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

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06-07-2007, 08:36 PM
Chapter 54 - Out of the Bottle

"It is close," Jock reported. "Almost the Senator agrees. Sally already has."
"And Blaine?" Ivan demanded.
"He will do as the Senator wishes, although he would rather agree with Sally. He likes us, and he sees an advantage for the Navy. It is unfortunate that his Fyunch(click) went insane; she would be of great use here."
"Can it work?" Charlie asked. "Jock, how can it work? Before the new colonies are established, the Imperials will see us as we are. They will visit our system, and they will know. And then?"
"They will never know," Jock said. "Their own Navy will prevent it. There will be visits by unarmed ships, but they will risk no more naval vessels. Can we not deceive a few ships full of humans? They can never speak our language. We will have time to prepare for them. We will never let them see Warriors. How will they learn? Meanwhile the colonies will be established. The humans can have no conception of how quickly we can establish colonies, or how quickly they will be able to build ships. We will be in a much better bargaining position then, in contact with many humans-and we can offer them anything they want. We will have allies, and we will be spread far enough that not even the Empire could exterminate us. If they cannot do it with ~certainty they will not attempt it. That is how these humans think."
The Marine brought them the drink humans called chocolate, and they drank with pleasure. Humans were omnivores like Moties, but the flavors humans preferred were generally tasteless. Chocolate, though: that was excellent, and with extra hydrocarbons to simulate the waters of the home world, it was incomparable.
"What alternatives have we?" Jock demanded. "What would they do if we told them everything? Would they not dispatch their fleet to destroy us all and save their descendants from our threat?"
"I approve this agreement," Ivan said. "Your Master will also."
"Perhaps," Charlie said. She thought, falling into a pose that excluded the world around her, She was the Master- "I can agree," she said. "It is better than I had hoped.
"But the danger!"
"There has been danger since the humans first came to the Mote system," Jock said. "It is less now than before."
Ivan observed carefully. The Mediators were excited. The strain had been great, and despite their outward control they were close to the edge. It was not part of his nature to wish for what could not be, but he hoped that the efforts to breed a more stable Mediator would succeed; it was difficult to work with creatures who might suddenly see an unreal universe and make judgments based on it. The pattern was always the same. First they wished for the impossible. Then they worked toward it, still knowing it to be impossible. Finally they acted as if the impossible could be achieved, and let that unreality influence every act. It was more common with Mediators than any other class, but it happened to Masters also.
These Mediators were close to the edge, but they would last. The Race would be preserved. It must be.

