Original release date: November 12, 2021
The Invictus appears over Terminus due to the sacrifice of Foundation director Lewis Pirenne, who plugged himself into the ship’s systems at the last second. Salvor joyfully reunites with Hugo, then descends to Terminus to deactivate the Vault, which has enveloped all of the planet in its null field. On Trantor, Brother Dawn realizes Brother Dusk knows his secret and escapes into Trantor’s depths to find Azura, but he falls into the waiting hands of a conspiracy. All along, Azura was part of an anti-Empire group that had altered Dawn’s DNA before he was born, giving him imperfections with the expectation he would one day choose to flee the palace. The purpose of this was to create an opportunity to extract Dawn’s Imperial nanobots and implant them into a cooperative, perfect Cleon clone who would then assume Dawn’s identity. As Dawn despairs, Dusk arrives with Imperial troops who dispatch the conspirators and their counterfeit Cleon. Dusk leaves Dawn’s fate for the returning Brother Day to decide. On Terminus, Salvor solves the puzzle of the Vault, converting it into a portal. Before the gathered Anacreons, Thespins, and Termini, Salvor proposes harnessing the Invictus to give all three worlds leverage against the Empire. Phara tries to destroy the Vault, but is shot dead by Salvor. Before further violence can occur, Hari Seldon emerges from the portal.
* * *
[Gaal narrating] Ask a historian, “What was mankind’s greatest invention?” Fire? The wheel? The sword? I would argue it’s history itself. History isn’t fact. It’s narrative, one carefully curated and shaped. Under the pen strokes of the right scribe, a villain becomes a hero, a lie becomes the truth.
[Young Salvor] Daddy?
Where did we come from?
No, before that. Where did people come from in the beginning?
There are lots of different theories. Most of them say that humans originally inhabited a single planetary system.
And we don’t even know which. Sirius, Alpha Centauri… Some people think that we came from some place called Earth. Come here. Come.
So, everyone we know about, they also came from the same place? Anacreons and Thespins too?
Anacreons and Thespins too, yeah.
Then how can they hate us?
[sighs] Being human is complicated, Sal. We share a common origin and some of the same myths. But we’re governed by this. In here is all the capacity for rational thinking, but it’s sharing skull space with our emotions. And sometimes emotions shout louder than logic. And somebody’s emotions got real insistent that the Empire were doing them wrong.
So they blew up the Star Bridge.
Yeah. Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
So, they’re not like us at all then, right?
It gets loud up inside here too, doesn’t it?
I guess it does.
Come here. Come here. Here’s the thing, Sal. [sighs] Millions of people died when that Star Bridge came down. And the Empire killed many millions more on Anacreon and Thespis. And who won?
Nobody. And that’s how we know that the fall is bound to happen. [sighs] Past behavior is the best predictor of future performance.
[Abbas] Salvor Hardin…
[overlapping distorted chatter]
[distorted] We’re jumping.
[weapons firing, explosions]
[body clatters on floor]
Lewis? Lewis, where are you?
Terminus? We’re home. We jumped back home.
Damn it. You saved us. You wished us home.
Terminus Control, this is Salvor Hardin, on board the imperial warship Invictus. Do you read me? Terminus Control, do you read me? This is Salvor Hardin. Can anybody hear me?
This is Salvor Hardin calling the Thespin lancers. The Invictus jumped and we’ve dragged your ships into our quantum wake. We’re in orbit around Terminus. If you can hear me, I have no idea how to stop this ship from jumping again. It could be an hour from now. It could be days. I figure I’m stuck here, unless…
[Dawn] How do you get home? Take me through your route. Where does this corridor go?
The underground irrigation system. But there’s a path above it you could take through the old palace ruins. You end up at the servants’ exit, right next to the palace gates.
So, if I could exit here…
[Azura] Hyperloop station’s just there.
[Dawn] Gate security has DNA scanners. I’ll need the signal damper. For my nanobots. So they can’t track me.
I think I can get you one.
I don’t wanna die in this place.
You won’t. I can’t promise it’ll all go right. All I can promise is I won’t be the part that goes wrong.
I have to go. Brother Dusk is…
Cleon… I wish you had another name. [chuckles] One that was just yours.
Tomorrow you can give me one.
