Instinct (part 6)
Chapter 24 of Senses
Per mutual agreement, Mats and Paul did not discuss the hearing until they were well away from The Foundation base. Although Mats was bristling with questions, it was Paul who finally broke the silence.
"The good news," he said, "is that you are free and clear."
"And the bad?" Mats asked.
"While I got most of 'drink's charges dropped The Foundation is still whacked-out about this fairy tale legend of theirs. I've got to say, it's a bit annoying."
"Tell me about it. We're the ones who have to live with it."
"I know. I'm surprised I got dropped what I did. The jurists had their minds made up before I went in. The only thing I really succeeded in doing was getting the pretenses dropped. They have to admit they're after 'drink."
"Did they say why?" Mats asked.
"They wouldn't say. Classified is how they put it."
"That's a pain in the ass. What now?"
"Let's go home. We'll take it from there. For me personally, I'd like some sleep." Paul walked into the room he was using and closed the door without another word.
Mats looked after Paul questioningly until a voice from behind said, "Excuse me."
Fortunately for Mats' psyche the being he whirled to face was humanoid. A little too thin and a little too tall to be human, but if wearing an overcoat could pass for it in a dark room. "Who are you?" Mats asked.
"My name," the being said, "you will not get."
"Then get the hell off my ship."
"Suffice it to say," the being continued, undaunted, "that I am one of the other class nines."
Mats nodded and returned to his seat.
"Sorry to send your companion away like that," the alien said.
"I had wondered about the abruptness of our talk," Mats returned. "Yet another class nine ability?"
"Like popping into a spaceship undetected?"
"Correct again although that is harder. You have to be in tune with dimensional frequencies."
Mats cocked an eyebrow. "Dimensional frequencies."
"It would take some time to explain and I have not the time. There is a reason I am here."
"I figured. You want to explain this crock of shit legend we've been tangled up in?"
"Exactly, and I came to you for a reason. Your friend would want to kill me when he finds out the why of this legend, and with the emotional build up he has to him right now he could probably do it."
Mats chuckled. "You underestimate 'drink. Tell your tale."
The being began to pace. "I was inducted," it began, "roughly six Foundation years before you were. I was the second class nine ever; your friend the third. I was a time physics scientist when I was picked up, one of the best on my homeworld. I had just created a theory that frightened me, as well as my colleagues.
"To elaborate, I theorized that time, as well as the previous three dimensions, could be quantified and shaped in relation to other objects and dimensions. This in itself is not a radical idea, but I took it further. I speculated that time could be quantified and shaped to any singular object or dimension."
"Meaning?" Mats asked.
"Meaning that a single object could be sped up or slowed down in time. Like one of your films run at the incorrect speed. I quantified this idea into a mathematical expression on the very day I was inducted."
"You quantified it? Does that mean you could make a time machine?"
"Of a sort, yes," the being said. "It has never been widely deployed; I saw to that. I was inducted and trained. I picked it up quickly, already having a leading scientific mind. They were training me quickly to put me into the field for special research. Then I met the first class nine.
"He was the most exhausted looking being I have ever seen. His first words to me were to resign while I had the chance. He never said why, but it was agony for him. I never saw him again, and at the time I found it pitiful.
"I experienced wealth and freedom once my work for The Foundation began. I got these things, plus a notoriety I did not anticipate."
"In what way?" Mats asked.
"Breeding," the being said. "I found myself pursued by many creatures wanting to mate me or pair me with someone to further brain development. As a scientist I understand the idea, but sexual activity is something of a problem.
"You see, sex for my species is painful. How this evolved we do not entirely understand, but it was after self-awareness came into play. We do see the need to propagate the species, but we don't like it and avoid it whenever possible."
"Painful?" Mats asked.
"Even lethal," the being stated, "about twenty percent of the time. We are all required by our government to have one child, but I had hoped to be exempt when The Foundation picked me up. I didn't expect The Foundation to be just as interested."
"Couldn't sex be avoided?" Mats asked. "What about masturbation or embryonic implantation?"
"Ineffective. It was tried and it failed. I'm apparently not sterile, but the known techniques would not work. The Foundation would not let up however, and I came to realize that only way the pestering would stop would be if I either could not have children or if it would not be allowed. I therefore devised a plan.
