Heretics of Dune
When I was writing Dune
... there was no room in my mind for concerns about the book's success or failure. I was concerned only with the writing. Six years of research had preceded the day I sat down to put the story together, and the interweaving of the many plot layers I had planned required a degree of concentration I had never before experienced.
It was to be a story exploring the myth of the Messiah.
It was to produce another view of a human-occupied planet as an energy machine.
It was to penetrate the interlocked workings of politics and economics.
It was to be an examination of absolute prediction and its pitfalls.
It was to have an awareness drug in it and tell what could happen through dependence on such a substance.
Potable water was to be an analog for oil and for water itself, a substance whose supply diminishes each day.
It was to be an ecological novel, then, with many overtones, as well as a story about people and their human concerns with human values, and I had to monitor each of these levels at every stage in the book.
There wasn't room in my head to think about much else.
Following the first publication, reports from the publishers were slow and, as it turned out, inaccurate. The critics had panned it. More than twelve publishers had turned it down before publication. There was no advertising. Something was happening out there, though.
For two years, I was swamped with bookstore and reader complaints that they could not get the book. The Whole Earth Catalog praised it. I kept getting these telephone calls from people asking me if I were starting a cult.
The answer: "God no!"
What I'm describing is the slow realization of success. By the time the first three Dune books were completed, there was little doubt that this was a popular work - one of the most popular in history, I am told, with some ten million copies sold worldwide. Now the most common question people ask is: "What does this success mean to you?"
It surprises me. I didn't expect failure either. It was a work and I did it. Parts of Dune Messiah and Children of Dune were written before Dune was completed. They fleshed out more in the writing, but the essential story remained intact. I was a writer and I was writing. The success meant I could spend more time writing.
Looking back on it, I realize I did the right thing instinctively. You don't write for success. That takes part of your attention away from the writing. If you're really doing it, that's all you're doing: writing.
There's an unwritten compact between you and the reader. If someone enters a bookstore and sets down hard earned money (energy) for your book, you owe that person some entertainment and as much more as you can give.
That was really my intention all along.
Most discipline is hidden discipline, designed not to liberate but to limit. Do not ask Why? Be cautious with How? Why? leads inexorably to paradox. How? traps you in a universe of cause and effect. Both deny the infinite.
"Taraza told you, did she not, that we have gone through eleven of these Duncan Idaho gholas? This one is the twelfth."
The old Reverend Mother Schwangyu spoke with deliberate bitterness as she looked down from the third-story parapet at the lone child playing on the enclosed lawn. The planet Gammu's bright midday sunlight bounced off the white courtyard walls filling the area beneath them with brilliance as though a spotlight had been directed onto the young ghola.
Gone through! the Reverend Mother Lucilla thought. She allowed herself a short nod, thinking how coldly impersonal were Schwangyu's manner and choice of words. We have used up our supply; send us more!
The child on the lawn appeared to be about twelve standard years of age, but appearance could be deceptive with a ghola not yet awakened to his original memories. The child took that moment to look up at the watchers above him. He was a sturdy figure with a direct gaze that focused intently from beneath a black cap of karakul hair. The yellow sunlight of early spring cast a small shadow at his feet. His skin was darkly tanned but a slight movement of his body shifted his blue singlesuit, revealing pale skin at the left shoulder.
"Not only are these gholas costly but they are supremely dangerous to us," Schwangyu said. Her voice came out flat and emotionless, all the more powerful because of that. It was the voice of a Reverend Mother Instructor speaking down to an acolyte and it emphasized for Lucilla that Schwangyu was one of those who protested openly against the ghola project.
Taraza had warned: "She will try to win you over."
"Eleven failures are enough," Schwangyu said.
Lucilla glanced at Schwangyu's wrinkled features, thinking suddenly: Someday I may be old and wizened, too. And perhaps I will be a power in the Bene Gesserit as well.
Schwangyu was a small woman with many age marks earned in the Sisterhood's affairs. Lucilla knew from her own assignment-studies that Schwangyu's conventional black robe concealed a skinny figure that few other than her acolyte dressers and the males bred to her had ever seen. Schwangyu's mouth was wide, the lower lip constricted by the age lines that fanned into a jutting chin. Her manner tended to a curt abruptness that the uninitiated often interpreted as anger. The commander of the Gammu Keep was one who kept herself to herself more than most Reverend Mothers.