Get me that signal damper, and I’ll see you on the other side.
My apologies, Brother Dusk. I was, uh…
I understand. Time flows differently when you’re young. [chuckles] I, uh… I want to share something with you.
This is my workplace, as you know. The signature task of Dusk is to record our visual history. The end of the Robot Wars. The Golden Horse Rebellion. Each moment an inflection point for our dynasty, when the fate of the galaxy seemed to be hanging in the balance. [chuckles] As it did here… when I chastened the barbarian worlds for their acts of savagery. And even while I was painting it, I was conscious of how we, as its authors, would be represented. A clever artist provides commentary with his work. Even something as simple as a, uh, choice of color can convey a hidden meaning. And sometimes the moment’s not so obvious. Sometimes it slips past us, and you don’t even realize it until it is past, until your debut on the wall is upon you. I’ve painted you into our legacy. [chuckles]
Our hunt. Do you see the three ghillie raptors you shot?
[Dawn] Of course. I’ve dreamed of one day doing something, anything, worthy enough to be included in this mural. I don’t know why this small feat is… I’m honored. Thank you.
I knew you had the greatness of Cleon I in you. But during our hunt, I realized there was something else inside you as well. I’ll leave you to reflect on your own glorious moment. Take your time. Appreciate the subtleties.
[Gaal] What we choose to tell our children and what we censor. What we illuminate and what we gloss over. History as an act of addition and subtraction.
Empire, you’re needed in the Principium Tower.
I-I can’t. I’m busy.
Brother Dusk insists.
I’m indisposed. I need a minute alone, and I’ll come along. One minute. I am also Empire, you know.
Yes, Empire. But we both serve.
I forgot something. I need to go back.
It can wait.
[guards chattering indistinctly]
[guard] Lock down the entrance. [continues indistinctly]
Don’t let anyone in or out. [chattering]
[Azura] There’s a path you can take through the palace ruins. You end up at the servants’ exit, right next to the palace gates. This route takes you to the underground irrigation system. Hyperloop station’s just there.
[guard 2] Spread out.
[electronic voice] Warning. Water cycling imminent. Warning. Water cycling imminent.
Four moons, that’s a long jump.
Beggar, wake the hell up.
[computer] Welcome aboard, Captain Hardin.
[Dawn] Excuse me?
It’s an imperial aura. For your jacket?
Can you tell me how to get to the Desnian Sector on level 33?
Take the Cobalt Line down, then transfer to Ery Loop. You wanna head inner core.
Beggar, open a channel to Terminus Control.
[computer] Communications channel open.
Terminus Control, this is Salvor Hardin. Come in.
Beggar, scan all frequencies. Find me anyone on comms.
No active comms detected on the surface of Terminus.
You found someone?
Caution. Anomalous debris on potential intercept trajectory. Threat level low.
What the hell is that?
Alert. Anomalous debris on confirmed intercept trajectory. Threat level moderate.
I need guns. Where are the guns? Beggar, show me the guns.
Warning. Anomalous debris object impact imminent. Threat level severe. Warning. Target locked.
[Hugo on comms] Babe? Babe, are you there?
Hugo, is that you?
Our plan worked, Sal.
How’d you get here from the Belt?
Luck, mostly. I made contact with Thespin Command. I rode shotgun on one of the lancers. And then I could see the Invictus was about to jump, so I grabbed a sedation stick and knocked myself out for the jump. Warned the rest of my people to do the same. And I woke up to the dulcet tones of your voice. But I don’t understand how you woke up so quickly.
I never went to sleep. It’s like the Vault. I can’t explain how or why, but the jump just didn’t affect me.
So you got us back to Terminus?
No, that was Lewis. He died to get us back.
[Hugo] And the Foundation’s not responding?
No one is, not even the Anacreons Phara left behind. It’s the null field. I can feel it, Hugo. It’s… even bigger. It’s… louder. It’s like it’s enveloped the whole planet. I have to stop it.
Are you crazy? What if they’re all dead down there? What if we just left? Right now. We’ll make a run for the Red Corridor. I’ll show you Irina Four, I’ll show you Hesperus…
I can’t, Hugo.
What if there is no solution to this crisis? What if Seldon got it wrong?
