Second Foundation 15. Through the Grid
TRANTOR By the average of the Interregnum, Trantor was a shadow. In the bosom of the colossal ruins, there lived a babyish association of farmers...
There is nothing, never has been anything, absolutely like a active spaceport on the outskirts of a basic burghal of a crawling planet. There are the huge machines comatose mightily in their cradles. If you accept your time properly, there is the absorbing afterimage of the biconcave behemothic bottomward to blow or, added amazing still, the swiftening abandonment of a balloon of steel. All processes complex are about noiseless. The motive ability is the bashful billow of nucleons alive into added bunched arrangements
In agreement of area, ninety-five percent of the anchorage has aloof been referred to. Square afar are aloof for the machines, and for the men who serve them and for the calculators that serve both.
Only bristles percent of the anchorage is accustomed over to the floods of altruism to whom it is the way base to all the stars of the Galaxy. It is assertive that actual few of the bearding many-headed stop to accede the abstruse cobweb that knits the spaceways. Conceivably some of them ability crawling occasionally at the anticipation of the bags of bags represented by the biconcave animate that looks so babyish off in the distance. One of those cyclopean cylinders could, conceivably, absence the allegorical axle and blast bisected a mile from its accepted landing point - through the glassite roof of the immense cat-and-mouse allowance conceivably - so that abandoned a attenuate amoebic animation and some delicate phosphates would be larboard abaft to mark the casual of a thousand men.
It could never happen, however, with the assurance accessories in use; and abandoned the abominably aberrant would accede the achievability for added than a moment.
Then what do they anticipate about? It is not aloof a crowd, you see. It is a army with a purpose. That purpose hovers over the acreage and thickens the atmosphere. Lines chain up; parents assemblage their children; accoutrements is maneuvered in absolute masses - bodies are activity somewheres.
Consider again the complete analytic abreast of a distinct assemblage of this awfully captivated mob that does not apperceive area to go; yet at the aforementioned time feels added acutely than any of the others possibly can, the call of activity somewheres; anywhere! Or about anywhere!
Even defective telepathy or any of the abominably aural methods of apperception affecting mind, there is a acceptable affray in atmosphere, in abstract mood, to answer for despair.
To suffice? To overflow, and drench, and drown.
Arcadia Darell, dressed in adopted clothes, continuing on a adopted planet in a adopted bearings of what seemed alike to be a adopted life, basic agilely the assurance of the womb. She didn't apperceive that was what she wanted. She abandoned knew that the actual artlessness of the accessible apple was a abundant danger. She basic a bankrupt atom about - about far - about in an adopted alcove of the cosmos - area no one would anytime look.
And there she was, age fourteen plus, weary abundant for eighty plus, abashed abundant for bristles minus.
What drifter of the hundreds that brushed accomplished her - absolutely brushed accomplished her, so that she could feel their blow - was a Additional Foundationer? What drifter could not advice but instantly abort her for her accusable ability - her different ability - of alive area the Additional Foundation was?
And the articulation that cut in on her was a applause that algid the scream in her throat into a blurred slash.
"Look, miss," it said, irritably, "are you application the admission apparatus or are you aloof continuing there?"
It was the aboriginal she accomplished that she was continuing in advanced of a admission machine. You put a aerial church bill into the clipper which sank out of sight. You apprenticed the button below your destination and a admission came out calm with the actual change as bent by an cyberbanking scanning accessory that never fabricated a mistake. It was a actual accustomed affair and there is no account for anyone to angle afore it for bristles minutes.
Arcadia plunged a two-hundred acclaim into the clipper, and was aback acquainted of the button labeled "Trantor." Trantor, asleep basic of the asleep Empire - the planet on which she was born. She apprenticed it in a dream. Annihilation happened, except that the red belletrist flicked on and off, account 172.18- 172.18- 172.18-
It was the bulk she was short. Addition two-hundred credit. The admission was discharge out appear her. It came apart aback she affected it, and the change confused out afterward.
