Chapter no 10


“Sit down,” she said. “You insulted me so.”

Slowly, he sank back into the chair.

And Jessica, reading the signs of this face that she knew so well, allowed herself a deep breath. It isn’t Hawat .

“Now I know you remain loyal to my Duke,” she said. “I’m prepared, therefore, to forgive your affront to me.”

“Is there something to forgive?”

Jessica scowled, wondering: Shall I play my trump? Shall I tell him of the Duke’s daughter I’ve carried within me these few weeks? No . . . Leto himself doesn’t know. This would only complicate his life, divert him in a time when he must concentrate on our survival. There is yet time to use this .

“A Truthsayer would solve this,” she said, “but we have no Truthsayer qualified by the High Board.”

“As you say. We’ve no Truthsayer.”




“Is there a traitor among us?” she asked. “I’ve studied our people with great care. Who could it be? Not Gurney. Certainly not Duncan . Their lieutenants are not strategically enough placed to consider. It’s not you, Thufir. It cannot be Paul. I know it’s not me. Dr. Yueh, then? Shall I call him in and put him to the test?”

“You know that’s an empty gesture,” Hawat said. “He’s conditioned by the High College . That I know for certain.”

“Not to mention that his wife was a Bene Gesserit slain by the Harkonnens,” Jessica said.

“So that’s what happened to her,” Hawat said.

“Haven’t you heard the hate in his voice when he speaks the Harkonnen name?”

“You know I don’t have the ear,” Hawat said.

“What brought this base suspicion on me?” she asked.

Hawat frowned. “My Lady puts her servant in an impossible position. My first loyalty is to the Duke.”

“I’m prepared to forgive much because of that loyalty,” she said.

“And again I must ask: Is there something to forgive?”

“Stalemate?” she asked.

He shrugged.

“Let us discuss something else for a minute, then,” she said. “Duncan Idaho, the admirable fighting man whose abilities at guarding and surveillance are so esteemed. Tonight, he overindulged in something called spice beer. I hear reports that others among our people have been stupefied by this concoction. Is that true?”

“You have your reports, my Lady.”

“So I do. Don’t you see this drinking as a symptom, Thufir?”

“My Lady speaks riddles.”

“Apply your Mentat abilities to it!” she snapped. “What’s the problem with Duncan and the others? I can tell you in four words – they have no home.”

He jabbed a finger at the floor. “Arrakis, that’s their home.”

“Arrakis is an unknown! Caladan was their home, but we’ve uprooted them. They have no home. And they fear the Duke’s failing them.”

He stiffened. “Such talk from one of the men would be cause for – ”

“Oh, stop that, Thufir. Is it defeatist or treacherous for a doctor to diagnose a disease correctly? My only intention is to cure the disease.”

“The Duke gives me charge over such matters.”

“But you understand I have a certain natural concern over the progress of this disease,” she said. “And perhaps you’ll grant I have certain abilities along these lines.”

Will I have to shock him severely? she wondered. He needs shaking up – something to break him from routine .

“There could be many interpretations for your concern,” Hawat said. He shrugged.

“Then you’ve already convicted me?”

“Of course not, my Lady. But I cannot afford to take any chances, the situation being what it is.”

“A threat to my son got past you right here in this house,” she said. “Who took that chance?”

His face darkened. “I offered my resignation to the Duke.”

“Did you offer your resignation to me . . . or to Paul?”





Now he was openly angry, betraying it in quickness of breathing, in dilation of nostrils, a steady stare. She saw a pulse beating at his temple.

“I’m the Duke’s man,” he said, biting off the words.

“There is no traitor,” she said. “The threat’s something else. Perhaps it has to do with the lasguns. Perhaps they’ll risk secreting a few lasguns with timing mechanisms aimed at house shields. Perhaps they’ll . . . ”

“And who could tell after the blast if the explosion wasn’t atomic?” he asked. “No, my Lady. They’ll not risk anything that illegal. Radiation lingers. The evidence is hard to erase. No. They’ll observe most of the forms. It has to be a traitor.”