I have to see this through, Hugo. I have to fix this.
[sighs] What do you want me to do?
The Invictus is gonna jump again unless your people can disable its drives.
Then let it jump. Let it take Phara. It’ll be out of our lives forever.
No. The Foundation needs that ship. It’s the way we end the crisis. I can’t tell you how…
[both] I just have a feeling.
You said you have absolute faith in me.
You still believe that?
Be kind of a dick if I changed my mind now, wouldn’t I?
I’ll see you on the other side.
[mouthing words] I love you.
[mouthing words] Me too.
[Azura] You’ve lived every moment of your life with people watching you. The Scar’s different. You can lose yourself in it.
For Empire, the Scar represents a failure. For the rest of Trantor, it represents an opportunity. For the first time in centuries, we can look up and see real clouds, real stars, not a simulation run by servers designed to keep us complacent.
[Azura] I live on level 33, in the Desnian Sector. Old Tertia makes the best spiced malkas on the planet. This is the corridor I take home. It’s nothing like your palace. It’s chaotic. It’s crowded. But it’s alive. And it’s waiting for you.
I couldn’t wait.
You’re not wearing your aura.
I traded it for this, so I wouldn’t be recognized.
The jacket’s smart. Now we can burn it.
We need to get my nanobots removed in case they’re tracking me. I… I-I probably shouldn’t even stay here.
It’s okay. I got the signal damper. That’ll cover you until we can arrange to…
Hey. The hardest part’s over. You got away from them. You’re here.
But, truthfully… you still smell terrible.
Why don’t you shower?
Hey, I was thinking about a new name for me.
What is that for?
[in Thespin] According to Salvor, the engine room is that way.
[both speak Thespin]
We’ve got about thirty-three hours to disable the jumpdrives.
What happened here?
A long and terrible story that no one’s alive to tell…
The bridge. Salvor has them tied up in there.
[Gaal, in English] A wise man once said, “A people without history is like a tree without roots.” What’s missing from the wise man’s history? When did story replace record? When all the facts fall short of believability, fantasy feels reassuringly solid. And since this is my history, I get to decide which parts have been subtracted, which have been added.
Mom? Mom? Mom. Mom, wake up, it’s me. Mom. Mom, wake up, it’s me.
Can you make anything of it?
Fine. I’ll figure it out myself.
[Abbas] Open your fists, Salvor.
Open your fists, Salvor.
[pants] Come on.
Can you make anything of it?
Salvor, if you were part of the Plan, it would make it a lot easier for me to believe in all this.
[Hari] How long did it take you… to trigger the Prime Radiant?
Got it on the second try.
[Gaal] History is the ultimate weapon, because it harnesses time itself. Used correctly, the past can alter the present. What other invention can do that?
I thought I’d never see you again.
Me too. [sobs]
[Mari chuckles, kisses]
The null field, it’s stopped. … Did you do this? … Is that a door?
[Salvor] I think so.
So, what now?
Now is where it ends.
[in Thespin] Did you find the Huntress?
[Hugo] We searched the entire ship.
No sign of her.
Then we get down to Terminus as fast as possible.
Obsidian, open a channel to Arkose and Gneiss.
[computer] Communications channel open.
[captain] This is Thespin Command. I want all lancers planet-side immediately.
[in English] Which one of you is this ship slave to?
Slave this ship to Phara Keaen, or you die too.
Arkose, invoke protocol. Ship transfer, Phara Keaen.
[distorted] Heart rate’s rising.
[man 2] If it gets to 120, then the bots go into crisis mode.
[man 1] I’ll increase the inhibitors.
Pulse is stabilizing.
[man 2] Start the transfer now.
[normal] We’re transferring your nanobots into my blood. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it? To have them removed?
Who are you?
A Dawn clone, obviously. Superficially identical to you.
[stammers] But how are you…
Here? Instead of floating in an aquarium? Our people managed to smuggle some of Cleon I’s DNA out of the palace. We’ve been working towards this day for decades. You surprised us. We’d planned to have you escape tomorrow.
This was all a trap. How could you do this to me?
You? This is about the rest of the galaxy, all the planets and people who’ve been crushed under the Empire’s heel.
