Chapter no 11


The troopers lifted the litter, and Paul’s eyes opened the smallest fraction – dark slits staring at her.

He mustn’t try the Voice! she prayed. The deaf guard!

Paul’s eyes closed.

He had been practicing the awareness-breathing, calming his mind, listening to their captors. The deaf one posed a problem, but Paul contained his despair. The mind-calming Bene Gesserit regimen his mother had taught him kept him poised, ready to expand any opportunity.

Paul allowed himself another slit-eyed inspection of his mother’s face. She appeared unharmed. Gagged, though.

He wondered who could’ve captured her. His own captivity was plain enough – to bed with a capsule prescribed by Yueh, awaking to find himself bound to this litter. Perhaps a similar thing had befallen her. Logic said the traitor was Yueh, but he held final decision in abeyance. There was no understanding it – a Suk doctor a traitor.

The litter tipped slightly as the Harkonnen troopers maneuvered it through a doorway into starlit night. A suspensor-buoy rasped against the doorway. Then they were on sand, feet grating in it. A ‘thopter wing loomed overhead, blotting the stars. The litter settled to the ground.

Paul’s eyes adjusted to the faint light. He recognized the deaf trooper as the man who opened the ‘thopter door, peered inside at the green gloom illuminated by the instrument panel.

“This the ‘thopter we’re supposed to use?” he asked, and turned to watch his companion’s lips.

“It’s the one the traitor said was fixed for desert work,” the other said.




Scarface nodded. “But it’s one of them little liaison jobs. Ain’t room in there for more’n them an’ two of us.”

“Two’s enough,” said the litter-bearer, moving up close and presenting his lips for reading. “We can take care of it from here on, Kinet.”

“The Baron he told me to make sure what happened to them two,” Scarface said.

“What you so worried about?” asked another trooper from behind the litter-bearer.

“She is a Bene Gesserit witch,” the deaf one said. “They have powers.”

“Ah-h-h . . .” The litter-bearer made the sign of the fist at his ear. “One of them, eh? Know whatcha mean.”

The trooper behind him grunted. “She’ll be worm meat soon enough. Don’t suppose even a Bene Gesserit witch has powers over one of them big worms. Eh, Czigo?” He nudged the litter-bearer.

“Yee-up,” the litter-bearer said. He returned to the litter, took Jessica’s shoulders. “C’mon, Kinet. You can go along if you wants to make sure what happens.”

“It is nice of you to invite me, Czigo,” Scarface said.

Jessica felt herself lifted, the wing shadow spinning – stars. She was pushed into the rear of the ‘thopter, her krimskell fiber bindings examined, and she was strapped down. Paul was jammed in beside her, strapped securely, and she noted his bonds were simple rope.

Scarface, the deaf one they called Kinet, took his place in front. The litter-bearer, the one they called Czigo, came around and took the other front seat.

Kinet closed his door, bent to the controls. The ‘thopter took off in a wing-tucked surge, headed south over the Shield Wall. Czigo tapped his companion’s shoulder, said: “Whyn’t you turn around and keep an eye on them two?”

“Sure you know the way to go?” Kinet watched Czigo’s lips.

“I listened to the traitor same’s you.”

Kinet swiveled his seat. Jessica saw the glint of starlight on a lasgun in his hand. The ‘thopter’s light-walled interior seemed to collect illumination as her eyes adjusted, but the guard’s scarred face remained dim. Jessica tested her seat belt, found it loose. She felt roughness in the strap against her left arm, realized the strap had been almost severed, would snap at a sudden jerk.

Has someone been at this ‘thopter, preparing it for us? she wondered. Who? Slowly, she twisted her bound feet clear of Paul’s.

“Sure do seem a shame to waste a good-looking woman like this,” Scarface said. “You ever have any highborn types?” He turned to look at the pilot.

“Bene Gesserit ain’t all highborn,” the pilot said.

“But they all looks heighty.”

He can see me plain enough , Jessica thought. She brought her bound legs up onto the seat, curled into a sinuous ball, staring at Scarface.

“Real pretty, she is,” Kinet said. He wet his lips with his tongue. “Sure do seem a shame.” He looked at Czigo.

“You thinking what I think you’re thinking?” the pilot asked.

“Who’d be to know?” the guard asked. “Afterwards . . . ” He shrugged. “I just never had me no highborns. Might never get a chance like this one again.”