Once more, Lucilla wished she knew the entire scope of the ghola project. Taraza had drawn the dividing line clearly enough, though: "Schwangyu is not to be trusted where the safety of the ghola is concerned."
"We think the Tleilaxu themselves killed most of the previous eleven," Schwangyu said. "That in itself should tell us something."
Matching Schwangyu's manner, Lucilla adopted a quiet attitude of almost emotionless waiting. Her manner said: "I may be much younger than you, Schwangyu, but I, too, am a full Reverend Mother." She could feel Schwangyu's gaze.
Schwangyu had seen the holos of this Lucilla but the woman in the flesh was more disconcerting. An Imprinter of the best training, no doubt of it. Blue-in-blue eyes uncorrected by any lens gave Lucilla a piercing expression that went with her long oval face. With the hood of her black aba robe thrown back as it was now, brown hair was revealed, drawn into a tight barette and then cascading down her back. Not even the stiffest robe could completely hide Lucilla's ample breasts. She was from a genetic line famous for its motherly nature and she already had borne three children for the Sisterhood, two by the same sire. Yes - a brown-haired charmer with full breasts and a motherly disposition.
"You say very little," Schwangyu said. "This tells me that Taraza has warned you against me."
"Do you have reason to believe assassins will try to kill this twelfth ghola?" Lucilla asked.
"They already have tried."
Strange how the word "heresy" came to mind when thinking of Schwangyu, Lucilla thought. Could there be heresy among the Reverend Mothers? The religious overtones of the word seemed out of place in a Bene Gesserit context. How could there be heretical movements among people who held a profoundly manipulative attitude toward all things religious?
Lucilla shifted her attention down to the ghola, who took this moment to perform a series of cartwheels that brought him around full circle until he once more stood looking up at the two observers on the parapet.
"How prettily he performs!" Schwangyu sneered. The old voice did not completely mask an underlying violence.
Lucilla glanced at Schwangyu. Heresy. Dissidence was not the proper word. Opposition did not cover what could be sensed in the older woman. This was something that could shatter the Bene Gesserit. Revolt against Taraza, against the Reverend Mother Superior? Unthinkable! Mother Superiors were cast in the mold of monarch. Once Taraza had accepted counsel and advice and then made her decision, the Sisters were committed to obedience.
"This is no time to be creating new problems!" Schwangyu said.
Her meaning was clear. People from the Scattering were coming back and the intent of some among those Lost Ones threatened the Sisterhood. Honored Matres! How like "Reverend Mothers" the words sounded.
Lucilla ventured an exploratory sally: "So you think we should be concentrating on the problem of those Honored Matres from the Scattering?"
"Concentrating? Hah! They do not have our powers. They do not show good sense. And they do not have mastery of melange! That is what they want from us, our spice knowledge."
"Perhaps," Lucilla agreed. She was not willing to concede this on the scanty evidence.
"Mother Superior Taraza has taken leave of her senses to dally with this ghola thing now," Schwangyu said.
Lucilla remained silent. The ghola project definitely had touched an old nerve among the Sisters. The possibility, even remote, that they might arouse another Kwisatz Haderach sent shudders of angry fear through the ranks. To meddle with the worm-bound remnants of the Tyrant! That was dangerous in the extreme.
"We should never take that ghola to Rakis," Schwangyu muttered. "Let sleeping worms lie."
Lucilla gave her attention once more to the ghola-child. He had turned his back on the high parapet with its two Reverend Mothers, but something about his posture said he knew they discussed him and he awaited their response.
"You doubtless realize that you have been called in while he is yet too young," Schwangyu said.
"I have never heard of the deep imprinting on one that young," Lucilla agreed. She allowed something softly self-mocking in her tone, a thing she knew Schwangyu would hear and misinterpret. The management of procreation and all of its attendant necessities, that was the Bene Gesserit ultimate specialty. Use love but avoid it, Schwangyu would be thinking now. The Sisterhood's analysts knew the roots of love. They had examined this quite early in their development but had never dared breed it out of those they influenced. Tolerate love but guard against it, that was the rule. Know that it lay deep within the human genetic makeup, a safety net to insure continuation of the species. You used it where necessary, imprinting selected individuals (sometimes upon each other) for the Sisterhood's purposes, knowing then that such individuals would be linked by powerful bonding lines not readily available to the common awareness. Others might observe such links and plot the consequences but the linked ones would dance to unconscious music.
