Search

Chapter no 3

Dune

“I should whap your backside for such carelessness,” Halleck said. He lifted a naked kindjal from the table and held it up. “This in the hand of an enemy can let out your life’s blood! You’re an apt pupil, none better, but I’ve warned you that not even in play do you let a man inside your guard with death in his hand.”

“I guess I’m not in the mood for it today,” Paul said.

 

 

“Mood?” Halleck’s voice betrayed his outrage even through the shield’s filtering. “What has mood to do with it? You fight when the necessity arises – no matter the mood! Mood’s a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset. It’s not for fighting.”

“I’m sorry, Gurney.”

“You’re not sorry enough!”

Halleck activated his own shield, crouched with kindjal outthrust in left hand, the rapier poised high in his right. “Now I say guard yourself for true!” He leaped high to one side, then forward, pressing a furious attack.

Paul fell back, parrying. He felt the field crackling as shield edges touched and repelled each other, sensed the electric tingling of the contact along his skin. What’s gotten into Gurney? he asked himself. He’s not faking this! Paul moved his left hand, dropped his bodkin into his palm from its wrist sheath.

“You see a need for an extra blade, eh?” Halleck grunted.

Is this betrayal? Paul wondered. Surely not Gurney!

Around the room they fought – thrust and parry, feint and counterfeint. The air within their shield bubbles grew stale from the demands on it that the slow interchange along barrier edges could not replenish. With each new shield contact, the smell of ozone grew stronger.

Paul continued to back, but now he directed his retreat toward the exercise table. If I can turn him beside the table, I’ll show him a trick , Paul thought. One more step, Gurney.

Halleck took the step.

Paul directed a parry downward, turned, saw Halleck’s rapier catch against the table’s edge. Paul flung himself aside, thrust high with rapier and came in across Halleck’s neckline with the bodkin. He stopped the blade an inch from the jugular.

“Is this what you seek?” Paul whispered.

“Look down, lad,” Gurney panted.

Paul obeyed, saw Halleck’s kindjal thrust under the table’s edge, the tip almost touching Paul’s groin.

“We’d have joined each other in death,” Halleck said. “But I’ll admit you fought some better when pressed to it. You seemed to get the mood .” And he grinned wolfishly, the inkvine scar rippling along his jaw.

“The way you came at me,” Paul said. “Would you really have drawn my blood?”

Halleck withdrew the kindjal, straightened. “If you’d fought one whit beneath your abilities. I’d have scratched you a good one, a scar you’d remember. I’ll not have my favorite pupil fall to the first Harkonnen tramp who happens along.”

Paul deactivated his shield, leaned on the table to catch his breath. “I deserved that, Gurney. But it would’ve angered my father if you’d hurt me. I’ll not have you punished for my failing.”

“As to that,” Halleck said, “it was my failing, too. And you needn’t worry about a training scar or two. You’re lucky you have so few. As to your father – the Duke’d punish me only if I failed to make a first-class fighting man out of you. And I’d have been failing there if I hadn’t explained the fallacy in this mood thing you’ve suddenly developed.”

Paul straightened, slipped his bodkin back into its wrist sheath.

“It’s not exactly play we do here,” Halleck said.

 

 

Paul nodded. He felt a sense of wonder at the uncharacteristic seriousness in Halleck’s manner, the sobering intensity. He looked at the beet-colored inkvine scar on the man’s jaw, remembering the story of how it had been put there by Beast Rabban in a Harkonnen slave pit on Giedi Prime. And Paul felt a sudden shame that he had doubted Halleck even for an instant. It occurred to Paul, then, that the making of Halleck’s scar had been accompanied by pain – a pain as intense, perhaps, as that inflicted by a Reverend Mother. He thrust this thought aside; it chilled their world.

“I guess I did hope for some play today,” Paul said. “Things are so serious around here lately.”

Halleck turned away to hide his emotions. Something burned in his eyes. There was pain in him – like a blister, all that was left of some lost yesterday that Time had pruned off him.

How soon this child must assume his manhood , Halleck thought. How soon he must read that form within his mind, that contract of brutal caution, to enter the necessary fact on the necessary line: “Please list your next of kin .”

Halleck spoke without turning: “I sensed the play in you, lad, and I’d like nothing better than to join in it. But this no longer can be play. Tomorrow we go to Arrakis. Arrakis is real. The Harkonnens are real.”

