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

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06-07-2007, 08:37 PM
Chapter 57 - All the Skills of Treason

They stood for a long time on the balcony outside, Rod's suite. Faint sounds of a city after dark floated up to them. The Hooded Man rose high in the sky, his baleful red eye watching them with indifference: two human lovers, who would send squadrons of ships into the Eye itself and keep them there, until they too passed away...
"It doesn't look very big," Sally murmured. She moved her head against his shoulder and felt his arms tighten around her. "Just a fleck of yellow in Murcheson's Eye. Rod, will it work?"
"The blockade? Sure. We worked out the plan at Fleet Battle Ops. Jack Cargill set it up: a squadron inside the Eye itself to take advantage of the Jump shock. The Moties don't know about that, and their ships won't be under command for minutes at best. If they try to send them through on automatic it just makes it worse."
She shivered against him. "That wasn't really what I meant. The whole plan-will it work?"
"What choices have we?"
"None. And I'm glad you agree. I couldn't live with you if- I couldn't, that's all."
"Yeah." And that makes me grateful to the Moties for thinking up this, scheme, because we can't let the Moties get out. A galactic plague-and there are only two remedies for that kind of plague. Quarantine and extermination. At least we've got a choice.
"They're -- " She stopped and looked up at him. "I'm afraid to talk to you about it. Rod, I couldn't live with myself if we had to-if the blockade won't work."
He didn't say anything. There was a shouted laugh from somewhere beyond the Palace grounds. It sounded like children.
"They'll get past that squadron in the star," Sally said. Her voice was tightly controlled.
"Sure. And past the mines Sandy Sinclair's designing too. But where can they go, Sally? There's only one exit from the Eye system, they don't know where it is, and there'll be a battle group waiting for them when they find it. Meanwhile they've been inside a star. No place to dissipate energy. Probably damaged. There's nothing you can think of that we haven't considered. That blockade's tight. I wouldn't approve it otherwise."
She relaxed again and leaned against his chest His arms encircled her. They watched the Hooded Man and his imperfect eye.
"They won't come out," Rod said.
"And they're still trapped. After a million years what will we be like in a million years?" she wondered. "Like them? There's something basic we don't understand about Moties. A fatalistic streak I can't even comprehend. After a few failures they may even just-give up."
He shrugged. "We'll keep the blockade anyway. Then, in about fifty years, we'll go in and see what things are like. If they've collapsed as thoroughly as Charlie predicts, we can take them into the Empire."
"And then what?"
"I don't know. We'll have to think of something."
"Yes." She drew away from him and turned excitedly. "I know! Rod, we have to really look at the problem. For the Moties. We can help them."
He looked at her wonderingly. "I think the best brains in the Empire are likely to be working on it."
"Yes, but for the Empire. Not for the Modes. We need-an Institute. Something controlled by people who know the Moties. Something outside of politics. And we can do it. We're rich enough...
"We can't spend half of what we have between us." She dashed past him and into his suite, then through it and across the corridor to her own. Rod followed to see her burrowing among the stacks of wedding gifts that littered the large rose-teak table in her entry hail. She grunted in satisfaction when she found her pocket computer.
Now should I be irritated? Rod thought. I think I'd better learn to be happy when she's -like this. I'll have a long time to do it. "The Modes have been working -- on their problem awhile," he reminded her.
She looked up with faint irritation. "Pooh. They don't see things the way we do. Fatalism, remember? And they've had nobody to force them into adopting any solutions they do think up." She went back to scribbling notes. "We'll need Horowitz, of course. And he says there's a good man on Sparta, we'll have to send for him. Dr. Hardy. We'll want him."
He regarded her with awe and wonder. "When you get going, you move." And I better move with you if I'm going to have you around all my life. Wonder what it's like to live with a whirlwind? "You'll have Father Hardy if you want him. The Cardinal's assigned him to the Mote problem-and I think His Eminence has something bigger in store. Hardy could have been a bishop long ago but he doesn't have the -- normal share of miterosis. Now I don't think he's got much choice: First apostolic delegate to an alien race, or something."