“You’re the Duke’s man,” she sneered. “Would you destroy him in the effort to save him?”

He took a deep breath, then: “If you’re innocent, you’ll have my most abject apologies.”

“Look at you now, Thufir,” she said. “Humans live best when each has his own place, when each knows where he belongs in the scheme of things. Destroy the place and destroy the person. You and I, Thufir, of all those who love the Duke, are most ideally situated to destroy the other’s place. Could I not whisper suspicions about you into the Duke’s ear at night? When would he be most susceptible to such whispering, Thufir? Must I draw it for you more clearly?”

“You threaten me?” he growled.

“Indeed not. I merely point out to you that someone is attacking us through the basic arrangement of our lives. It’s clever, diabolical. I propose to negate this attack by so ordering our lives that there’ll be no chinks for such barbs to enter.”

“You accuse me of whispering baseless suspicions?”

“Baseless, yes.”

“You’d meet this with your own whispers?”

“Your life is compounded of whispers, not mine, Thufir.”

“Then you question my abilities?”

She sighed. “Thufir, I want you to examine your own emotional involvement in this. The natural human’s an animal without logic. Your projections of logic onto all affairs is un natural, but suffered to continue for its usefulness. You’re the embodiment of logic – a Mentat. Yet, your problem solutions are concepts that, in a very real sense, are projected outside yourself, there to be studied and rolled around, examined from all sides.”

“You think now to teach me my trade?” he asked, and he did not try to hide the disdain in his voice.

“Anything outside yourself, this you can see and apply your logic to it,” she said. “But it’s a human trait that when we encounter personal problems, those things most deeply personal are the most difficult to bring out for our logic to scan. We tend to flounder around, blaming everything but the actual, deep-seated thing that’s really chewing on us.”




“You’re deliberately attempting to undermine my faith in my abilities as a Mentat,” he rasped. “Were I to find one of our people attempting thus to sabotage any other weapon in our arsenal, I should not hesitate to denounce and destroy him.”

“The finest Mentats have a healthy respect for the error factor in their computations,” she said.

“I’ve never said otherwise!”

“Then apply yourself to these symptoms we’ve both seen: drunkenness among the men, quarrels – they gossip and exchange wild rumors about Arrakis; they ignore the most simple – ”

“Idleness, no more,” he said. “Don’t try to divert my attention by trying to make a simple matter appear mysterious.”

She stared at him, thinking of the Duke’s men rubbing their woes together in the barracks until you could almost smell the charge there, like burnt insulation. They’re becoming like the men of the pre-Guild legend , she thought: Like the men of the lost star-searcher, Ampoliros – sick at their guns – forever seeking, forever prepared and forever unready .

“Why have you never made full use of my abilities in your service to the Duke?” she asked. “Do you fear a rival for your position?”

He glared at her, the old eyes blazing. “I know some of the training they give you Bene Gesserit . . . ” He broke off, scowling.

“Go ahead, say it,” she said. “Bene Gesserit witches .”

“I know something of the real training they give you,” he said. “I’ve seen it come out in Paul. I’m not fooled by what your schools tell the public: you exist only to serve.”

The shock must be severe and he’s almost ready for it , she thought.

“You listen respectfully to me in Council,” she said, “yet you seldom heed my advice. Why?”

“I don’t trust your Bene Gesserit motives,” he said. “You may think you can look through a man; you may think you can make a man do exactly what you – ”

“You poor fool , Thufir!” she raged.

He scowled, pushing himself back in the chair.

“Whatever rumors you’ve heard about our schools,” she said, “the truth is far greater. If I wished to destroy the Duke . . . or you, or any other person within my reach, you could not stop me.”




And she thought: Why do I let pride drive such words out of me? This is not the way I was trained. This is not how I must shock him .