Paul touched his forehead with his rapier blade held vertical.

Halleck turned, saw the salute and acknowledged it with a nod. He gestured to the practice dummy. “Now, we’ll work on your timing. Let me see you catch that thing sinister. I’ll control it from over here where I can have a full view of the action. And I warn you I’ll be trying new counters today. There’s a warning you’d not get from a real enemy.”

Paul stretched up on his toes to relieve his muscles. He felt solemn with the sudden realization that his life had become filled with swift changes. He crossed to the dummy, slapped the switch on its chest with his rapier tip and felt the defensive field forcing his blade away.

“En garde!” Halleck called, and the dummy pressed the attack.

Paul activated his shield, parried and countered.

Halleck watched as he manipulated the controls. His mind seemed to be in two parts: one alert to the needs of the training fight, and the other wandering in fly-buzz.

I’m the well-trained fruit tree , he thought. Full of well-trained feelings and abilities and all of them grafted onto me – all bearing for someone else to pick .

For some reason, he recalled his younger sister, her elfin face so clear in his mind. But she was dead now – in a pleasure house for Harkonnen troops. She had loved pansies . . . or was it daisies? He couldn’t remember. It bothered him that he couldn’t remember.

Paul countered a slow swing of the dummy, brought up his left hand entretisser .

 

 

That clever little devil! Halleck thought, intent now on Paul’s interweaving hand motions. He’s been practicing and studying on his own. That’s not Duncan ‘s style, and it’s certainly nothing I’ve taught him .

This thought only added to Halleck’s sadness. I’m infected by mood , he thought. And he began to wonder about Paul, if the boy ever listened fearfully to his pillow throbbing in the night.

“If wishes were fishes we’d all cast nets,” he murmured.

It was his mother’s expression and he always used it when he felt the blackness of tomorrow on him. Then he thought what an odd expression that was to be taking to a planet that had never known seas or fishes.

YUEH (yu’e), Wellington (weling-tun), Stdrd 10,082-10,191; medical doctor of the Suk School (grd Stdrd 10,112); md: Wanna Marcus, B.G. (Stdrd 10,092-10,186?); chiefly noted as betrayer of Duke Leto Atreides. (Cf: Bibliography, Appendix VII [Imperial Conditioning] and Betrayal, The.)

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

Although he heard Dr. Yueh enter the training room, noting the stiff deliberation of the man’s pace, Paul remained stretched out face down on the exercise table where the masseuse had left him. He felt deliciously relaxed after the workout with Gurney Halleck.

“You do look comfortable,” said Yueh in his calm, high-pitched voice.

Paul raised his head, saw the man’s stick figure standing several paces away, took in at a glance the wrinkled black clothing, the square block of a head with purple lips and drooping mustache, the diamond tattoo of Imperial Conditioning on his forehead, the long black hair caught in the Suk School ‘s silver ring at the left shoulder.

“You’ll be happy to hear we haven’t time for regular lessons today,” Yueh said. “Your father will be along presently.”

Paul sat up.

 

 

“However, I’ve arranged for you to have a filmbook viewer and several lessons during the crossing to Arrakis.”

“Oh.”

Paul began pulling on his clothes. He felt excitement that his father would be coming. They had spent so little time together since the Emperor’s command to take over the fief of Arrakis.

Yueh crossed to the ell table, thinking: How the boy has filled out these past few months. Such a waste! Oh, such a sad waste . And he reminded himself: I must not falter. What I do is done to be certain my Wanna no longer can be hurt by the Harkonnen beasts .

Paul joined him at the table, buttoning his jacket. “What’ll I be studying on the way across?”

“Ah-h-h-h, the terranic life forms of Arrakis. The planet seems to have opened its arms to certain terranic life forms. It’s not clear how. I must seek out the planetary ecologist when we arrive – a Dr. Kynes – and offer my help in the investigation.”

And Yueh thought: What am I saying? I play the hypocrite even with myself .

“Will there be something on the Fremen?” Paul asked.

“The Fremen?” Yueh drummed his fingers on the table, caught Paul staring at the nervous motion, withdrew his hand.

“Maybe you have something on the whole Arrakeen population,” Paul said.