It’s not his fault. It’s how he was raised. He and his brothers have always been told they are the light that never dims, an unbroken chain. [sighs] Reality just doesn’t penetrate their little terrarium. I don’t know how you’re gonna stomach it.
[other Dawn] I’ll be fine. I’ve been practicing my role long enough, the cloistered little tyrant in the making… projecting that subtle air of self-pitying, arrogant indifference.
Practicing? What are you talking about?
[imitating Dawn] “Practicing? What are you talking about?”
[normal] I’m your understudy, Dawn. And now it’s time for me to take center stage. I’m going to go back to the palace, and I’m gonna be you.
Wh… They’ll just kill you then. They… They know I’m different.
Right, but… I’m not. I’m not color-blind. I’m not left-handed. I’m genetically identical to Cleon I. And I can prove it.
I-I don’t understand. Ho… How can you be identical to the first, and I’m not?
“Magnetic nanoparticle transfection” is the technical term. It’s all a little over my head, but, basically, they altered your DNA after the fact. Like I said, this has been planned since before you or I took our first breath. Our people knew they had to get you out of the palace, but they couldn’t just take you. That would’ve been too risky. They had to make it so you’d choose to leave. You needed a motive to run. And what better motive than survival? We’re the ones who made you different, Empire. In a certain way, you’re lucky too. The Genetic Dynasty’s an affront to humanity, and you’re no longer part of it.
You never really were.
[man 2] The transfer’s complete.
[shushing] You had no choice in any of this… but thank you just the same.
Get him up.
What are you gonna do to me?
What do you think, Cleon?
Azura. Azura, this way.
Brother Dusk! I am so grateful.
I want a full memory audit of all the dead.
And the girl?
The girl. Yes. Quite a performance. It was a pleasure to observe it, tailored though it was to the young and foolish. You didn’t really think we’d let this drone leave the palace without alerting us, did you? We followed your whole enticing travelogue home, my dear.
You let him get away so he would lead you to us.
You got what you wanted then.
Never presume to understand what I want. You are stupid, naïve, gullible. So was I at your age. And these things are forgivable. But the matter of your… difference, that’s rather more complicated.
But you must’ve heard them. I’m a victim. We all are.
Yes. And that makes you the embodiment of our vulnerability, an ugly reminder of the knife-edge upon which our Genetic Dynasty is balanced. By what logic would we want to look on your face ever again?
My face? My face is your face. Forget logic. Try empathy.
Wait, wait, wait. Surely it’s not up to you. It’s up to Day.
True. Brother Day will be home soon. You can plead your case to him. I doubt his experience on the Maiden has made him serene.
[Poly] Warden, you made it back!
Keep your distance, you two.
But everyone’s waking up. It’s over.
It’s not over.
Salvor, wait. Don’t go in there.
I have to, Mom.
[Freestone] You will not! Step away. You said this wasn’t a trick, that you didn’t know what this was.
And yet your daughter has tamed it. How do you explain that?
[shouts in Anacreon]
Sorry, Sal. I tried to talk ’em out of landing.
No, this makes sense. This is where I’m supposed to be. Everything converging in a single crisis.
Where is our Huntress?
She lost control of the Invictus. Your plans for martyrdom, for Trantor, they’re done.
The Weald Gods have forsaken us.
Oh, hammered shit.
Well, isn’t this a pretty picture? Enemies old and new, conveniently gathered in one place. Drop your weapons and unbind him. And you, Warden, don’t even think about flashing that coin of yours.
I’m glad you’re alive, Phara, truly. I need you to hear this.
Last thing I’m interested in hearing is more words from you.
Phara, please. The jump induces psychosis. You’re not thinking straight.
I’m thinking just fine. Also aiming.
Look, if you don’t like what I have to say, you can kill me when I’m done. You can kill all of us.
That ship… is the most powerful weapon your people will ever get their hands on. If that’s the case, why destroy it? Why not use it for leverage?
We band together, all three worlds.
We can share the Invictus. We can repair it, together. All we have to do is let our logic speak louder than our emotions.
You would take up arms against your own Huntress?
The hunt is over, Phara.
[shouts in Anacreon]
She’s gone. Drop it.
Well, this is encouraging. Anacreons, Thespins, and Termini. Seeing you all gathered here gives me hope… we might actually pull this off.