The ship looked even more impressive than Trevize – with his memories of the time when the new cruiser-class had been glowingly publicized – had expected.
It was not the size that was impressive – for it was rather small.It was designed for maneuverability and speed, for totally gravitic engines, and most of all for advanced computerization.It didn’t need size – size would have defeated its purpose.
It was a one-man device that could replace, with advantage, the older ships that required a crew of a dozen or more.
With a second or even a third person to establish shifts of duty, one such ship could fight off a flotilla of much larger non-Foundation ships. In addition, it could outspeed and escape from any other ship in existence.
There was a sleekness about it – not a wasted line, not a superfluous curve inside or out. Every cubic meter of volume was used to its maximum, so as to leave a paradoxical aura of spaciousness within. Nothing the Mayor might have said about the importance of his mission could have impressed Trevize more than the ship with which he was asked to perform it.
Branno the Bronze, he thought with chagrin, had maneuvered him into a dangerous mission of the greatest significance. He might not have accepted with such determination had she not so arranged matters that he wanted to show her what he could do.
As for Pelorat, he was transported with wonder. “Would you believe,” he said, placing a gentle finger on the hull before he had climbed inside, “that I’ve never been close to a spaceship?”
“I’ll believe it, of course, if you say so, Professor, but how did you manage it?”
“I scarcely know, to be honest with you, dear fel – , I mean, my dear Trevize. I presume I was overly concerned with my research. When one’s home has a really excellent computer capable of reaching other computers anywhere in the Galaxy, one scarcely needs to budge, you know. – Somehow I expected spaceships to be larger than this.”
“This is a small model, but even so, it’s much larger inside than any other ship of this size.”
“How can that be? You are making fun of my ignorance.”
“No, no. I’m serious. This is one of the first ships to be completely graviticized.”
“What does that mean? – But please don’t explain if it requires extensive physics. I will take your word, as you took mine yesterday in connection with the single species of humanity and the single world of origin.”
“Let’s try, Professor Pelorat. Through all the thousands of years of space flight, we’ve had chemical motors and ionic motors and hyperatomic motors, and all these things have been bulky. The old Imperial Navy had ships five hundred meters long with no more living space in them than would fit into a small apartment. Fortunately the Foundation has specialized in miniaturization through all the centuries of its existence, thanks to its lack of material resources. This ship is the culmination. It makes use of antigravity and the device that makes that possible takes up virtually no space and is actually included in the hull. If it weren’t that we still need the hyperatomic…”
A Security guard approached. “You will have to get on, gentlemen!”
The sky was grooving light, though sunrise was still half an hour off.
Trevize looked about. “Is my baggage loaded?”
“Yes, Councilman, you will find the ship fully equipped.”
“With clothing, I suppose, that is not my size or to my taste.”
The guard smiled, quite suddenly and almost boyishly. “I think it is,” he said. “The Mayor had us working overtime these last thirty or forty hours and we’ve matched what you had closely. Money no object. Listen,” he looked about as though to make sure no one noticed his sudden fraternization, “you two are lucky. Best ship in the world. Fully equipped, except for armament. You’re swimming in cream.”
“Sour cream, possibly,” said Trevize. “Well, Professor, are you ready?”
“With this I am,” Pelorat said and held up a square wafer about twenty centimeters to the side and encased in a jacket of silvery plastic. Trevize was suddenly aware that Pelorat had been holding it since they had left his home, shifting it from hand to hand and never putting it down, even when they had stopped for a quick breakfast.
“What’s that, Professor?”
“My library. It’s indexed by subject matter and origin and I’ve gotten it all into one wafer. If you think this ship is a marvel, how about this wafer? A whole library! Everything I have collected! Wonderful! Wonderful!”
“Well,” said Trevize, “we are swimming in cream.”
Trevize marveled at the inside of the ship. The utilization of space was ingenious. There was a storeroom, with supplies of food, clothing, films, and games. There was a gym, a parlor, and two nearly identical bedrooms.
“This one,” said Trevize, “must be yours, Professor. At least, it contains an FX Reader.”
“Good,” said Pelorat with satisfaction. “What an ass I have been to avoid space flight as I have. I could live here, my dear Trevize, in utter satisfaction.”
“Roomier than I expected,” said Trevize with pleasure.
“And the engines are really in the hull, as you said?”
“The controlling devices are, at any rate. We don’t have to store fuel or make use of it on the spot. We’re making use of the fundamental energy store of the Universe, so that the fuel and the engines are all – out there.” He gestured vaguely.