“Yes, to be sure,” Yueh said. “There are two general separations of the people – Fremen, they are one group, and the others are the people of the graben, the sink, and the pan. There’s some intermarriage, I’m told. The women of pan and sink villages prefer Fremen husbands; their men prefer Fremen wives. They have a saying: ‘Polish comes from the cities; wisdom from the desert.’ ”

“Do you have pictures of them?”

“I’ll see what I can get you. The most interesting feature, of course, is their eyes – totally blue, no whites in them.”

“Mutation?”

 

 

“No; it’s linked to saturation of the blood with melange.”

“The Fremen must be brave to live at the edge of that desert.”

“By all accounts,” Yueh said. “They compose poems to their knives. Their women are as fierce as the men. Even Fremen children are violent and dangerous. You’ll not be permitted to mingle with them, I daresay.”

Paul stared at Yueh, finding in these few glimpses of the Fremen a power of words that caught his entire attention. What a people to win as allies!

“And the worms?” Paul asked.

“What?”

“I’d like to study more about the sandworms.”

“Ah-h-h-h, to be sure. I’ve a filmbook on a small specimen, only one hundred and ten meters long and twenty-two meters in diameter. It was taken in the northern latitudes. Worms of more than four hundred meters in length have been recorded by reliable witnesses, and there’s reason to believe even larger ones exist.”

Paul glanced down at a conical projection chart of the northern Arrakeen latitudes spread on the table. “The desert belt and south polar regions are marked uninhabitable. Is it the worms?”

“And the storms.”

“But any place can be made habitable.”

“If it’s economically feasible,” Yueh said. “Arrakis has many costly perils.” He smoothed his drooping mustache. “Your father will be here soon. Before I go, I’ve a gift for you, something I came across in packing.” He put an object on the table between them – black, oblong, no larger than the end of Paul’s thumb.

Paul looked at it. Yueh noted how the boy did not reach for it, and thought: How cautious he is .

“It’s a very old Orange Catholic Bible made for space travelers. Not a filmbook, but actually printed on filament paper. It has its own magnifier and electrostatic charge system.” He picked it up, demonstrated. “The book is held closed by the charge, which forces against spring-locked covers. You press the edge – thus, and the pages you’ve selected repel each other and the book opens.”

“It’s so small.”

“But it has eighteen hundred pages. You press the edge – thus, and so . . . and the charge moves ahead one page at a time as you read. Never touch the actual pages with your fingers. The filament tissue is too delicate.” He closed the book, handed it to Paul. “Try it.”

Yueh watched Paul work the page adjustment, thought: I salve my own conscience. I give him the surcease of religion before betraying him. Thus may I say to myself that he has gone where I cannot go .

“This must’ve been made before filmbooks,” Paul said.

“It’s quite old. Let it be our secret, eh? Your parents might think it too valuable for one so young.”

And Yueh thought: His mother would surely wonder at my motives .

“Well . . . ” Paul closed the book, held it in his hand. “If it’s so valuable . . . ”

 

 

“Indulge an old man’s whim,” Yueh said. “It was given to me when I was very young.” And he thought: I must catch his mind as well as his cupidity . “Open it to four-sixty-seven Kalima – where it says: ‘From water does all life begin.’ There’s a slight notch on the edge of the cover to mark the place.”

Paul felt the cover, detected two notches, one shallower than the other. He pressed the shallower one and the book spread open on his palm, its magnifier sliding into place.

“Read it aloud,” Yueh said.

Paul wet his lips with his tongue, read: “Think you of the fact that a deaf person cannot hear. Then, what deafness may we not all possess? What senses do we lack that we cannot see and cannot hear another world all around us? What is there around us that we cannot – ”

“Stop it!” Yueh barked.

Paul broke off, stared at him.

Yueh closed his eyes, fought to regain composure. What perversity caused the book to open at my Wanna’s favorite passage? He opened his eyes, saw Paul staring at him.

“Is something wrong?” Paul asked.

“I’m sorry,” Yueh said. “That was . . . my . . . dead wife’s favorite passage. It’s not the one I intended you to read. It brings up memories that are . . . painful.”

“There are two notches,” Paul said.

Of course , Yueh thought. Wanna marked her passage. His fingers are more sensitive than mine and found her mark. It was an accident, no more .

“You may find the book interesting,” Yueh said. “It has much historical truth in it as well as good ethical philosophy.”

Paul looked down at the tiny book in his palm – such a small thing. Yet, it contained a mystery . . . something had happened while he read from it. He had felt something stir his terrible purpose.