Hawat slipped a hand beneath his tunic where he kept a tiny projector of poison darts. She wears no shield , he thought. Is this just a brag she makes? I could slay her now . . . but, ah-h-h-h, the consequences if I’m wrong .

Jessica saw the gesture toward his pocket, said: “Let us pray violence shall never be necessary between us.”

“A worthy prayer,” he agreed.

“Meanwhile, the sickness spreads among us,” she said. “I must ask you again: Isn’t it more reasonable to suppose the Harkonnens have planted this suspicion to pit the two of us against each other?”

“We appear to’ve returned to stalemate,” he said.

She sighed, thinking: He’s almost ready for it .

“The Duke and I are father and mother surrogates to our people,” she said. “The position – ”

“He hasn’t married you,” Hawat said.

She forced herself to calmness, thinking: A good riposte, that .

“But he’ll not marry anyone else,” she said. “Not as long as I live. And we are surrogates, as I’ve said. To break up this natural order in our affairs, to disturb, disrupt, and confuse us – which target offers itself most enticingly to the Harkonnens?”

He sensed the direction she was taking, and his brows drew down in a lowering scowl.

“The Duke?” she asked. “Attractive target, yes, but no one with the possible exception of Paul is better guarded. Me? I tempt them, surely, but they must know the Bene Gesserit make difficult targets. And there’s a better target, one whose duties create, necessarily, a monstrous blind spot. One to whom suspicion is as natural as breathing. One who builds his entire life on innuendo and mystery.” She darted her right hand toward him. “You!”

Hawat started to leap from his chair.

“I have not dismissed you, Thufir!” she flared.

The old Mentat almost fell back into the chair, so quickly did his muscles betray him.

She smiled without mirth.

“Now you know something of the real training they give us,” she said.

Hawat tried to swallow in a dry throat. Her command had been regal, preemptory – uttered in a tone and manner he had found completely irresistible. His body had obeyed her before he could think about it. Nothing could have prevented his response – not logic, not passionate anger . . . nothing. To do what she had done spoke of a sensitive, intimate knowledge of the person thus commanded, a depth of control he had not dreamed possible.

“I have said to you before that we should understand each other,” she said. “I meant you should understand me . I already understand you. And I tell you now that your loyalty to the Duke is all that guarantees your safety with me.”

He stared at her, wet his lips with his tongue.

“If I desired a puppet, the Duke would marry me,” she said. “He might even think he did it of his own free will.”

Hawat lowered his head, looked upward through his sparse lashes. Only the most rigid control kept him from calling the guard. Control . . . and the suspicion now that woman might not permit it. His skin crawled with the memory of how she had controlled him. In the moment of hesitation, she could have drawn a weapon and killed him!

Does every human have this blind spot? he wondered. Can any of us be ordered into action before he can resist? The idea staggered him. Who could stop a person with such power?

“You’ve glimpsed the fist within the Bene Gesserit glove,” she said. “Few glimpse it and live. And what I did was a relatively simple thing for us. You’ve not seen my entire arsenal. Think on that,”

“Why aren’t you out destroying the Duke’s enemies?” he asked.

“What would you have me destroy?” she asked. “Would you have me make a weakling of our Duke, have him forever leaning on me?”

“But, with such power . . . ”

“Power’s a two-edged sword, Thufir,” she said; “You think: ‘How easy for her to shape a human tool to thrust into an enemy’s vitals.’ True, Thufir; even into your vitals. Yet, what would I accomplish? If enough of us Bene Gesserit did this, wouldn’t it make all Bene Gesserit suspect? We don’t want that, Thufir. We do not wish to destroy ourselves.” She nodded. “We truly exist only to serve.”

“I cannot answer you,” he said. “You know I cannot answer.”

“You’ll say nothing about what has happened here to anyone,” she said. “I know you, Thufir.”

“My Lady . . . ” Again the old man tried to swallow in a dry throat.




And he thought: She has great powers, yes. But would these not make her an even more formidable tool for the Harkonnens?