"Then the Board will be you and me, Dr. Horvath, Father Hardy-and Ivan."
"Ivan?" But why not? And as long as we're doing this, we may as well do it right. W&I1 need a good executive director, Sally's no use as an administrator, and I won't have time. Horvath, maybe. "Sally, do you know just how much we're up against? The biology problem: how to turn a female to male without pregnancy or permanent sterility. But even if you find something, how do we get the Moties to use it?"
She wasn't really listening. "We'll find a way. We're pretty good at governing -- "
"We can hardly govern a human empire!"
"But we do, don't we? Somehow." She pushed a stack of gaily wrapped packages aside to make more room. A large box almost fell and Rod had to catch it as Sally continued to scrawl notes into her computer's memory bank. "Now just what's the code for Imperial Men and Women of Science?" she asked. "There's a man on Meiji who's done some really good work in genetic engineering, and I can't remember his name."
Rod sighed heavily. "I'll look him up for you. But there's one condition."
"What's that?" She looked up in curiosity,
"You finish this up by next week, because, Sally, if you take that pocket computer on our honeymoon, I'll throw the goddamn thing into the mass converter!"
She laughed, but Rod didn't feel reassured at all. Oh Well. The computers weren't expensive. He could buy her a-new one when they got back. In fact, maybe he ought to make a deal with Bury; he might need the things in shipload lots if they were ever going to have a family...

Horace Bury followed the Marine guards through the Palace, pointedly ignoring the other Marines who'd fallen in behind him. His face was calm, and only a close study of his eyes could show the despair that bored through him.
As Allah wills, he sighed, and wondered that he no longer resented the thought. Perhaps there would be comfort in submission...there was little else to console him. The Marines had brought his servant and all his baggage down on the landing ship, and then separated him from Nabil at the Palace roof. Before they did, Nabil had whispered his message: Jonas Stone's confession was even now reaching the Palace.
Stone was still on New Chicago, but whatever he had told Naval Intelligence was important enough to be put on a message sloop. Nabil's informant didn't know what the rebel leader had said, but Bury did, as surely as if he could read the coded tapes. The message would be brief, and it would contain death by hanging for Horace Bury.
So this is the end of it all. The Empire acts swiftly against treason: a few days, a few weeks. No more. There is no chance to escape. The Marines are polite, but very alert. They have been warned, and there are many of them, too many. One might accept a bribe, but not when his comrades are watching.
As Allah wills. But it is a pity. Had I not been so concerned with the aliens, had I not done the Empire's work with the Traders, I would long since have escaped. Levant is large. But I would have had to leave New Scotland, and it is here the decisions will be made-what point to escape when the aliens may destroy us all?
The Marine Sergeant conducted him to an ornate conference room and held open the door until Bury went inside. Then, incredibly, the guards retired. There were only two men in the room with him.
"Good morning, my lord," Bury said to Rod Elaine. His words were even and smooth, but his mouth felt dry, and there was a sharp taste in the back of his throat as he bowed to the other man. "I have not been introduced to Senator Fowler, but of course his face is known to everyone in the Empire. Good morning, Senator."
Fowler nodded without rising from his seat at the big conference table. "Good morning, Excellency. Good of you to come. Have a seat, won't you?" He waved to a place opposite his
"Thank you" Bury took the indicated chair Then more astonishment, as Blaine brought coffee. Bury sniffed carefully and recognized it as a blend he had sent to the Palace chef for Blaine's use.
In the Name of Allah. They are playing games with me, but to what end? He felt rage mingled with fear, but no hope at all. And a wild, bubbling laugh rose in his throat.
"Just so we know where we stand, Excellency," Fowler said. He waved, and Blame activated a wall screen. The bulky features of Jonas Stone loomed out into the ornately paneled room. There was sweat on the brow and along the cheekbones, and Stone's voice alternately boomed and pleaded.
Bury listened impassively, his lip curled in contempt for Stone's weakness. There was no doubt at all: the Navy had more than enough evidence to send him to a traitor's death. Still the smile did not fade from Bury lips. He would give them no satisfaction. He would not plead.