“You lay a hand on my mother . . . ” Paul grated. He glared at Scarface.

“Hey!” the pilot laughed. “Cub’s got a bark. Ain’t got no bite, though.”

And Jessica thought; Paul’s pitching his voice too high. It may work, though .




They flew on in silence.

These poor fools , Jessica thought, studying her guards and reviewing the Baron’s words. They’ll be killed as soon as they report success on their mission. The Baron wants no witnesses .

The ‘thopter banked over the southern rim of the Shield Wall, and Jessica saw a moonshadowed expanse of sand beneath them.

“This oughta be far enough,” the pilot said. “The traitor said to put’em on the sand anywhere near the Shield Wall.” He dipped the craft toward the dunes in a long, falling stoop, brought it up stiffly over the desert surface.

Jessica saw Paul begin taking the rhythmic breaths of the calming exercise. He closed his eyes, opened them. Jessica stared, helpless to aid him. He hasn’t mastered the Voice yet , she thought, if he fails . . .

The ‘thopter touched sand with a soft lurch, and Jessica, looking north back across the Shield Wall, saw a shadow of wings settle out of sight up there.

Someone’s following us! she thought. Who? Then: The ones the Baron set to watch this pair. And there’ll be watchers for the watchers, too .

Czigo shut off his wing rotors. Silence flooded in upon them.

Jessica turned her head. She could see out the window beyond Scarface a dim glow of light from a rising moon, a frosted rim of rock rising from the desert. Sandblast ridges streaked its sides.

Paul cleared his throat.

The pilot said: “Now, Kinet?”

“I dunno, Czigo.”

Czigo turned, said: “Ah-h-h, look.” He reached out for Jessica’s skirt.

“Remove her gag,” Paul commanded.

Jessica felt the words rolling in the air. The tone, the timbre excellent – imperative, very sharp. A slightly lower pitch would have been better, but it could still fall within this man’s spectrum.

Czigo shifted his hand up to the band around Jessica’s mouth, slipped the knot on the gag.

“Stop that!” Kinet ordered.

“Ah, shut your trap,” Czigo said. “Her hands’re tied.” He freed the knot and the binding dropped. His eyes glittered as he studied Jessica.

Kinet put a hand on the pilot’s arm. “Look, Czigo, no need to . . . ”

Jessica twisted her neck, spat out the gag. She pitched her voice in low, intimate tones. “Gentlemen! No need to fight over me.” At the same time, she writhed sinuously for Kinet’s benefit.

She saw them grow tense, knowing that in this instant they were convinced of the need to fight over her. Their disagreement required no other reason. In their minds, they were fighting over her.

She held her face high in the instrument glow to be sure Kinet would read her lips, said: “You mustn’t disagree.” They drew farther apart, glanced warily at each other. “Is any woman worth fighting over?” she asked.

By uttering the words, by being there, she made herself infinitely worth their fighting.

Paul clamped his lips tightly closed, forced himself to be silent. There had been the one chance for him to succeed with the Voice. Now – everything depended on his mother whose experience went so far beyond his own.

“Yeah,” Scarface said. “No need to fight over . . . ”

His hand flashed toward the pilot’s neck. The blow was met by a splash of metal that caught the arm and in the same motion slammed into Kinet’s chest.

Scarface groaned, sagged backward against his door.

“Thought I was some dummy didn’t know that trick,” Czigo said. He brought back his hand, revealing the knife. It glittered in reflected moonlight.

“Now for the cub,” he said and leaned toward Paul.




“No need for that,” Jessica murmured.

Czigo hesitated.

“Wouldn’t you rather have me cooperative?” Jessica asked. “Give the boy a chance.” Her lip curled in a sneer. “Little enough chance he’d have out there in that sand. Give him that and . . . ” She smiled. “You could find yourself well rewarded.”

Czigo glanced left, right, returned his attention to Jessica. “I’ve heard what can happen to a man in this desert,” he said. “Boy might find the knife a kindness.”

“Is it so much I ask?” Jessica pleaded.

“You’re trying to trick me,” Czigo muttered.

“I don’t want to see my son die,” Jessica said. “Is that a trick?”

Czigo moved back, elbowed the door latch. He grabbed Paul, dragged him across the seat, pushed him half out the door and held the knife posed. “What’ll y’ do, cub, if I cut y’r bonds?”

