Chapter no 12


“Observe this prize person who denies he’s for hire,” the Baron said. “Observe him, Piter.”

And the Baron thought: Yes! See him there, this man who believes he cannot be bought. See him detained there by a million shares of himself sold in dribbles every second of his life! If you took him up now and shook him, he’d rattle inside. Emptied! Sold out! What difference how he dies now?

The frog sounds in the background stopped.

The Baron saw Umman Kudu, the guard captain, appear in the doorway across the room, shake his head. The captive hadn’t produced the needed information. Another failure. Time to quit stalling with this fool Duke, this stupid soft fool who didn’t realize how much hell there was so near him – only a nerve’s thickness away.

This thought calmed the Baron, overcoming his reluctance to have a royal person subject to pain. He saw himself suddenly as a surgeon exercising endless supple scissor dissections – cutting away the masks from fools, exposing the hell beneath.

Rabbits, all of them!

And how they cowered when they saw the carnivore!




Leto stared across the table, wondering why he waited. The tooth would end it all quickly. Still – it had been good, much of this life. He found himself remembering an antenna kite updangling in the shell-blue sky of Caladan, and Paul laughing with joy at the sight of it. And he remembered sunrise here on Arrakis – colored strata of the Shield Wall mellowed by dust haze.

“Too bad,” the Baron muttered. He pushed himself back from the table, stood up lightly in his suspensors and hesitated, seeing a change come over the Duke. He saw the man draw in a deep breath, the jawline stiffen, the ripple of a muscle there as the Duke clamped his mouth shut.

How he fears me! the Baron thought.

Shocked by fear that the Baron might escape him, Leto bit sharply on the capsule tooth, felt it break. He opened his mouth, expelled the biting vapor he could taste as it formed on his tongue. The Baron grew smaller, a figure seen in a tightening tunnel. Leto heard a gasp beside his ear – the silky-voiced one: Piter.

It got him, too!

“Piter! What’s wrong?”

The rumbling voice was far away.

Leto sensed memories rolling in his mind – the old toothless mutterings of hags. The room, the table, the Baron, a pair of terrified eyes – blue within blue, the eyes – all compressed around him in ruined symmetry.




There was a man with a boot-toe chin, a toy man falling. The toy man had a broken nose slanted to the left: an offbeat metronome caught forever at the start of an upward stroke. Leto heard the crash of crockery – so distant – a roaring in his ears. His mind was a bin without end, catching everything. Everything that had ever been: every shout, every whisper, every . . . silence.

One thought remained to him. Leto saw it in formless light on rays of black: The day the flesh shapes and the flesh the day shapes . The thought struck him with a sense of fullness he knew he could never explain.


The Baron stood with his back against his private door, his own bolt hole behind the table. He had slammed it on a room full of dead men. His senses took in guards swarming around him. Did I breathe it? he asked himself. Whatever it was in there, did it get me, too?

Sounds returned to him . . . and reason. He heard someone shouting orders – gas masks . . . keep a door closed . . . get blowers going.

The others fell quickly , he thought. I’m still standing. I’m still breathing. Merciless hell! That was close!

He could analyze it now. His shield had been activated, set low but still enough to slow molecular interchange across the field barrier. And he had been pushing himself away from the table . . . that and Piter’s shocked gasp which had brought the guard captain darting forward into his own doom.

Chance and the warning in a dying man’s gasp – these had saved him.

The Baron felt no gratitude to Piter. The fool had got himself killed. And that stupid guard captain! He’d said he scoped everyone before bringing them into the Baron’s presence! How had it been possible for the Duke . . . ? No warning. Not even from the poison snooper over the table – until it was too late. How?

Well, no matter now , the Baron thought, his mind firming. The next guard captain will begin by finding answers to these questions .

He grew aware of more activity down the hall – around the corner at the other door to that room of death. The Baron pushed himself away from his own door, studied the lackeys around him. They stood there staring, silent, waiting for the Baron’s reaction.

Would the Baron be angry?




And the Baron realized only a few seconds had passed since his flight from that terrible room.

