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"My personal regrets, sir," said Mandamus dryly, "but we are now talking of Aurora and the Spacer
worlds. There will be others who will carry on your task."
"You, for instance?"
"You have promised me the headship, of the Institute and as you see, I have earned it. From that
political base, I may reasonably hope to become Chairman someday and I will carry through those
policies that will be necessary to make certain of the final dissolution of the by-then anarchic worlds of
the Settlers."
"That's pretty confident of you. What if you turn On the W particle flow and then someone else turns it
down in the course of the next fifteen decades?"
"Not possible, sir. Once the device is set, an internal atomic shift will freeze it in that position. After that,
the process is irreversible-no matter what happens here. The whole place may be vaporized and the crust
will nevertheless continue its slow bum. I suppose it would be possible to rebuild an entirely new setup if
anyone on earth or among the Settlers can duplicate my work, but if so they can only further increase the
rate of radioactivity, never decrease it. The second law of thermodynamics will see to that."
Amadiro said, "Mandamus, you say you have earned the headship. However, I'm the one to decide that,
I think."
Mandamus said stiffly, "You are not, sir. With respect, the details of this process are known to me, but
not to you. Those details are encoded in a place you will not find and, even if you do, it is guarded by
robots who will destroy it rather than allow it to fall into your hands. You cannot gain credit for, this. I
Amadiro said, "Nevertheless, getting my, approval will hasten matters for you. If you were to wrest the
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headship from my unwilling hands, by whatever means, you will have a continuing opposition among
other members of the Council that will hamper you through all your decades in the post. Is it just the title
of head you want or the opportunity to experience all that comes of true leadership?"
Mandamus said, "Is this the time to talk politics? A moment ago, you were all impatience over the fact
that I might linger fifteen minutes over my computer."
"Ah, but we are now talking about adjusting, the W particle beam. You want to place it at 2.72 -was
that the figure?- and yet I wonder if that can be right. What is the extreme range you can handle?"
"The range goes from zero to twelve, but it is 2.72 that is required. Plus or minus 0.05-if you wish further
It is that which, on the, basis of reports from all fourteen relays will allow a lapse of fifteen decades to
"Yet what I think is the correct figure is twelve."
Mandamus stared at the other in horror. "Twelve? Do you understand what that means?"
"Yes. It means we will have the Earth too radioactive to live upon in a decade or a decade and a half
and we will kill a few billion Earthpeople in the process."
"And make certain a war with an infuriated Settler Federation. What can you want of such a holocaust?"
"I tell you again. I do not expect to live another fifteen decades and I want to live to see the destruction
of Earth."
"But you -would also be assuring the maiming-maiming, at the very least-of Aurora. You cannot be
"But I am. I have twenty decades of defeat and humiliation to make up."
"Those decades were brought about by Han Fastolfe and Giskard-and not by Earth."
"No, they were brought about by an Earthman, Elijah Baley."
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"Who has been dead for more than sixteen decades. What is the value of a moment of vengeance over a
man long dead."
"I do not want to argue the matter, I will make you an offer. The title of head at once I will resign my
post the instant we return to Aurora and nominate you in my place."
"No. I do not want the headship on those terms. Death to billions!"
"Billions of Earthmen. Well, I cannot trust you, then, to manipulate, the controls properly. Show
me-me-how to set the control instrument and I will take the responsibility. I will still resign my post on our
return and will nominate you in my place."
"No. It will still mean the death of billions and who knows how many millions of Spacers as well. Dr.
Amadiro, please understand that I will not do it on any terms and that you cannot do it without me. The
setting mechanism is keyed to my left thumbprint."
"I ask you again."
"You cannot be sane if you ask me again despite all I have said."
"That, Mandamus, is a personal opinion of yours. I am not so insane that I have failed to send off all the
local robots on one errand or another. We are alone here."
Mandamus lifted a comer of his upper lip in a sneer. "And with what do you intend to threaten me? Are
you going to kill me now that there are no robots present to stop you?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact, Mandamus, I will if I have to." Amadiro produced a small-caliber blaster from
a pouch at his side. "These are difficult to obtain on Earth, but not impossible-if the price is right. And I
know how to use it. Please believe me when I tell you that I am perfectly willing to blow your head off
right now-if you do not place your, thumb on the contact and allow me to adjust the dial to twelve."
"You dare not. If I die, how will you set the dial without me?"
"Don't be an utter fool. If I blow your head off, your left thumb will remain intact. It will even be at blood
temperature for a while. I will use that thumb, then set the dial as easily as I would turn on a water tap. I
would prefer you alive, since your death might be wearisome to explain back on Aurora, but it would not
be more wearisome than I could bear. Therefore, I give you thirty seconds to make up your mind. If you
cooperate, I will still give you the headship at once. If you don't, it will all go as I wish, in any case, and
you will be dead. We start now. One-two-three-"
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Mandamus stared in horror at Amadiro, who continued to count and stare at him over the leveled blaster
with hard, expressionless eyes.
And then Mandamus hissed, "Put the blaster away, Amadiro, or we'll both be immobilized on the plea
that we must be protected from harm."
The warning came too late. Quicker than the eye could follow, an arm stretched out to seize Amadiro's
wrist, paralyzing it with pressure, and the blaster was gone.
Daneel said, "I apologize for having had to inflict pain on you, Dr. Amadiro, but I cannot allow you to
hold a blaster pointed at another human being."
Amadiro said nothing.
Mandamus said coldly, "You are two robots with, as far as I can see, no master in view. By default, I
am your master and I order you to leave and not return. Since, as you see, there is no danger to any
human being present at this moment, there is nothing to overcome your necessitated obedience to this
order. Leave at once."
Daneel said, "Respectfully, sir, there is no need to hide our identities or abilities from you, since you
know them already. My companion, R. Giskard Reventlov, has the ability to detect emotion. -Friend
Giskard said, "As we approached, having detected your presence at quite a distance, I took note, Dr.
Amadiro, of an overwhelming rage in your mind. In yours, Dr. Mandamus, there was extreme fear." [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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