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

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06-07-2007, 08:35 PM
Chapter 53 - The Djinn

They were following their escorts through the Palace corridors. As they walked, Jock spoke to the Ambassador,
"Something has changed. This Marine who summoned us looks at us differently, as might a Warrior at another Warrior."
They entered the conference room. A sea of human faces. "Yes," Jock said. "Much is different. We insist be on guard."
"What may they know?" Ivan demanded.
Jock indicated lack of knowledge. "Some fear us. Others pity us. All try to hide their changed emotional state."
The Marine conducted them to badly designed couches at one end of a large conference table. "Humans are addicted to these tables," Charlie twittered. "Sometimes the shape of them is very important, for reasons I have been unable to know."
There were the meaningless greetings the humans called "formalities": insincere inquiries into the state of health, nebulous benedictions and hopes for past well-being; all compensations for the lack of human Mediators. Charlie attended to these as lock continued to speak to the Master.
"The human at the opposite end of the table is an unimportant clerk. On our two-hand side at the center U the power. The Emperor's Mediator has reached some decision. Lord Blaine reluctantly shares it. Sally disagrees, very much, but is unable to argue. She wishes for reasons to object. We may need to find them for her. Opposite the Emperor's Mediator are the scientists, and they share Sally's emotions. They do not feel as involved in the decision as she. The others are of no importance except the priest. I am still unable to determine his importance, but it has increased since last we saw him. He may be more dangerous to us than all the rest -- "
"Can he understand our language?" Ivan demanded.
"Not if we speak rapidly and with formal grammar. He detects elementary emotional content, and is aware that we are exchanging much information in a short time."
"Find out what disturbs the humans." Ivan curled on his couch and surveyed the room with distaste. Keepers sometimes spoke directly with Mediators from many Masters, but it was never a pleasant experience. All negotiation with humans was painfully slow. Their thoughts crept like liquid helium, and often they had no conception of their own interests.
But he could not simply instruct the Mediators. They were unstable, increasingly so. They must be controlled directly. And the Race must be preserved...
"This meeting may be more pleasaant than the others," Charlie said.
Senator Fowler looked startled. "Why do you say that?"
"From your expressions you are determined to achieve decisions at this meeting," Charlie answered. "You have told us that the meeting will be long, lasting even through dinner. Your tri-v tells us that you are under great pressure to conclude an agreement with us. We are slowly learning your ways, and coming to enjoy them; but our training, our whole reason for existence, is to reach agreements. So far you have been careful to avoid them." ±
"Blunt enough," Fowler muttered. And intended to put us a bit ill at ease, wasn't it, my friend? You're smooth. "We need information first. About your history."
"Ah." Charlie hesitated only a second, but she saw the signals Jock gestured, and the Master's finger movements.
"You are concerned about our wars?"
"Damn right," Senator Fowler agreed. "You hid damn near your whole history. Lied about what you did tell us."
There were mutters of disapproval. Dr. Horvath shot Fowler a disgusted look. Didn't the man know anything about negotiations? But of course he did, which made such rudeness even more puzzling...
Charlie gave a human shrug. "As you did with us, Senator. Our history: very well. Like you humans, we have had periods of warfare. Often over religions. Our last great wars were several of your centuries ago-since that time we have managed to control ourselves. But we have rebellions from time to time. Masters much like your outies, who place independence ahead of the good of the race. It is then necessary to fight them -- "
"Why didn't you just admit that in the first place?" Rod demanded.
The Motie shrugged again. "What did we know of you? Until you gave us the tri-v and let us see you as you are, what could we know? And we are as ashamed of our conflicts as many of you are of yours. You must understand, nearly all Mediators serve Masters who have no connection with war. We were instructed to assure you of our peaceful intentions toward your race. Our internal conflicts did not seem to be any of your business."
"So you hid your weapons?" Rod asked.
Charlie looked to Jock. The other Mediator answered. "Those we have. We are inhabitants of a single star system, my lord. We have no racial enemies and few resources to devote to naval vessels-our military forces, such as they are, are more similar to your police than to your Navy and Marines." The Motie's gentle smile said nothing more, but somehow conveyed another thought: They would be fools to let the humans know how much or how little armament they had.
Sally smiled happily. "I told you, Uncle Ben -- "
Senator Fowler nodded. "One other little point, Charlie. Just how often do your reproductive castes breed, anyway?"
It was Jock who answered. When Charlie hesitated, David Hardy watched with interest-was there communication by gesture? "When they are allowed to," the alien said smoothly. "Don't yours?"
"You control your populations through economic incentives and forced emigration. Neither alternative is available to us, yet our reproductive drives are no less strong than yours. Our Masters breed when they can."
"You mean you have legal mechanisms to restrict population?" Horvath asked.
"Essentially yes."
"And why didn't you say that before?" Senator Fowler demanded.
"You didn't ask."