“He’ll leave here immediately and head for those rocks,” Jessica said.

“Is that what y’ll do, cub?” Czigo asked.

Paul’s voice was properly surly. “Yes.”

The knife moved down, slashed the bindings of his legs. Paul felt the hand on his back to hurl him down onto the sand, feigned a lurch against the doorframe for purchase, turned as though to catch himself, lashed out with his right foot.

The toe was aimed with a precision that did credit to his long years of training, as though all of that training focused on this instant. Almost every muscle of his body cooperated in the placement of it. The tip struck the soft part of Czigo’s abdomen just below the sternum, slammed upward with terrible force over the liver and through the diaphragm to crush the right ventricle of the man’s heart.

With one gurgling scream, the guard jerked backward across the seats. Paul, unable to use his hands, continued his tumble onto the sand, landing with a roll that took up the force and brought him back to his feet in one motion. He dove back into the cabin, found the knife and held it in his teeth while his mother sawed her bonds. She took the blade and freed his hands.

“I could’ve handled him,” she said. “He’d have had to cut my bindings. That was a foolish risk.”

“I saw the opening and used it,” he said.

She heard the harsh control in his voice, said: “Yueh’s house sign is scrawled on the ceiling of this cabin.”

He looked up, saw the curling symbol.

“Get out and let us study this craft,” she said. “There’s a bundle under the pilot’s seat. I felt it when we got in.”


“Doubt it. There’s something peculiar here.”

Paul leaped out to the sand and Jessica followed. She turned, reached under the seat for the strange bundle, seeing Czigo’s feet close to her face, feeling dampness on the bundle as she removed it, realizing the dampness was the pilot’s blood.

Waste of moisture , she thought, knowing that this was Arrakeen thinking.

Paul stared around them, saw the rock scarp lifting out of the desert like a beach rising from the sea, wind-carved palisades beyond. He turned back as his mother lifted the bundle from the ‘thopter, saw her stare across the dunes toward the Shield Wall. He looked to see what drew her attention, saw another ‘thopter swooping toward them, realized they’d not have time to clear the bodies out of this ‘thopter and escape.

“Run, Paul!” Jessica shouted. “It’s Harkonnens!”




Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife  – chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: “Now, it’s complete because it’s ended here.”

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

A man in Harkonnen uniform skidded to a stop at the end of the hall, stared in at Yueh, taking in at a single glance Mapes’ body, the sprawled form of the Duke, Yueh standing there. The man held a lasgun in his right hand. There was a casual air of brutality about him, a sense of toughness and poise that sent a shiver through Yueh.

Sardaukar, Yueh thought. A Bashar by the look of him. Probably one of the Emperor’s own sent here to keep an eye on things. No matter what the uniform, there’s no disguising them .

“You’re Yueh,” the man said. He looked speculatively at the Suk School ring on the Doctor’s hair, stared once at the diamond tattoo and then met Yueh’s eyes.

“I am Yueh,” the Doctor said.

“You can relax, Yueh,” the man said. “When you dropped the house shields we came right in. Everything’s under control here. Is this the Duke?”

“This is the Duke.”


“Merely unconscious. I suggest you tie him.”

“Did you do for these others?” He glanced back down the hall where Mapes’ body lay.

“More’s the pity,” Yueh muttered.

“Pity!” the Sardaukar sneered. He advanced, looked down at Leto. “So that’s the great Red Duke.”

If I had doubts about what this man is, that would end them , Yueh thought. Only the Emperor calls the Atreides the Red Duke .

The Sardaukar reached down, cut the red hawk insignia from Leto’s uniform. “Little souvenir,” he said. “Where’s the ducal signet ring?”

“He doesn’t have it on him,” Yueh said.

“I can see that!” the Sardaukar snapped.

Yueh stiffened, swallowed. If they press me, bring in a Truthsayer, they’ll find out about the ring, about the ‘thopter I prepared – all will fail .

“Sometimes the Duke sent the ring with a messenger as surety that an order came directly from him,” Yueh said.

“Must be damned trusted messengers,” the Sardaukar muttered.

“Aren’t you going to tie him?” Yueh ventured.

“How long’ll he be unconscious?”

“Two hours or so. I wasn’t as precise with his dosage as I was for the woman and boy.”