“The Duke could be destroyed as quickly by his friends as by his enemies,” she said. “I trust now you’ll get to the bottom of this suspicion and remove it.”

“If it proves baseless,” he said.

“If, ” she sneered.

“If,” he said.

“You are tenacious,” she said.

“Cautious,” he said, “and aware of the error factor.”

“Then I’ll pose another question for you: What does it mean to you that you stand before another human, that you are bound and helpless and the other human holds a knife at your throat – yet this other human refrains from killing you, frees you from your bonds and gives you the knife to use as you will?”

She lifted herself out of the chair, turned her back on him. “You may go now, Thufir.”

The old Mentat arose, hesitated, hand creeping toward the deadly weapon beneath his tunic. He was reminded of the bull ring and of the Duke’s father (who’d been brave, no matter what his other failings) and one day of the corrida long ago: The fierce black beast had stood there, head bowed, immobilized and confused. The Old Duke had turned his back on the horns, cape thrown flamboyantly over one arm, while cheers rained down from the stands.

I am the bull and she the matador , Hawat thought. He withdrew his hand from the weapon, glanced at the sweat glistening in his empty palm.

And he knew that whatever the facts proved to be in the end, he would never forget this moment nor lose this sense of supreme admiration for the Lady Jessica.

Quietly, he turned and left the room.

Jessica lowered her gaze from the reflection in the windows, turned, and stared at the closed door.

“Now we’ll see some proper action,” she whispered.

Do you wrestle with dreams?

Do you contend with shadows?

Do you move in a kind of sleep?

Time has slipped away.

Your life is stolen.




You tarried with trifles,

Victim of your folly.

– Dirge for Jamis on the Funeral Plain,

from “Songs of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan

Leto stood in the foyer of his house, studying a note by the light of a single suspensor lamp. Dawn was yet a few hours away, and he felt his tiredness. A Fremen messenger had brought the note to the outer guard just now as the Duke arrived from his command post.

The note read: “A column of smoke by day, a pillar of fire by night.”

There was no signature.

What does it mean? he wondered.

The messenger had gone without waiting for an answer and before he could be questioned. He had slipped into the night like some smoky shadow.

Leto pushed the paper into a tunic pocket, thinking to show it to Hawat later. He brushed a lock of hair from his forehead, took a sighing breath. The anti-fatigue pills were beginning to wear thin. It had been a long two days since the dinner party and longer than that since he had slept.

On top of all the military problems, there’d been the disquieting session with Hawat, the report on his meeting with Jessica.

Should I waken Jessica? he wondered. There’s no reason to play the secrecy game with her any longer. Or is there?

Blast and damn that Duncan Idaho!

He shook his head. No, not Duncan. I was wrong not to take Jessica into my confidence from the first. I must do it now, before more damage is done .

The decision made him feel better, and he hurried from the foyer through the Great Hall and down the passages toward the family wing.

At the turn where the passages split to the service area, he paused. A strange mewling came from somewhere down the service passage. Leto put his left hand to the switch on his shield belt, slipped his kindjal into his right hand. The knife conveyed a sense of reassurance. That strange sound had sent a chill through him.

Softly, the Duke moved down the service passage, cursing the inadequate illumination. The smallest of suspensors had been spaced about eight meters apart along here and tuned to their dimmest level. The dark stone walls swallowed the light.

A dull blob stretching across the floor appeared out of the gloom ahead.

Leto hesitated, almost activated his shield, but refrained because that would limit his movements, his hearing . . . and because the captured shipment of lasguns had left him filled with doubts.




Silently, he moved toward the grey blob, saw that it was a human figure, a man face down on the stone. Leto turned him over with a foot, knife poised, bent close in the dim light to see the face. It was the smuggler, Tuek, a wet stain down his chest. The dead eyes stared with empty darkness. Leto touched the stain – warm.

How could this man be dead here? Leto asked himself. Who killed him?

