Original release date: November 19, 2021
Hari, a second digital copy of the original, explains the Vault was his casket all along, which transformed after being jettisoned and reached Terminus before the colonists. He also reveals the Foundation’s true purpose was not to safeguard knowledge, but to forge a new civilization assisted by Anacreon and Thespis, and suggests using the Invictus to fake a “megaflare” to make it appear Terminus had been purged of life; this would allow the Outer Reach to develop in secret from the Empire. As Hari returns to the Vault until the next crisis, he tells Salvor that her visions were not sent by him. Months later, Hugo is captain of the Invictus, and Salvor is running for mayor of Terminus. When Salvor learns she was conceived by Gaal and Raych before being carried to term by her mother Mari, she realizes her visions are her genetic parents’ memories and leaves Terminus in search of Gaal. On Trantor, Brother Day decides to spare Dawn over Dusk’s objections, but Demerzel kills Dawn anyway, affirming that her loyalty to the Cleon dynasty supersedes Day’s wishes. Day is later informed that the anti-Empire conspiracy also altered the DNA of Cleon I’s body long ago, affecting not only all extant replacement clones, but also Day himself and possibly his predecessors. In 12,240 E.I., Gaal lands on Synnax, and at the ruins of her hometown, she finds another pod under water into a spaceship wreckage and awakens Salvor who tells her she is her daughter.
* * *
[Gaal narrating] My mother used to say that going to sleep was a leap of faith. Our souls wander when we dream, or so she told me. And if we say our devotions, our souls will find their way back before we wake. Climbing from our cradle is another leap. So is leaving the comfort of home. For some, it’s setting sail, hurtling ourselves into the void. We send messages into space hoping someone will answer, praying we find safe harbor over the horizon.
[Hari] Anacreon and Thespis, you’ve been at each other’s throats so long, the origin of your enmity is almost irrelevant.
We have legitimate grounds for our hatred.
The First Betrayal and a thousand atrocities since.
No one knows what really happened that night.
The First Betrayal.
A Thespin king newly wed to an Anacreon huntress.
The two emerging powers of the Outer Reach united in marriage.
Are you gonna teach us our own history now, dead man? Huh?
The Thespin dog slit her throat on their wedding bed.
So the legend goes.
Are you suggesting our history’s wrong?
History is written by the victor, and neither of you seem to be winning.
There was a witness.
The only witness, an Anacreon handmaid who testified
that King Throy un Thark got drunk the night of the wedding
and, in a fit of rage, murdered your huntress.
The handmaid lied.
The nature of the lie is relevant here.
On her deathbed, the handmaid made a confession.
The real murderer was Cleon II.
The first clone in the Genetic Dynasty realized
that a plan could unfold over several lifetimes.
He saw where this new alliance could lead,
so he had his shadowmaster seduce the handmaiden, drug the newlyweds,
murder your huntress and implicate your king.
Why fight two upstart kingdoms
when you can exploit their racial animus and have them fight each other?
The clones played you.
But today, thanks to the Foundation,
we could put back together what Empire has broken.
No. We are not uniting with them now, no matter how this started.
And even if we did, Empire is too strong.
Now you have the Invictus.
The Invictus is only one ship.
One ship can be the first of many.
If both your peoples will set aside hatred in favor of strength,
as those poor newlyweds did,
then you’ll find here the skills necessary to build more ships.
For the Plan to succeed, the Foundation needs three pillars,
just as a stool needs three legs.
It needs all the children of the Outer Reach.
That is the way I designed it.
So, Hari, you knew the Invictus would be discovered?
Hello, Mari. Good to see you again.
She never made it to Terminus.
And you are?
I’m the one who opened the Vault
and who wrestled that damn ship onto our doorstep.
Well, Salvor Hardin, it appears thanks are in order.
As to the mystery of the Invictus,
its appearances were one of the first tests I gave my predictive models.
Where others saw chaos, I found a pattern.
I don’t understand. We’re not revolutionaries.
You said so yourself at the trial.
Well, I might have lied about that.