Some of the guards had weapons leveled at the door. Some were directing their ferocity toward the empty hall that stretched away toward the noises around the corner to their right.

A man came striding around that corner, gas mask dangling by its straps at his neck, his eyes intent on the overhead poison snoopers that lined this corridor. He was yellow-haired, flat of face with green eyes. Crisp lines radiated from his thick-lipped mouth. He looked like some water creature misplaced among those who walked the land.

The Baron stared at the approaching man, recalling the name: Nefud . Iakin Nefud. Guard corporal. Nefud was addicted to semuta, the drug-music combination that played itself in the deepest consciousness. A useful item of information, that.

The man stopped in front of the Baron, saluted. “Corridor’s clear, m’Lord. I was outside watching and saw that it must be poison gas. Ventilators in your room were pulling air in from these corridors.” He glanced up at the snooper over the Baron’s head. “None of the stuff escaped. We have the room cleaned out now. What are your orders?”

The Baron recognized the man’s voice – the one who’d been shouting orders. Efficient, this corporal , he thought.

“They’re all dead in there?” the Baron asked.

“Yes, m’Lord.”




Well, we must adjust , the Baron thought.

“First,” he said, “let me congratulate you, Nefud . You’re the new captain of my guard. And I hope you’ll take to heart the lesson to be learned from the fate of your predecessor.”

The Baron watched the awareness grow in his newly promoted guardsman. Nefud knew he’d never again be without his semuta.

Nefud nodded. “My Lord knows I’ll devote myself entirely to his safety.”

“Yes. Well, to business. I suspect the Duke had something in his mouth. You will find out what that something was, how it was used, who helped him put it there. You’ll take every precaution – ”

He broke off, his chain of thought shattered by a disturbance in the corridor behind him – guards at the door to the lift from the lower levels of the frigate trying to hold back a tall colonel bashar who had just emerged from the lift.

The Baron couldn’t place the colonel bashar’s face: thin with mouth like a slash in leather, twin ink spots for eyes.

“Get your hands off me, you pack of carrion-eaters!” the man roared, and he dashed the guards aside.

Ah-h-h, one of the Sardaukar , the Baron thought.

The colonel bashar came striding toward the Baron, whose eyes went to slits of apprehension. The Sardaukar officers filled him with unease. They all seemed to look like relatives of the Duke . . . the late Duke. And their manners with the Baron!

The colonel bashar planted himself half a pace in front of the Baron, hands on hips. The guard hovered behind him in twitching uncertainty.

The Baron noted the absence of salute, the disdain in the Sardaukar’s manner, and his unease grew. There was only the one legion of them locally – ten brigades – reinforcing the Harkonnen legions, but the Baron did not fool himself. That one legion was perfectly capable of turning on the Harkonnens and overcoming them.




“Tell your men they are not to prevent me from seeing you, Baron,” the Sardaukar growled. “My men brought you the Atreides Duke before I could discuss his fate with you. We will discuss it now.”

I must not lose face before my men , the Baron thought.

“So?” It was a coldly controlled word, and the Baron felt proud of it.

“My Emperor has charged me to make certain his royal cousin dies cleanly without agony,” the colonel bashar said.

“Such were the Imperial orders to me,” the Baron lied. “Did you think I’d disobey?”

“I’m to report to my Emperor what I see with my own eyes,” the Sardaukar said.

“The Duke’s already dead,” the Baron snapped, and he waved a hand to dismiss the fellow.

The colonel bashar remained planted facing the Baron. Not by flicker of eye or muscle did he acknowledge he had been dismissed. “How?” he growled.

Really! the Baron thought. This is too much .

“By his own hand, if you must know,” the Baron said. “He took poison.”

“I will see the body now,” the colonel Bashar said.

The Baron raised his gaze to the ceiling in feigned exasperation while his thoughts raced. Damnation! This sharp-eyed Sardaukar will see the room before a thing’s been changed!




“Now,” the Sardaukar growled. “I’ll see it with my own eyes.”

There was no preventing it, the Baron realized. The Sardaukar would see all. He’d know the Duke had killed Harkonnen men . . . that the Baron most likely had escaped by a narrow margin. There was the evidence of the dinner remnants on the table, and the dead Duke across from it with destruction around him.