The mewling sound was louder here. It came from ahead and down the side passage to the central room where they had installed the main shield generator for the house.

Hand on belt switch, kindjal poised, the Duke skirted the body, slipped down the passage and peered around the corner toward the shield generator room.

Another grey blob lay stretched on the floor a few paces away, and he saw at once this was the source of the noise. The shape crawled toward him with painful slowness, gasping, mumbling.

Leto stilled his sudden constriction of fear, darted down the passage, crouched beside the crawling figure. It was Mapes, the Fremen housekeeper, her hair tumbled around her face, clothing disarrayed. A dull shininess of dark stain spread from her back along her side. He touched her shoulder and she lifted herself on her elbows, head tipped up to peer at him, the eyes black-shadowed emptiness.

“S’you,” she gasped. “Killed . . . guard . . . sent . . . get . . . Tuek . . . escape . . . m’Lady . . . you . . . you . . . here . . . no . . . ” She flopped forward, her head thumping against the stone.

Leto felt for pulse at the temples. There was none. He looked at the stain: she’d been stabbed in the back. Who? His mind raced. Did she mean someone had killed a guard? And Tuek – had Jessica sent for him? Why?

He started to stand up. A sixth sense warned him. He flashed a hand toward the shield switch – too late. A numbing shock slammed his arm aside. He felt pain there, saw a dart protruding from the sleeve, sensed paralysis spreading from it up his arm. It took an agonizing effort to lift his head and look down the passage.

Yueh stood in the open door of the generator room. His face reflected yellow from the light of a single, brighter suspensor above the door. There was stillness from the room behind him – no sound of generators.

Yueh! Leto thought. He’s sabotaged the house generators! We ‘re wide open!

Yueh began walking toward him, pocketing a dartgun.

Leto found he could still speak, gasped: “Yueh! How?” Then the paralysis reached his legs and he slid to the floor with his back propped against the stone wall.

Yueh’s face carried a look of sadness as he bent over, touched Leto’s forehead. The Duke found he could feel the touch, but it was remote . . . dull.

“The drug on the dart is selective,” Yueh said “You can speak, but I’d advise against it.” He glanced down the hall, and again bent over Leto, pulled out the dart, tossed it aside. The sound of the dart clattering on the stones was faint and distant to the Duke’s ears.

It can’t be Yueh , Leto thought. He’s conditioned.

“How?” Leto whispered.

“I’m sorry, my dear Duke, but there are things which will make greater demands than this.” He touched the diamond tattoo on his forehead. “I find it very strange, myself – an override on my pyretic conscience – but I wish to kill a man. Yes, I actually wish it. I will stop at nothing to do it.”

He looked down at the Duke. “Oh, not you, my dear Duke. The Baron Harkonnen. I wish to kill the Baron.”

“Bar . . . on Har . . . ”




“Be quiet, please, my poor Duke. You haven’t much time. That peg tooth I put in your mouth after the tumble at Narcal – that tooth must be replaced, in a moment, I’ll render you unconscious and replace that tooth.” He opened his hand, stared at something in it. “An exact duplicate, its core shaped most exquisitely like a nerve. It’ll escape the usual detectors, even a fast scanning. But if you bite down hard on it, the cover crushes. Then, when you expel your breath sharply, you fill the air around you with a poison gas – most deadly.”

Leto stared up at Yueh, seeing madness in the man’s eyes, the perspiration along brown and chin.

“You were dead anyway, my poor Duke,” Yueh said. “But you will get close to the Baron before you die. He’ll believe you’re stupefied by drugs beyond any dying effort to attack him. And you will be drugged – and tied. But attack can take strange forms. And you will remember the tooth. The tooth , Duke Leto Atreides. You will remember the tooth.”

The old doctor leaned closer and closer until his face and drooping mustache dominated Leto’s narrowing vision.

“The tooth,” Yueh muttered.

“Why?” Leto whispered.

