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

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06-07-2007, 08:31 PM
Chapter 45 - The Crazy Eddie Jump

Kutuzov called it the Alderson point. MacArthur's refugees tended to call it the Crazy Eddie point, and some of Lenin's crew were catching the habit. It was above the plane of the Mote system, and usually rather hard to find.
It would be no problem this time.
"Just project the path of the Motie ship until it intersects the direct line between the Mote and Murcheson's Eye," -Renner told Captain Mikhailov. "You'll be close enough, sir."
"Motie astrogation is that efficient?" Mikhailov asked incredulously. -
"Yah. It's enough to drive you crazy, but they can do it. Assume constant acceleration."
"There is another ship approaching that point from the Mote," Kutuzov said. He reached past Captain Mikhailov to adjust the bridge screen controls, and vectors flashed in front of them. "It will not arrive until well after we have departed."
"Fuel ship," Renner said positively. "And I'll bet anything you like that the ship carrying the ambassadors is light, transparent, and so obviously harmless that no one could suspect it of anything, sir."
"Not even me, you mean," Kutuzov said. Renner saw no smile to accompany the words. "Thank you, Mr. Renner. You will continue to assist Captain Mikhailov."
They had left the Trojan asteroids behind. Every scientist aboard wanted Lenin's telescopes to examine those asteroids and the Admiral had made no objections. It was not clear whether he feared a last-minute attack from the asteroids, or shared the civilians' wish to know everything about Moties, but Buckman and the others had their chance.
Buckman soon lost interest. The asteroids were thoroughly civilized and their orbits had been shaped. They weren't worth anything at all. The others didn't share that view. They watched the light of Motie fusion drives, measured neutrino fluxes from power stations, saw flecks of light that showed a dark spectrum around the chlorophyll green band, and wondered. Huge plant farms were under domes there-it was the only possible conclusion. And on every rock large enough- to see, there was the characteristic single crater proving conclusively that the asteroid had been moved.
Once Buckman regained his interest. He had been examining the asteroid orbits as a favor to Horvath; suddenly his eyes went blank. Then he feverishly punched codes into the computer and watched the results. "Incredible."
"What's incredible?" Horvath asked patiently.
"The Stone Beehive was dead cold."
"Yes." Horvath had experience drawing information out of Buckman.
"Assume the rest of the asteroids are. I believe it. Those orbits are perfect-project them back or forward as far as you like, they'll never have collisions. Those things could have been up there a long time." Horvath went away talking to himself. Just how old was that asteroid civilization? Buckman thought in stellar lifetimes! No wonder the Stone Beehive had been cold: the Moties made no orbit corrections. They just put them where they wanted them- Well, he thought, time to get back to the gift ship. It won't be long before we have to abandon it-wonder if Blaine's making any progress?
Rod and Sally were at the moment in conference with the Admiral. They met on the bridge: to the best of Rod's knowledge, no one but the Admiral and his steward had ever seen the inside of Kutuzov's cabin. Possibly not even the Admiral, as he seemed always to be on the bridge, watching the screens like any scope dote, perpetually looking for Mode treachery.
"It is pity," Kutuzov was saying. "That ship would be valuable. But we cannot risk it aboard. Mechanisms-who knows what they are for? And with Moties here to take advantage?" Kutuzov shuddered.
"Yes, sir," Rod agreed affably He doubted that the gift ship was any threat, but there were assemblies not even Sinclair could understand. "I was thinking of some of the other artifacts. Small parts. Those statuettes Chaplain Hardy is so fond of. We could seal everything in plastic, then weld it all inside grounded steel containers and strap the whole works on the hull inside the Field. If the Moties have anything that'll hurt us after those precautions, maybe it's better we don't go home."
"Um." The Admiral fingered his beard. "You believe these artifacts valuable?"
"Yes, sir." When, Kutuzov said valuable, he meant something different from what Sally or Horvath implied. "The more we know about Motie technology, the better threat estimates Cargill and I can make, sir."
"Da. Captain, I wish your honest opinion. What do you think of Moties?"
Sally controlled herself with an effort. She wondered what Rod would say. He was proving to be an absolute genius at maneuvering the Admiral.
Rod shrugged. "I can agree with both Dr. Horvath and yourself, sir." When Kutuzov's eyes widened, Rod hastened to add, "They could be the greatest potential danger we have ever faced, or the greatest potential opportunity we've ever found. Or both. Either way, the more we know about them, the better-provided we take precautions against the dangers."
"Uh. Captain, I value your opinion. If I give permission, will you take personal responsibility for neutralization of any threat from Mode artifacts taken from that ship? I want more than obedience. I demand your cooperation, and your word that you will take no risks."
That isn't going to make me popular with Horvath, Rod reflected. At first the Science Minister will be glad to take anything; but it won't be long before he'll want something I can't be sure of. "Yes, sir. I'll go over and see to it myself. Uh-I'll need Miss Fowler."
Kutuzov's eyes narrowed. "Bah. You will be responsible for her safety."
"Of course."
"Very well. Dismissed." As Rod and Sally left the bridge, Commander Borman looked curiously at his Admiral. He wondered if he saw a grin. No, of course not. It simply wasn't possible.
If there had been an officer of higher rank than Blaine present at the time, Kutuzov might have explained, but he would not discuss a captain-and future marquis-with Borman. What he might have said, though, was, "It is worth risk of Miss Fowler to keep Blaine active. When he does not brood, he is good officer." Kutuzov might never leave the bridge, but the morale of his officers was part of his duty; and like all duties he took it seriously.