"I was not suggesting that it's a mistake to imprint him," Schwangyu said, misreading Lucilla's silence.
"We do what we are ordered to do," Lucilla chided. Let Schwangyu make of that what she would.
"Then you do not object to taking the ghola to Rakis," Schwangyu said. "I wonder if you would continue such unquestioning obedience if you knew the full story?"
Lucilla inhaled a deep breath. Was the entire design for the Duncan Idaho gholas to be shared with her now?
"There is a female child named Sheeana Brugh on Rakis," Schwangyu said. "She can control the giant worms."
Lucilla concealed her alertness. Giant worms. Not Shai-hulud. Not Shaitan. Giant worms. The sandrider predicted by the Tyrant had appeared at last!
"I do not make idle chatter," Schwangyu said when Lucilla continued silent.
Indeed not, Lucilla thought. And you call a thing by its descriptive label, not by the name of its mystical import. Giant worms. And you're really thinking about the Tyrant, Leto II, whose endless dream is carried as a pearl of awareness in each of those worms. Or so we are led to believe.
Schwangyu nodded toward the child on the lawn below them. "Do you think their ghola will be able to influence the girl who controls the worms?"
We're peeling away the skin at last, Lucilla thought. She said: "I have no need for the answer to such a question."
"You are a cautious one," Schwangyu said.
Lucilla arched her back and stretched. Cautious? Yes, indeed! Taraza had warned her: "Where Schwangyu is concerned, you must act with extreme caution but with speed. We have a very narrow window of time within which we can succeed."
Succeed at what? Lucilla wondered. She glanced sideways at Schwangyu. "I don't see how the Tleilaxu could succeed in killing eleven of these gholas. How could they get through our defenses?"
"We have the Bashar now," Schwangyu said. "Perhaps he can prevent disaster." Her tone said she did not believe this.
Mother Superior Taraza had said: "You are the Imprinter, Lucilla. When you get to Gammu you will recognize some of the pattern. But for your task you have no need for the full design."
"Think of the cost!" Schwangyu said, glaring down at the ghola, who now squatted, pulling at tufts of grass.
Cost had nothing to do with it, Lucilla knew. The open admission of failure was much more important. The Sisterhood could not reveal its fallibility. But the fact that an Imprinter had been summoned early - that was vital. Taraza had known the Imprinter would see this and recognize part of the pattern.
Schwangyu gestured with one bony hand at the child, who had returned to his solitary play, running and tumbling on the grass.
"Politics," Schwangyu said.
No doubt Sisterhood politics lay at the core of Schwangyu's heresy, Lucilla thought. The delicacy of the internal argument could be deduced from the fact that Schwangyu had been put in charge of the Keep here on Gammu. Those who opposed Taraza refused to sit on the sidelines.
Schwangyu turned and looked squarely at Lucilla. Enough had been said. Enough had been heard and screened through minds trained in Bene Gesserit awareness. The Chapter House had chosen this Lucilla with great care.
Lucilla felt the older woman's careful examination but refused to let this touch that innermost sense of purpose upon which every Reverend Mother could rely in times of stress. Here. Get her look fully upon me. Lucilla turned and set her mouth in a soft smile, passing her gaze across the rooftop opposite them.
A uniformed man armed with a heavy-duty lasgun appeared there, looked once at the two Reverend Mothers and then focused on the child below them.
"Who is that?" Lucilla asked "Patrin, the Bashar's most trusted aide. Says he's only the Bashar's batman but you'd have to be blind and a fool to believe that. "
Lucilla examined the man across from them with care. So that was Patrin. A native of Gammu, Taraza had said. Chosen for this task by the Bashar himself. Thin and blond, much too old now to be soldiering, but then the Bashar had been called back from retirement and had insisted Patrin must share this duty.
Schwangyu noted the way Lucilla shifted her attention from Patrin to the ghola with real concern. Yes, if the Bashar had been called back to guard this Keep, then the ghola was in extreme peril.