“Your father will be here any minute,” Yueh said. “Put the book away and read it at your leisure.”

Paul touched the edge of it as Yueh had shown him. The book sealed itself. He slipped it into his tunic. For a moment there when Yueh had barked at him, Paul had feared the man would demand the book’s return.

“I thank you for the gift. Dr. Yueh,” Paul said, speaking formally. “It will be our secret. If there is a gift of favor you wish from me, please do not hesitate to ask.”

“I . . . need for nothing,” Yueh said.

 

 

And he thought: Why do I stand here torturing myself? And torturing this poor lad . . . though he does not know it. Oeyh! Damn those Harkonnen beasts! Why did they choose me for their abomination?

How do we approach the study of Muad’Dib’s father? A man of surpassing warmth and surprising coldness was the Duke Leto Atreides. Yet, many facts open the way to this Duke: his abiding love for his Bene Gesserit lady; the dreams he held for his son; the devotion with which men served him. You see him there  – a man snared by Destiny, a lonely figure with his light dimmed behind the glory of his son. Still, one must ask: What is the son but an extension of the father?

– from “Muad’Dib, Family Commentaries” by the Princess Irulan

Paul watched his father enter the training room, saw the guards take up stations outside. One of them closed the door. As always, Paul experienced a sense of presence in his father, someone totally here .

The Duke was tall, olive-skinned. His thin face held harsh angles warmed only by deep gray eyes. He wore a black working uniform with red armorial hawk crest at the breast. A silvered shield belt with the patina of much use girded his narrow waist.

The Duke said: “Hard at work, Son?”

He crossed to the ell table, glanced at the papers on it, swept his gaze around the room and back to Paul. He felt tired, filled with the ache of not showing his fatigue. I must use every opportunity to rest during the crossing to Arrakis , he thought. There’ll be no rest on Arrakis .

“Not very hard,” Paul said. “Everything’s so . . . ” He shrugged.

“Yes. Well, tomorrow we leave. It’ll be good to get settled in our new home, put all this upset behind.”

Paul nodded, suddenly overcome by memory of the Reverend Mother’s words: ” . . . for the father, nothing .”

“Father,” Paul said, “will Arrakis be as dangerous as everyone says?”

The Duke forced himself to the casual gesture, sat down on a corner of the table, smiled. A whole pattern of conversation welled up in his mind – the kind of thing he might use to dispel the vapors in his men before a battle. The pattern froze before it could be vocalized, confronted by the single thought:

This is my son .

“It’ll be dangerous,” he admitted.

“Hawat tells me we have a plan for the Fremen,” Paul said. And he wondered: Why don’t I tell him what that old woman said? How did she seal my tongue?

The Duke noted his son’s distress, said: “As always, Hawat sees the main chance. But there’s much more. I see also the Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles – the CHOAM Company. By giving me Arrakis, His Majesty is forced to give us a CHOAM directorship . . . a subtle gain.”

“CHOAM controls the spice,” Paul said.

“And Arrakis with its spice is our avenue into CHOAM,” the Duke said. “There’s more to CHOAM than melange.”

“Did the Reverend Mother warn you?” Paul blurted. He clenched his fists, feeling his palms slippery with perspiration. The effort it had taken to ask that question.

“Hawat tells me she frightened you with warnings about Arrakis,” the Duke said. “Don’t let a woman’s fears cloud your mind. No woman wants her loved ones endangered. The hand behind those warnings was your mother’s. Take this as a sign of her love for us.”

“Does she know about the Fremen?”

“Yes, and about much more.”

“What?”

And the Duke thought: The truth could be worse than he imagines, but even dangerous facts are valuable if you’ve been trained to deal with them. And there’s one place where nothing has been spared for my son – dealing with dangerous facts. This must be leavened, though; he is young .

“Few products escape the CHOAM touch,” the Duke said. “Logs, donkeys, horses, cows, lumber, dung, sharks, whale fur – the most prosaic and the most exotic . . . even our poor pundi rice from Caladan. Anything the Guild will transport, the art forms of Ecaz, the machines of Richesse and Ix. But all fades before melange. A handful of spice will buy a home on Tupile. It cannot be manufactured, it must be mined on Arrakis. It is unique and it has true geriatric properties.”

 

 

“And now we control it?”