No preventing it at all.

“I’ll not be put off,” the colonel bashar snarled.

“You’re not being put off,” the Baron said, and he stared into the Sardaukar’s obsidian eyes. “I hide nothing from my Emperor.” He nodded to Nefud . “The colonel bashar is to see everything, at once. Take him in by the door where you stood, Nefud .”

“This way, sir,” Nefud said.

Slowly, insolently, the Sardaukar moved around the Baron, shouldered a way through the guardsmen.

Insufferable , the Baron thought. Now, the Emperor will know how I slipped up. He’ll recognize it as a sign of weakness .

And it was agonizing to realize that the Emperor and his Sardaukar were alike in their disdain for weakness. The Baron chewed at his lower lip, consoling himself that the Emperor, at least, had not learned of the Atreides raid on Giedi Prime, the destruction of the Harkonnen spice stores there.

Damn that slippery Duke!

The Baron watched the retreating backs – the arrogant Sardaukar and the stocky, efficient Nefud .

We must adjust , the Baron thought. I’ll have to put Rabban over this damnable planet once more. Without restraint. I must spend my own Harkonnen blood to put Arrakis into a proper condition for accepting Feyd-Rautha. Damn that Piter! He would get himself killed before I was through with him .

The Baron sighed.




And I must send at once to Tleielax for a new Mentat. They undoubtedly have the new one ready for me by now.

One of the guardsmen beside him coughed.

The Baron turned toward the man. “I am hungry.”

“Yes, m’Lord.”

“And I wish to be diverted while you’re clearing out that room and studying its secrets for me,” the Baron rumbled.

The guardsman lowered his eyes. “What diversion does m’Lord wish?”

“I’ll be in my sleeping chambers,” the Baron said. “Bring me that young fellow we bought on Gamont, the one with the lovely eyes. Drug him well. I don’t feel like wrestling.”

“Yes, m’Lord.”

The Baron turned away, began moving with his bouncing, suspensor-buoyed pace toward his chambers. Yes , he thought. The one with the lovely eyes, the one who looks so much like the young Paul Atreides .

O Seas of Caladan,

O people of Duke Leto –

Citadel of Leto fallen,

Fallen forever . . .

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




Paul felt that all his past, every experience before this night, had become sand curling in an hourglass. He sat near his mother hugging his knees within a small fabric and plastic hutment – a stilltent – that had come, like the Fremen clothing they now wore, from the pack left in the ‘thopter.

There was no doubt in Paul’s mind who had put the Fremkit there, who had directed the course of the ‘thopter carrying them captive.

Yueh .

The traitor doctor had sent them directly into the hands of Duncan Idaho.

Paul stared out the transparent end of the stilltent at the moonshadowed rocks that ringed this place where Idaho had hidden them.

Hiding like a child when I’m now the Duke , Paul thought. He felt the thought gall him, but could not deny the wisdom in what they did.

Something had happened to his awareness this night – he saw with sharpened clarity every circumstance and occurrence around him. He felt unable to stop the inflow of data or the cold precision with which each new item was added to his knowledge and the computation was centered in his awareness. It was Mentat power and more.

Paul thought back to the moment of impotent rage as the strange ‘thopter dived out of the night onto them, stooping like a giant hawk above the desert with wind screaming through its wings. The thing in Paul’s mind had happened then. The ‘thopter had skidded and slewed across a sand ridge toward the running figures – his mother and himself. Paul remembered how the smell of burned sulfur from abrasion of ‘thopter skids against sand had drifted across them.

His mother, he knew, had turned, expected to meet a lasgun in the hands of Harkonnen mercenaries, and had recognized Duncan Idaho leaning out the ‘thopter’s open door shouting: “Hurry! There’s wormsign south of you!”

But Paul had known as he turned who piloted the ‘thopter. An accumulation of minutiae in the way it was flown, the dash of the landing – clues so small even his mother hadn’t detected them – had told Paul precisely who sat at those controls.