Lucilla started in sudden surprise. "Why... he's..."
"Miles Teg's orders," Schwangyu said, naming the Bashar. "All of the ghola's play is training play. Muscles are to be prepared for the day when he is restored to his original self."
"But that's no simple exercise he's doing down there," Lucilla said. She felt her own muscles respond sympathetically to the remembered training.
"We hold back only the Sisterhood's arcana from this ghola," Schwangyu said. "Almost anything else in our storehouse of knowledge can be his." Her tone said she found this extremely objectionable.
"Surely, no one believes this ghola could become another Kwisatz Haderach," Lucilla objected.
Schwangyu merely shrugged.
Lucilla held herself quite still, thinking. Was it possible the ghola could be transformed into a male version of a Reverend Mother? Could this Duncan Idaho learn to look inward where no Reverend Mother dared?
Schwangyu began to speak, her voice almost a growling mutter: "The design of this project... they have a dangerous plan. They could make the same mistake..." She broke off.
They, Lucilla thought. Their ghola.
"I would give anything to know for sure the position of Ix and the Fish Speakers in this," Lucilla said.
"Fish Speakers!" Schwangyu shook her head at the very thought of the remnant female army that had once served only the Tyrant. "They believe in truth and justice."
Lucilla overcame a sudden tightness in her throat. Schwangyu had all but declared open opposition. Yet, she commanded here. The political rule was a simple one: Those who opposed the project must monitor it that they might abort it at the first sign of trouble. But that was a genuine Duncan Idaho ghola down there on the lawn. Cell comparisons and Truthsayers had confirmed it.
Taraza had said: "You are to teach him love in all of its forms."
"He's so young," Lucilla said, keeping her attention on the ghola.
"Young, yes," Schwangyu said. "So, for now, I presume you will awaken his childish responses to maternal affection. Later..." Schwangyu shrugged.
Lucilla betrayed no emotional reaction. A Bene Gesserit obeyed. I am an Imprinter. So... Taraza's orders and the Imprinter's specialized training defined a particular course of events.
To Schwangyu, Lucilla said: "There is someone who looks like me and speaks with my voice. I am Imprinting for her. May I ask who that is?"
Lucilla held her silence. She had not expected revelation but it had been remarked more than once that she bore a striking resemblance to Senior Security Mother Darwi Odrade. "A young Odrade." Lucilla had heard this on several occasions. Both Lucilla and Odrade were, of course, in the Atreides line with a strong backbreeding from Siona descendants. The Fish Speakers had no monopoly on those genes! But the Other Memories of a Reverend Mother, even with their linear selectivity and confinement to the female side, provided important clues to the broad shape of the ghola project. Lucilla, who had come to depend on her experiences of the Jessica persona buried some five thousand years back in the Sisterhood's genetic manipulations, felt a deep sense of dread from that source now. There was a familiar pattern here. It gave off such an intense feeling of doom that Lucilla fell automatically into the Litany Against Fear as she had been taught it in her first introduction to the Sisterhood's rites:
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
Calm returned to Lucilla.
Schwangyu, sensing some of this, allowed her guard to drop slightly. Lucilla was no dullard, no special Reverend Mother with an empty title and barely sufficient background to function without embarrassing the Sisterhood. Lucilla was the real thing and some reactions could not be hidden from her, not even reactions of another Reverend Mother. Very well, let her know the full extent of the opposition to this foolish, this dangerous project!
"I do not think their ghola will survive to see Rakis," Schwangyu said.
Lucilla let this pass. "Tell me about his friends," she said.
"He has no friends; only teachers."
"When will I meet them?" She kept her gaze on the opposite parapet where Patrin leaned idly-against a low pillar, his heavy lasgun at the ready. Lucilla realized with an abrupt shock that Patrin was watching her. Patrin was a message from the Bashar! Schwangyu obviously saw and understood. We guard him!
"I presume it's Miles Teg you're so anxious to meet," Schwangyu said.
"Don't you want to make contact with the ghola first?"
"I've already made contact with him." Lucilla nodded toward the enclosed yard where the child once more stood almost motionless and looking up at her. "He's a thoughtful one."
"I've only the reports on the others," Schwangyu said, "but I suspect this is the most thoughtful one of the series."