“To a certain degree. But the important thing is to consider all the Houses that depend on CHOAM profits. And think of the enormous proportion of those profits dependent upon a single product – the spice. Imagine what would happen if something should reduce spice production.”

“Whoever had stockpiled melange could make a killing,” Paul said. “Others would be out in the cold.”

The Duke permitted himself a moment of grim satisfaction, looking at his son and thinking how penetrating, how truly educated that observation had been. He nodded. “The Harkonnens have been stockpiling for more than twenty years.”

“They mean spice production to fail and you to be blamed.”

“They wish the Atreides name to become unpopular,” the Duke said. “Think of the Landsraad Houses that look to me for a certain amount of leadership – their unofficial spokesman. Think how they’d react if I were responsible for a serious reduction in their income. After all, one’s own profits come first. The Great Convention be damned! You can’t let someone pauperize you!” A harsh smile twisted the Duke’s mouth. “They’d look the other way no matter what was done to me.”

“Even if we were attacked with atomics?”

“Nothing that flagrant. No open defiance of the Convention. But almost anything else short of that . . . perhaps even dusting and a bit of soil poisoning.”

“Then why are we walking into this?”

“Paul!” The Duke frowned at his son. “Knowing where the trap is – that’s the first step in evading it. This is like single combat, Son, only on a larger scale – a feint within a feint within a feint . . . seemingly without end. The task is to unravel it. Knowing that the Harkonnens stockpile melange, we ask another question: Who else is stockpiling? That’s the list of our enemies.”

“Who?”

“Certain Houses we knew were unfriendly and some we’d thought friendly. We need not consider them for the moment because there is one other much more important: our beloved Padishah Emperor.”

Paul tried to swallow in a throat suddenly dry. “Couldn’t you convene the Landsraad, expose – ”

“Make our enemy aware we know which hand holds the knife? Ah, now, Paul – we see the knife, now. Who knows where it might be shifted next? If we put this before the Landsraad it’d only create a great cloud of confusion. The Emperor would deny it. Who could gainsay him? All we’d gain is a little time while risking chaos. And where would the next attack come from?”

“All the Houses might start stockpiling spice.”

“Our enemies have a head start – too much of a lead to overcome.”

“The Emperor,” Paul said. “That means the Sardaukar.”

“Disguised in Harkonnen livery, no doubt,” the Duke said. “But the soldier fanatics nonetheless.”

“How can Fremen help us against Sardaukar?”

“Did Hawat talk to you about Salusa Secundus?”

“The Emperor’s prison planet? No.”

“What if it were more than a prison planet, Paul? There’s a question you never hear asked about the Imperial Corps of Sardaukar: Where do they come from?”

“From the prison planet?”

“They come from somewhere.”

“But the supporting levies the Emperor demands from – ”

“That’s what we’re led to believe: they’re just the Emperor’s levies trained young and superbly. You hear an occasional muttering about the Emperor’s training cadres, but the balance of our civilization remains the same: the military forces of the Landsraad Great Houses on one side, the Sardaukar and their supporting levies on the other. And their supporting levies, Paul. The Sardaukar remain the Sardaukar.”

“But every report on Salusa Secundus says S.S. is a hell world!”

 

 

“Undoubtedly. But if you were going to raise tough, strong, ferocious men, what environmental conditions would you impose on them?”

“How could you win the loyalty of such men?”

“There are proven ways: play on the certain knowledge of their superiority, the mystique of secret covenant, the esprit of shared suffering. It can be done. It has been done on many worlds in many times.”

Paul nodded, holding his attention on his father’s face. He felt some revelation impending.

“Consider Arrakis,” the Duke said. “When you get outside the towns and garrison villages, it’s every bit as terrible a place as Salusa Secundus.”

Paul’s eyes went wide. “The Fremen!”

“We have there the potential of a corps as strong and deadly as the Sardaukar. It’ll require patience to exploit them secretly and wealth to equip them properly. But the Fremen are there . . . and the spice wealth is there. You see now why we walk into Arrakis, knowing the trap is there.”

“Don’t the Harkonnens know about the Fremen?”

“The Harkonnens sneered at the Fremen, hunted them for sport, never even bothered trying to count them. We know the Harkonnen policy with planetary populations – spend as little as possible to maintain them.”

The metallic threads in the hawk symbol above his father’s breast glistened as the Duke shifted his position. “You see?”

