Foundation and Empire

Free Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov

Book: Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov Read Free Book Online
Authors: Isaac Asimov
Tags: Fiction, General, Science-Fiction
obscure member of an economic group which has no close connection with the enemy world introduce me to all the inner secrets of enemy strategy.”
    “You have questioned him?”
    “I have.”
    “Well?”
    “It has been useful, but not vitally so. His ship is tiny, of no account. He sells little toys which are amusing if nothing else. I have a few of the cleverest which I intend sending to the Emperor as curiosities. Naturally, there is a good deal about the ship and its workings which I do not understand, but then I am not a tech-man.”
    “But you have among you those who are,” pointed out Brodrig.
    “I, too, am aware of that,” replied the general in faintly caustic tones. “But the fools have far to go before they could meet my needs. I have already sent for clever men who can understand the workings of the odd nuclear field-circuits the ship contains. I have received no answer.”
    “Men of that type can not be spared, general. Surely, there must be one man of your vast province who understands nucleics.”
    “Were there such a one, I would have him heal the limping, invalid motors that power two of my small fleet of ships. Two ships of my meager ten that can not fight a major battle for lack of sufficient power supply. One fifth of my force condemned to the carrion activity of consolidating positions behind the lines.”
    The secretary’s fingers fluttered impatiently. “Your position is not unique in that respect, general. The Emperor has similar troubles.”
    The general threw away his shredded, never-lit cigarette, lit another, and shrugged. “Well, it is beside the immediate point, this lack of first-class tech-men. Except that I might have made more progress with my prisoner were my Psychic Probe in proper order.”
    The secretary’s eyebrows lifted. “You have a Probe?”
    “An old one. A superannuated one which fails me the one time I needed it. I set it up during the prisoner’s sleep, and received nothing. So much for the Probe. I have tried it on my own men and the reaction is quite proper, but again there is not one among my staff of tech-men who can tell me why it fails upon the prisoner. Ducem Barr, who is a theoretician of parts, though no mechanic, says the psychic structure of the prisoner may be unaffected by the Probe since from childhood he has been subjected to alien environments and neural stimuli. I don’t know. But he may yet be useful. I save him in that hope.”
    Brodrig leaned on his staff. A shall see if a specialist is available in the capital. In the meanwhile, what of this other man you just mentioned, this Siwennian? You keep too many enemies in your good graces.”
    “He knows the enemy. He, too, I keep for future reference and the help he may afford me.”
    “But he is a Siwennian and the son of a proscribed rebel.”
    “He is old and powerless, and his family acts as hostage.”
    “I see. Yet I think that I should speak to this trader, myself.”
    “Certainly.”
    “Alone,” the secretary added coldly, making his point.
    “Certainly,” repeated Riose, blandly. “As a loyal subject of the Emperor, I accept his personal representative as my superior. However, since the trader is at the permanent base, you will have to leave the front areas at an interesting moment.”
    “Yes? Interesting in what way?”
    “Interesting in that the Enclosure is complete today. Interesting in that within the week, the Twentieth Fleet of the Border advances inward towards the core of resistance.” Riose smiled and turned away.
    In a vague way, Brodrig felt punctured.

Foundation 2 - Foundation and Empire
    7. BRIBERY
    Sergeant Mori Luk made an ideal soldier of the ranks. He came from the huge agricultural planets of the Pleiades where only army life could break the bond to the soil and the unavailing life of drudgery; and he was typical of that background. Unimaginative enough to face danger without fear, he was strong and agile enough to face it successfully. He accepted orders

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