“Well, now that I think of it – what if something goes wrong?”
Trevize shrugged. “I’ve been trained in space navigation, but not on these ships. If something goes wrong with the gravitics, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“But can you run this ship? Pilot it?”
“I’m wondering that myself.”
Pelorat said, “Do you suppose this is an automated ship? Might we not merely be passengers? We might simply be expected to sit here.”
“They have such things in the case of ferries between planets and space stations within a stellar system, but I never heard of automated hyperspace travel. At least, not so far. – Not so far.”
He looked about again and there was a trickle of apprehension within him. Had that harridan Mayor managed to maneuver that far ahead of him? Had the Foundation automated interstellar travel, too, and was he going to be deposited on Trantor quite against his will, and with no more to say about it than any of the rest of the furniture aboard ship?
He said with a cheerful animation he didn’t feel, “Professor, you sit down. The Mayor said this ship was completely computerized. If your room has the FX Reader, mine ought to have a computer in it. Make yourself comfortable and let me look around a bit on my own.
Pelorat looked instantly anxious. “Trevize, my dear chap. You’re not getting off the ship, are you?”
“Not my plan at all, Professor. And if I tried, you can count on my being stopped. It is not the Mayor’s intention to allow me off. All I’m planning to do is to learn what operates the Far Star.” He smiled, “I won’t desert you, Professor.”
He was still smiling as he entered, what he felt to be his own bedroom, but his face grew sober as he closed the door softly behind him. Surely there must be some means of communicating with a planet in the neighborhood of the ship. It was impossible to imagine a ship deliberately sealed off from its surroundings and, therefore, somewhere – perhaps in a wall recess – there would have to be a Reacher. He could use it to call the Mayor’s office to ask about controls.
Carefully he inspected the walls, the headboard of the bed, and the neat, smooth furniture. If nothing turned up here, he would go through the rest of the ship.
He was about to turn away when his eye caught a glint of light on the smooth, light brown surface of the desk. A round circle of light, with neat lettering that read: COMPUTER INSTRUCTIONS.
Nevertheless his heart beat rapidly. There were computers and computers, and there were programs that took a long time to master. Trevize had never made the mistake of underestimating his own intelligence, but, on the other hand, he was not a Grand Master. There were those who had a knack for using a computer, and those who had not – and Trevize knew very well into which class he fell.
In his hitch in the Foundation Navy, he had reached the rank of lieutenant and had, on occasion, been officer of the day and had had occasion to use the ship’s computer. He had never been in sole charge of it, however, and he had never been expected to know anything more than the routine maneuvers being officer of the day required.
He remembered, with a sinking feeling, the volumes taken up by a fully described program in printout, and he could recall the behavior of Technical Sergeant Krasnet at the console of the ship’s computer. He played it as though it were the most complex musical instrument in the Galaxy, and did it all with an air of nonchalance, as though he were bored at its simplicity – yet even he had had to consult the volumes at times, swearing at himself in embarrassment.
Hesitantly Trevize placed a finger on the circle of light and at once the light spread out to cover the desk top. On it were the outline of two hands: a right and a left. With a sudden, smooth movement, the desk top tilted to an angle of forty-five degrees.
Trevize took the seat before the desk. No words were necessary. It was clear what he was expected to do.
He placed his hands on the outlines on the desk, which were positioned for him to do so without strain. The desk top seemed soft, nearly velvety, where he touched it – and his hands sank in.
He stared at his hands with astonishment, for they had not sunk in at all. They were on the surface, his eyes told him. Yet to his sense of touch it was as though the desk surface had given way, and as though something were holding his hands softly and warmly.
Was that all?
He looked about and then closed his eyes in response to a suggestion.
He had heard nothing. He had heard nothing!
But inside his brain, as though it were a vagrant thought of his own, there was the sentence, “Please close your eyes. Relax. We will make connection.”
Through the hands?
Somehow Trevize had always assumed that if one were going to communicate by thought with a computer, it would be through a hood placed over the head and with electrodes against the eyes and skull.
But why not the hands? Trevize found himself floating away, almost drowsy, but with no loss of mental acuity. Why not the hands?
The eyes were no more than sense organs. The brain was no more than a central switchboard, encased in bone and removed from the working surface of the body. It was the hands that were the working surface, the hands that felt and manipulated the Universe.
Human beings thought with their hands. It was their hands that were the answer of curiosity, that felt and pinched and turned and lifted and hefted. There were animals that had brains of respectable size, but they had no hands and that made all the difference.