Lucilla suppressed an involuntary shudder at the readiness for violent opposition in Schwangyu's words and attitude. There was not one hint that the child below them shared a common humanity.
While Lucilla was thinking this, clouds covered the sun as they often did here at this hour. A cold wind blew in over the Keep's walls, swirling around the courtyard. The child turned away and picked up the speed of his exercises, getting his warmth from increased activity.
"Where does he go to be alone?" Lucilla asked.
"Mostly to his room. He has tried a few dangerous escapades, but we have discouraged this."
"He must hate us very much."
"I'm sure of it."
"I will have to deal with that directly."
"Surely, an Imprinter has no doubts about her ability to overcome hate."
"I was thinking of Geasa." Lucilla sent a knowing look at Schwangyu. "I find it astonishing that you let Geasa make such a mistake."
"I don't interfere with the normal progress of the ghola's instructions. If one of his teachers develops a real affection for him, that is not my problem."
"An attractive child," Lucilla said.
They stood a bit longer watching the Duncan Idaho ghola at his training-play. Both Reverend Mothers thought briefly of Geasa, one of the first teachers brought here for the ghola project. Schwangyu's attitude was plain: Geasa was a providential failure. Lucilla thought only: Schwangyu and Geasa complicated my task. Neither woman gave even a passing moment to the way these thoughts reaffirmed their loyalties.
As she watched the child in the courtyard, Lucilla began to have a new appreciation of what the Tyrant God Emperor had actually achieved. Leto II had employed this ghola-type through uncounted lifetimes - some thirty-five hundred years of them, one after another. And the God Emperor Leto II had been no ordinary force of nature. He had been the biggest juggernaut in human history, rolling over everything: over social systems, over natural and unnatural hatreds, over governmental forms, over rituals (both taboo and mandatory), over religions casual and religions intense. The crushing weight of the Tyrant's passage had left nothing unmarked, not even the Bene Gesserit.
Leto II had called it "The Golden Path" and this Duncan Idaho-type ghola below her now had figured prominently in that awesome passage. Lucilla had studied the Bene Gesserit accounts, probably the best in the universe. Even today on most of the old Imperial Planets, newly married couples still scattered dollops of water east and west, mouthing the local version of "Let Thy blessings flow back to us from this offering, O God of Infinite Power and Infinite Mercy."
Once, it had been the task of Fish Speakers and their tame priesthood to enforce such obeisance. But the thing had developed its own momentum, becoming a pervasive compulsion. Even the most doubting of believers said: "Well, it can do no harm." It was an accomplishment that the finest religious engineers of the Bene Gesserit Missionaria Protectiva admired with frustrated awe. The Tyrant had surpassed the Bene Gesserit best. And fifteen hundred years since the Tyrant's death, the Sisterhood remained powerless to unlock the central knot of that fearsome accomplishment.
"Who has charge of the child's religious training?" Lucilla asked.
"No one," Schwangyu said. "Why bother? If he is reawakened to his original memories, he will have his own ideas. We will deal with those if we ever have to."
The child below them completed his allotted training time. Without another look up at the watchers on the parapet, he left the enclosed yard and entered a wide doorway on the left. Patrin, too, abandoned his guard position without glancing at the two Reverend Mothers.
"Don't be fooled by Teg's people," Schwangyu said. "They have eyes in the backs of their heads. Teg's birth-mother, you know, was one of us. He is teaching that ghola things better never shared!"
Explosions are also compressions of time. Observable changes in the natural universe all are explosive to some degree and from some point of view; otherwise you would not notice them. Smooth Continuity of change, if slowed sufficiently, goes without notice by observers whose time/attention span is too short. Thus, I tell you, I have seen changes you would never have marked.
The woman standing in Chapter House Planet's morning light across the table from the Reverend Mother Superior Alma Mavis Taraza was tall and supple. The long aba robe that encased her in shimmering black from shoulders to floor did not completely conceal the grace with which her body expressed every movement.
Taraza leaned forward in her chairdog and scanned the Records Relay projecting its condensed Bene Gesserit glyphs above the tabletop for her eyes only.