Eventually the tape ended. Fowler waved again and the rebel leader's image vanished. "Nobody's seen that but the three of us, Excellency," Fowler said carefully.
But no. What do they want? Is there hope after all?
"I don't know that it needs discussing," the Senator continued. "Me, I'd rather talk about Moties."
"Ah," said Bury. The tiny sound almost stuck in his throat. And do you wish to deal, or do you taunt me with the final horror? He swallowed coffee to moisten his tongue before he spoke. "I am sure that the Senator is aware of my views. I consider Modes the greatest threat humans have ever faced." He looked at the two men opposite him, but there was nothing to be read in their faces.
"We agree," Blame said.
Quickly, while hope rose. in Bury's eyes, Fowler added, "There's not much question about it. They're locked into a permanent state of population explosion followed by total war. If they ever get out of their system- Bury, they've got a soldier subspecies that puts the Saurons to shame. Hell, you've seen them."
Blaine did things to his pocket computer and another picture appeared: the time-machine sculpture.
"Those? But my Motie said they -- " Bury stopped himself in realization. Then he laughed: the laugh of a man who has nothing more to lose.
"My Motie."
"Precisely." The Senator smiled faintly. "I can't say we have much trust in your Motie. Bury, even, if it were only the miniatures that got loose, we could lose whole worlds. They breed like bacteria. Nothing big enough to see breeds like that. But you know."
"Yes." Bury gathered himself with difficulty. His face smoothed, but behind his eyes was a myriad of glittering tiny eyes. Splendor of Allah I almost brought them out myself! Praise and glory to the One who is merciful...
"Dammit, stop shivering," Fowler commanded.
"My apologies. You will doubtless have heard of my encounter with miniatures." He glanced at Blaine and envied his external calm. Miniatures could be no less unpleasant to the commander of MacArthur. "I am pleased to hear that the Empire recognizes the dangers."
"Yeah. We're going to blockade the Modes. Bottle 'em up in their own system."
"Would it not be better to exterminate them while we can?" Bury asked quietly. The voice was calm, but his dark eyes blazed.
Bury nodded. "There would be political difficulties, of course. But I could find men to take an expedition to Mote Prime,and given the proper orders -- "
Fowler gestured dismissal "I've got my own agents provocateurs if I need 'em."
"Mine would be considerably less valuable. Bury looked pointedly at Blaine.
"Yeah" Fowler said nothing more for a moment, and Blaine stiffened visibly Then the Senator continued: "Better or worse, Trader, we've decided on the blockade, Government's shaky enough without being accused of genocide. Besides, I don't know as I like the idea of unprovoked attack on intelligent beings. We'll do it this way."
"But the threat!" Bury leaned forward, unmindful of the fanatical gleam in his eyes. He knew he was close-to

That story made me realize at last just how alien you humans are."
There was an embarrassed silence. As the elevator stopped Jock asked, "How goes your Institute?"
"Fine.. We've already sent for some of the department heads." She laughed, embarrassed. "I have to work fast: Rod won't let me think about the Institute after the wedding. You are coming, aren't you?"
The Mediators shrugged in unison, and one looked at the Marines. "We will be delighted if we are allowed to attend," Jock answered. "But we have no gifts for you. There is no Brown to make them."
"We'll get along without," Rod said. The elevator door stood open, but they waited for two of the Marines to inspect the corridor.
"Thank you for allowing me to meet Admiral Kutuzov," Jock said. "I have waited to speak with him since our embassy ship arrived alongside MacArthur."
Rod looked at the aliens in wonder. Jock's conversation with Kutuzov had been brief, and one of the most important questions the Motie had asked was "Do you like lemon in tea?"
They're so damned civilized and likable, and because of That they're going to spend the few years they've got left under guard while the Information Office blackguards them and their race. We've even hired a writer to script a play on the last hours of my midshipmen.