And as he and the computer held hands, their thinking merged and it no longer mattered whether his eyes were open or closed. Opening them did not improve his vision nor did closing them dim it.
Either way, he saw the room with complete clarity – not just in the direction in which he was looking, but all around and above and below.
He saw every room in the spaceship and he saw outside as well. The sun had risen and its brightness was dimmed in the morning mist, but he could look at it directly without being dazzled, for the computer automatically filtered the light waves.
He felt the gentle wind and its temperature, and the sounds of the world about him. He detected the planet’s magnetic field and the tiny electrical charges on the wall of the ship.
He became aware of the controls of the ship, without even knowing what they were in detail. He knew only that if he wanted to lift the ship, or turn it, or accelerate it, or make use of any of its abilities, the process was the same as that of performing the analogous process to his body. He had but to use his will.
Yet his will was not unalloyed. The computer itself could override. At the present moment, there was a formed sentence in his head and he knew exactly when and how the ship would take off. There was no flexibility where that was concerned. Thereafter, he knew just as surely, he would himself he able to deride.
He found – as he cast the net of his computer – enhanced consciousness outward – that he could sense the condition of the upper atmosphere; that he could see the weather patterns; that he could detect the other ships that were swarming upward and the others that were settling downward. All of this had to be taken into ac, count and the computer was taking it into account. If the computer had not been doing so, Trevize realized, he need only desire the computer to do so – and it would be done.
So much for the volumes of programming; there were none. Trevize thought of Technical Sergeant Krasnet and smiled. He had read often enough of the immense revolution that gravities would make in the world, but the fusion of computer and mind was still a state secret. It would surely produce a still greater revolution.
He was aware of time passing. He knew exactly what time it was by Terminus Local and by Galactic Standard.
How did he let go?
And even as the thought entered his mind, his hands were released and the desk top moved back to its original position – and Trevize was left with his own unaided senses.
He felt blind and helpless as though, for a time, he had been held and protected by a superbeing and now was abandoned. Had he not known that he could make contact again at any time, the feeling might have reduced him to tears.
As it was he merely struggled for re-orientation, for adjustment to limits, then rose uncertainly to his feet and walked out of the room.
Pelorat looked up. He had adjusted his Reader, obviously, and he said, “It works very well. It has an excellent Search Program. – Did you find the controls, my boy?”
“Yes, Professor. All is well.”
“In that case, shouldn’t we do something about takeoff? I mean, self-protection? Aren’t we supposed to strap ourselves in or something? I looked about for instructions, but I didn’t find anything and that made me nervous. I had to turn to my library. Somehow when I am at my work…”
Trevize had been pushing his hands at the professor as though to dam and stop the flood of words. Now he had to speak loudly in order to override him. “None of that is necessary, Professor. Antigravity is the equivalent of noninertia. There is no feeling of acceleration when velocity changes, since everything on the ship undergoes the change simultaneously.”
“You mean, we won’t know when we are off the planet and out in space?”
“It’s exactly what I mean, because even as I speak to you, we have taken off. We will be cutting through the upper atmosphere in a very few minutes and within half an hour we will be in outer space.”
Pelorat seemed to shrink a little as he stared at Trevize. His long rectangle of a face grew so blank that, without showing any emotion at all, it radiated a vast uneasiness.
Then his eyes shifted right – Left.
Trevize remembered how he had felt on his own first trip beyond the atmosphere.
He said, in as matter-of-fact a manner as he could, “Janov,” (it was the first time he had addressed the professor familiarly, but in this case experience was addressing inexperience and it was necessary to seem the older of the two) “we are perfectly safe here. We are in the metal womb of a warship of the Foundation Navy. We are not fully armed, but there is no place in the Galaxy where the name of the Foundation will not protect us. Even if some ship went mad and attacked, we could move out of its reach in a moment. And I assure you I have discovered that I can handle the ship perfectly.”
Pelorat said, “It is the thought, Go-Golan, of nothingness…”
“Why, there’s nothingness all about Terminus. There’s just a thin layer of very tenuous air between ourselves on the surface and the nothingness just above. Ail we’re doing is to go past that inconsequential layer.”
“It may be inconsequential, but we breathe it.”
“We breathe here, too. The air on this ship is cleaner and purer, and will indefinitely remain cleaner and purer than the natural atmosphere of Terminus.”
“And the meteorites?”
“What about meteorites?”