"Darwi Odrade," the display identified the standing woman, and then came the essential biography, which Taraza already knew in detail. The display served several purposes - it provided a secure reminder for the Mother Superior, it allowed an occasional delay for thought while she appeared to scan the records, and it was a final argument should something negative arise from this interview.
Odrade had borne nineteen children for the Bene Gesserit, Taraza observed as the information scrolled past her eyes. Each child by a different father. Not much unusual about that, but even the most searching gaze could see that this essential service to the Sisterhood had not grossened Odrade's flesh. Her features conveyed a natural hauteur in the long nose and the complementary angular cheeks. Every feature focused downward to a narrow chin: Her mouth, though, was full and promised a passion that she was careful to bridle.
We can always depend on the Atreides genes, Taraza thought. A window curtain fluttered behind Odrade and she glanced back at it. They were in Taraza's morning room, a small and elegantly furnished space decorated in shades of green. Only the stark white of Taraza's chairdog separated her from the background. The room's bow windows looked eastward onto garden and lawn with faraway snowy mountains of Chapter House Planet as backdrop.
Without looking up, Taraza said: "I was glad when both you and Lucilla accepted the assignment. It makes my task much easier."
"I would like to have met this Lucilla," Odrade said, looking down at the top of Taraza's head. Odrade's voice came out a soft contralto.
Taraza cleared her throat. "No need. Lucilla is one of our finest Imprinters. Each of you, of course, received the identical liberal conditioning to prepare you for this."
There was something almost insulting in Taraza's casual tone and only the habits of long association put down Odrade's immediate resentment. It was partly that word "liberal," she realized. Atreides ancestors rose up in rebellion at the word. It was as though her accumulated female memories lashed out at the unconscious assumptions and unexamined prejudices behind the concept.
"Only liberals really think. Only liberals are intellectual. Only liberals understand the needs of their fellows."
How much viciousness lay concealed in that word! Odrade thought. How much secret ego demanding to feel superior.
Odrade reminded herself that Taraza, despite the casually insulting tone, had used the term only in its catholic sense: Lucilla's generalized education had been carefully matched to that of Odrade.
Taraza leaned back into a more comfortable position but still kept her attention on the display in front of her. The light from the eastern windows fell directly on her face, leaving shadows beneath nose and chin. A small woman just a bit older than Odrade, Taraza retained much of the beauty that had made her a most reliable breeder with difficult sires. Her face was a long oval with soft curved cheeks. She wore her black hair drawn back tightly from a high forehead with a pronounced peak. Taraza's mouth opened minimally when she spoke: superb control of movement. An observer's attention tended to focus on her eyes: that compelling blue-in-blue. The total effect was of a suave facial mask from which little escaped to betray her true emotions.
Odrade recognized this present pose in the Mother Superior. Taraza would mutter to herself presently. Indeed, right on cue, Taraza muttered to herself.
The Mother Superior was thinking while she followed the biographical display with great attention. Many matters occupied her attention.
This was a reassuring thought to Odrade. Taraza did not believe there was any such thing as a beneficent power guarding humankind. The Missionaria Protectiva and the intentions of the Sisterhood counted for everything in Taraza's universe. Whatever served those intentions, even the machinations of the long-dead Tyrant, could be judged good. All else was evil. Alien intrusions from the Scattering - especially those returning descendants who called themselves "Honored Matres" - were not to be trusted. Taraza's own people, even those Reverend Mothers who opposed her in Council, were the ultimate Bene Gesserit resource, the only thing that could be trusted.
Still without looking up, Taraza said: "Do you know that when you compare the millennia preceding the Tyrant with those after his death, the decrease in major conflicts is phenomenal. Since the Tyrant, the number of such conflicts has dropped to less than two percent of what it was before."
"As far as we know," Odrade said.
Taraza's gaze flicked upward and then down. "What?"
"We have no way of telling how many wars have been fought outside our ken. Have you statistics from the people of the Scattering?"
"Of course not!" ` "Leto tamed us is what you're saying," Odrade said.
"If you care to put it that way." Taraza inserted a marker in something she saw on her display.
"Shouldn't some of the credit go to our beloved Bashar Miles Teg?" Odrade asked. "Or to his talented predecessors?"
"We chose those people," Taraza said.
"I don't see the pertinence of this martial discussion," Odrade said. "What does it have to do with our present problem?"