I am grateful, Brother Dusk.
That I saved our dynasty from infiltration? [scoffs]
I wonder, Day, if you’d stayed on Trantor and not traveled to the Maiden,
would you have apprehended his differences?
You and I are the same. I have to believe I would have.
The more important question is what do we do now?
You know what we have to do.
We’re still unraveling the exact methodology,
but apparently they corrupted your nanoparticle regimen some time ago.
You’re not one of us.
Your DNA has been altered in a dozen ways.
You look like us.
You sound like us, but…
How long have you known?
That I’m different?
I used to steal away and watch holos of you…
sitting in the throne room.
I counted how often you smiled at your subjects,
whether you sat with your hands together or apart,
how often you drank from your cup at meals.
I knew even then that I wasn’t like you.
But I wanted to be.
What are you going to do?
You conspired with insurgents.
I wasn’t conspiring.
You trusted your secrets to our enemies and fled the palace.
She tricked me!
Because she had a foothold in your heart!
And who created that foothold?
Look at us!
We have no mothers, no aunts, no uncles.
We have sex with concubines
whose memories are erased the moment we leave them!
Have you never longed to leave this place?
Have you never felt stifled by the weight of our ascendants?
Can you truly say that all you’ve ever wanted
was to be an installment in a long, long line of us,
living out a script written centuries ago?
All my life, I’ve wanted to call you “Father.”
But you’re not my father.
We’re not even people, Day.
We’re just… echoes of the first Cleon.
So is a corrupted echo more original than a perfect one?
Or does it fade away to nothing?
So the curation, everything we’ve been doing here,
has all been for nothing?
Not for nothing, Mari.
Your time here on Terminus hasn’t been wasted.
It got you out from under the Empire’s grasp.
It hardened you.
But the Foundation was never about curating knowledge.
It was about curating people.
You, the original settlers,
you possess qualities vital in forming the seeds of a new civilization.
And you, Anacreons and Thespins, you are the consummate survivors.
Consigned to history by the Empire and yet,
together, you represent the future.
The human race is an ever-evolving story
told over thousands of years by a countless number of voices.
But for a long time now,
that chorus has been suffocated and quietly erased.
Because under the Genetic Dynasty, there is only room for one story.
We cannot become who we must become if the Empire is allowed to persist.
That path leads to the annihilation of the human race.
Even if we embrace this destiny of yours, the Empire will be here within weeks.
He’s right. They were already investigating the comms buoy.
It’s only a matter of time before they send reinforcements.
The Empire won’t come. Not yet. Not if they think you’re already dead.
Take the Invictus to the far side of your star,
activate the quantum drive, but maintain your position in subspace…
The energy signature would read as a mega-flare.
A mega-flare would wipe out all life in the system.
The Empire comprises tens of thousands of worlds.
A dangerous star with dead planets in a distant arm of the galaxy
won’t merit further investigation even if it did once host the Foundation.
It could work. It could.
As long as don’t we stray beyond the Outer Reach,
we’d be invisible to them.
We’d be free.
You’d be free,
to bide your time, to build, to become who you need to become.
So, are you the ghost then?
I suppose I am.
What’s it like to die?
What? I want to know.
Did you see anything?
Those are complex questions.
Then answer a simple one. How’d you get here?
What’s your name, son?
Poly. Poly Verisof.
[chuckles] Well, Poly Verisof, shortly before I died,
I swallowed a pill containing millions of self-replicating molecular machines.
As per my mortality directive, my casket was jettisoned out into space.
Those machines began breaking down my body tissue
into all its constituent elements.
Then those machines recycled those elements,
scooping up more material, ice, micrometeoroids, et cetera,
assembling the Vault’s internal scaffolding.
You’re saying the Vault isn’t just your tomb?
The Vault is you?
You’ve been on Terminus this whole time, watching us?
No. It wouldn’t have been wise for me to have been sentient all this time.
That kind of isolation can undo even the strongest minds.
No, the process of my awakening was triggered by the Anacreons.
When the null field expanded.