Dr. Horvath was grinning now. So was Sally. Relief showed around the room. Except- "You deliberately misled Lady Sally," Chaplain Hardy said carefully. "Please tell me why."
"That Mediator served Jock's Master," Charlie answered. "She should speak to you of this. And please excuse us, I must tell the Ambassador what has been said." Charlie twittered.
"Jock, you must take great care. We have won their sympathy, They want reasons to believe us. These humans have almost as much empathy as Mediators when they are in the proper mood, but they can change instantly."
"I have listened," Ivan said. "Do what you can to reassure these humans. If we are ever once away from their control we will be useful to all of them, and we will be an economic necessity to powerful groups of humans."
"She felt the truth would upset you," Jock answered. "I am not sure what was said. It was not discussed with me. We do not often discuss sex and reproduction within our family groups and almost never beyond them. The subject is- You do not have the emotion. It is similar to embarrassment but not identical. And you must realize how closely a Mediator will identify with her Fyunch(click). Lady Sally does not easily discuss sexual matters, nor does she enjoy doing so; her Mediator would feel the same emotions, and would know that the sterility of Mediators would upset Sally if she knew-as it did, when you learned of it. I say all this, but I do not know for certain: the matter was never thought important."
"All that suspicion," Sally said. "Just to spare me. I'm glad we cleared it up."
The Motie shrugged. "Despite our abilities, some misunderstandings between alien species are inevitable. Remember the toilet doors?"
"Yes." Sally could see what Ben Fowler was going to ask next. She spoke quickly to cut him off. "Now that we've got that straight, just what do your Masters do when they don't want children yet?" She felt a rush of blood and suspected her cheeks were growing red. Dr. Horvath eyed her curiously. Lecherous old man, she thought. Of course that isn't really being fair to him.
The Moties twittered for a moment. "Abstinence is common," Jock said. "We also have chemical and hormonal methods like yours. Do you wish the mechanics discussed here?"
"I'm more interested in the incentives," Senator Fowler said heavily. "What happens to Masters, or Browns, or whatever, if they start having children every six months?"
"Would you not define that as an action placing independence as more important than the interests of the race?" Jock asked.
"So do we."
"And that's how you get wars started," Dr. Horvath concluded. "Senator, with all respect I think we've got the answers to our questions. The Moties control their populations. When individuals fail to go along, there's conflict. Sometimes that leads to wars. Just how is this different from humans?"
Benjamin Fowler laughed. "Doctor, you keep asking me to see your point of view, which is based on ethics: You never see mine, which isn't. I never claimed the human race was superior to Moties-in ethics, or intelligence, or anything else. I only claim it's my race, and I'm charged with protecting human interests."
He turned back to the Moties. "Now that you've seen us in operation," Fowler continued, "what do you think of our Empire?"
Jock chuckled. "Senator, what do you expect me to say? You have us in your power-the three of us, and all of our people. Your warships control the Crazy Eddie point leading to our system. You could presumably exterminate us, and I've heard speeches demanding just that on your tri-v."
"Not from anyone important," Anthony Horvath protested. "From nuts and cranks -- "
"Certainly. But it was said. Thus any answer I give to the Senator's question will be what I believe he wants to hear. How could it be otherwise?"
"Well said," Ivan twittered. "Humans appear to respect admission of truth contrary to interests. In this case they inevitably would know anyway. But take care."
"Trust my skills, Master. Note that most have relaxed. Only the clergyman and the naval officer called Renner are not satisfied. The Emperor's Mediator is now undecided, and when we came into this room he had decided against us."
Charlie: "I am fearful. Would it not be best to tell them all, now that they know so much? How can we long keep our Cycles and our reproductive patterns secret? My Master wished to tell them all -- "
"You will be silent and allow Jock to speak to the humans. Defer questions which upset you to her."
"I will, Master. I was instructed to obey you. But I am still of the opinion that my Master was correct."
"And if he has assessed the humans incorrectly?" Jock asked. "If they see us as a threat to their descendants? May they not destroy us all now, while they are able?"
"Silence. Speak to the humans."
"The Ambassador points out that as the Empire is both the most powerful association of humans and the group closest to our home, it is to our interest to be in alliance with your Empire, regardless of our opinions. We're surrounded."
"And that's a fact," Sally agreed. "Uncle Ben, how long does this go on? We have the draft agreements worked out by the economics technicians. Can't we get to the details of that?"
Fowler was not satisfied. It showed in the set of his heavy jowls, the tense shoulders. There was trouble in the Empire without Moties. Add Motie technology in the hands the outies and rebels, and anything could happen.
"There is a draft agreement," Senator Fowler said carefully. "Before we put that to you, I've another proposition. Have you any interest in joining the Empire? As a Class One system member, for example? You'd have home
± rule, representation on Sparta, and access to most of the Imperial markets."
