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

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06-07-2007, 08:37 PM
Chapter 56 - Last Hope

Their quarters seemed small now, despite the high ceilings. Nothing had changed. There were all the delicacies the Empire could find to put in their kitchen, A single push on a button would summon a dozen, a hundred servants. The Marines in the corridor outside were polite and respectful.
And they were trapped. Somewhere at the edges of New Cal's system, at a base called Dagda, the Empire's warships were summoned; and when they had arrived...
"They will not kill them all," Charlie gibbered.
"But they will." Jock's voice was a wail, quavering.
"The Warriors will fight. The Navy will lose ships. And Kutuzov will be in command. Will he risk his ships to spare any of us? Or will he reduce our planet to iridescent slag?'
"The asteroids as well?" Charlie whimpered. "Yes. There has never been a Cycle in which both were gone. Master, we must do something! We cannot allow this! If we had been truthful with them -- "
"Their fleet would even now be on its way instead of merely ordered to assemble," Jock said contemptuously.
"It was so close! I had them!" Three fingers the size of knackwurst closed, empty. "They were ready to agree, and then-and then -- " She whimpered on the edge of madness but recoiled from the brink, "There must be something we can do."
"Tell them all," Charlie said. "What harm can it do? Now they see us as evil. At least we can explain why we lied to them."
"Think of what we can offer them," Ivan ordered.
"Consider their interests and think of ways to protect them without destroying the Race."
"Help them?" Jock asked.
"Of course. Help them to be safe from us."
"It is the Warriors they fear. Would the Masters agree to kill all the Warriors? We could then join the Empire."
"Crazy Eddie!" Charlie screamed. "And how many Masters would keep Warrior breeding stock?"
"It has been attempted before," Ivan said. "Think of something else."
"Can we make them believe we cannot build the Fields?" Charlie asked.
"Ta what end? They will know soon enough. No. They will not enter our system again until their fleet is ready; and then they will take it all. A dozen battleships. If that fleet enters our system, the Warriors will fight and the Race will die.' They must not send it. THEY MUST NOT."
Jock used a half-forgotten tongue, not known to Masters. "He is nearly insane."
"As are we." Charlie wriggled in bitter, silent Motie laughter. "Pity the Master. His fears are our own, plus the fear that we will go mad. Without us he would be mute, watching the fleet assemble, unable to say a word in protest."
"Think!" Ivan ordered. "They are sending Kutuzov. He destroyed a human planet-what mercy will he show to aliens? Think! Think or the Race is doomed!"

As Sally entered Rod's office she heard him speaking into the phone. He hadn't seen her. For a moment she hesitated, then stood motionless, listening.
"I agree, Lavrenti. The asteroid civilization must be covered in the first sweep. It may even be their prime naval base."
"I do not like to divide fleet," the heavily accented voice said from the phone. "You give me two missions, Lord Blaine. They are not compatible. To fall upon Moties and cripple them without warning-yes, that is possible. To invite their attack before we react-that will cost lives and ships we cannot spare."
"You'll plan it that way nonetheless."
"Yes, my lord. My officers will bring you preliminary plans in the morning. They will also bring you loss estimates. What officer do you suggest I place in command of decoy vessel, my lord? Classmate of yours? Stranger? I await your suggestions."
"Damn it!"
"Please excuse my impertinence, my lord. Your commands will be obeyed."
The screen went dark. Rod sat staring at its blank face until Sally came in and sat across from him. The Warrior statuettes were vivid behind his eyes.
"You heard?"
"Some of it-is it really that bad?"
Rod shrugged. "Depends on what we're up against. It's one thing to go in shooting, blast our way In and saturate the planet and asteroids with hellburners. But to send the fleet in, give the Moties warning of what we're up to, and wait for them to attack us? The first hostile move could be from the laser cannon that launched the probe!"
She looked at him miserably. "Why do we have to do it at all? Why can't we just let them alone?"
"So that one of these days they can come out here and chop up our grandkids7"
"Why does it have to be us?"
"It was, though. Tell me, Sally, is there any doubt about it? About what the Moties really are?"
"They're not monsters!"
"No. Just our enemies."
She shook her head sadly. "So what will happen?"
"The fleet goes in. We demand they surrender to the Empire. Maybe they accept, maybe not. If they do, suicide crews go in to supervise the disarmament. If they fight, the fleet attacks."
"Who- Who's going to land on Mote Prime? Who'll be in charge of the- No! Rod, I can't let you do that!"
"Who else could it be? Me, Cargill, Sandy Sinclair- MacArthur's old crew will land. Maybe they'll really surrender. Somebody's got to give them that chance."
"Rod, I -- "
"Can we have the wedding soon? There's no heir to either of our families."

"No use," said Charlie. "Taste the irony. For millions of years we have been in a bottle, its shape has shaped our species to our detriment. Now we have found the opening, and now the Navy pours through to burn our worlds."
Jock sneered, "How vivid and poetic are your images!"
"How fortunate we are to enjoy your constructive advice! You -- " Charlie stopped suddenly, Jock's walk had turned strange. She paced with her hands twisted uncomfortably behind her, head bent forward, feet close together to render her stance as precarious as a human's.
Charlie recognized Kutuzov. She made a peremptory shushing motion to stop Ivan from commenting.
"I need a human word," said Jock. "We never heard it, but they must have it. Summon a servant," she snapped in Kutuzov's voice, and Charlie leaped to obey.