“We’re negotiating with the Fremen right now,” Paul said.

“I sent a mission headed by Duncan Idaho,” the Duke said. “A proud and ruthless man, Duncan , but fond of the truth. I think the Fremen will admire him. If we’re lucky, they may judge us by him: Duncan , the moral.”

” Duncan , the moral,” Paul said, “and Gurney the valorous.”

“You name them well,” the Duke said.

And Paul thought: Gurney’s one of those the Reverend Mother meant, a supporter of worlds  – ” . . . the valor of the brave .”

“Gurney tells me you did well in weapons today,” the Duke said.

“That isn’t what he told me.”

The Duke laughed aloud. “I figured Gurney to be sparse with his praise. He says you have a nicety of awareness – in his own words – of the difference between a blade’s edge and its tip.”

“Gurney says there’s no artistry in killing with the tip, that it should be done with the edge.”

“Gurney’s a romantic,” the Duke growled. This talk of killing suddenly disturbed him, coming from his son. “I’d sooner you never had to kill . . . but if the need arises, you do it however you can – tip or edge.” He looked up at the skylight, on which the rain was drumming.

Seeing the direction of his father’s stare, Paul thought of the wet skies out there – a thing never to be seen on Arrakis from all accounts – and this thought of skies put him in mind of the space beyond. “Are the Guild ships really big?” he asked.

The Duke looked at him. “This will be your first time off planet,” he said. “Yes, they’re big. We’ll be riding a Heighliner because it’s a long trip. A Heighliner is truly big. Its hold will tuck all our frigates and transports into a little corner – we’ll be just a small part of the ship’s manifest.”

“And we won’t be able to leave our frigates?”

“That’s part of the price you pay for Guild Security. There could be Harkonnen ships right alongside us and we’d have nothing to fear from them. The Harkonnens know better than to endanger their shipping privileges.”

“I’m going to watch our screens and try to see a Guildsman.”

“You won’t. Not even their agents ever see a Guildsman. The Guild’s as jealous of its privacy as it is of its monopoly. Don’t do anything to endanger our shipping privileges, Paul.”

“Do you think they hide because they’ve mutated and don’t look . . . human anymore?”

 

 

“Who knows?” The Duke shrugged. “It’s a mystery we’re not likely to solve. We’ve more immediate problems – among them: you.”

“Me?”

“Your mother wanted me to be the one to tell you, Son. You see, you may have Mentat capabilities.”

Paul stared at his father, unable to speak for a moment, then: “A Mentat? Me? But I . . .”

“Hawat agrees, Son. It’s true.”

“But I thought Mentat training had to start during infancy and the subject couldn’t be told because it might inhibit the early . . .” He broke off, all his past circumstances coming to focus in one flashing computation. “I see,” he said.

“A day comes,” the Duke said, “when the potential Mentat must learn what’s being done. It may no longer be done to him. The Mentat has to share in the choice of whether to continue or abandon the training. Some can continue; some are incapable of it. Only the potential Mentat can tell this for sure about himself.”

Paul rubbed his chin. All the special training from Hawat and his mother – the mnemonics, the focusing of awareness, the muscle control and sharpening of sensitivities, the study of languages and nuances of voices – all of it clicked into a new kind of understanding in his mind.

“You’ll be the Duke someday, Son,” his father said. “A Mentat Duke would be formidable indeed. Can you decide now . . . or do you need more time?”

There was no hesitation in his answer. “I’ll go on with the training.”

“Formidable indeed,” the Duke murmured, and Paul saw the proud smile on his father’s face. The smile shocked Paul: it had a skull look on the Duke’s narrow features. Paul closed his eyes, feeling the terrible purpose reawaken within him. Perhaps being a Mentat is terrible purpose , he thought.

But even as he focused on this thought, his new awareness denied it.

With the Lady Jessica and Arrakis, the Bene Gesserit system of sowing implant-legends through the Missionaria Protectiva came to its full fruition. The wisdom of seeding the known universe with a prophecy pattern for the protection of B.G. personnel has long been appreciated, but never have we seen a condition-ut-extremis with more ideal mating of person and preparation. The prophetic legends had taken on Arrakis even to the extent of adopted labels (including Reverend Mother, canto and respondu, and most of the Shari -a panoplia propheticus). And it is generally accepted now that the Lady Jessica’s latent abilities were grossly under-estimated.