± "We have considered it. It would take time to work out details -- "
"No," Senator Fowler said positively. "That's the one ± thing it won't take. Your pardon, but we have no intention of letting your Engineers invent the Field and construct a war fleet. The first condition would be inunediate admission of Imperial observers to every point in your system." ±
"Disarmament. Trust in your good intentions," Jock said. "Would you submit to such terms?"
"I haven't been asked to," Ben said. "You have."
"I said they would make this offer," Charlie twittered. "We cannot accept," Ivan answered flatly. "We would be helpless. Assume the humans are sincere. Assume the Empire would not destroy us when our true nature became obvious. Can we believe that many generations from now the Empire will be ruled by benevolence? It is a risk we cannot take. The Race must be assured of survival."
"There is no assurance!"
"We must get out of our system and into the universe. When we are firmly established in many systems, the humans will not dare attack any Of them," Jock said. Her gestures showed impatience.
"You are convinced that we cannot accept this offer?" Charlie asked.
Jock: "We have discussed this before. The humans will be thorough. They will want to disarm the Warriors. Before that happens, the Masters will fight. There will be war, precisely, when the humans expect it. They are not fools; and their naval officers are afraid of us. Overwhelming force would back up the observers. If we pretend to accept, they will feel justified in destroying us: remember the fate of human planets in rebellion. This offer cannot even buy time."
"Then give the answer we agreed upon," commanded Ivan.
"The Ambassador regrets that any such agreement would exceed his authority. We can speak for all the Moties, but only within certain limits; placing our entire race at your mercy is beyond them."
"You can't blame them for that," Dr. Horvath said. "Be reasonable, Senator."
"I'm trying to be reasonable and I didn't blame them. I made them an offer, that's all." He turned back to the aliens. "Planets have been brought into the Empire against their will. They don't get anything like the privileges I offered you -- "
Jock shrugged. "I cannot say what the Masters would do if you attempted conquest of our system. I suspect they would fight."
"You'd lose," Senator Fowler said flatly.
"We'd hate that."
"And in losing you might suck up so much of our strength that we'd lose most of this sector. Set the unification drive back a century, maybe. Conquest is expensive." Senator Fowler didn't add that sterilization wasn't; but the unspoken thought hung heavily in the brightly lit mom.
"Can we make a counteroffer?" Jock said. "Allow us to set up production centers on uninhabitable worlds. We will terraform them: for every world you give us, we will terraform another for you. As to the economic dislocations, you can form companies to hold a monoply on trade with us. Part of the stock could be sold publicly. The balance could be held to be given as compensation to the companies and workers displaced by our competition. I think you would find that this would minimize the disadvantages of our new technology, while giving you all the benefits."
"Brilliant," Horvath exclaimed. "Just what my staff is working on right now. You would agree to this? Trade with no one but authorized companies and the Imperial Government?"
"Certainly. We would also pay the Empire for naval protection of our colony worlds-we have no desire to keep fleets in your parts of space. You could inspect the colony shipyards to be certain."
"And the home world?" Fowler asked.
"Contact between Mote Prime and the Empire would be minimal, I presume. Your representatives would be welcome, but we would not wish to see your warships near our homes-I may as well tell you, we were very much concerned oven that battleship in orbit about our planet. It was obvious that it carried weapons that could make Mote Prime nearly uninhabitable. We submitted, even invited you closer, precisely to show you that we have little to hide. We are no threat to your Empire, my lords. You are a threat to us, as you well know. Yet I think we can agree to our mutual advantage-and our mutual safety- without unduly straining either race's trust in the benevolence of the other."
"And you'll terraform one planet for us for every one you take over?" Horvath asked. He thought of the advantages: incalculable. Few stellar systems had more than one inhabitable world. Interstellar trade was hideously expensive compared with interplanetary travel, but terraforming operations were even more costly.
"Is that not enough?" Jock asked. "Surely you appreciate our position. We have now only one planet, some asteroids, and a gas giant which is beyond even our ability to make habitable. It is worth air enormous investment in resources to double what we have available. I say this because it is obvious, although I am told that your trading procedure does not usually include admission of disadvantages. On the other hand -- " The Motie looked curiously at her three hands. The humans did likewise and there was laughter. Which vas the other hand for a Motie? "Your uninhabitable planets' in suitable orbits must pot be of much value to you, or you would have terraformed them yourselves. You get, then, something for nothing, where we get a great deal for great effort. Surely a fair bargain?"
"Damn good for the Navy," Rod said. "Practically a new fleet paid for by the Moties...
"Hold it," Senator Fowler said. "We're haggling over the price when we haven't decided what we are yet."
Jock shrugged. "I made you an offer, that's all." His imitation of the Senator's voice and mannerisms brought laughter. Ben Fowler frowned for a moment, then laughed with the others.
"Well," Fowler said. "Don't know that everything's settled, but I do know I'm gettin' hungry. Kelley, bring our guests some of that chocolate and ring down for dinner. We may as well be comfortable while we finish this discussion."