"It was little enough to do," Rod said. "We -- "
"Yes. You can't let us go home." Charlie's voice changed to that of a New Scot youth. "We know aye more about humans than is safe." She gestured smoothly to the Marines. Two walked ahead into the hail, and the Moties followed. The other guards closed behind, and the procession marched through the corridor until they reached the Motie quarters. The elevator door closed softly.


Defiant lay nearly motionless in space at the outer fringes of the Murcheson System. There were other ships grouped around her in battle formation, and off to starboard hung Lenin like a swollen black egg. At least half the main battle fleet was in readiness at all times, and somewhere down in the red hell of the Eye other ships circled and waited. Defiant had just completed a tour with the Crazy Eddie Squadron.
That term was very nearly official. The men tended to use a lot of Mote terms. When a man won a big hand at poker he was likely to shout "Fyunch(click) !" And yet, Captain Herb Colvin mused, most of us have never seen a Motie. We hardly see their ships: just targets, helpless after transition.
A few had made it out of the Eye, but every one had been so badly damaged that it was hardly spaceworthy.
There was always plenty of time to warn the ships outside the Eye that another Mode was on the way-if the Eye hadn't killed them first.
The last few ships had emerged from the Crazy Eddie point at initial velocities up to a thousand km per second. How the hell could the Moties hit a Jump point at such speeds? Ships within the Eye couldn't catch them. They didn't need to, with the Mode crews-and autopilots-helpless in Jump shock and unable to decelerate. The fleeing black blobs had run up through the rainbow and exploded every time. Where the Modes used their unique expanding fields, they exploded sooner, picking up heat faster from the yellow-hot photosphere.
Herb Colvin laid down the latest report on Motie tricks and technology. He'd written a lot of it himself, and it all added up to hopeless odds against the -- Modes. They couldn't beat ships that didn't have to carry an Alderson
Drive, ships on station and waiting for Modes who still feel sorry for them.
Colvin took a bottle from the cabinet on the bulkhead of his patrol cabin and poured expertly despite the Coriolis forces. He carried his glass to his chair and sank into it. A packet of mail lay on his desk, the most recent letter from -his wife already ripped open so that he could be sure there was nothing wrong at home. Now he could read the letters in order. He raised his glass to Grace's picture on the desk.
She hadn't heard much from New Chicago, but things were all right there the last time her sister had written. Mail service to New Scotland was slow. The house she'd found was outside the New Scot defensive system, but she wouldn't won)' because Herb had told her the Moties couldn't get through. She'd -taken a lease for the whole three years they'd be out here.
Herb nodded in agreement. That would save money- three years on this blockade, then home, where he'd be Commodore of New Chicago's Home Fleet. Put the Aldemon engines back in Defiant: she'd be flagship when he took her home. A few years on blockade service was a small price to pay for the concessions the Empire offered.
It took the Moties to do it, Herb thought. Without them we'd still be fighting. There were still worlds outside the Empire and always would be, but in Trans-Coalsack unification was proceeding smoothly and there was more jawboning than fighting. The Moties did that for us, anyway.
A name caught Herb Colvin's eye. Lord Roderick Blaine, Chairman of the Imperial Commission Extraordinary- Colvin looked up at the bulkhead to see the familiar spot where Defiant had been patched following her battle with MacArthur. Blame's prize crew had done that, and a pretty good job it was. He's a competent man, Colvin admitted reluctantly. But heredity's still a hell of a way to choose leaders. The rebel democracy in New Chicago hadn't done too well either. He went back to Grace's letter.
My Lord Blaine had a new heir, his second. And Grace was helping out at this Institute Lady Blaine had set up.
His wife was excited because she often talked with Lady Sally and had even been invited out to the manor house to see the children.
The letter went on, and Colvin dutifully read it, but it was an effort. Would she never get tired of gushing about the aristocracy? We'll never agree on politics, he decided and looked up fondly at her picture again. Lord, I miss you- Chimes sounded through the ship and Herb stuffed the letters into his desk. It was time to go to work; tomorrow Commodore Cargill would come aboard for Fleet inspection. Herb rubbed his hands in anticipation. This time he'd show the Imperials just how a ship ought to be run. The winner of this inspection would get extra time ashore next leave, and he intended to have that for his crew.