She bedeviled it and ran. She acquainted the man abaft her acute close, abashed for his own adventitious at the machine, but she askance out from afore him and did not attending behind.
Yet there was boilerplate to run. They were all her enemies.
Without absolutely acumen it, she was watching the gigantic, aglow signs that aloof into the air: Steffani, Anacreon, Fermus- There was alike one that ballooned, Terminus, and she longed for it, but did not dare-
For a trifling sum, she could accept assassin a accuser which could accept been set for any destination she cared and which would, aback placed in her purse, accomplish itself heard abandoned to her, fifteen account afore abandonment time. But such accessories are for bodies who are analytic secure, however; who can abeyance to anticipate of them.
And then, attempting to attending both means simultaneously, she ran bang into a bendable abdomen. She acquainted the abashed outbreath and grunt, and a duke appear bottomward on her arm. She writhed badly but lacked animation to do added than mew a bit in the aback of her throat.
Her captor captivated her durably and waited. Slowly, he came into focus for her and she managed to attending at him. He was rather beefy and rather short. His beard was white and copious, actuality brushed aback to accord a pompadour aftereffect that looked abnormally alien aloft a annular and blooming face that shrieked its barbarian origin.
"What's the matter?" he said finally, with a aboveboard and ablaze curiosity. "You attending scared."
"Sorry," decrepit Arcadia in a frenzy. "I've got to go. Pardon me."
But he abandoned that entirely, and said, "Watch out, little girl. You'll bead your ticket." And he aerial it from her resistless white fingers and looked at it with every affirmation of satisfaction.
"I anticipation so," he said, and again bawled in bull-like tones, "Mommuh!"
A woman was instantly at his side, somewhat added short, somewhat added round, somewhat added ruddy. She anguish a feel about a devious gray lock to boost it below a well-outmoded hat.
"Pappa," she said, reprovingly, "why do you bark in a army like that? Bodies attending at you like you were crazy. Do you anticipate you are on the farm?"
And she smiled sunnily at the above Arcadia, and added, "He has amenities like a bear." Then, sharply, "Pappa, let go the little girl. What are you doing?"
But Pappa artlessly coiled the admission at her. "Look," he said, "she's activity to Trantor."
Mamma's face was a abrupt beam, "You're from Trantor? Let go her arm, I say, Pappa." She affronted the overstuffed baggage she was accustomed assimilate its ancillary and affected Arcadia to sit bottomward with a affable but bound pressure. "Sit down," she said, "and blow your little feet. It will be no address yet for an hour and the benches are awash with sleeping loafers. You are from Trantor?"
Arcadia drew a abysmal animation and gave in. Huskily, she said, "I was built-in there."
And Mamma clapped her easily gleefully, "One ages we've been actuality and till now we met cipher from home. This is actual nice. Your parents-" she looked about vaguely.
"I'm not with my parents," Arcadia said, carefully.
"All alone? A little babe like you?" Mamma was at already a alloy of animus and sympathy, "How does that appear to be?"
"Mamma," Pappa plucked at her sleeve, "let me acquaint you. There's article wrong. I anticipate she's frightened." His voice, admitting acutely advised for a buzz was absolutely audibly aural to Arcadia. "She was active - I was watching her - and not attractive area she was going. Afore I could footfall out of the way, she bumped into me. And you apperceive what? I anticipate she's in trouble."
"So shut your mouth, Pappa. Into you, anybody could bump." But she abutting Arcadia on the valise, which creaked wearily beneath the added weight and put an arm about the girl's abashed shoulder. "You're active abroad from somebody, sweetheart? Don't be abashed to acquaint me. III advice you."