“The atmosphere protects us from meteorites. Radiation, too, for that matter.”
Trevize said, “Humanity has been traveling through space for twenty millennia, I believe…”
“Twenty-two. If we go by the Hallblockian chronology, it is quite plain that, counting the…”
“Enough! Have you heard of meteorite accidents or of radiation deaths? – I mean, recently? – I mean, in the case of Foundation ships?”
“I have not really followed the news in such matters, but I am a historian, my boy, and…”
“Historically, yes, there have been such things, but technology improves. There isn’t a meteorite large enough to damage us that can possibly approach us before we take the necessary evasive action. Four meteorites – coming at us simultaneously from the four directions drawn from the vertices of a tetrahedron – might conceivably pin us down, but calculate the chances of that and you’ll find that you’ll die of old. age a trillion trillion times over before you will have a fifty-fifty chance of observing so interesting a phenomenon.”
“You mean, if you were at the computer?”
“No,” said Trevize in Scorn. “If I were running the computer on the basis of my own senses and responses, we would be hit before I ever knew what was happening. It is the computer itself that is at work, responding millions of times faster than you or I could.” He held out his hand abruptly. “Janov, come let me show you what the computer can do, and let me show you what space is like.”
Pelorat stared, goggling a bit. Then he laughed briefly. “I’m not sure I wish to know, Golan.”
“Of course you’re not sure, Janov, because you don’t know what it is that is waiting there to be known. Chance it! Come! Into my room!”
Trevize held the other’s hand, half leading him, half drawing him. He said, as he sat down at the computer, “Have you ever seen the Galaxy, Janov? Have you ever looked at it?”
Pelorat said, “You mean in the sky?”
“Yes, certainly. Where else?”
“I’ve seen it. Everyone has seen it. If one looks up, one sees it.”
“Have you ever stared at it on a dark, clear night, when the Diamonds are below the horizon?”
The “Diamonds” referred to those few stars that were luminous enough and close enough to shine with moderate brightness in the night sky of Terminus. They were a small group that spanned a width of no more than twenty degrees, and for large parts of the night they were all below the horizon. Aside from he group, there was a scattering of dim stars just barely visible to the unaided eye. There was nothing more but the faint milkiness of the Galaxy – the view one might expect when one dwelt on a world like Terminus which was at the extreme edge of the outermost spiral of the Galaxy.
“I suppose so, but why stare? It’s a common sight.”
“Of course it’s a common sight,” said Trevize. “That’s why no one sees it. Why see it if you can always see it? But now you’ll see it, and not from Terminus, where the mist and the clouds are forever interfering. You’ll see it as you’d never see it from Terminus – no matter how you stared, and no matter how clear and dark the night. How I wish I had never been in space before, so that – like you – I could see the Galaxy in its bare beauty for the first time.”
He pushed a chair in Pelorat’s direction. “Sit there, Janov. This may take a little time. I have to continue to grow accustomed to the computer. From what I’ve already felt, I know the viewing is holographic, so we won’t need a screen of any sort. It makes direct contact with my brain, but I think I can have it produce an objective image that you will see, too. – Put out the light, will you? – No, that’s foolish of me. I’ll have the computer do it. Stay where you are.”
Trevize made contact with the computer, holding hands warmly and intimately.
The light dimmed, then went out completely, and in the darkness, Pelorat stirred.
Trevize said, “Don’t get nervous, Janov. I may have a little trouble trying to control the computer, but I’ll start easy and you’ll have to be patient with me. Do you see it? The crescent?”
It hung in the darkness before them. A little dim and wavering at first, but getting sharper and brighter.
Pelorat’s voice sounded awed. “Is that Terminus? Are we that far from it?”
“Yes, the ship’s moving quickly.”
The ship was curving into the night shadow of Terminus, which appeared as a thick crescent of bright light. Trevize had a momentary urge to send the ship in a wide arc that would carry them over the daylit side of the planet to show it in all its beauty, but he held back.
Pelorat might find novelty in this, but the beauty would be tame. There were too many photographs, too many reaps, too many globes. Every child knew what Terminus looked like. A water planet more so than most-rich in water and poor in minerals, good in agriculture and poor in heavy industry, but the best in the Galaxy in high technology and in miniaturization.
If he could have the computer use microwaves and translate it into a visible model, they would see every one of Terminus’s ten thousand inhabited islands, together with the only one of them large enough to be considered a continent, the one that bore Terminus City and
It was just a thought, an exercise of the will, but the view shifted at once. The lighted crescent moved off toward the borders of vision and rolled off the edge. The darkness of starless space filled his eyes.