Yueh lowered himself to one knee beside the Duke. “I made a shaitan’s bargain with the Baron. And I must be certain he has fulfilled his half of it. When I see him, I’ll know. When I look at the Baron, then I will know. But I’ll never enter his presence without the price. You’re the price, my poor Duke. And I’ll know when I see him. My poor Wanna taught me many things, and one is to see certainty of truth when the stress is great. I cannot do it always, but when I see the Baron – then, I will know.”

Leto tried to look down at the tooth in Yueh’s hand. He felt this was happening in a nightmare – it could not be.

Yueh’s purple lips turned up in a grimace. “I’ll not get close enough to the Baron, or I’d do this myself. No. I’ll be detained at a safe distance. But you . . . ah, now! You, my lovely weapon! He’ll want you close to him – to gloat over you, to boast a little.”

Leto found himself almost hypnotized by a muscle on the left side of Yueh’s jaw. The muscle twisted when the man spoke.

Yueh leaned closer. “And you, my good Duke, my precious Duke, you must remember this tooth.” He held it up between thumb and forefinger. “It will be all that remains to you.”

Leto’s mouth moved without sound, then: “Refuse.”

“Ah-h, no! You mustn’t refuse. Because, in return for this small service, I’m doing a thing for you. I will save your son and your woman. No other can do it. They can be removed to a place where no Harkonnen can reach them.”

“How . . . save . . . them?” Leto whispered.

“By making it appear they’re dead, by secreting them among people who draw knife at hearing the Harkonnen name, who hate the Harkonnens so much they’ll burn a chair in which a Harkonnen has sat, salt the ground over which a Harkonnen has walked.” He touched Leto’s jaw. “Can you feel anything in your jaw?”

The Duke found that he could not answer. He sensed distant tugging, saw Yueh’s hand come up with the ducal signet ring.

“For Paul,” Yueh said. “You’ll be unconscious presently. Good-by, my poor Duke. When next we meet we’ll have no time for conversation.”

Cool remoteness spread upward from Leto’s jaw, across his cheeks. The shadowy, hall narrowed to a pinpoint with Yueh’s purple lips centered in it.

“Remember the tooth!” Yueh hissed. “The tooth!”

There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles.

– from “Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan

Jessica awoke in the dark, feeling premonition in the stillness around her. She could not understand why her mind and body felt so sluggish. Skin raspings of fear ran along her nerves. She thought of sitting up and turning on a light, but something stayed the decision. Her mouth felt . . . strange.


It was a dull sound, directionless in the dark. Somewhere.

The waiting moment was packed with time, with rustling needle-stick movements.

She began to feel her body, grew aware of bindings on wrists and ankles, a gag in her mouth. She was on her side, hands tied behind her. She tested the bindings, realized they were krimskell fiber, would only claw tighter as she pulled.

And now, she remembered.

There had been movement in the darkness of her bedroom, something wet and pungent slapped against her face, filling her mouth, hands grasping for her. She had gasped – one indrawn breath – sensing the narcotic in the wetness. Consciousness had receded, sinking her into a black bin of terror.

It has come , she thought. How simple it was to subdue the Bene Gesserit. All it took was treachery. Hawat was right.

She forced herself not to pull on her bindings.

This is not my bedroom , she thought. They’ve taken me someplace else .

Slowly, she marshaled the inner calmness.

She grew aware of the smell of her own stale sweat with its chemical infusion of fear.

Where is Paul? she asked herself. My son – what have they done to him?

Calmness .

She forced herself to it, using the ancient routines.

But terror remained so near.

Leto? Where are you, Leto?

She sensed a diminishing in the dark. It began with shadows. Dimensions separated, became new thorns of awareness. White. A line under a door.

I’m on the floor .

People walking. She sensed it through the floor.

Jessica squeezed back the memory of terror. I must remain calm, alert, and prepared. I may get only one chance . Again, she forced the inner calmness.