Across the stilltent from Paul, Jessica stirred, said: “There can be only one explanation. The Harkonnens held Yueh’s wife. He hated the Harkonnens! I cannot be wrong about that. You read his note. But why has he saved us from the carnage?”

She is only now seeing it and that poorly , Paul thought. The thought was a shock. He had known this fact as a by-the-way thing while reading the note that had accompanied the ducal signet in the pack.

“Do not try to forgive me,” Yueh had written. “I do not want your forgiveness. I already have enough burdens. What I have done was done without malice or hope of another’s understanding. It is my own tahaddi al-burhan, my ultimate test. I give you the Atreides ducal signet as token that I write truly. By the time you read this, Duke Leto will be dead. Take consolation from my assurance that he did not die alone, that one we hate above all others died with him.”

It had not been addressed or signed, but there ‘d been no mistaking the familiar scrawl – Yueh’s.

Remembering the letter, Paul re-experienced the distress of that moment – a thing sharp and strange that seemed to happen outside his new mentat alertness. He had read that his father was dead, known the truth of the words, but had felt them as no more than another datum to be entered in his mind and used.

I loved my father , Paul thought, and knew this for truth. I should mourn him. I should feel something .

But he felt nothing except: Here’s an important fact.

It was one with all the other facts.

All the while his mind was adding sense impressions, extrapolating, computing.




Halleck’s words came back to Paul: “Mood’s a thing for cattle or for making love. You fight when the necessity arises, no matter your mood . ”

Perhaps that’s it , Paul thought. I’ll mourn my father later . . . when there’s time .

But he felt no letup in the cold precision of his being. He sensed that his new awareness was only a beginning, that it was growing. The sense of terrible purpose he’d first experienced in his ordeal with the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam pervaded him. His right hand – the hand of remembered pain – tingled and throbbed.

Is this what it is to be their Kwisatz Haderach? he wondered.

“For a while, I thought Hawat had failed us again, “Jessica said. “I thought perhaps Yueh wasn’t a Suk doctor.”

“He was everything we thought him . . . and more,” Paul said. And he thought: Why is she so slow seeing these things? He said, “If Idaho doesn’t get through to Kynes, we’ll be – ”

“He’s not our only hope,” she said.

“Such was not my suggestion,” he said.

She heard the steel in his voice, the sense of command, and stared across the grey darkness of the stilltent at him. Paul was a silhouette against moon-frosted rocks seen through the tent’s transparent end.

“Others among your father’s men will have escaped,” she said. “We must regather them, find – ”

“We will depend upon ourselves,” he said. “Our immediate concern is our family atomics. We must get them before the Harkonnens can search them out.”

“Not likely they’ll be found,” she said, “the way they were hidden.”

“It must not be left to chance.”

And she thought: Blackmail with the family atomics as a threat to the planet and its spice – that’s what he has in mind. But all he can hope for then is escape into renegade anonymity .

His mother’s words had provoked another train of thought in Paul – a duke’s concern for all the people they’d lost this night. People are the true strength of a Great House, Paul thought. And he remembered Hawat’s words: “Parting with people is a sadness; a place is only a place .”

“They’re using Sardaukar,” Jessica said. “We must wait until the Sardaukar have been withdrawn.”

“They think us caught between the desert and the Sardaukar,” Paul said. “They intend that there be no Atreides survivors – total extermination. Do not count on any of our people escaping.”

“They cannot go on indefinitely risking exposure of the Emperor’s part in this.”

“Can’t they?”

“Some of our people are bound to escape.”

“Are they?”




Jessica turned away, frightened of the bitter strength in her son’s voice, hearing the precise assessment of chances. She sensed that his mind had leaped ahead of her, that it now saw more in some respects than she did. She had helped train the intelligence which did this, but now she found herself fearful of it. Her thoughts turned, seeking toward the lost sanctuary of her Duke, and tears burned her eyes.

This is the way it had to be, Leto , she thought. “A time of love and a time of grief .” She rested her hand on her abdomen, awareness focused on the embryo there. I have the Atreides daughter I was ordered to produce, but the Reverend Mother was wrong: a daughter wouldn’t have saved my Leto. This child is only life reaching for the future in the midst of death. I conceived out of instinct and not out of obedience .