The conflicts developed immediately, of course. Horvath wanted everything, and assumed that Rod had merely been humoring the Admiral; when he found that Blaine took his promise seriously, the honeymoon was over. He was midway between rage and tears as Blake's crewmen began to disassemble the gift ship, ripping apart delicate assemblies-sometimes cutting at random to prevent the possibility that the Moties had predicted what humans would do-and packing them in plastic containers.
For Rod, it was a period of useful activity again; and this time he had Sally for company. They could talk for hours when they were not working. They could drink brandy, and invite Chaplain Hardy in. Rod began to learn something of anthropology as he listened to Sally and Hardy argue over theoretical niceties of cultural development. -
As they approached the Crazy Eddie point, Horvath became almost frantic. "You're as bad as the Admiral, Blaine," he charged as he watched an artificer use a cutting torch on an assembly that generated the complex field altering molecular structures in another magic coffeepot. "We've already got one of those aboard Lenin. What harm would another do?"
"The one we have wasn't designed by Moties who knew it would go aboard the battleship," Sally answered. "And this one is different."
"Everything the Moties make is different," snapped Horvath. "You're the worst of the lot-more cautious than Blaine, by God. I'd have thought you'd know better."
She smiled demurely and tossed a coin. "Better cut it there too," she told the artificer.
"Yes, miss." The spacer shifted his torch and began again.
"Bah." Horvath stamped out to find David Hardy. The chaplain had assumed the role of peacemaker, and it was just as well; without him communications on the cutter would have ceased within hours.
The spacer finished slicing the assembly and packed it into the waiting box. He poured plastic around it and sealed the lid. "Got a steel crate outside, sir. I'll just go weld it in."
"Good. Carry on," Blaine told him. "I'll inspect it later." When the spacer had left the cabin, he turned to Sally. "You know, I never noticed, but Horvath's right. You are more cautious than I am. Why?"
She shrugged. "Don't worry about it."
"I won't, then."
"There's Buckman's protostar," she said. She flicked off the lights, then took his hand and led him to the viewport. "I never get tired of looking at it."
There were a few moments before their eyes adjusted and the Coal Sack was more than endless blackness. Then the reds began to show, and there was a small whirlpool of red on black.
They stood very close. They did a lot of that lately, and Rod liked it. He ran his fingers up her spine until he was scratching her gently beneath the right ear.
"You'll have to tell the Motie ambassadors pretty soon," she said. "Thought of what you'll say to them?"
"More or less. Might have been better to give them some warning, but-well, the Admiral's way may be safer."
"I doubt if it makes any difference. It will be nice to get back where there are more stars. I wonder- Rod, what do you think the Motie ambassadors will be like?"
"No idea at all. I guess we'll know soon enough. You talk too much."
"That's what Uncle Ben tells me."
They were quiet for a long time.

