View Full Version : Mote In God's Eye, The - Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

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06-07-2007, 08:27 PM
Chapter 38 - Final Solution

Whitbread's Mode came back to her seat. "It's started," she said. She didn't sound like Whitbread now. She sounded like an alien. "War."
"Who?" Staley demanded.
"My Master and King Peter. The others haven't joined in yet, but they will."
"War over us?" Whitbread asked incredulously. He was ready to cry. The transformation in his Fyunch(click) was too much to bear.
"Over jurisdiction over you," the Motie corrected. She shivered, relaxed, and suddenly Whitbread's voice spoke to them from the half-smiling alien lips. "It's not too bad yet. Just Warriors, and raids. Each one wants to show the other what she could do, without destroying anything really valuable. There'll be a lot of pressure from the other decision makers to keep it that way They don't want to be in a fallout pattern."
"God's teeth," said Whitbread. He gulped. "But-welcome back, brother."
"Where does that leave us?" Staley demanded. "Where do we go now?"
"A neutral place. The Castle."
"Castle?" Horst shouted. "That's your Master's territory? His hand was very near his pistol again.
"Think the others would give my Master that much control over you? The Mediators you met were all part of my clan, but the Castle itself belongs to a sterile decision maker. A Keeper."
Staley looked distrustful. "What do we do once we're there?"
The Motie shrugged "Wait and see who wins. If King Peter wins he's going to send you back to Lenin. Maybe this war will convince the Empire that it's better to leave us alone. Maybe you can even help us." The Motie gestured disgustedly. "Help us. He's Crazy Eddie too. There'll never be an end to the Cycles."
"Wait?" Staley muttered. "Not me, damn it. Where is this Master of yours?"
"No!" the Motie shouted. "Horst, I can't help you with something like that. Besides, you'd never get past the Warriors. They're good, Horst, better than your Marines; and what are you? Three junior officers with damn little experience and some weapons you got from an old museum."
Staley looked below. Castle City was ahead. He saw tile space port, an open space among many, but gray, not green. Beyond it was the Castle, a spire circled by a balcony. Small as it was, it stood out among the industrial ugliness of the endless cityscape.
There was communications gear in their baggage. When Renner and the others came up, the Sailing Master had left everything but their notes and records in the Castle. He hadn't said why, but now they knew: he wanted the Moties to think they would return.
There might even be enough to build a good transmitter. Something that would reach Lenin. "Can we land in the street?" Staley asked.
"In the street?" The Motie blinked. "Why not? If Charlie agrees. This is her aircraft." Whitbread's Mode trilled. There were answering hums and clicks from the cockpit.
"You're sure the Castle is safe?" Staley asked. "Whitbread, do you trust the Moties?"
"I trust this one. But I may be a little prejudiced, Hor-Mr. Staley. You'll have to make your own judgment."

"Charlie says the Castle is empty, and the ban on Warriors in Castle City still holds," Whitbread's Motie said. "She also says King Peter's winning, but she's only hearing reports from her side."
"Will she land near to the Castle?" Staley asked.
"Why not? We have to buzz the street first, to warn the Browns to look up." The Motie trilled again.
The grumble of motors died to a whisper. Wings spread again, and the plane dipped lower, falling almost straight down to pull level with a swoop. It whizzed past the Castle, giving them a view of its balconies. Traffic moved below, and Staley saw a White on the pedestrian walkway across from the Castle. The Master ducked quickly into a building.
"No demons," Staley said. "Anybody see Warriors?"
"No." "Nae." "Me neither."
The plane banked sharply and fell again. Whitbread stared wide-eyed at the hard concrete sides of skyscrapers whipping past. They watched for Whites-and Warriors- but saw neither.
The plane slowed and leveled off two meters above the ground. They glided toward the Castle like a gull above waters. Staley braced himself at the windows and waited. Cars came at them and swerved around.
They were going to hit the Castle, he realized. Was the Brown trying to ram their way through like the cutter into MacArthur? The plane dropped joltingly and surged against brakes and thrust reverses. They were just beneath the Castle wall.

"Here, trade with me, Potter." Staley took the x-ray laser. "Now move out." The door wouldn't work for him and he waved at the Motie.
She threw the door wide. There was a two-meter space between wingtip and wall, making twenty-five meters in all. That wing of the aircraft had folded somehow. The Motie leaped into the street.
The humans dashed after her, with Whitbread carrying the magic sword in his left hand. The door might be locked, but it would never stand up to that,
The door was locked. Whitbread hefted the sword to hew through it, but his Mode waved him back. She examined a pair of dials set in the door, took one in each of the right hands, and as she twirled them turned a lever with her left arm. The door opened smoothly. "Meant to keep humans out," she said.