“Try the communinet receiver again,” Paul said.

The mind goes on working no matter how we try to hold it back , she thought.

Jessica found the tiny receiver Idaho had left for them, flipped its switch. A green light glowed on the instrument’s face. Tinny screeching came from its speaker. She reduced the volume, hunted across the bands. A voice speaking Atreides battle language came into the tent.

” . . . back and regroup at the ridge. Fedor reports no survivors in Carthag and the Guild Bank has been sacked.”

Carthag! Jessica thought. That was a Harkonnen hotbed .

“They’re Sardaukar,” the voice said. “Watch out for Sardaukar in Atreides uniforms. They’re – ”

A roaring filled the speaker, then silence.

“Try the other bands,” Paul said.

“Do you realize what that means?” Jessica asked.

“I expected it. They want the Guild to blame us for destruction of their bank. With the Guild against us, we’re trapped on Arrakis. Try the other bands.”




She weighed his words: I expected it . What had happened to him? Slowly, Jessica returned to the instrument. As she moved the bandslide, they caught glimpses of violence in the few voices calling out in Atreides battle language: “. . . fallback . . .” “. . . try to regroup at . . .” “. . . trapped in a cave at. . . .”

And there was no mistaking the victorious exultation in the Harkonnen gibberish that poured from the other bands. Sharp commands, battle reports. There wasn’t enough of it for Jessica to register and break the language, but the tone was obvious.

Harkonnen victory.

Paul shook the pack beside him, hearing the two literjons of water gurgle there. He took a deep breath, looked up through the transparent end of the tent at the rock escarpment outlined against the stars. His left hand felt the sphincter-seal of the tent’s entrance. “It’ll be dawn soon,” he said. “We can wait through the day for Idaho , but not through another night. In the desert, you must travel by night and rest in shade through the day.”

Remembered lore insinuated itself into Jessica’s mind: Without a stillsuit, a man sitting in shade on the desert needs five liters of water a day to maintain body weight . She felt the slick-soft skin of the stillsuit against her body, thinking how their lives depended on these garments.

“If we leave here, Idaho can’t find us,” she said.

“There are ways to make any man talk,” he said. “If Idaho hasn’t returned by dawn, we must consider the possibility he has been captured. How long do you think he could hold out?”

The question required no answer, and she sat in silence.

Paul lifted the seal on the pack, pulled out a tiny micromanual with glowtab and magnifier. Green and orange letters leaped up at him from the pages: “literjons, stilltent, energy caps, recaths, sandsnork, binoculars, stillsuit repkit, baradye pistol, sinkchart, filt-plugs, paracompass, maker hooks, thumpers, Fremkit, fire pillar . . . ”

So many things for survival on the desert.

Presently, he put the manual aside on the tent floor.

“Where can we possibly go?” Jessica asked.

“My father spoke of desert power ,” Paul said. “The Harkonnens cannot rule this planet without it. They’ve never ruled this planet, nor shall they. Not even with ten thousand legions of Sardaukar.”

“Paul, you can’t think that – ”

“We’ve all the evidence in our hands,” he said. “Right here in this tent – the tent itself, this pack and its contents, these stillsuits. We know the Guild wants a prohibitive price for weather satellites. We know that – ”

“What’ve weather satellites to do with it?” she asked. “They couldn’t possibly . . . ” She broke off.

Paul sensed the hyperalertness of his mind reading her reactions, computing on minutiae. “You see it now,” he said. “Satellites watch the terrain below. There are things in the deep desert that will not bear frequent inspection.”

“You’re suggesting the Guild itself controls this planet?”

She was so slow.




“No!” he said. “The Fremen! They’re paying the Guild for privacy, paying in a coin that’s freely available to anyone with desert power – spice. This is more than a second-approximation answer; it’s the straight-line computation. Depend on it.”

“Paul.” Jessica said, “you’re not a Mentat yet; you can’t know for sure how – ”

“I’ll never be a Mentat,” he said. “I’m something else . . . a freak.”