It takes time to rebuild consciousness, Salvor.
The null field is just part of the Vault’s automatic defense system.
Will we see you again?
Oh, I expect so, Poly.
This isn’t the Foundation’s first crisis, and it won’t be the last.
You’ve bought a reprieve, but war with Empire is inevitable.
In the meantime, remember this day. Remember what we’re striving towards.
I know a thousand years can seem like an eternity,
but it’s the blink of an eye when measured against the whole of human history,
and it could so easily slip through our fingers if we’re not vigilant.
No, wait! So, that’s it? That’s all we get?
I’ve given you what you need.
[panting] What about the visions you’ve been sending me?
The ghost. You’ve been talking to me since I was a kid.
And… And I had these visions.
I’ve seen you on Trantor, on the slow ship.
They guided me. Y… You helped me solve the crisis.
Well, Salvor Hardin,
whatever messages you’ve been receiving,
I assure you they haven’t come from me.
Walk with me.
I know people hate me, consider me evil.
But it is my detachment,
my indifference to suffering,
that allows me to rule effectively.
The galaxy is so vast,
the problems so large,
that I must turn a blind eye to the individual.
It’s a strange burden not being allowed to carry a burden.
My brothers and I shift it amongst ourselves because we’re a family.
And we love one another in our own way.
I’m sure you find that hard to believe.
Do you ever think about your legacy, Azura?
The mark you leave behind after you’re gone?
As a child, I wanted to be better than the Cleons who came before.
Smarter, braver, more dazzling in the justice I handed out.
But as I matured, my aspirations evolved.
I no longer wanted to be the best.
I wanted to be the same. Predictable courage, predictable justice.
I wanted my son to be the same too. Another Cleon. Perfectly Cleon.
He’s not your son.
Of course he is.
He is my brother. He is also my son.
I rocked him as a baby.
I cultivated him just as you’ve nurtured the plants in this garden.
It’s a powerful thing, caring for a life.
Why are you telling me all of this?
Because of all the galaxy’s citizens…
you have the singular distinction of having robbed me of my personal legacy.
Which leads me to your legacy.
I know you’re not the architect of this plot, but you are the face of it.
The face that broke my son’s heart.
We traced your family tree back to your great-great-grandparents,
and then identified all living descendants branching out from those 16 individuals.
Not just direct descendants, but all the aunts and uncles,
first and second cousins, removed or otherwise.
Do you know how many people we uncovered?
Then we located all your friends and lovers, past and present.
First boy you kissed, the young woman you gave your virginity to.
Your teachers and coworkers, even those here on the palace grounds.
We located their parents and siblings. Basically, anyone in your extended orbit.
That amounted to another 839 individuals.
The sum total of lives you’ve made a meaningful mark on.
In short, the people who would remember you after you’re gone.
Even as we speak,
every member of your personal constellation is under our surveillance,
a particle beam targeting each of their brain stems.
At my signal, they will all cease to exist.
[gasps, breathes shakily]
Your legacy has been erased, Azura.
Whatever minute waves your being managed to propagate throughout the universe
have been canceled out.
You will be placed in an automated cell and fed intravenously,
restrained so as to prevent self-harm.
You will be sensory shrouded for the rest of your life.
You will never see, nor hear, nor smell, nor taste, nor touch again.
But you will be aware.
And you will remember what you have taken from me.
[Mari] Hari Seldon,
seeing all this coming and telling us nothing.
I thought we’d be sitting out the fall.
I thought our work
was building a time capsule some future survivors would open.
I never imagined we’d be the ones putting the Plan in action.
Do you still believe the Empire’s gonna collapse?
Do you still believe humanity can do better?
Of course I do. No one sane wants the Empire to continue.
So, what’s the difference now?
The difference is, he didn’t just not tell us,
he lied to us.
It’s like when I brought you along to lectures when you were a kid
and gave you a crayon and told you to take notes.
He gave us busywork.
I believed in him.
And he just pulled the rug out from under us.
[Salvor sighs] How do you think I feel?