Pelorat cleared his throat. “I wish you would bring back Terminus, my boy. I feel as though I’ve been blinded.” There was a tightness in his voice.
“You’re not blind. Look!”
Into the field of vision came a filmy fog of pale translucence. It spread and became brighter, until the whole room seemed to glow.
Another exercise of will and the Galaxy drew off, as though seen through a diminishing telescope that was steadily growing more powerful in its ability to diminish. The Galaxy contracted and became a structure of varying luminosity.
It grew more luminous without changing size, and because the stellar system to which Terminus belonged was above the Galactic plane, the Galaxy was not seen exactly edge-on. It was a strongly foreshortened double spiral, with curving dark-nebula rifts streaking the glowing edge of the Terminus side. The creamy haze of the nucleus – far off and shrunken by the distance – looked unimportant.
Pelorat said in an awed whisper, “You are right. I have never seen it like this. I never dreamed it had so much detail.”
“How could you? You can’t see the outer half when Terminus’s atmosphere is between you and it. You can hardly see the nucleus from Terminus’s surface. ”
“What a pity we’re seeing it so nearly head-on.”
“We don’t have to. The computer can show it in any orientation. I just have to express the wish – and not even aloud.”
This exercise of will was by no means a precise command. Yet as the image of Galaxy began to undergo a slow change, his mind guided the computer and had it do what he wished.
Slowly the Galaxy was turning so that it could be seen at right angles to the Galactic plane. It spread out like a gigantic, glowing whirlpool, with curves of darkness, and knots of brightness, and a central all-but-featureless blaze.
Pelorat asked, “How can the computer see it from a position in space that must be more than fifty thousand parsecs from this place?” Then he added, in a choked whisper, “Please forgive me that I ask. I know nothing about all this.”
Trevize said, “I know almost as little about this computer as you do. Even a simple computer, however, can adjust co-ordinates and show the Galaxy in any position, starting with what it can sense in the natural position, the one, that is, that would appear from the computer’s local position in space. Of course, it makes use only of the information it can sense to begin with, so when it changes to the broadside view we would find gaps and blurs in what it would show. In this case, though…”
“We have an excellent view. I suspect that the computer is outfitted with a complete map of the Galaxy and can therefore view it from any angle with equal ease.”
“How do you mean, a complete map?”
“The spatial co-ordinates of every star in it must be in the computer’s memory banks.”
“Every star?” Pelorat seemed awed.
“Well, perhaps not all three hundred billion. It would include the stars shining down on populated planets, certainly, and probably every star of spectral class K and brighter. That means about seventy-five billion, at least.”
“Every star of a populated system?”
“I wouldn’t want to be pinned down; perhaps not all. There were, after all, twenty-five million inhabited systems in the time of Hari Seldon – which sounds like a lot but is only one star out of every twelve thousand. And then, in the five centuries since Seldon, the general breakup of the Empire didn’t prevent further colonization. I should think it would have encouraged it. There are still plenty of habitable planets to expand into, so there may be thirty million now. It’s possible that not all the new ones are in the Foundation’s records.”
“But the old ones? Surely they must all be there without exception.”
“I imagine so. I can’t guarantee it, of course, but I would be surprised if any long-established inhabited system were missing from the records. Let me show you something – if my ability to control the computer will go far enough.”
Trevize’s hands stiffened a bit with the effort and they seemed to sink further into the clasp of the computer. That might not have been necessary; he might only have had to think quietly and casually: Terminus!
He did think that and there was, in response, a sparkling red diamond at the very edge of the whirlpool.
“There’s our sun,” he said with excitement. “That’s the star that Terminus circles.”
“Ah,” said Pelorat with a low, tremulous sigh.
A bright yellow dot of light sprang into life in a rich cluster of stars deep in the heart of the Galaxy but well to one side of the central haze. It was rather closer to the Terminus edge of the Galaxy than to the other side.
“And that,” said Trevize, “is Trantor’s sun.”
Another sigh, then Pelorat said, “Are you sure? They always speak of Trantor as being located in the center of the Galaxy.”
“It is, in a way. it’s as close to the center as a planet can get and still be habitable. It’s closer than any other major populated system. The actual center of the Galaxy consists of a black hole with a mass of nearly a million stars, so that the center is a violent place. As far as we know, there is no life in the actual center and maybe there just can’t be any life there. Trantor is in the innermost subring of the spiral arms and, believe me, if you could see its night sky, you would think it was in the center of the Galaxy. It’s surrounded by an extremely rich clustering of stars.”