"I took my time theories and applied them. Built my time machine, if you will. I then went into the past and created the groundwork of the legend you have heard about. I even went as far as to create a complete and phony previous Foundation that had collapsed due to the legend."
Mats shook his head in disbelief. "You mean to say," he said, "that the whole thing is so that you can enjoy celibacy?"
"Yes," the being said. "Worked very well. In fact, the TG 21-codes in The Foundation law were written to deal with this eventuality. Protect The Foundation, as it were."
"You're nuts! And perhaps a bit dangerous. Do you realize that you could have set in motion the extermination of the galaxy's few geniuses, including yourself?"
"No precedent. It didn't concern me."
"Fuck precedence! There are humans in The Foundation now. Your plan is quickly being turned inside out, and it will hurt 'drink and may hurt you."
"I don't understand," the being said.
"Let me explain to you," Mats returned. "Everything that The Foundation stands for is order and precedence and logic following. But you've been lucky. Every race in The Foundation accepts this. Lucky you, no psychos. At least until now.
"Terrans are your psychos. We evolve at an abnormally fast rate. We act on emotion, then think it through. For you personally, we are your opposites. Sex is the driving force of our way of life. Sex and fear.
"One of Terra's greatest philosophers of the past two thousand years was regarded as crazy. He was even given a nickname, Christ, which in those days meant false prophet. Before him an even greater philosopher was murdered by his own government because he scared them."
"So your precedents are different," the being responded. "Allowances can be made."
"God damn it!" Mats stood, shouting. "These aren't precedents, these are examples! Perhaps the most intelligent man in Terran history, and this includes 'drink, was a man named Einstein. It's been nearly a century since his ideas were first published, and virtually no one has come close since. It's believed that his greatest discovery he never disclosed, because he thought we would use the knowledge to destroy ourselves. We'd come damn close using his ideas before then.
"My point is that we're not as stable as the rest of you. Now that we're here The Foundation will never be the same."
"I'm not understanding you," the being sadly said.
"Nor I you," Mats replied. "You're wrong about 'drink. He wouldn't want to kill you, it would be worse. He'd pity you."
The being took a step back, as if slapped. Then it vanished.
Mats expelled a long breath. He realized that he was sweating, and he had not blinked for over a minute. "Janis?" he finally asked, rubbing his eyes.
"Get us home. Now."
When Mats and Paul arrived on Earth they immediately got everyone involved together at Paul's home to tell about Mats' meeting with the being. Nearly everyone's sentiments were summed up by Scott David, who simply said, "That is nuts."
"No argument," Mats agreed.
"It figures though," 'drink added. "Comic book explanation for a comic book fairy tale."
"Do you believe it?" Paul asked.
"Of course not. The question is, what do we do with it? Deb and I and presumably our daughter are all Foundation fugitives now."
Paul nodded. "It's only a matter of time before The Foundation gets up the balls to come after you."
"Yes, I realize. Anybody willing to venture a guess as to how long?"
"A guess?" Mats observed. "Ninety days."
"Why that long?"
"It takes nearly two weeks to travel here. Give them three weeks to get up the nerve to follow us here. Say they give me two weeks to get here and let you in as to what's going on. The rest? Call it a gut feeling."
"All right," 'drink said, "we've long since learned to trust your gut feelings. What do we do about it?"
"I'd recommend finding out just how much you can do," Debbie replied. "This being can do things you've never even tried."
'drink smiled. "Have I told you today I love you?"
"You had not forgotten."
"I'm glad. You've got a brain. Don't let me forget it."
Debbie smiled back. "I won't, don't worry." There was a small cry from the next room, and she added, "Sounds like she's awake." She stood up to attend to their daughter.
'drink nodded. "Be with you in a moment."
Mats laughed. "How's fatherhood treating you?"
"Fairly well, my friend. Fairly well."
Paul, from where he was sitting, chuckled. "You know," he said, "I always figured I'd be an uncle before I was a father. Never like this, though."
"There's a father and he stuck around," Scott said. "That should be enough."
"True." Paul faced Scott. "We should bring in some outside help."
Scott nodded. "You thinking Jim and A.J.?"