“Paul! How can you say such – ”

“Leave me alone!”

He turned away from her, looking out into the night. Why can’t I mourn? he wondered. He felt that every fiber of his being craved this release, but it would be denied him forever.

Jessica had never heard such distress in her son’s voice. She wanted to reach out to him, hold him, comfort him, help him – but she sensed there was nothing she could do. He had to solve this problem by himself.

The glowing tab of the Fremkit manual between them on the tent floor caught her eye. She lifted it, glanced at the flyleaf, reading: “Manual of ‘The Friendly Desert,’ the place full of life. Here are the ayat and burhan of Life. Believe, and al-Lat shall never burn you.”

It reads like the Azhar Book , she thought, recalling her studies of the Great Secrets. Has a Manipulator of Religions been on Arrakis?

Paul lifted the paracompass from the pack, returned it, said: “Think of all these special-application Fremen machines. They show unrivaled sophistication. Admit it. The culture that made these things betrays depths no one suspected.”

Hesitating, still worried by the harshness in his voice, Jessica returned to the book, studied an illustrated constellation from the Arrakeen sky: “Muad’Dib: The Mouse,” and noted that the tail pointed north.

Paul stared into the tent’s darkness at the dimly discerned movements of his mother revealed by the manual’s glowtab. Now is the time to carry out my father’s wish, he thought. I must give her his message now while she has time for grief. Grief would inconvenience us later . And he found himself shocked by precise logic.

“Mother,” he said.





She heard the change in his voice, felt coldness in her entrails at the sound. Never had she heard such harsh control.

“My father is dead,” he said.

She searched within herself for the coupling of fact and fact and fact – the Bene Gesserit way of assessing data – and it came to her: the sensation of terrifying loss.

Jessica nodded, unable to speak.

“My father charged me once,” Paul said, “to give you a message if anything happened to him. He feared you might believe he distrusted you.”

That useless suspicion , she thought.

“He wanted you to know he never suspected you,” Paul said, and explained the deception, adding: “He wanted you to know he always trusted you completely, always loved you and cherished you. He said he would sooner have mistrusted himself and he had but one regret – that he never made you his Duchess.”

She brushed the tears coursing down her cheeks, thought: What a stupid waste of the body’s water! But she knew this thought for what it was – the attempt to retreat from grief into anger. Leto, my Leto , she thought. What terrible things we do to those we love! With a violent motion, she extinguished the little manual’s glowtab.

Sobs shook her.

Paul heard his mother’s grief and felt the emptiness within himself. I have no grief , he thought. Why? Why? He felt the inability to grieve as a terrible flaw.




“A time to get and time to lose ,” Jessica thought, quoting to herself from the O.C. Bible. “A time to keep and a time to cast away; a time for love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace . ”

Paul’s mind had gone on in its chilling precision. He saw the avenues ahead of them on this hostile planet. Without even the safety valve of dreaming, he focused his prescient awareness, seeing it as a computation of most probable futures, but with something more, an edge of mystery – as though his mind dipped into some timeless stratum and sampled the winds of the future.

Abruptly, as though he had found a necessary key, Paul’s mind climbed another notch in awareness. He felt himself clinging to this new level, clutching at a precarious hold and peering about. It was as though he existed within a globe with avenues radiating away in all directions – yet this only approximated the sensation.

He remembered once seeing a gauze kerchief blowing in the wind and now he sensed the future as though it twisted across some surface as undulant and impermanent as that of the windblown kerchief.

He saw people.

He felt the heat and cold of uncounted probabilities.

He knew names and places, experienced emotions without number, reviewed data of innumerable unexplored crannies. There was time to probe and test and taste, but no time to shape.

The thing was a spectrum of possibilities from the most remote past to the most remote future – from the most probable to the most improbable. He saw his own death in countless ways. He saw new planets, new cultures.



He saw them in such swarms they could not be listed, yet his mind catalogued them.

Even the Guildsmen.

And he thought: The Guild – there’ d be a way for us, my strangeness accepted as a familiar thing of high value, always with an assured supply of the now-necessary spice .