The Sardaukar spurned the Duke with his toe. “This was nothing to fear even when awake. When will the woman and boy awaken?”

“About ten minutes.”

“So soon?”

“I was told the Baron would arrive immediately behind his men.”

“So he will. You’ll wait outside, Yueh.” He shot a hard glance at Yueh. “Now!”

Yueh glanced at Leto. “What about . . . ”




“He’ll be delivered to the Baron all properly trussed like a roast for the oven.” Again, the Sardaukar looked at the diamond tattoo on Yueh’s forehead. “You’re known; you’ll be safe enough in the halls. We’ve no more time for chit-chat, traitor. I hear the others coming.”

Traitor , Yueh thought. He lowered his gaze, pressed past the Sardaukar, knowing this as a foretaste of how history would remember him: Yueh the traitor .

He passed more bodies on his way to the front entrance and glanced at them, fearful that one might be Paul or Jessica. All were house troopers or wore Harkonnen uniform.

Harkonnen guards came alert, staring at him as he emerged from the front entrance into flame-lighted night. The palms along the road had been fired to illuminate the house. Black smoke from the flammables used to ignite the trees poured upward through orange flames.

“It’s the traitor,” someone said.

“The Baron will want to see you soon,” another said.

I must get to the ‘thopter , Yueh thought. I must put the ducal signet where Paul will find it . And fear struck him: If Idaho suspects me or grows impatient – if he doesn’t wait and go exactly where I told him – Jessica and Paul will not be saved from the carnage. I’ll be denied even the smallest relief from my act .

The Harkonnen guard released his arm, said “Wait over there out of the way.”

Abruptly, Yueh saw himself as cast away in this place of destruction, spared nothing, given not the smallest pity. Idahomust not fail!

Another guard bumped into him, barked: “Stay out of the way, you!”

Even when they’ve profited by me they despise me . Yueh thought. He straightened himself as he was pushed aside, regained some of his dignity.

“Wait for the Baron!” a guard officer snarled.

Yueh nodded, walked with controlled casualness along the front of the house, turned the corner into shadows out of sight of the burning palms. Quickly, every step betraying his anxiety, Yueh made for the rear yard beneath the conservatory where the ‘thopter waited – the craft they had placed there to carry away Paul and his mother.

A guard stood at the open rear door of the house, his attention focused on the lighted hall and men banging through there, searching from room to room.

How confident they were!

Yueh hugged the shadows, worked his way around the ‘thopter, eased open the door on the side away from the guard. He felt under the front seats for the Fremkit he had hidden there, lifted a flap and slipped in the ducal signet. He felt the crinkling of the spice paper there, the note he had written, pressed the ring into the paper. He removed his hand, resealed the pack.

Softly, Yueh closed the ‘thopter door, worked his way back to the corner of the house and around toward the flaming trees.

Now, it is done , he thought.

Once more, he emerged into the light of the blazing palms. He pulled his cloak around him, stared at the flames. Soon I will know. Soon I will see the Baron and I will know. And the Baron – he will encounter a small tooth .

There is a legend that the instant the Duke Leto Atreides died a meteor streaked across the skies above his ancestral palace on Caladan.

– the Princess Irulan: “Introduction to A Child’s History of Muad’Dib”

The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen stood at a viewport of the grounded lighter he was using as a command post. Out the port he saw the flame-lighted night of Arrakeen. His attention focused on the distant Shield Wall where his secret weapon was doing its work.

Explosive artillery.

The guns nibbled at the caves where the Duke’s fighting men had retreated for a last-ditch stand. Slowly measured bites of orange glare, showers of rock and dust in the brief illumination – and the Duke’s men were being sealed off to die by starvation, caught like animals in their burrows.




The Baron could feel the distant chomping – a drumbeat carried to him through the ship’s metal: broomp . . . broomp . Then: BROOMP-broomp!

Who would think of reviving artillery in this day of shields? The thought was a chuckle in his mind. But it was predictable the Duke’s men would run for those caves. And the Emperor will appreciate my cleverness in preserving the lives of our mutual force .

He adjusted one of the little suspensors that guarded his fat body against the pull of gravity. A smile creased his mouth, pulled at the lines of his jowls.