"Stand by. They're coming aboard."
The gig was brought down into Lenin's maw. Another boat stood by with the Moties' baggage; everything, even the pressure suits the Moties had worn aboard the gig, had been transferred over in a separate boat. The passenger gig landed on the steel decks with a clunk.
"Ship's company, ATTENTION."
"Marines, PRESENT ARMS!"
The air lock opened and a full boatswains' chorus sounded the pipes. A brown-and-white face appeared. Then another. When the two Mediators were entirely outside the gig, the third Motie emerged.
It was pure white, with silky tufts at the armpits, and there was gray around the muzzle and dotted through the torso.
"An older Master," Blaine whispered to Sally. Sh6 nodded. Cosmic ray impact on hair follicles had the same effects on Moties as on humans.
Horvath strode forward to the end of the line of Marines and side boys. "Welcome aboard," he said. "I'm very glad to see you-this is a historic moment."
"For both races, we hope," the lead Mediator replied.
"On behalf of the Navy, welcome aboard," Rod said. "I must apologize again for the quarantine precautions, but -- "
"Don't worry about it," one Motie said. "I am called Jock. And this is Charlie." She indicated the other Mediator. "The names are just a convenience; you couldn't pronounce ours." She turned to the white Master and twittered, ending with "Captain Roderick Blaine and Minister Anthony Horvath," then turned back to the humans. "My Lord Minister Horvath, I present the Ambassador. He requests that you call him Ivan."
Rod bowed He had never been face to face with a Motie, and he felt an urgent impulse to reach forward and stroke the fur. A male White
"The honor guard will conduct you to your quarters," Rod said. "I hope they will be large enough; there are two adjacent cabins." And four cursing officers who were displaced from them, too; the ripples of that had run down through the Navy pecking order until a junior lieutenant found himself in the gun room with Lenin's middies.
"One cabin would be sufficient," Charlie said calmly. "We do not need privacy. It is not one of our species' requirements." There was something familiar about Charlie's voice, and it bothered Rod.
The Moties bowed in unison, perfect copies of Court behavior; Rod wondered where they'd learned that. He returned the bow, as did Horvath and the others in hangar deck, then the Marines led them away, another squad falling in at the rear of the procession. Chaplain Hardy would be waiting for them in their cabins.
"A male," Sally mused.
"Interesting. The Mediators called it 'the Ambassador,' yet the Moties implied that the three had equal powers. We were told they have to act in unison to sign treaties -- "
"Maybe the Mediators aren't his Mediators," said Sally. "I'll ask-I'm sure I'll get the chance. Rod, are you sure I can't go up there with them? Now?"
He grinned. "You'll get your shot. Let Hardy have his for the moment." Hangar deck was clearing rapidly now.
There hadn't been a single Lenin crewman there, or in -the boats that met the Motie ship. The baggage gig was winched into place and sealed off.
"Net wasting -any time, is he?" Sally said.
"Non at all. We'd better hurry." He took her hand and led her toward his cabin as Lenin began slowing her rotation to zero gravity. "I suspect the Moties didn't need the spin;" Rod said as they reached the cabin door. "But that's the Admiral. If you're going to do something, do it right."
"Come on," Rod urged. "We've just time to get the Motie cabin on the intercom." He turned the controls until the Motie quarters were in view.
Chaplain Hardy was saying, "If you need anything, there will be orderlies outside your door at all times, and that button and switch will connect directly to my cabin. I'm your official host for this trip."
Tones sounded through the ship. Hardy frowned. "1111 go to my cabin now-you'll probably prefer to be alone for the Alderson shift. And I suggest you get in your bunks and stay there until the shift is over." He caught himself before he could say anything else. His instructions were clear: the Moties learned nothing until they were out of their home system.
"Will it take long?" Jock asked.
Hardy smiled thinly. "No. Good-by, then."
"Auf Wiedersehen," said Jock. -
"Auf Wiedersehen." David Hardy left with a puzzled look. Now lust where had they learned that?

The bunks were wrongly proportioned, and too hard, and made no provision for individual differences among the Moties. Jock swiveled her torso and waved her lower right arm, so, indicating displeasure with the situation but surprise that things were not worse. "Obviously copied from something for a Brown." Her tones indicated positive knowledge deduced but not observed directly. The voice changed to conversational mode. "I wish we had been able to bring our own Brown."
Charlie: "I also. But we would not be trusted with a Brown I know". She began a new thought, but the Master spoke.
Ivan. "Was the human Master among those waiting to meet us?"
Jock: "No. Curse! So long I have tried to study him, and still I have not met him nor even heard his voice. For all of me, he may be a committee, or one Master subject to discipline from the humans. I would wager much of my anatomy that he is human."
Ivan spoke. "You will make no attempt to contact the Master of Lenin. Should we meet him, you will not become his Fyunch(click). We know what happens to the Fyunch(click)s of humans."
It was not necessary to speak in response. The Master knew he had been heard, and thus would be obeyed. He went to his bunk and looked with distaste.
Alarms rang, and human speech came through loud-speakers.
"Prepare for Crazy Eddie Drive. Final Warning," one translated. They lay on the bunks. A louder tone sounded through the ship.
Then something horrible happened.