.

Why?

Because to get to Hari Seldon, we may have to confront Daneel. Remember what Dors Venabili said.

Robots are so different, Klia murmured.

Practice, Lodovik said. You would give up your free will to this child? Voltaire asked, understanding the question was rhetorical. Now we take advantage of the most evil of weapons! Which is worse-robot mind-warping, or human?

Please, Lodovik said. It may be very important.

All RIGHT! Klia shouted, feeling pushed. She did not like this-told herself she did not want to discover a new weakness in the middle of her fear. What should I do-make you dance a jig?

Lodovik smiled. Whatever comes into your mind.

Youre a robot. Couldnt I just order you to dance, and youd have to obey?

You are not my master, Lodovik said. And remember-

Klia turned away and put a hand to her cheek.

Lodovik suddenly realized it would be very pleasant to test his motor-control circuitry. The elevator would be a perfect place in which to conduct these tests, so long as he was careful not to bump into the humans who occupied it with him. It was simple, really, this urge to move, simple and pleasant to contemplate.

He began to dance, slowly at first, feeling the affirmation, the approval: thousands of humans would rate his performance highly, if not in artistic terms, certainly for the skill with which he was testing all his engineered routines. He felt very coordinated and worthy.

Klia removed her hand from her cheek. Her face was wet with tears.

Lodovik stopped and swayed for a moment as his own robotic will sorted through disparate impulses and reached a new balance.

Im sorry, Klia said. That was the wrong thing to have you do. She wiped her face quickly, embarrassed.

You did well, Lodovik said, a little dismayed by the ease with which she had controlled him. Did Brann coordinate with you?

No, Klia said.

Brann seemed stunned by her success. Sky, we could take over all of Trantor-

NO! Klia shouted. Im sorry I did this. She held her hands out to Lodovik as if seeking his forgiveness. Youre a machine. You are soeager to please, deep down inside. Youre easier than a child. You are a child.

Lodovik did not know how to respond, so he said nothing. Voltaire, however, made his opinions known in no uncertain terms. I could feel her, as well. I have no legs, yet I wanted to dance. What sort of force is this? What a monstrosity!


Klia would not let go of her self-disgust, and this only compounded her confusion. But youre not a child. You are so dignified and serious. It was bad-like making my father- Her voice hitched. Making my father wet his pants. She began to sob.

Lodovik tilted his head to one side. I am not harmed. If you are concerned about my dignity-

You dont understand! Klia shouted. The door opened, and she whirled as if to face new enemies. The darkened corridor beyond was empty, silent. A thin layer of gray dust on the floor was unmarred by footprints. She leaped from the elevator and centuries puffed around her feet. I dont want to be this way anymore! I just want to be simple!

Her voice echoed against the impassive and ancient walls.


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