But the idea of living out his life in the mind-groping-ahead-through-possible-futures that guided hurtling spaceships appalled him. It was a way, though. And in meeting the possible future that contained Guildsmen he recognized his own strangeness.

I have another kind of sight. I see another kind of terrain: the available paths.

The awareness conveyed both reassurance and alarm – so many places on that other kind of terrain dipped or turned out of his sight.

As swiftly as it had come, the sensation slipped away from him, and he realized the entire experience had taken the space of a heartbeat.

Yet, his own personal awareness had been turned over, illuminated in a terrifying way. He stared around him.

Night still covered the stilltent within its rock-enclosed hideaway. His mother’s grief could still be heard.

His own lack of grief could still be felt . . . that hollow place somewhere separated from his mind, which went on in its steady pace – dealing with data, evaluating, computing, submitting answers in something like the Mentat way.

And now he saw that he had a wealth of data few such minds ever before had encompassed. But this made the empty place within him no easier to bear. He felt that something must shatter. It was as though a clockwork control for a bomb had been set to ticking within him. It went on about its business no matter what he wanted. It recorded minuscule shadings of difference around him – a slight change in moisture, a fractional fall in temperature, the progress of an insect across their stilltent roof, the solemn approach of dawn in the starlighted patch of sky he could see out the tent’s transparent end.

The emptiness was unbearable. Knowing how the clockwork had been set in motion made no difference. He could look to his own past and see the start of it – the training, the sharpening of talents, the refined pressures of sophisticated disciplines, even exposure to the O.C. Bible at a critical moment . . . and, lastly, the heavy intake of spice. And he could look ahead – the most terrifying direction – to see where it all pointed.

I’m a monster! he thought. A freak!

“No,” he said. Then: “No. No! NO!”

He found that he was pounding the tent floor with his fists. (The implacable part of him recorded this as an interesting emotional datum and fed it into computation.)


His mother was beside him, holding his hands, her face a gray blob peering at him. “Paul, what’s wrong?”

“You!” he said.

“I’m here, Paul,” she said. “It’s all right.”

“What have you done to me?” he demanded.

In a burst of clarity, she sensed some of the roots in the question, said: “I gave birth to you.”

It was, from instinct as much as her own subtle knowledge, the precisely correct answer to calm him. He felt her hands holding him, focused on the dim outline of her face. (Certain gene traces in her facial structure were noted in the new way by his onflowing mind, the clues added to other data, and a final-summation answer put forward.)




“Let go of me,” he said.

She heard the iron in his voice, obeyed. “Do you want to tell me what’s wrong, Paul?”

“Did you know what you were doing when you trained me?” he asked.

There’s no more childhood in his voice , she thought. And she said: “I hoped the thing any parent hopes – that you’d be . . . superior, different.”


She heard the bitterness in his tone, said: “Paul, I – ”

“You didn’t want a son!” he said. “You wanted a Kwisatz Haderach! You wanted a male Bene Gesserit!”

She recoiled from his bitterness. “But Paul . . .”

“Did you ever consult my father in this?”

She spoke gently out of the freshness of her grief: “Whatever you are, Paul, the heredity is as much your father as me.”

“But not the training,” he said. “Not the things that . . . awakened . . . the sleeper.”


“It’s here.” He put a hand to his head and then to his breast. “In me. It goes on and on and on and on and – ”


She had heard the hysteria edging his voice.

“Listen to me,” he said. “You wanted the Reverend Mother to hear about my dreams: You listen in her place now. I’ve just had a waking dream. Do you know why?”

“You must calm yourself,” she said. “If there’s – ”

“The spice,” he said, “It’s in everything here – the air, the soil, the food. The geriatric spice. It’s like the Truthsayer drug. It’s a poison!”

She stiffened.

His voice lowered and he repeated: “A poison – so subtle, so insidious . . . so irreversible. It won’t even kill you unless you stop taking it. We can’t leave Arrakis unless we take part of Arrakis with us.”

The terrifying presence of his voice brooked no dispute.