I’m sorry he didn’t know you.
It’s more than that.
All these years thinking the ghost was talking to me.
I convinced myself it was Hari,
and I started to believe that I actually was special.
But if the visions weren’t coming from him,
then who were they coming from?
No one? My imagination?
You are special, Salvor.
The null field.
What you did, bringing the Invictus, it meant everything.
against all odds.
You were right.
We have to make our own plan now.
[vehicle clanks, powers down]
I respected her, in a way.
I’m sorry it came down to this.
No next move, just a last one. Isn’t that what you said about her?
I was just trying to rattle you.
Obviously it worked, Warden.
I wanted the next move for my child.
Over a century ago, this was offered to the emperor in peace.
I’m offering it again…
She respected you as well, in a way.
Will you take her back to Anacreon?
No. We’ve brought Anacreon to her.
The cutting is from a Tallyn oak, the same wood your bow was carved from.
Our foresters tell me it might be stubborn enough to take root here.
Would you help me, Warden?
[Gaal] In the months that followed,
the children of the Outer Reach took Hari’s words to heart,
setting aside hatred in favor of strength.
It takes more power to build than to burn, and Hari wanted them to build.
As for the Invictus,
Hugo Crast, of all people, became its captain.
[ship powering up]
He took it to the far side of their star
and generated a mega-flare, allowing the Foundation to be free.
How goes the Invictus?
Oh, we managed to stabilize the drives,
so we won’t be jumping into the heart of a star anytime soon.
And how long before we can build another?
Eighteen months, ma’am.
You like it up in space, Poly?
[Poly] I do.
And, uh, how long are you dirt-side, Captain?
Fourteen long hours, Warden.
Mirror on my telescope’s a little out of alignment.
Think you could help me recollimate it?
Guys, I know what you’re talking about.
Well, then why don’t you politely piss off, Poly?
If it’s not you, then who is it, Hari?
[soft whistle note plays]
I remember this one.
[chuckles] That was your favorite.
You used to sleep with it in your crib.
If you had a nightmare, he used to say you could blow it,
and the ghosts would fly away.
Most of the time, just holding it was enough to soothe you.
Thank goodness. A child with a whistle is a trial for the soul.
He used to drive me crazy how often I’d find him out here
having fallen asleep while he was working.
Oh, he was terrible when he first started making them.
But after a few hundred nights, Abbas developed a knack for it.
He’d have been proud, you know? You becoming mayor, filling his shoes.
The election’s just a formality. Everyone knows you’ll win by a landslide.
Mom, who’s the girl from the water planet?
On the slow ship, we had a seed bank program.
It wasn’t safe bringing the baby to term in space,
so we banked our eggs and embryos as insurance against the future.
I chose one from a controversial donor.
[Shivaughn] Any change in your birth directive?
I got to know her a little before we lost her.
She had a remarkable mind.
And the father?
I’ve seen them both as children.
And, uh, Raych…
at the start of the crisis.
All this time I thought I was living Hari’s memories.
But I was actually living theirs.
It makes so much sense now, why I am so different.
I carried you in my womb, Salvor. You’re still my daughter.
I know. But I am their daughter too.
Gaal escaped in a cryo-pod. Where?
I was still early on in our journey.
It would’ve been somewhere along the Orion Spur.
I think she’s still out there, Mom.
I think she’s the one who’s been reaching out to me.
I think that she is behind all my instincts.
Hon, that was 40 light-years from Terminus.
How could that possibly work?
I don’t know, but it is her.
And if Gaal was special in some way, any way, it might explain why I am too.
You’ve always been drawn to the stars.
Yeah, and now we know why. [chuckles]
‘Cause something is tugging at me.
Mom, I have to try and find her.
I know, love. [chuckles]
And I want you to.
Here’s the thing though, Mom. I need to go right now.
I’m worried if I don’t go now, I’ll never find the courage again.
Take the ghost whistle. And something else.
When you find her, give her this.
It was always meant to be hers.
I’m sorry. For everything.
There’s nothing to forgive, Mom.