"There are some who think we may revert to the pre-Tyrant condition with a very nasty bang."
"Oh?" Odrade pursed her lips.
"Several groups among our returning Lost Ones are selling arms to anyone who wants to or can buy."
"Specifics?" Odrade asked.
"Sophisticated arms are flooding onto Gammu and there can be little doubt the Tleilaxu are stockpiling some of the nastier weapons."
Taraza leaned back and rubbed her temples. She spoke in a low, almost musing voice. "We think we make decisions of the greatest moment and out of the very highest principles."
Odrade had seen this before, too. She said: "Does the Mother Superior doubt the rightness of the Bene Gesserit?"
"Doubt? Oh, no. But I do experience frustration. We work all of our lives for these highly refined goals and in the end, what do we find? We find that many of the things to which we have dedicated our lives came from petty decisions. They can be traced to desires for personal comfort or convenience and had nothing at all to do with our high ideals. What really was at stake was some worldly working agreement that satisfied the needs of those who could make the decisions."
"I've heard you call that political necessity," Odrade said.
Taraza spoke with tight control while returning her attention to the display in front of her. "If we become institutionalized in our judgments, that's a sure way to extinguish the Bene Gesserit."
"You will not find petty decisions in my bio," Odrade said.
"I look for sources of weakness, for flaws."
"You won't find those, either."
Taraza concealed a smile. She recognized this egocentric remark: Odrade's way of needling the Mother Superior. Odrade was very good at seeming to be impatient while actually suspending herself in a timeless flow of patience.
When Taraza did not rise to the bait, Odrade resumed her calm waiting - easy breaths, the mind steady. Patience came without thinking of it. The Sisterhood had taught her long ago how to divide past and present into simultaneous flowings. While observing her immediate surroundings, she could pick up bits and pieces of her past and live through them as though they moved across a screen superimposed over the present.
Memory work, Odrade thought. Necessary things to haul out and lay to rest. Removing the barriers. When all else palled, there was still her tangled childhood.
There had been a time when Odrade lived as most children lived: in a house with a man and woman who, if not her parents, certainly acted in loco parentis. All of the other children she knew then lived in similar situations. They had papas and mamas. Sometimes only papa worked away from home. Sometimes only mama went out to her labors. In Odrade's case, the woman remained at home and no creche nurse guarded the child in the working hours. Much later, Odrade learned that her birth-mother had given a large sum of money to provide this for the infant female hidden in plain sight that way.
"She hid you with us because she loved you," the woman explained when Odrade was old enough to understand. "That is why you must never reveal that we are not your real parents."
Love had nothing to do with it, Odrade learned later. Reverend Mothers did not act from such mundane motives. And Odrade's birth-mother had been a Bene Gesserit Sister.
All of this was revealed to Odrade according to the original plan. Her name: Odrade. Darwi was what she had always been called when the caller was not being endearing or angry. Young friends naturally shortened it to Dar.
Everything, however, did not go according to the original plan. Odrade recalled a narrow bed in a room brightened by paintings of animals and fantasy landscapes on the pastel blue walls. White curtains fluttered at the window in the soft breezes of spring and summer. Odrade remembered jumping on the narrow bed - a marvelously happy game: up, down, up, down. Much laughter. Arms caught her in mid leap and hugged her close. They were a man's arms: a round face with a small mustache that tickled her into giggles. The bed thumped the wall when she jumped and the wall revealed indentations from this movement.
Odrade played over this memory now, reluctant to discard it into the well of rationality. Marks on a wall. Marks of laughter and joy. How small they were to represent so much.
Odd how she had been thinking more and more about papa recently. All of the memories were not happy. There had been times when he had been sad-angry, warning mama not to become "too involved." He had a face that reflected many frustrations. His voice barked when he was in his angry mood. Mama moved softly then, her eyes full of worry. Odrade sensed the worry and the fear and resented the man. The woman knew best how to deal with him. She kissed the nape of his neck, stroked his cheek and whispered into his ear.
These ancient "natural" emotions had engaged a Bene Gesserit analyst-proctor in much work with Odrade before they were exorcised. But even now there was residual detritus to pick up and discard. Even now, Odrade knew that all of it was not gone.