A pity to waste such fighting men as the Duke’s , he thought. He smiled more broadly, laughing at himself. Pity should be cruel! He nodded. Failure was, by definition, expendable. The whole universe sat there, open to the man who could make the right decisions. The uncertain rabbits had to be exposed, made to run for their burrows. Else how could you control them and breed them? He pictured his fighting men as bees routing the rabbits. And he thought: The day hums sweetly when you have enough bees working for you .

A door opened behind him. The Baron studied the reflection in the night-blackened viewport before turning.

Piter de Vries advanced into the chamber followed by Umman Kudu, the captain of the Baron’s personal guard. There was a motion of men just outside the door, the mutton faces of his guard, their expressions carefully sheep-like in his presence.

The Baron turned.

Piter touched finger to forelock in his mocking salute. “Good news, m’Lord. The Sardaukar have brought in the Duke.”

“Of course they have,” the Baron rumbled.

He studied the somber mask of villainy on Piter’s effeminate face. And the eyes: those shaded slits of bluest blue-in-blue.

Soon I must remove him , the Baron thought. He has almost outlasted his usefulness, almost reached the point of positive danger to my person. First, though, he must make the people of Arrakis hate him. Then – they will welcome my darling Feyd-Rautha as a savior .

The Baron shifted his attention to the guard captain – Umman Kudu: scissors-line of jaw muscles, chin like a boot toe – a man to be trusted because the captain’s vices were known.

“First, where is the traitor who gave me the Duke?” the Baron asked. “I must give the traitor his reward.”

Piter turned on one toe, motioned to the guard outside.

A bit of black movement there and Yueh walked through. His motions were stiff and stringy. The mustache drooped beside his purple lips. Only the old eyes seemed alive. Yueh came to a stop three paces into the room, obeying a motion from Piter, and stood there staring across the open space at the Baron.

“Ah-h-h, Dr. Yueh.”

“M’Lord Harkonnen.”

“You’ve given us the Duke, I hear.”

“My half of the bargain, m’Lord.”

The Baron looked at Piter.

Piter nodded.

The Baron looked back at Yueh. “The letter of the bargain, eh? And I . . .” He spat the words out: “What was I to do in return?”

“You remember quite well, m’Lord Harkonnen.”

And Yueh allowed himself to think now, hearing the loud silence of clocks in his mind. He had seen the subtle betrayals in the Baron’s manner. Wanna was indeed dead – gone far beyond their reach. Otherwise, there’d still be a hold on the weak doctor. The Baron’s manner showed there was no hold; it was ended.

“Do I?” the Baron asked.

“You promised to deliver my Wanna from her agony.”




The Baron nodded. “Oh, yes. Now, I remember. So I did. That was my promise. That was how we bent the Imperial Conditioning. You couldn’t endure seeing your Bene Gesserit witch grovel in Piter’s pain amplifiers. Well, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen always keeps his promises. I told you I’d free her from the agony and permit you to join her. So be it.” He waved a hand at Piter.

Piter’s blue eyes took a glazed look. His movement was catlike in its sudden fluidity. The knife in his hand glistened like a claw as it flashed into Yueh’s back.

The old man stiffened, never taking his attention from the Baron.

“So join her!” the Baron spat.

Yueh stood, swaying. His lips moved with careful precision, and his voice came in oddly measured cadence: “You . . . think . . . you . . . de . . . feated . . . me. You . . . think . . . I . . . did . . . not . . . know . . . what . . . I . . . bought . . . for . . . my . . . Wanna.”

He toppled. No bending or softening. It was like a tree falling.

“So join her,” the Baron repeated. But his words were like a weak echo.

Yueh had filled him with a sense of foreboding. He whipped his attention to Piter, watched the man wipe the blade on a scrap of cloth, watched the creamy look of satisfaction in the blue eyes.

So that’s how he kills by his own hand , the Baron thought. It’s well to know .

“He did give us the Duke?” the Baron asked.

“Of a certainty, my Lord,” Piter said.

“Then get him in here!”

Piter glanced at the guard captain, who whirled to obey.

The Baron looked down at Yueh. From the way the man had fallen, you could suspect oak in him instead of bones.

“I never could bring myself to trust a traitor,” the Baron said. “Not even a traitor I created.”

He glanced at the night-shrouded viewport. That black bag of stillness out there was his, the Baron knew. There was no more crump of artillery against the Shield Wall caves; the burrow traps were sealed off. Quite suddenly, the Baron’s mind could conceive of nothing more beautiful than that utter emptiness of black. Unless it were white on the black. Plated white on the black. Porcelain white.