– from “Analysis: The Arrakeen Crisis” by the Princess Irulan

[Private circulation: B.G. file number AR-81088587]

All around the Lady Jessica – piled in corners of the Arrakeen great hall, mounded in the open spaces – stood the packaged freight of their lives: boxes, trunks, cartons, cases – some partly unpacked. She could hear the cargo handlers from the Guild shuttle depositing another load in the entry.

Jessica stood in the center of the hall. She moved in a slow turn, looking up and around at shadowed carvings, crannies and deeply recessed windows. This giant anachronism of a room reminded her of the Sisters’ Hall at her Bene Gesserit school. But at the school the effect had been of warmth. Here, all was bleak stone.

Some architect had reached far back into history for these buttressed walls and dark hangings, she thought. The arched ceiling stood two stories above her with great crossbeams she felt sure had been shipped here to Arrakis across space at monstrous cost. No planet of this system grew trees to make such beams – unless the beams were imitation wood.

She thought not.

This had been the government mansion in the days of the Old Empire. Costs had been of less importance then. It had been before the Harkonnens and their new megalopolis of Carthag – a cheap and brassy place some two hundred kilometers northeast across the Broken Land . Leto had been wise to choose this place for his seat of government. The name, Arrakeen, had a good sound, filled with tradition. And this was a smaller city, easier to sterilize and defend.

Again there came the clatter of boxes being unloaded in the entry. Jessica sighed.

 

 

Against a carton to her right stood the painting of the Duke’s father. Wrapping twine hung from it like a frayed decoration. A piece of the twine was still clutched in Jessica’s left hand. Beside the painting lay a black bull’s head mounted on a polished board. The head was a dark island in a sea of wadded paper. Its plaque lay flat on the floor, and the bull’s shiny muzzle pointed at the ceiling as though the beast were ready to bellow a challenge into this echoing room.

Jessica wondered what compulsion had brought her to uncover those two things first – the head and the painting. She knew there was something symbolic in the action. Not since the day when the Duke’s buyers had taken her from the school had she felt this frightened and unsure of herself.

The head and the picture.

They heightened her feelings of confusion. She shuddered, glanced at the slit windows high overhead. It was still early afternoon here, and in these latitudes the sky looked black and cold – so much darker than the warm blue of Caladan. A pang of homesickness throbbed through her.

So far away, Caladan.

“Here we are!”

The voice was Duke Leto’s.

She whirled, saw him striding from the arched passage to the dining hall. His black working uniform with red armorial hawk crest at the breast looked dusty and rumpled.

“I thought you might have lost yourself in this hideous place,” he said.

“It is a cold house,” she said. She looked at his tallness, at the dark skin that made her think of olive groves and golden sun on blue waters. There was woodsmoke in the gray of his eyes, but the face was predatory: thin, full of sharp angles and planes.

A sudden fear of him tightened her breast. He had become such a savage, driving person since the decision to bow to the Emperor’s command.

“The whole city feels cold,” she said.

“It’s a dirty, dusty little garrison town,” he agreed. “But we’ll change that.” He looked around the hall. “These are public rooms for state occasions. I’ve just glanced at some of the family apartments in the south wing. They’re much nicer.” He stepped closer, touched her arm, admiring her stateliness.

And again, he wondered at her unknown ancestry – a renegade House, perhaps? Some black-barred royalty? She looked more regal than the Emperor’s own blood.

Under the pressure of his stare, she turned half away, exposing her profile. And he realized there was no single and precise thing that brought her beauty to focus. The face was oval under a cap of hair the color of polished bronze. Her eyes were set wide, as green and clear as the morning skies of Caladan. The nose was small, the mouth wide and generous. Her figure was good but scant: tall and with its curves gone to slimness.

He remembered that the lay sisters at the school had called her skinny, so his buyers had told him. But that description oversimplified. She had brought a regal beauty back into the Atreides line. He was glad that Paul favored her.

“Where’s Paul?” he asked.

“Someplace around the house taking his lessons with Yueh.”

“Probably in the south wing,” he said. “I thought I heard Yueh’s voice, but I couldn’t take time to look.” He glanced down at her, hesitating. “I came here only to hang the key of Caladan Castle in the dining hall.”