"A thousand crowns for your thoughts." Sally said. Her eyes twinkled with happiness-and relief.
Rod turned from the window to grin at her. The room was large, and the others were gathered near the bar, except for Hardy, who sat near the Moties listening to their chatter as if he might understand a word or two. Rod and Sally were effectively alone. "You're very generous," he said.
"I can afford it. I'll pay you just after the wedding...
"With the income from Crucis Court. I haven't got it yet, don't be so anxious to kill Dad off. We may be living on his generosity for years."
"What were you thinking about? You look so serious."
"How I'm going to vote on this if the Senator won't agree."
She nodded soberly. "I thought so -- "
"I could lose you over this, couldn't I?"
"I don't know, Rod. I guess it would depend on why you rejected their offer. And what you agreed to ± in its place. But you aren't going to reject it, are you? What's wrong with what they propose?"
Rod stared at the drink in his hand. It was some kind of nonalcoholic gup Kelley had brought; the meeting was too important for Scotch. "Nothing wrong, maybe. It's the maybe, Sally. Look out there." He pointed to New Scotland's streets.
There were few people at this hour. Theater and dinner goers. Sightseers come to view the Palace after dark. Sailors with their girls. Covenanter guardsmen in kilts and bearskins standing rigidly at the sentry box near the driveway entrance. "If we're wrong, their kids are dead."
"If we're wrong, the Navy takes it on the chin," Sally said slowly. "Rod, what if the Moties come out, and in twenty years they've settled a dozen planets. Built ships. Threaten the Empire? The Navy can still handle them-you won't have to, but it could be done."
"Sure about that? I'm not. I'm not sure we could defeat them now. Exterminate them, yeah, but whip them? And twenty years from now? What would the butcher's bill be? New Scotland for sure. It's in their way. What other worlds would go?"
"What have we got for choices?" she asked. "I- Rod, I worry about our kids too. But what can we do? You can't make war on the Moties because they might be a threat someday!"
"No, of course not~ Here's dinner. And I'm sorry I spoiled your happy mood."
They were all laughing before the dinner ended. The Moties put on a show: imitations of New Scotland's most famous tri-v personalities. In minutes they had everyone at the table gasping helplessly.
"How do you do it?" David Hardy asked between fits of laughter.
"We have been studying your humor," Charlie answered. "We subtly exaggerate certain characteristics. The cumulative effect should be amusing if our theory was correct; apparently it was."
Horvath said, "You can make a fortune as entertainers no matter what else you have to trade."
"That, at least, will have little effect on your economy. We will require your aid in scheduling release of our technology, however."
Horvath nodded gravely. "I'm glad you appreciate the problem. If we just dump everything you have on the market, it would make chaos out of the market -- "
"Believe me, Doctor, we have no desire to make problems for you. If you see us as an opportunity, think of how we see you! To be free of the Mote system after all these centuries! Out of the bottle! Our gratitude is unbounded."
"Just how old are you?" David Hardy asked.
The Motie shrugged. "We have fragments of records that indicate times a hundred thousand years ago, Dr. Hardy. The asteroids were already in place then. Others may be older, but we can't read them. Our real history starts perhaps ten thousand years ago."
"And you've had collapses of civilization since then?" Hardy asked.
"Certainly. Entrapped in that system? How could it be otherwise?"
"Do you have records of the asteroid war?" Renner asked.
Jock frowned. Her face wasn't suited for it, but the gesture conveyed distaste. "Legends only. We have- They are much like your songs, or epic poems. Linguistic devices to make memorization easier. I do not think they are translatable, but -- " The Motie paused for a moment. It was as if she were frozen into the position she'd happened to be in when she decided to think. Then:
"It is cold and the food is gone, the demons rove the land.
Our sisters die and the waters boil, for the demons make the skies fall,"
The alien paused grimly. "I'm afraid that's not very good, but it's all I can do."
"It's good enough," Hardy said. "We have such poetry too. Stories of lost civilizations, disasters in our prehistory. We can trace most of them to a volcanic explosion about forty-five hundred years ago. As a matter of fact, that seems to be when men got the idea that God might intervene in their affairs. Directly, as opposed to creating cycles and seasons and such."
"An interesting theory-but doesn't it upset your religious beliefs?"
"No, why should it? Can't God as easily arrange a natural event to produce a desirable effect as He could upset the laws of nature? In fact, which is the more miraculous, a tidal wave just when it is needed, or a super- ± natural once-only event? But I don't think you have time to discuss theology with me. Senator Fowler seems to have finished his dinner. So if you'll excuse me, I'll be away a few minutes, and I think we'll get started again -- "

Ben Fowler took Rod and Sally to a small office behind the conference room. "Well?" he demanded.
"I'm on record," Sally said.
"Yeah. Rod?"
"We've got to do something, Senator. The pressure's getting out of hand."
"Yeah," Ben said. "Damn it, I need a drink. Rod?"
"Thanks, I pass."
"Well, if I can't think straight with a good belt of Scotch in me the Empire's already collapsed." He fumbled through the desk until he found a bottle, sneered at the brand, and poured a stiff drink into a used coffee cup. "One thing puzzles me. Why isn't the ITA making more trouble? I expected them to give us the most pressure, and they're quiet. Thank God for what favors we have." He tossed off half the cup and sighed.
"What harm does it do to agree now?" Sally asked.
"We can change our minds if we find out anything new -- "
"Like hell, kitten," Ben said. "Once something specific is in the works, the sharp boys'll think how to make a crown out of it, and after they've got money invested-I thought you learned more about elementary politics than that. What do they teach in the university nowadays? Rod, I'm still waiting for something out of you."
Rod fingered his bent nose. "Ben, we can't stall much longer. The Moties must know that-they may even cut theft offer once they see just how ± much pressure we're under. I say let's do it."
"You do, huh. You'll make your wife happy anyway."
"He's not doing it for me!" Sally insisted. "You stop teasing him."
"Yeah." The Senator scratched his bald spot for a moment. Then he drained his cup and set it down. "Got to check one or two things. Probably be okay. If they are- I guess the Modes have a deal. Let's go in."
Jock gestured rapture and excitement. "They are ready to agree! We are saved!"
Ivan eyed the Mediator coldly. "You will restrain yourself. There is much to do yet."
"I know. But we are saved. Charlie, is it not so?"
Charlie studied the humans. The faces, the postures-."Yes. But the Senator remains unconvinced, and Blaine is afraid, and-Jock, study Renner."
"You are so cold! Can you not rejoice with me? We are saved!"
"Study Renner."
"Yes...I know that look. He wears it playing poker, when his down card is an unexpected one. It does not help us. But he has no power, Charlie! A wanderer with no sense of reponsibility!"
"Perhaps. We juggle priceless eggs in variable gravity. I am afraid. I will taste fear until I die."