The ungainly thumping of her heartbeats evened, shaping out time. She counted back. I was unconscious about an hour . She closed her eyes, focused her awareness onto the approaching footsteps.

Four people .

She counted the differences in their steps.

I must pretend I’m still unconscious . She relaxed against the cold floor, testing her body’s readiness, heard a door open, sensed increased light through her eyelids.

Feet approached: someone standing over her.

“You are awake,” rumbled a basso voice. “Do not pretend.”




She opened her eyes.

The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen stood over her. Around them, she recognized the cellar room where Paul had slept, saw his cot at one side – empty. Suspensor lamps were brought in by guards, distributed near the open door. There was a glare of light in the hallway beyond that hurt her eyes.

She looked up at the Baron. He wore a yellow cape that bulged over his portable suspensors. The fat cheeks were two cherubic mounds beneath spider-black eyes.

“The drug was timed,” he rumbled. “We knew to the minute when you’d be coming out of it.”

How could that be? she wondered. They’d have to know my exact weight, my metabolism, my . . . Yueh!

“Such a pity you must remain gagged,” the Baron said. “We could have such an interesting conversation.”

Yueh’s the only one it could be , she thought. How?

The Baron glanced behind him at the door. “Come in, Piter.”

She had never before seen the man who entered to stand beside the Baron, but the face was known – and the man: Piter de Vries, the Mentat-Assassin . She studied him – hawk features, blue-ink eyes that suggested he was a native of Arrakis, but subtleties of movement and stance told her he was not. And his flesh was too well firmed with water. He was tall, though slender, and something about him suggested effeminacy.

“Such a pity we cannot have our conversation, my dear Lady Jessica.” the Baron said. “However, I’m aware of your abilities.” He glanced at the Mentat. “Isn’t that true, Piter?”

“As you say, Baron,” the man said.

The voice was tenor. It touched her spine with a wash of coldness. She had never heard such a chill voice. To one with the Bene Gesserit training, the voice screamed: Killer!

“I have a surprise for Piter,” the Baron said. “He thinks he has come here to collect his reward – you, Lady Jessica. But I wish to demonstrate a thing: that he does not really want you.”

“You play with me, Baron?” Piter asked, and he smiled.

Seeing that smile, Jessica wondered that the Baron did not leap to defend himself from this Piter. Then she corrected herself. The Baron could not read that smile. He did not have the Training.

“In many ways, Piter is quite naive,” the Baron said. “He doesn’t admit to himself what a deadly creature you are, Lady Jessica. I’d show him, but it’d be a foolish risk.” The Baron smiled at Piter, whose face had become a waiting mask. “I know what Piter really wants. Piter wants power.”

“You promised I could have her ,” Piter said. The tenor voice had lost some of its cold reserve.

Jessica heard the clue-tones in the man’s voice, allowed herself an inward shudder. How could the Baron have made such an animal out of a Mentat?

“I give you a choice, Piter,” the Baron said.

“What choice?”

The Baron snapped fat fingers. “This woman and exile from the Imperium, or the Duchy of Atreides on Arrakis to rule as you see fit in my name.”

Jessica watched the Baron’s spider eyes study Piter.

“You could be Duke here in all but name,” the Baron said.

Is my Leto dead, then? Jessica asked herself. She felt a silent wail begin somewhere in her mind.

The Baron kept his attention on the Mentat. “Understand yourself, Piter. You want her because she was a Duke’s woman, a symbol of his power – beautiful, useful, exquisitely trained for her role. But an entire duchy, Piter! That’s more than a symbol; that’s the reality. With it you could have many women . . . and more.”




“You do not joke with Piter?”

The Baron turned with that dancing lightness the suspensors gave him. “Joke? I? Remember – I am giving up the boy. You heard what the traitor said about the lad’s training. They are alike, this mother and son – deadly.” The Baron smiled. “I must go now. I will send in the guard I’ve reserved for this moment. He’s stone deaf. His orders will be to convey you on the first leg of your journey into exile. He will subdue this woman if he sees her gain control of you. He’ll not permit you to untie her gag until you’re off Arrakis. If you choose not to leave . . . he has other orders.”