The entryway was empty. "Any way to barricade that damn door?" Staley asked. His voice sounded hollow, and he saw that the furnishings were gone from the room.
When there was no answer, Staley handed Potter the x-ray laser. "Keep guard here. You'll need the Moties to tell if someone coming through is an enemy. Come on, Whitbread." He turned and ran for the stairs.
Whitbread followed reluctantly. Horst climbed rapidly, leaving Whitbread out of breath when they reached the floor where their rooms were. "You got something against elevators?' Whitbread demanded. "Sir?"
Staley didn't answer. The door to Renner's room stood open, and Horst dashed inside. "God damn!"
"What's the matter?" Whitbread panted. He went through the door.
The room was empty. Even the bunks were removed.
There was no sign of the equipment Renner had left behind. "I was hoping to find something to talk to Lenin with," Staley growled. "Help me look. Maybe they stored our stuff in here somewhere."
They searched, but found nothing. On every floor it was the same: fixtures, beds, furniture, everything removed. The Castle was a hollow shell. They went back downstairs to the entryway.
"Are we alone?" Gavin Potter asked.
"Yeah," Staley replied. "And we'll starve pretty bloody quick if nothing worse. The place has been stripped."
Both Modes shrugged. "I'm a little surprised," Whitbread's Motie said. The two Moties twittered for a moment. "She doesn't know why either. It looks like the place won't be used again -- "
"Well, they damn well know where we are," Staley growled. He took his helmet from his belt and connected the leads to his radio. Then he put the helmet on. "Lenin, this is Staley. Lenin, Lenin, Lenin, this is Midshipman Staley. Over."
"Mr. Staley, where in hell are you?" It was Captain Blaine.
"Captain! Thank God! Captain, we're holed up in- Wait one moment, sir." The Moties were twittering to each other, Whitbread's Mode tried to say something, but Staley didn't hear it. What he heard was a Mode speaking with Whitbread's voice- "Captain Blaine, sir. Where do you get your Trish Mist? Over."
"Staley, cut the goddamn comedy and report! Over."
"Sorry, sir, I really must know. You'll understand why I ask. Where do you get your Irish Mist? Over."
"Staley! I'm tired of the goddamn jokes!"
Horst took the helmet off. "It isn't the Captain," he said. "It's a Motie with the Captain's voice. One of yours?" he asked Whitbread's Motie.
"Probably. It was a stupid trick. Your Fyunch(click) would have known better. Which means she's not cooperating with my Master too well."
"There's no way to defend this place," Staley said. He looked around the entryway. It was about ten meters by thirty, and there was no furniture at all. The hangings and pictures which adorned the walls were gone. "Upstairs," Horst said. "We've got a better chance there." He led them back up to the living quarters floor, and they took positions at the end of the hail where they could cover the stairwell and elevator.
"Now what?" Whitbread asked.
"Now we wait," both Moties said in unison. A long hour passed.

