Delirium sets in north of reality. The Vogons having obliterated the Empire on Trantor for their intergalactic space highway have begun to homestead the noosphere with myths, narratives, rhetoric and propaganda - essentially entrainment through habit loops. This was nothing particularly new to Hardin, mayor of Terminus, as he knew the empire was both hyparchic and hyperstitious.
That's not to say that Hardin himself was indifferent; there was a delicate balance to be struck between these terms. He of course recognised that the galactic empire and its colonies were real in so far as fictions go and that it was a game of preferences about what ought to be... values.
The empire in this respect was just another form of state craft; participatory repatterining thorough contextualised interactions formative of a galactic culture. Hardins concern was not one ideology in particular, it was the harmonious balance and blend of a cross cultural narrative propagated through technology, trade routes and intergalactic songlines...
Impulses travel, that's just the way the cosmos works, and in Hardins view the empire was just another process of events unfolding. The real quandary lay around cause, contingency and continuation; what was said or done, what was not said or done, by whom and why?
All essential interactions had values, meaning and purpose and it seemed there was a spectrum here that rested between facts and values. The Empire too could be seen through such a lens; it was neither good nor evil but an interplay of forces balanced to shape history in an ever expanding cyclical process... naturally a diplomat would take such a view and from experience he knew it was well justified.
Terminus, Hardins home planet, while technically a subsidiary of the empire remained autonomous in its own right. While weak in terms of military power the foundation had made some major scientific advances, which it used to empower surrounding zones as its infrastructure became increasingly critical.
This growing asymmetry did not sit well with surrounding planets, with several of the more powerful systems deciding to launch a 51% attack on Terminus. Realizing the political contortions necessary, Hardin puts forth plans for the 'Terminus Treaty' a coalition whereby the hash power of impending zones was at last directed into alignment. The interplanetary validators set to prosper; they themselves eventually becoming political representatives and diplomats of Terminus.
Mallow was one such trader who seemed naturally adept at moving between the planets offering deals and terms on Terminus' behalf. In doing so he was able to broker peace and secure substantial trade agreements inorder to maintain their sentient impact commons. This delicate balance of power kept Terminus safe from assault while enabling Mallow to focus on developing the planet's technological capabilities.
Once again the assymetry unsettled some of Trantors military class who noticed and perceived it as a growing threat to the empires stability. Terminus had not defected from the empire but the planets growing technological and economic advantages stirred enough envy to move the more barbaric generals into advance.
Luckily, the emperor inferring ulterior motives of these agents grew suspicious of the insubordination and put an end to the assault. This intervention however lead to major struggles, conflict and eventually civil war on Trantor as well as the empires eventual demise.
About a century or so later emerged a dark empath known as the mule; a mutant leveraging relational capabilities to form bonds with nearby zones and subsystems as a means of spreading their anguish to those neighbouring Terminus.
Continuing to believe in the enevitabily of a second empire, the foundation begins to decay in complacentcy only to miss the mules game. The provincial outer planets belonging to the traders begin to grow weary of these politics and eventually plan a revolt in frustration. As the mule launches his attack to plunder the remains of Terminus, the foundation, like Trantor falls. This was NOT forseen in the Seldon plans.
As the anastrophe unfolds a number of brave citizens make off in the turmoil to seek out the second foundation. Finding them would not be easy however as they were long underground with essentially zero knowledge of activities in about a centuary; a ghost living on in the memories of those that familiar with the empires troubled history. This point of hazard haunted the mule in their persuit of galactic dominance...
"Damn these hitchhikers operating under cover of a stealthy new moon; you won't be able to hide forever!! "
The light shone brighter.