She caught her breath, stopped the impulse to reach out to him. Hanging the key – there was finality in that action. But this was not the time or place for comforting. “I saw our banner over the house as we came in,” she said.

He glanced at the painting of his father. “Where were you going to hang that?”

“Somewhere in here.”

“No.” The word rang flat and final, telling her she could use trickery to persuade, but open argument was useless. Still, she had to try, even if the gesture served only to remind herself that she would not trick him.

“My Lord,” she said, “if you’d only . . . ”

 

 

“The answer remains no. I indulge you shamefully in most things, not in this. I’ve just come from the dining hall where there are – ”

“My Lord! Please.”

“The choice is between your digestion and my ancestral dignity, my dear,” he said. “They will hang in the dining hall.”

She sighed. “Yes, my Lord.”

“You may resume your custom of dining in your rooms whenever possible. I shall expect you at your proper position only on formal occasions.”

“Thank you, my Lord.”

“And don’t go all cold and formal on me! Be thankful that I never married you, my dear. Then it’d be your duty to join me at table for every meal.”

She held her face immobile, nodded.

“Hawat already has our own poison snooper over the dining table,” he said. “There’s a portable in your room.”

“You anticipated this . . . disagreement,” she said.

“My dear, I think also of your comfort. I’ve engaged servants. They’re locals, but Hawat has cleared them – they’re Fremen all. They’ll do until our own people can be released from their other duties.”

“Can anyone from this place be truly safe?”

“Anyone who hates Harkonnens. You may even want to keep the head housekeeper: the Shadout Mapes.”

“Shadout,” Jessica said. “A Fremen title?”

“I’m told it means ‘well-dipper,’ a meaning with rather important overtones here. She may not strike you as a servant type, although Hawat speaks highly of her on the basis of Duncan ‘s report. They’re convinced she wants to serve – specifically that she wants to serve you.”

“Me?”

“The Fremen have learned that you’re Bene Gesserit,” he said. “There are legends here about the Bene Gesserit.”

The Missionaria Protectiva , Jessica thought. No place escapes them .

“Does this mean Duncan was successful?” she asked. “Will the Fremen be our allies?”

“There’s nothing definite,” he said. “They wish to observe us for a while, Duncan believes. They did, however, promise to stop raiding our outlying villages during a truce period. That’s a more important gain than it might seem. Hawat tells me the Fremen were a deep thorn in the Harkonnen side, that the extent of their ravages was a carefully guarded secret. It wouldn’t have helped for the Emperor to learn the ineffectiveness of the Harkonnen military.”

“A Fremen housekeeper,” Jessica mused, returning to the subject of the Shadout Mapes. “She’ll have the all-blue eyes.”

“Don’t let the appearance of these people deceive you,” he said. “There’s a deep strength and healthy vitality in them. I think they’ll be everything we need.”

“It’s a dangerous gamble,” she said.

“Let’s not go into that again,” he said.

She forced a smile. “We are committed, no doubt of that.” She went through the quick regimen of calmness – the two deep breaths, the ritual thought, then: “When I assign rooms, is there anything special I should reserve for you?”

“You must teach me someday how you do that,” he said, “the way you thrust your worries aside and turn to practical matters. It must be a Bene Gesserit thing.”

“It’s a female thing,” she said.

 

 

He smiled. “Well, assignment of rooms: make certain, I have large office space next to my sleeping quarters. There’ll be more paper work here than on Caladan. A guard room, of course. That should cover it. Don’t worry about security of the house. Hawat’s men have been over it in depth.”

“I’m sure they have.”

He glanced at his wristwatch. “And you might see that all our timepieces are adjusted for Arrakeen local. I’ve assigned a tech to take care of it. He’ll be along presently.” He brushed a strand of her hair back from her forehead. “I must return to the landing field now. The second shuttle’s due any minute with my staff reserves.”

“Couldn’t Hawat meet them, my Lord? You look so tired.”

“The good Thufir is even busier than I am. You know this planet’s infested with Harkonnen intrigues. Besides, I must try persuading some of the trained spice hunters against leaving. They have the option, you know, with the change of fief – and this planetologist the Emperor and the Landsraad installed as Judge of the Change cannot be bought. He’s allowing the opt. About eight hundred trained hands expect to go out on the spice shuttle and there’s a Guild cargo ship standing by.”

“My Lord . . . ” She broke off, hesitating.

You'll Also Like