“You don’t have to leave,” Piter said. “I’ve chosen.”

“Ah, hah!” the Baron chortled. “Such quick decision can mean only one thing.”

“I will take the duchy,” Piter said.

And Jessica thought: Doesn’t Piter know the Baron’s lying to him? But – how could he know? He’s a twisted Mentat .

The Baron glanced down at Jessica. “Is it not wonderful that I know Piter so well? I wagered with my Master at Arms that this would be Piter’s choice. Hah! Well, I leave now. This is much better. Ah-h, much better. You understand, Lady Jessica? I hold no rancor toward you. It’s a necessity. Much better this way. Yes. And I’ve not actually ordered you destroyed. When it’s asked of me what happened to you, I can shrug it off in all truth.”

“You leave it to me then?” Piter asked.

“The guard I send you will take your orders,” the Baron said. “Whatever’s done I leave to you.” He stared at Piter. “Yes. There will be no blood on my hands here. It’s your decision. Yes. I know nothing of it. You will wait until I’ve gone before doing whatever you must do. Yes. Well . . . ah, yes. Yes. Good.”

He fears the questioning of a Truthsayer , Jessica thought. Who? Ah-h-h, the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen, of course! If he knows he must face her questions, then the Emperor is in on this for sure. Ah-h-h-h, my poor Leto .

With one last glance at Jessica, the Baron turned, went out the door. She followed him with her eyes, thinking: It’s as the Reverend Mother warned – too potent an adversary .

Two Harkonnen troopers entered. Another, his face a scarred mask, followed and stood in the doorway with drawn lasgun.

The deaf one , Jessica thought, studying the scarred face. The Baron knows I could use the Voice on any other man .

Scarface looked at Piter. “We’ve the boy on a litter outside. What are your orders?”

Piter spoke to Jessica. “I’d thought of binding you by a threat held over your son, but I begin to see that would not have worked, I let emotion cloud reason. Bad policy for a Mentat.” He looked at the first pair of troopers, turning so the deaf one could read his lips: “Take them into the desert as the traitor suggested for the boy. His plan is a good one. The worms will destroy all evidence. Their bodies must never be found.”

“You don’t wish to dispatch them yourself?” Scarface asked.

He reads lips , Jessica thought.

“I follow my Baron’s example,” Piter said. “Take them where the traitor said.”

Jessica heard the harsh Mentat control in Piter’s voice, thought: He, too, fears the Truthsayer .

Piter shrugged, turned, and went through the doorway. He hesitated there, and Jessica thought he might turn back for a last look at her, but he went out without turning.




“Me, I wouldn’t like the thought of facing that Truthsayer after this night’s work,” Scarface said.

“You ain’t likely ever to run into that old witch,” one of the other troopers said. He went around to Jessica’s head, bent over her. “It ain’t getting our work done standing around here chattering. Take her feet and – ”

“Why’n’t we kill ’em here?” Scarface asked.

“Too messy,” the first one said. “Unless you wants to strangle’em. Me, I likes a nice straightforward job. Drop ’em on the desert like that traitor said, cut ’em once or twice, leave ‘the evidence for the worms. Nothing to clean up afterwards.”

“Yeah . . . well, I guess you’re right,” Scarface said.

Jessica listened to them, watching, registering. But the gag blocked her Voice, and there was the deaf one to consider.

Scarface holstered his lasgun, took her feet. They lifted her like a sack of grain, maneuvered her through the door and dumped her onto a suspensor-buoyed litter with another bound figure. As they turned her, fitting her to the litter, she saw her companion’s face – Paul! He was bound, but not gagged. His face was no more than ten centimeters from hers, eyes closed, his breathing even.

Is he drugged? she wondered.

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