But there was still the feeling of doubt.

What had the old fool of a doctor meant? Of course, he’d probably known what would happen to him in the end. But that bit about thinking he’d been defeated: “You think you defeated me .”

What had he meant?

The Duke Leto Atreides came through the door. His arms were bound in chains, the eagle face streaked with dirt. His uniform was torn where someone had ripped off his insignia. There were tatters at his waist where the shield belt had been removed without first freeing the uniform ties. The Duke’s eyes held a glazed, insane look.

“Wel-l-l-l,” the Baron said. He hesitated, drawing in a deep breath. He knew he had spoken too loudly. This moment, long envisioned, had lost some of its savor.

Damn that cursed doctor through all eternity!

“I believe the good Duke is drugged,” Piter said. “That’s how Yueh caught him for us.” Piter turned to the Duke. “Aren’t you drugged, my dear Duke?”

The voice was far away. Leto could feel the chains, the ache of muscles, his cracked lips, his burning cheeks, the dry taste of thirst whispering its grit in his mouth. But sounds were dull, hidden by a cottony blanket. And he saw only dim shapes through the blanket.

“What of the woman and the boy, Piter?” the Baron asked. “Any word yet?”

Piter’s tongue darted over his lips.

“You’ve heard something!” the Baron snapped. “What?”

Piter glanced at the guard captain, back to the Baron. “The men who were sent to do the job, m’Lord-they’ve . . . ah . . . been . . . ah . . . found.”

“Well, they report everything satisfactory?”

“They’re dead, m’Lord.”

“Of course they are! What I want to know is – ”

“They were dead when found, m’Lord.”




The Baron’s face went livid. “And the woman and boy?”

“No sign, m’Lord, but there was a worm. It came while the scene was being investigated. Perhaps it’s as we wished – an accident. Possibly – ”

“We do not deal in possibilities, Piter. What of the missing ‘thopter? Does that suggest anything to my Mentat?”

“One of the Duke’s men obviously escaped in it, m’Lord. Killed our pilot and escaped.”

“Which of the Duke’s men?”

“It was a clean, silent killing, m’Lord. Hawat, perhaps, or that Halleck one. Possibly Idaho . Or any top lieutenant.”

“Possibilities,” the Baron muttered. He glanced at the swaying, drugged figure of the Duke.

“The situation is in hand, m’Lord,” Piter said.

“No, it isn’t! Where is that stupid planetologist? Where is this man Kynes?”

“We’ve word where to find him and he’s been sent for, m’Lord.”

“I don’t like the way the Emperor’s servant is helping us,” the Baron muttered.

They were words through a cottony blanket, but some of them burned in Leto’s mind. Woman and boy – no sign . Paul and Jessica had escaped. And the fate of Hawat, Halleck, and Idaho remained an unknown. There was still hope.

“Where is the ducal signet ring?” the Baron demanded. “His finger is bare.”

“The Sardaukar say it was not on him when he was taken, my Lord,” the guard captain said.

“You killed the doctor too soon,” the Baron said. “That was a mistake. You should’ve warned me, Piter. You moved too precipitately for the good of our enterprise.” He scowled. “Possibilities!”

The thought hung like a sine wave in Leto’s mind: Paul and Jessica have escaped! And there was something else in his memory: a bargain. He could almost remember it.

The tooth!

He remembered part of it now: a pill of poison gas shaped into a false tooth .

Someone had told him to remember the tooth. The tooth was in his mouth. He could feel its shape with his tongue. All he had to do was bite sharply on it.

Not yet!

The someone had told him to wait until he was near the Baron. Who had told him? He couldn’t remember.

“How long will he remain drugged like this?” the Baron asked.

“Perhaps another hour, m’Lord.”




“Perhaps,” the Baron muttered. Again, he turned to the night-blackened window. “I am hungry.”

That’s the Baron, that fuzzy gray shape there , Leto thought. The shape danced back and forth, swaying with the movement of the room. And the room expanded and contracted. It grew brighter and darker. It folded into blackness and faded.

Time became a sequence of layers for the Duke. He drifted up through them. I must wait .

There was a table. Leto saw the table quite clearly. And a gross, fat man on the other side of the table, the remains of a meal in front of him. Leto felt himself sitting in a chair across from the fat man, felt the chains, the straps that held his tingling body in the chair. He was aware there had been a passage of time, but its length escaped him.