The traffic sounds died away. It took -- them a minute to notice, then it was obvious. No-thing moved outside.
"I'll have a look," Staley said. He went to a room and peered carefully out the window, standing well inside so that he wouldn't expose himself. -- - -
Demons moved on the street below. They came forward in a twisting, flickering quick run, then suddenly raised their weapons and fired down the street. Horst turned and saw another group melting for cover; they left a third of their number dead. Battle sounds filtered through the thick windows.
"What is it, Horst?" Whitbread called. "It sounds like shots."
"It is shots. Two groups of Warriors in a battle. Over us?"
"Certainly," Whitbread's Motie answered. "You know what this means, don't you?" She sounded very resigned.
- When there was no answer she said, "It means the humans won't be coming back. They're gone."
Staley cried, "I don't believe it! The Admiral wouldn't leave us! He'd take on the whole damn planet -- "
"No, he wouldn't, Horst," Whitbread said. "You know his orders."
Horst shook his head, but he knew Whitbread was right. He called, "Whitbread's Motie! Come here and tell me which side is which."
Horst looked around. "What do you mean, no? I need to know who to shoot at!"
"I don't want to get shot."
Whitbread's Motie was a coward! "I haven't been shot, have I? Just don't expose yourself."
Whitbread's voice said, "Horst, if you've exposed an eye, any Warrior could have shot it out. Nobody wants you dead now. They haven't used artillery, have they? But they'd shoot me."
"All right. Charlie! Come here and -- "
"I will not."
Horst didn't even curse. Not cowards, but Brown-and whites. Would his own Motie have come?
The demons had all found cover: cars parked or abandoned, doorways, the fluting along the sides of one building. They moved from cover to cover with the flickering speed of houseflies. Yet every time a Warrior fired, a Warrior died. There had not been all that much gunfire, yet two thirds of the Warriors in sight were dead. Whitbread's Motie had been right about -their marksmanship. It was inhumanly accurate.
Almost below Horst's window, a dead Warrior lay with its right arms blown away. A live one waited for a lull, suddenly broke for closer cover-and the fallen one came to life. Then it happened too fast to follow: the gun flying, the two Warriors colliding like a pair of buzz saws, then flying away, broken dolls still kicking and spraying blood.
Something crashed below. There were sounds in the stairwell. Hooves clicked on marble steps. The Moties twittered. Charlie whistled, loudly, and again. There was an answering call from below, then a voice spoke in David Hardy's perfect Anglic.
"You will not be mistreated. Surrender at once."
"We've lost," Charlie said.
"My Master's troops. What will you do, Horst?"
For answer Staley crouched in a corner with the x-ray rifle aimed at the stairwell. He waved frantically at the other midshipmen to take cover.
A brown-and-white Mode turned the corner and stood in the hallway. It had Chaplain Hardy's voice, but none of his mannerisms. Only the perfect Anglic, and the resonant tones. The Mediator was unarmed. "Come now, be reasonable. Your ship has gone. Your officers believe you are dead. There is no reason to harm you. Don't get your friends killed over nothing, come out and accept our friendship."
"Go to hell!"
"What can you gain by this?" the Motie asked. "We only wish you well -- "
There were sounds of firing from below. The shots rebounded through the empty rooms and hallways of the Castle. The Mediator with Hardy's voice whistled and clicked to the other Moties.
"What's she saying?" Staley demanded. He looked around: Whitbread's Motie was crouched against the wall, frozen. "Jesus, now what?"
"Leave her alone!" Whitbread shouted. He moved from his post to stand beside the Motie and put his arm on her shoulder. "What should we do?"
The battle noises moved closer, and suddenly two demons were in the hallway. Staley aimed and fired in a smooth motion, cutting down one Warrior. He began to swing the beam toward the other. The demon fired, and Staley was flung against the far wall of the corridor. More demons bounded into the hallway, and there was a burst of fire that held Staley upright for a second. His body was chewed by dragon's teeth, and he fell to lie very still. Potter fired the rocket launcher. The shell burst at the end of the hallway. Part of the walls fell in, littering the floor with rubble and partly burying the Mediator and Warriors.
"It seems to me that no matter who wins yon fight below, we know aye more about the Langston Field than is safe," Potter said slowly. "What do ye think, Mr. Whitbread? 'Tis your command now."
Jonathon shook himself from his reverie. His Motie was stock-still, unmoving- Potter drew his pistol and waited. There were scrabbling sounds in the hallway. The sounds of battle died away.
"Your friend is tight, brother," Whitbread's Mode said. She looked at the unmoving form of Hardy's Fyunch(click). "That one was a brother too..."
Potter screamed. Whitbread jerked around.
Potter stood unbelieving, his pistol gone, his arm shattered from wrist to elbow. He looked at Whitbread with eyes dull with just realized pain and said, "One of the dead ones threw a rock."
There were more Warriors in the hall, and another Mediator. They advanced slowly.
Whitbread swung the magic sword that would cut stone and metal. It came up in a backhanded arc and cut through Potter's neck-Potter, whose religion forbade suicide, as did Whitbread's. There was a burst of fire as he swung the blade -- at his own neck, and two clubs smashed at his shoulders. Jonathon Whitbread fell and did not move.

They did not touch him at first except to remove the weapons from his belt. They waited for a Doctor, while the rest held off King Peter's attacking forces. A Mediator spoke quickly to Charlie and offered, a communicator
-there was nothing left to fight for. Whitbread's Motie remained by her Fyunch(click).
The Doctor probed at Whitbread's shoulders. Although she had never had a human to dissect, she knew everything any Motie knew about human physiology, and her hands were perfectly formed to make use of a thousand Cycles of instincts. The fingers moved gently to the pulverized shoulder joints, the eyes noted that there was no spurting blood. Hands touched the spine, that marvelous organ she'd known only through models.
The fragile neck vertebrae had been snapped. "High velocity bullets," she hummed to the waiting Mediator. "The impact has destroyed the notochord. This creature is dead."
The Doctor and two Browns worked frantically to build a blood pump to serve the brain. It was futile. The communication between Engineer and Doctor was too slow, the body was too strange, and there was too little equipment in time.
They took the body and Whitbread's Motie to the space port controlled by their Master. Charlie would be returned to King Peter, now that the war was finished. There were payments to be made, work in cleaning up after the battle, every Master who had been harmed to be satisfied; when next the humans came, there must be unity among Moties.

The Master never knew, nor did her white daughters ever suspect. But among her other daughters, the brown-and-white Mediator who served her, it was whispered that one of their sisters had done that which no Mediator had ever done throughout all the Cycles. As the Warriors hurried toward this strange human; Whitbread's Motie had touched it, not with the gentle right hands, but with the powerful left.
She was executed for disobedience; and she died alone. Her sisters did not hate her, but they could not bring themselves to speak to one who had killed her own Fyunch(click).