Quote of the Day – September 30, 2017: Foundation – Isaac Asimov
In Wienis's apartment there was a grave silence when the image of Prince Lefkin appeared on the television screen. The Regent lets him escape an exclamation of astonishment seeing his son's tired, shaded face and raging uniform; slide on a chair with its face crippled by amazement and bleak thoughts.
Hardin listens dignifiedly, with his hands gently left on his knees, while King Lepold sat collapsed in a dark corner by spasmodically biting his richly ornate sleeve with a golden fabric. Even the soldiers had lost their high-profile attire and cold eyes, characteristic of career soldiers, and, near the door, where they sat tensely, with the disintegrators ready, they looked at the image on the screen.
Lefkin spoke reluctantly, in a tired voice that seemed strangled at certain intervals, as if someone had blown what to say:
– Anacreon's fleet… aware of the nature of her mission… and refusing to participate… To an abominable sacrilege… He's going back to Anacreon… with the next ultimatum sent… those sinners and moles… who dare to use the force of weapons… against the Foundation… the source of all blessings,… and against the Galactic Spirit. To stop the war against… the faith of the true… and to be conveniently guaranteed to the fleet… now represented by… Deputy Chief Priest, Theo Aporat… that such a war will not be declared… in the future and that… (here there followed a longer pause, after which the voice continues) that former Prince Regent, Wienis,… will be imprisoned… and tried by an ecclesiastical court… for his crimes. Otherwise, on his return to Anacreon… The royal fleet will crumble to the ground the royal palace… and will take all measures it deems necessary… to destroy the nest of sinners… and the lair of those who want to crush… the souls of men, who have precedence at this time.
The voice concludes with a sigh and the image disappeared from the screen.
Hardin's fingers passed agile over the Atomo bulb and his light became weaker until, in the semi-darkness, the one who had been regent until that moment became shadows suspended in the mist; and for the first time it could be seen that an aura was shrouding Hardin.
It was not the blinding light that was the prerogative of kings, but a less spectacular one, less impressive, but nevertheless more efficient and useful.
Hardin's voice was slightly ironic, and Wienis, who an hour ago had declared him a prisoner of war and considered Terminus destroyed, was now a shadow falling into a chair, crushed and speechless.
– There's an ancient fable, said Hardin, ancient since humanity, probably because its earliest records are just copies of other and older records that might be of interest to you. It sounds like this:
"A horse, whose strong and dangerous enemy was a wolf, lived in a constant fear that he would lose his life. In a desperate situation, he was considering looking for a powerful ally. He then approached man, proposing an alliance on the grounds that the wolf was a common enemy to them. The man accepts the date and offered to kill the wolf if his new partner cooperated, providing him with his great image. The horse will bend, and allowed the man to cheat on him. The man endeaves, brings down the wolf and killed him.
Relieved and glad, the horse thanked the man and said to him:
– Now that our enemy is dead, take out my reins and my door, and give me back my freedom!
Hearing these, the man laughed at himself:
– You're nice talk. Sir, you gag! And he'd pass on."
Full silence. Wienis, who was just a shadow, did not make any gestures.
Hardin continues molcom:
– I hope you understand the analogy. In the desire to cement their forever domination of their own peoples, the kings of the Four Kingdoms accepted the religion of science that made them divine; but the same religion was for them the reins and the shed, as the life-giving blood of atomic energy was entrusted to the priests – who have always received commandments from us, please remember this, and not from you. You killed the wolf, but you couldn't escape the hat and the saddle…
Wienis jumped on his feet and, in the semi-darkness, his eyes seemed like rabid cockroaches. His voice was incoherent and hoarse:
– And yet I'm going to arrest you. You're not going to miss me. You'll rot in the dungeon! We'd better be destroyed. Let everything be shaved off the face of the earth. Damn you! You won't get away! Soldiers! he screams in a hysterical voice. Take down this devil! Disintegrate it! Drag!
Without getting off his chair, Hardin turned his face at the soldiers and smiled at them. One of them picks up the gun and then leaves it down. The others remained as petrified. Salvor Hardin, the mayor of Terminus, surrounded by that delicate aura, smiling confidently, and in front of which the entire power of Anacreon had crumbled like a sand castle, dominated them, despite the commandments that the brainless Regent screamed.
Wienis frees a curse and turns on the intertwined towards the nearest soldier. With wild gestures, he ripped the gun out of the man's hand, heading towards Hardin, who made no movement to defend himself, and presses on the trigger.
The continuous beam of pale light reached the force field that surrounded the mayor and was sucked, neutralized and made harmless. Wienis pushes even harder on the trigger and laughs with tears.
Hardin continues to smile, and the aura of the force field shines even stronger, absorbing the energy released by the disintegrator. In his corner, Lepold had his hands to his eyes and began to moan.
With a powerless and desperate scream, Wienis changes the direction of the disintegrator pipe and pulled again – then collapses to the ground with his head crushed.
Hardin shakes up in front of this scene and murmurs:
– A man of "direct action" until his last breath. Last refuge!
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