“Have you been on Trantor, Golan?” asked Pelorat in clear envy.
“Actually no, but I’ve seen holographic representations of its sky.”
Trevize stared at the Galaxy somberly. In the great search for the Second Foundation during the time of the Mule, how everyone had played with Galactic maps – and how many volumes had been written and filmed on the subject
And all because Hari Seldom had said, at the beginning, that the Second Foundation would be established “at the other end of the Galaxy,” calling the place “Star’s End.”
At the other end of the Galaxy! Even as Trevize thought it, a thin blue line sprang into view, stretching from Terminus, through the Galaxy’s central black hole, to the other end. Trevize nearly jumped. He had not directly ordered the line, but he had thought of it quite clearly and that had been enough for the computer.
But, of course, the straight-line route to the opposite side of the Galaxy was not necessarily an indication of the “other end” that Seldom had spoken of. It was Arkady Darell (if one could believe her autobiography) who had made use of the phrase “a circle has no end” to indicate what everyone now accepted as truth
And though Trevize suddenly tried to suppress the thought, the computer was too quick for him. The blue line vanished and was replaced with a circle that neatly rimmed the Galaxy in blue and that passed through the deep red dot of Terminus’s sun.
A circle has no end, and if the circle began at Terminus, then if we searched for the other end, it would merely return to Terminus, and there the Second Foundation had indeed been found, inhabiting the same world as the First.
But if, in reality, it had not been found – if the so-called finding of the Second Foundation had been an illusion – what then? What beside a straight line and a circle would make sense in this connection?
Pelorat said, “Are you creating illusions? Why is there a blue circle?”
“I was just testing my controls. – Would you like to locate Earth?”
There was silence for a moment or two, then Pelorat said, “Are you joking?”
“No. I’ll try.”
He did. Nothing happened.
“Sorry,” said Trevize.
“It’s not there? no Earth?”
“I suppose I might have misthought my command, but that doesn’t seem likely. I suppose it’s more likely that Earth isn’t listed in the computer’s vitals.”
Pelorat said, “It may be listed under another name.”
Trevize jumped at that quickly, “What other name, Janov?”
Pelorat said nothing and, in the darkness, Trevize smiled. It occurred to him that things might just possibly be falling into place. Let it go for a while. Let it ripen. He deliberately changed the subject and said, “I wonder if we can manipulate time.”
“Time! How can we do that?”
“The Galaxy is rotating. It takes nearly half a billion years for Terminus to move about the grand circumference of the Galaxy once. Stars that are closer to the center complete the journey much more quickly, of course. The motion of each star, relative to the central black hole, might be recorded in the computer and, if so, it may be possible to have the computer multiply each motion by millions of times and make the rotational effect visible. I can try to have it done.”
He did and he could not help his muscles tightening with the effort of will he was exerting – as though he were taking hold of the Galaxy and accelerating it, twisting it, forcing it to spin against terrible resistance.
The Galaxy was moving. Slowly, mightily, it was twisting in the direction that should be working to tighten the spiral arms.
Time was passing incredibly rapidly as they watched – a false, artificial time – and, as it did so, stars became evanescent things.
Some of the larger ones – here and there – reddened and grew brighter as they expanded into red giants. And then a star in the central clusters blew up soundlessly in a blinding blaze that, for a tiny fraction of a second, dimmed the Galaxy and then was gone. Then another in one of the spiral arms, then still another not very far away from it.
“Supernovas,” said Trevize a little shakily.
Was it possible that the computer could predict exactly which stars would explode and when? Or was it just using a simplified model that served to show the starry future in general terms, rather than precisely?
Pelorat said in a husky whisper, “The Galaxy looks like a living thing, crawling through space.”
“It does,” said Trevize, “but I’m growing tired. Unless I learn to do this less tensely, I’m not going to be able to play this kind of game for long.”
He let go. The Galaxy slowed, then halted, then tilted, until it was in the view-from-the-side from which they had seen it at the start.
Trevize closed his eyes and breathed deeply. He was aware of Terminus shrinking behind them, with the last perceptible wisps of atmosphere gone from their surroundings. He was aware of all the ships filling Terminus’s near-space.
It did not occur to him to check whether there was anything special about any one of those ships. Was there one that was gravitic like his own and matched his trajectory more closely than chance would allow?