Senator Fowler sat at a small desk in the office next to the Commission conference room. A large bottle of New Aberdeen Highland Cream stood on the otherwise bare oak desk. The door opened and Dr. Horvath came in. He stood expectantly.
"Drink?" Fowler asked.
"No, thank you."
"Want to get down to it, eh. Right. Your application for membership on this Commission is denied."
Horvath stood rigid. "I see."
"I doubt it. Sit down." Fowler took a glass from the desk drawer and poured. "Here, hold this anyway. Pretend you're drinking with me. Tony, I'm doing you a favor."
"I do not see it that way."
"Don't, eh? Look. The Commission's going to exterminate the Moties. Just what's that going to do for you? You want to be part of that decision?"
"Exterminate? But I thought the orders were to bring them into the Empire."
"Sure. Can't do anything else. Political pressure's too big to just go in and wipe 'em out. So I got to let the Moties draw some blood. Including the father of the only heir I'll ever have." Fowler's lips were tightly drawn. "They'll fight, Doc. I just hope they don't make a phony surrender offer first, so Rod'll have a chance. You really want to be part of that?"
"I see...I guess I really do see. Thank you."
"You're welcome." Fowler reached into his tunic and took out a small box. He opened it for a second to look inside, closed it, and scaled it across the desk to Horvath. "There. That's yours."
Dr. Horvath opened it and saw a ring with a large blank green stone.
"You can carve a baron's crest on that next Birthday," Fowler said. "Do not bind the mouths and all that. Satisfied?"
"Yes. Very. Thank you, Senator."
"No thanks needed. You're a good man, Tony. OK, let's get in there and see what the Moties want."
The conference room was nearly filled. The Commissioners, staff, Horvath's scientists, Hardy, Renner-and Admiral Kutuzov.
Senator Fowler took his seat. "Lords Commissioners representing His Imperial Majesty are now convened. Write your names and organizations." He paused briefly as they scrawled on their computers. "The Moties have requested this meeting. They didn't say why. Anybody got anything to bring up before they get here? No? OK, Kelley, bring 'em in."
The Moties were silent as they took their places at the end of the table. They looked very alien; the human mimicry was gone. The permanent smiles were still painted on, and the fur was combed sleek and shiny.
"Your ball," the Senator said. "I may as well tell you we're unlikely to believe anything you say."
"There will be no more, lies," Charlie said. Efln4he voice was different; the Mediator sounded alien, no~ like a blend of all the voices the Moties had ever heard, but with a distinct- Rod couldn't trace it. Not an accent. It was almost perfection, the ideal of Anglic.
"The time for lies is finished. My Master thought, so from the beginning, but Jock's Master was given jurisdiction over negotiations with humans, as you were given such jurisdiction for your Emperor."
"Faction fight, eh?" Fowler said. "Pity we didn't meet your boss. A bit late now, isn't it?"
"Perhaps. But I will now represent him. You may call him King Peter if you like; the midshipmen did."
"What?" Rod stood at his seat, and the chair fell backward to crash to the floor. "When?"
"Just before they were killed by Warriors," Charlie said. "Attacking me will gain you no' information, my lord; and it was not my Master's Warriors who killed them. Those who did were ordered to take them alive, but the midshipmen would not surrender."
Rod carefully retrieved his chair and sat. "No. Horst wouldn't," he muttered.
"Nor would Whitbread. Nor Potter. You may be as proud of them as you wish, Lord Blaine. Their last moments were in the finest traditions of the Imperial Service." There was no trace of irony in the alien voice.
"And just why did you murder those boys?" Sally demanded. "Rod, I'm sorry. I-I'm sorry, that's all."
"It wasn't your fault. The lady asked you a question, Charlie."
"They had discovered the truth about us. Their landing boats took them to a museum. Not one of the places of amusement that we allowed you to visit. This one has a more serious purpose." Charlie spoke on, in a low voice. She described the museum and the battle there; the flight across Mote Prime, the beginning of the war between Motie factions, and the landing in the street outside the Castle. She told of the final battle.
"My own Warriors lost," she finished. "Had they won, King Peter would have sent the midshipmen back to you. But once they were dead-it seemed better to attempt to deceive you."
"Lord God," Rod whispered. "So that's your secret. And we had all the clues, but -- "
Someone was murmuring across the room. Chaplain Hardy. "Requiem aeternam donum est, Domine, et jux perpetuae
"Just how the hell do you think telling us this will help you?" Senator Fowler asked.
Charlie shrugged. "If you're going to exterminate us, you may as well know why. I'm trying to explain that the Masters will not surrender. King Peter might, but he doesn't control Mote Prime, much less the asteroid civilization. Someone will fight."
"As I predicted, my lords," Kutuzov said heavily. "And men and ships sent to accept surrender will be doomed. Perhaps Fleet as well. If we enter Mote System, it must be in full attack."
"Oh, boy," Senator Fowler muttered. "Yeah. I see your plan. You think we can't order an unprovoked attack, and maybe we won't send in a suicide mission first. Well, you read us wrong, Charlie. It'll mean my head, maybe, but all you've convinced me of is to give the Admiral his way. Sorry, Father, but that's the way I see it,"
The Senator's voice crackled across the room. "Admiral Kutuzov. You will hold your fleet in readiness, and it will accept no communications from any source without my prior approval. And I mean any source. Understood?"
"Aye aye, Senator." Kutuzov raised a communicator to his 11ps. "Mikhailov. Da." He spoke fluid syllables. "It is done, Senator."
"I have not finished," Charlie said. "You have another alternative."
"And what's that?" Fowler demanded.