“You and the spice,” Paul said. “The spice changes anyone who gets this much of it, but thanks to you , I could bring the change to consciousness. I don’t get to leave it in the unconscious where its disturbance can be blanked out. I can see it.”

“Paul, you – ”

“I see it!” he repeated.

She heard madness in his voice, didn’t know what to do.

But he spoke again, and she heard the iron control return to him: “We’re trapped here.”

We’re trapped here , she agreed.

And she accepted the truth of his words. No pressure of the Bene Gesserit, no trickery or artifice could pry them completely free from Arrakis: the spice was addictive. Her body had known the fact long before her mind awakened to it.

So here we live out our lives , she thought, on this hell-planet. The place is prepared for us, if we can evade the Harkonnens. And there’s no doubt of my course: a broodmare preserving an important bloodline for the Bene Gesserit Plan .

“I must tell you about my waking dream,” Paul said. (Now there was fury in his voice.) “To be sure you accept what I say, I’ll tell you first I know you’ll bear a daughter, my sister, here on Arrakis.”




Jessica placed her hands against the tent floor, pressed back against the curving fabric wall to still a pang of fear. She knew her pregnancy could not show yet. Only her own Bene Gesserit training had allowed her to read the first faint signals of her body, to know of the embryo only a few weeks old.

“Only to serve,” Jessica whispered, clinging to the Bene Gesserit motto. “We exist only to serve.”

“We’ll find a home among the Fremen,” Paul said, “where your Missionaria Protectiva has bought us a bolt hole.”

They’ve prepared a way for us in the desert , Jessica told herself. But how can he know of the Missionaria Protectiva? She found it increasingly difficult to subdue her terror at the overpowering strangeness in Paul.

He studied the dark shadow of her, seeing her fear and every reaction with his new awareness as though she were outlined in blinding light. A beginning of compassion for her crept over him.

“The things that can happen here, I cannot begin to tell you,” he said. “I cannot even begin to tell myself, although I’ve seen them. This sense of the future – I seem to have no control over it. The thing just happens. The immediate future – say, a year – I can see some of that . . . a road as broad as our Central Avenue on Caladan. Some places I don’t see . . . shadowed places . . . as though it went behind a hill” (and again he thought of the surface of a blowing kerchief) ” . . . and there are branchings . . . ”

He fell silent as memory of that seeing filled him. No prescient dream, no experience of his life had quite prepared him for the totality with which the veils had been ripped away to reveal naked time.

Recalling the experience, he recognized his own terrible purpose – the pressure of his life spreading outward like an expanding bubble . . . time retreating before it . . .

Jessica found the tent’s glowtab control, activated it.




Dim green light drove back the shadows, easing her fear. She looked at Paul’s face, his eyes – the inward stare. And she knew where she had seen such a look before: pictured in records of disasters – on the faces of children who experienced starvation or terrible injury. The eyes were like pits, mouth a straight line, cheeks indrawn.

It’s the look of terrible awareness , she thought, of someone forced to the knowledge of his own mortality.

He was, indeed, no longer a child.

The underlying import of his words began to take over in her mind, pushing all else aside. Paul could see ahead, a way of escape for them.

“There’s a way to evade the Harkonnens,” she said.

“The Harkonnens!” he sneered. “Put those twisted humans out of your mind.” He stared at his mother, studying the lines of her face in the light of the glowtab. The lines betrayed her.

She said: “You shouldn’t refer to people as humans without – ”

“Don’t be so sure you know where to draw the line,” he said. “We carry our past with us. And, mother mine, there’s a thing you don’t know and should – we are Harkonnens.”

Her mind did a terrifying thing: it blanked out as though it needed to shut off all sensation. But Paul’s voice went on at that implacable pace, dragging her with it.

“When next you find a mirror, study your face – study mine now. The traces are there if you don’t blind yourself. Look at my hands, the set of my bones. And if none of this convinces you, then take my word for it. I’ve walked the future, I’ve looked at a record, I’ve seen a place, I have all the data. We’re Harkonnens.”

“A . . . renegade branch of the family,” she said. “That’s it, isn’t it? Some Harkonnen cousin who – ”

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