As he stood a small yellow point of light flashed through the view port. One of these days, Herb thought. Someday we're going in there. With all the talent the Empire's got working on the problem we'll find a way to govern the Moties.
And what will we call ourselves then? he wondered. The Empire of Man and Motie? He grinned and went out to inspect his ship.

Blaine Manor was large, with sheltered gardens overhung with trees to protect their eyes from the bright sun.
Their quarters were very comfortable, and the Mediators had become accustomed to the ever present Marine guards. Ivan, as always, treated them as he would his own Warriors.
There was work. They had daily conferences with the Institute scientists, and for the Mediators there were the Blaine children. The oldest could speak a few words of Language and could read gestures as well as a young Master.
They were comfortable, but still it was a cage; and at nights they saw the brilliant red Eye and its tiny Mote. The Coal Sack was high in the night sky. It looked like a hooded Master blind in one eye.
"I fear," said Jock. "For my family, my civilization, my species, and my world."
"That's right, think large thoughts," said Charlie. "Why waste your mighty brain on little things? Look you -- " Her voice and posture changed; she would speak of serious matters. "We've done what we can. This Institute of Sally's is a trivial fiasco, but we continue to cooperate. We show how friendly and harmless and honest we are. And meanwhile the blockade works and it will always work. There's not a hole in it."
"There is," said Jock. "No human seems to consider that the Masters might reach the Empire through normal space."
"There is no hole," Charlie repeated. She shifted two arms for emphasis. "No breach before the next collapse. Curse! Who could build another Crazy Eddie probe before the famines begin? And where would they send it? Here, into their fleets?" She signaled contempt. "Perhaps into the Coal Sack, toward the heart of the Empire? Have you thought of the launching lasers-far greater to compensate for the dust in the Coal Sack? No. We have done what we can, and the Cycles have begun again."
"Then what can we anticipate?" Jock's right arms were folded, her left extended and open: ready for attack, and thus projecting rhetorical mercilessness. "There may be unsuccessful attempts to penetrate the blockade. Wasted effort. The collapse will be hastened. Then, a long period in which the spire can half forget that we exist.
"New technologies rise, warlike as rising technologies are always. They would know of humanity. Perhaps they can preserve or reinvent the Field. When they reach the height of their power, before the decline, they wilt breed Warriors and come forth conquering everything: Mote Prime, asteroids, all. And on to the Empire."
Charlie listened after a hurried glance at the Master. Ivan lay impassive, listening to the chatter of the Mediators as Masters often did, and it was impossible to know what he thought.
"Conquest," Jock said. "But the more progress they make against the Empire, the more thoroughly will the Empire retaliate. They have numbers. For all their talk of limiting populations, they have numbers and all of space. Until we can escape human space entirely and breed, they will always have the numbers. They bottle us up until we overbreed, and then collapse. And with the next collapse-extermination!"
Charlie's knees were against her belly, right arms pulled tight against her chest, left arm protecting her head. An infant about to be born into a cruel world. Her voice was muffled. "If you had better ideas, you should have raised them."
"No. There are no better ideas."
"We bought time. Hundreds of years of time. Sally and her silly institute will have hundreds of years to study the problem we raise for humans. Who knows, perhaps the horse will learn to sing hymns."
"Would you bet on it?"
Charlie looked out of the curve of her arm. "At these odds? Curse, yes!"
"Crazy Eddie!"
"Yes. A Crazy Eddie solution. What else is there? One way or another, the Cycles end now. Crazy Eddie has won his eternal war against the Cycles."
Jock looked to Ivan and met a shrug. Charlie had gone Crazy Eddie. It hardly mattered now; it was, in fact, a fine and enviable madness, this delusion that all questions have answers, and nothing is beyond the reach of a strong left arm.
They would never know. They would not live that long. But they had bought time; the Blaines knew what they must find, and their children would grow up to know Moties as more than a legend. Two generations of power would not hate Moties.
If anyone could teach a horse to sing hymns, it would be a trained Mediator.

The End