Mats looked shocked. "Jim and A.J. Christopher?"
"You'd be surprised. They consider themselves to be scientists. They experiment and research a lot. It will take some doing, but I think I can convince them to holy shit!"
Paul stood up in alarm as both Mats and 'drink simply vanished. He spun to face Scott, who was also on his feet. "Debbie! Nicki! Go!"
Scott ran to the next room and found no one there. "We have a problem!"
"Call Jim! Now we really need their help!"
The being finished it's communication and studied it briefly, reading aloud.
"Enclosed is a complete technical listing of how I created this legend, plus the technical know-how of what you call my time machine. I give you this, minus the knowledge of the proper radioactive isotope, which is not available on your planet. Use the knowledge wisely.
"I have not killed your companions. I have altered their intonation with the time stream. They have been sped up sixty-fold; fast enough not to be seen, yet slow enough to live in this environment with no ill effects.
"I am sorry what I have done has prevented these four from living normal lives, but as you should by now know class nines do not live normal lives. I have also done them a favor, in that they will live their life spans before The Foundation arrives. I wish them well.
"I hope you will someday understand how important my actions have been to the historical outcome of our world. I also wish I could explain to you the true reasons for all this lunacy, as you call it. I cannot. It is not an easy burden to travel time. I hope that secret is never found twice.
"I have nothing further to say, but cope well. Good bye."
The being placed the message with several sheets of paper into his time machine and pressed a button. It estimated that two Terran days would pass before Paul found the note where it was placed.
The being nodded to itself, then filed it's report with The Foundation.
The being was wrong.
Paul Cynic found the note four hours after 'drink and the others vanished. He read it and handed it to Scott asking him to begin analysis of the technical data. "Four hours," he said. "Already ten days for them. Shit!" He pounded his fist onto a table. "I wish they could see this!"
"At the speed they're going, they probably already have," Scott pointed out.
"Granted." Paul paced the room. "Where the hell is Jim?"
As if on cue, Jim Christopher strolled into the room. "Sorry I took so long," he said. "Scott, Paul. What's the problem?"
"I realize that you already lead an interesting life," Paul began. "It's about to get more so..."
Paul hit stop on the tape player. Jim and now A.J., who arrived ten minutes after Jim, both sat in silence. Jim finally spoke. "Unbefuckinglievable."
"No shit," A.J. added. "If it wasn't for that ship in your backyard that Scott showed us and how well I know you I'd say you'd lost your marbles on this."
Paul sighed. "This is my sister, guys. I need you both."
Jim stood and began to pace, his characteristic smile gone an hour earlier. "I know," he said. "We know. And we'll help."
"No question," A.J. added.
"But I have to admit that I'm full whopper gonzo confused. There are enough holes in this story to run a rhino through. I mean, why not pick up A.J. and me?"
"Or Karen? Or some of Larry's friends, for that matter?"
Paul looked up. "Wait a minute," he said. "Time out. Karen? What the hell?"
Jim looked to A.J. and frowned, but A.J. spoke up quickly. "This involves all of us," he said. "If these three were picked up by these Foundation assholes then all of us should have been too."
Paul shook his head. "There are more of you?" he asked.
Jim smiled his ironic smile. "It's a lot more complicated than you might believe." He looked at his brother. "We need everybody."
"Agreed," A.J. replied. "I'll call Larry, you call Karen and Angie. Now then, let's see that note you found. It sounds like a cover story to me, but I think the real story is in there somewhere. On second thought, let's place those calls now and get Larry to read this. Time's wasting..."
The being ended it's report to The Foundation knowing it would receive a commendation for a job well done. Posthumously.
The being wondered if the judicial council would be shocked at it's actions. After all, the council's sentence had been carried out according to plan, up to and including the letter sent to the Non-Foundationers involved, and the Punisher's programming should have taken it to it's next job. But this was the first time a Punisher had punished a fellow class nine. A fellow Punisher.
It set a new course in the ships computer; a collision course with a medium sized yellow star. It still felt that slap.
(to be continued...)
We now leave the story in progress
and move back a few years, so that we can find out what's been going on
in the life of the oldest Christopher Brother , Larry. The third story is
called "Wicca" and can be accessed by clicking HERE