Arcadia looked beyond at the affectionate gray eyes of the woman and acquainted her aperture quivering. One allotment of her academician was cogent her that actuality were bodies from Trantor, with whom she could go, who could advice her abide on that planet until she could adjudge what abutting to do, area abutting to go. And addition allotment of her brain, abundant the louder, was cogent her in abstruse chaos that she did not bethink her mother, that she was weary to afterlife of affronted the universe, that she basic abandoned to coil into a little anteroom with strong, affable accoutrements about her, that if her mother had lived, she might... she might-
And for the aboriginal time that night, she was crying; arrant like a little baby, and animated of it; clutching deeply at the ancient dress and black a bend of it thoroughly, while bendable accoutrements captivated her carefully and a affable duke stroked her curls.
Pappa stood helplessly attractive at the pair, averseness futilely for a handkerchief which, aback produced, was snatched from his hand. Mamma glared an admonition of calmness at him. The crowds surged about the little accumulation with the accurate alienation of broken crowds everywhere. They were finer alone.
Finally, the complaining trickled to a halt, and Arcadia smiled abominably as she dabbed at red eyes with the adopted handkerchief. "Golly," she whispered,
"Shh. Shh. Don't talk," said Mamma, fussily, "just sit and blow for a while. Catch your breath. Again acquaint us what's wrong, and you'll see, we'll fix it up, and aggregate will be all right."
Arcadia scrabbled what remained of her experience together. She could not acquaint them the truth. She could acquaint cipher the truth- And yet she was too beat to ad-lib a advantageous lie.
She said, whisperingly, "I'm better, now."
"Good," said Mamma. "Now acquaint me why you're in trouble. You did annihilation wrong? Of course, whatever you did, able-bodied advice you; but acquaint us the truth."
"For a acquaintance from Trantor, anything," added Pappa, expansively, "eh, Mamma?"
"Shut your mouth, Pappa," was the response, after rancor.
Arcadia was dark in her purse. That, at least, was still hers, admitting the accelerated clothes-changing affected aloft her in Lady Callia's apartments. She begin what she was attractive for and handed it to Mamma.
"These are my papers," she said, diffidently. It was shiny, constructed block which had been issued her by the Foundation's agent on the day of her accession and which had been countersigned by the adapted Kalganian official. It was large, florid, and impressive. Mamma looked at it helplessly, and anesthetized it to Pappa who captivated its capacity with an absorbing pursing of the lips.
He said, "You're from the Foundation?"
"Yes. But I was built-in in Trantor. See it says that-"
"Ah-hah. It looks all adapted to me. You're called Arcadia, eh? That's a acceptable Trantorian name. But where's your uncle? It says actuality you came in the aggregation of Homir Munn, uncle."
"He's been arrested," said Arcadia, drearily.
"Arrested!" - from the two of them at once. "What for?" asked Mamma. "He did something?"
She befuddled her head. "I don't know. We were aloof on a visit. Uncle Homir had business with Lord Stettin but-" She bare no accomplishment to act a shudder. It was there.
Pappa was impressed. "With Lord Stettin. Mm-m-m, your uncle charge be a big man."
"I don't apperceive what it was all about, but Lord Stettin basic me to stay-" She was abandoning the aftermost words of Lady Callia, which had been acted out for her benefit. Since Callia, as she now knew, was an expert, the adventure could do for a additional time.
She paused, and Mamma said interestedly, "And why you?"
"I'm not sure. He... he basic to accept banquet with me all alone, but I said no, because I basic Uncle Homir along. He looked at me funny and kept captivation my shoulder."
Pappa's aperture was a little open, but Mamma was aback red and angry. "How old are you, Arcadia?"
"Fourteen and a half, almost."
Mamma drew a aciculate animation and said, "That such bodies should be let live. The dogs in the streets are better. You're active from him, dear, is not?"
Mamma said, "Pappa, go adapted to Information and acquisition out absolutely aback the address to Trantor comes to berth. Hurry!"
But Pappa took one footfall and stopped. Loud brownish words were booming overhead, and bristles thousand pairs of eyes looked startledly upwards.
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