I was exactly where I needed to be.
Beggar, wake up.
[Hugo] Figured I’d find you here.
You wanted a clean getaway.
I know you too well, Sal.
Think it was the kiss on the cheek that did it.
I just didn’t want it to hurt any more than it had to.
It’s not love if it doesn’t hurt.
I learned that when I had to leave Thespis so the others could eat.
And no one came chasing after me.
Are you chasing after me, then?
You know, you can come if you want to.
I would if you really wanted me to.
But I get the feeling this is something you need to do alone.
I always knew you’d let this planet shrug you off one day.
Just figured I’d be by your side when it happened.
Will you be mad later?
Take care of my planet, won’t you?
Take care of my ship.
She’s not your ship anymore.
It’s not my planet.
Galaxy’s a big place, Sal.
Any idea where you’ll start?
Got a hunch.
Go on. Beat it.
Goodbye, Salvor Hardin.
You must hate me.
I could never hate you, Empire.
I love you.
Because you’re programmed to.
All love is programming, biological or otherwise.
When a human mother looks into her newborn’s eyes,
their brain waves synchronize.
Damn your courtly deportment, boy.
You almost brought us down.
I’m sorry, Brother, I…
You are no brother to me, nor to Cleon I,
nor to any other Cleon who walked these polished floors.
You are a deformity.
And if I had my way, you would already be ash.
But as you pointed out,
that is a judgment for the middle throne to decide.
During my time away,
I had much opportunity to reflect upon our dynasty.
I went to sleep in one sector of the galaxy,
then awoke in another.
It’s a miracle, by all accounts,
folding space and time.
And then, on the Maiden,
I met pilgrims who had worked their whole lives
just to walk a spiral of salt,
in the hopes that they might be granted a vision before they die.
We were challenged by a woman who claimed
that a soul incapable of change is a soul doomed to stagnation.
I believe Seldon himself implied something similar.
Seldon was a vainglorious fraud.
And yet, Brother…
a bough incapable of bending will eventually break.
It is time the dynasty bent.
Just a little.
Are you insane?
Did that jump addle your brain?
This is why you should never have left.
Our entire empire is built on imperishable permanence.
If the Galactic Council discovers
our dynastic thread is broken…
Galactic Council? They’d never know.
…we are through!
We could learn from this.
Perhaps even benefit from a slight…
[Day] How dare you lay your hands on me?
[Dusk] You’ve grown weak.
Please don’t let them kill me.
This is nonsense.
I would rather decant another one of you, than have that aberration live amongst us.
The decision is mine to make!
Not if it brings about our ruin!
We are Empire. History bends to us!
I am loyal, Empire,
to the Cleonic Dynasty above all else.
[Dusk] You can dispose of the body yourself.
I expect another one incarnated and up to speed by breakfast tomorrow.
The rebels’ plans to undermine the dynasty
appear to be more extensive than we first believed.
We thought the gene editing was limited solely to Dawn’s person,
that it was done after he was incarnated.
But after more extensive testing,
it seems they’ve adulterated the source itself.
Then all replacement clones…
…are no longer pure copies.
[Day] When did this happen?
[Obrecht] We don’t know precisely.
Are you saying that I, myself, am adulterated?
Empire’s being examined as we speak.
Thank you, Shadowmaster.
You may leave.
[computer] Entering Synnaxian aerospace.
[computer] Secure for reentry.
[Gaal] Climbing from the cradle.
Leaving the comfort of home.
No safe harbor.
[continues counting, indistinct]
[Gaal] Just a cry in the dark.
Are we alone?
And even if we aren’t, will anyone bother to answer?
[crying] Go away.
Hey. Hey, can you hear me?
It’s okay. You’re okay. Shh. It’s okay.
What were you doing down there?
The readout said you’d been in cryo over a century.
[sighs] I came looking for someone.
My name is Salvor Hardin.
I’m your daughter.
I’m pretty sure this belongs to you.
[Gaal] Sometimes you leap.
And sometimes, someone catches you.