“I believe he’s coming around. Baron.”

A silky voice, that one. That was Piter.

“So I see, Piter.”

A rumbling basso: the Baron .

Leto sensed increasing definition in his surroundings. The chair beneath him took on firmness, the bindings were sharper.

And he saw the Baron clearly now. Leto watched the movements of the man’s hands: compulsive touchings – the edge of a plate, the handle of a spoon, a finger tracing the fold of a jowl.

Leto watched the moving hand, fascinated by it.

“You can hear me, Duke Leto,” the Baron said. “I know you can hear me. We want to know from you where to find your concubine and the child you sired on her.”

No sign escaped Leto, but the words were a wash of calmness through him. It’s true, then: they don’t have Paul and Jessica .

“This is not a child’s game we play,” the Baron rumbled. “You must know that.” He leaned toward Leto, studying the face. It pained the Baron that this could not be handled privately, just between the two of them. To have others see royalty in such straits – it set a bad precedent.

Leto could feel strength returning. And now, the memory of the false tooth stood out in his mind like a steeple in a flat landscape. The nerve-shaped capsule within that tooth – the poison gas – he remembered who had put the deadly weapon in his mouth.

Yueh .

Drug-fogged memory of seeing a limp corpse dragged past him in this room hung like a vapor in Leto’s mind. He knew it had been Yueh.

“Do you hear that noise, Duke Leto?” the Baron asked.

Leto grew conscious of a frog sound, the burred mewling of someone’s agony.

“We caught one of your men disguised as a Fremen, ” the Baron said. “We penetrated the disguise quite easily: the eyes, you know. He insists he was sent among the Fremen to spy on them. I’ve lived for a time on this planet, cher cousin. One does not spy on those ragged scum of the desert. Tell me, did you buy their help? Did you send your woman and son to them?”

Leto felt fear tighten his chest. If Yueh sent them to the desert fold . . . the search won’t stop until they ‘re found .

“Come, come,” the Baron said. “We don’t have much time and pain is quick. Please don’t bring it to this, my dear Duke.” The Baron looked up at Piter who stood at Leto’s shoulder. “Piter doesn’t have all his tools here, but I’m sure he could improvise.”

“Improvisation is sometimes the best, Baron.”

That silky, insinuating voice! Leto heard it at his ear.

“You had an emergency plan,” the Baron said. “Where have your woman and the boy been sent?” He looked at Leto’s hand. “Your ring is missing. Does the boy have it?”

The Baron looked up, stared into Leto’s eyes.




“You don’t answer,” he said. “Will you force me to do a thing I do not want to do? Piter will use simple, direct methods. I agree they’re sometimes the best, but it’s not good that you should be subjected to such things.”

“Hot tallow on the back, perhaps, or on the eyelids,” Piter said. “Perhaps on other portions of the body. It’s especially effective when the subject doesn’t know where the tallow will fall next. It’s a good method and there’s a sort of beauty in the pattern of pus-white blisters on naked skin, eh, Baron?”

“Exquisite,” the Baron said, and his voice sounded sour.

Those touching fingers! Leto watched the fat hands, the glittering jewels on baby-fat hands – their compulsive wandering.

The sounds of agony coming through the door behind him gnawed at the Duke’s nerves. Who is it they caught? he wondered. Could it have been Idaho ?

“Believe me, cher cousin,” the Baron said. “I do not want it to come to this.”

“You think of nerve couriers racing to summon help that cannot come,” Piter said. “There’s an artistry in this, you know.”

“You’re a superb artist,” the Baron growled. “Now, have the decency to be silent.”

Leto suddenly recalled a thing Gurney Halleck had said once, seeing a picture of the Baron: ” ‘And I stood upon the sand of the sea and saw a beast rise up out of the sea . . . and upon his heads the name of blasphemy .’ ”

“We waste time, Baron,” Piter said.

“Perhaps.” The Baron nodded. “You know, my dear Leto, you’ll tell us in the end where they are. There’s a level of pain that’ll buy you.”

He’s most likely correct , Leto thought. Were if not for the tooth . . . and the fact that I truly don’t know where they are .

The Baron picked up a sliver of meat, pressed the morsel into his mouth, chewed slowly, swallowed. We must try a new tack , he thought.

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