Seeing the way Taraza studied the biographical record with such care, Odrade wondered if that was the flaw the Mother Superior saw.
Surely they know by now that I can deal with the emotions of those early times.
It was all so long ago. Still, she had to admit that the memory of the man and woman lay within her, bonded with such force that it might never be erased completely. Especially mama.
The Reverend Mother in extremis who had borne Odrade had put her in that hiding place on Gammu for reasons Odrade now understood quite well. Odrade harbored no resentments. It had been necessary for the survival of them both. Problems arose from the fact that the foster mother gave Odrade that thing which most mothers give their children, that thing which the Sisterhood so distrusted - love.
When the Reverend Mothers came, the foster mother had not fought the removal of her child. Two Reverend Mothers came with a contingent of male and female proctors. Afterward Odrade was a long time understanding the significance of that wrenching moment. The woman had known in her heart that the day of parting would come. Only a matter of time. Still, as the days became years - almost six standards of years - the woman had dared to hope.
Then the Reverend Mothers came with their burly attendants. They had merely been waiting until it was safe, until they were sure no hunters knew this was a Bene Gesserit-planned Atreides scion.
Odrade saw a great deal of money passed to the foster mother. The woman threw the money on the floor. But no voice was raised in objection. The adults in the scene knew where the power lay.
Calling up those compressed emotions, Odrade could still see the woman take herself to a straight-backed chair beside the window onto the street, there to hug herself and rock back and forth, back and forth. Not a sound from her.
The Reverend Mothers used Voice and their considerable wiles plus the smoke of drugging herbs and their overpowering presence to lure Odrade into their waiting groundcar.
"It will be just for a little while. Your real mother sent us."
Odrade sensed the lies but curiosity compelled. My real mother!
Her last view of the woman who had been her only known female parent was of that figure at the window rocking back and forth, a look of misery on her face, arms wrapped around herself.
Later, when Odrade spoke of returning to the woman, that memory-vision was incorporated into an essential Bene Gesserit lesson.
"Love leads to misery. Love is a very ancient force, which served its purpose in its day but no longer is essential for the survival of the species. Remember that woman's mistake, the pain."
Until well into her teens, Odrade adjusted by daydreaming. She would really return after she was a full Reverend Mother. She would go back and find that loving woman, find her even though she had no names except "mama" and "Sibia." Odrade recalled the laughter of adult friends who had called the woman "Sibia."
The Sisters, however, detected the daydreams and searched out their source. That, too, was incorporated into a lesson.
"Daydreaming is the first awakening of what we call simulflow. It is an essential tool of rational thought. With it you can clear the mind for better thinking."
Odrade focused on Taraza at the morning room table. Childhood trauma must be placed carefully into a reconstructed memory-place. All of that had been far away on Gammu, the planet that the people of Dan had rebuilt after the Famine Times and the Scattering. The people of Dan - Caladan in those days. Odrade took a firm grip on rational thought, using the stance of the Other Memories that had flooded into her awareness during the spice agony when she had really become a full Reverend Mother.
Simulflow... the filter of consciousness... Other Memories.
What powerful tools the Sisterhood had given her. What dangerous tools. All of those other lives lay there just beyond the curtain of awareness, tools of survival, not a way to satisfy casual curiosity.
Taraza spoke, translating from the material that scrolled past her eyes: "You dig too much in your Other Memories. That drains away energies better conserved."
The Mother Superior's blue-in-blue eyes sent a piercing stare upward at Odrade. "You sometimes go right to the edge of fleshly tolerance. That can lead to your premature death."
"I am careful with the spice, Mother."
"And well you should be! A body can take only so much melange, only so much prowling in its past!"
"Have you found my flaw?" Odrade asked.
"Gammu!" One word but an entire harangue.
Odrade knew. The unavoidable trauma of those lost years on Gammu. They were a distraction that had to be rooted out and made rationally acceptable.
"But I am sent to Rakis," Odrade said.
"And see that you remember the aphorisms of moderation. Remember who you are!"
Once more, Taraza bent to her display.
I am Odrade, Odrade thought.
In the Bene Gesserit schools where first names tended to slip away, roll call was by last name. Friends and acquaintances picked up the habit of using the roll-call name. They learned early that sharing secret or private names was an ancient device for ensnaring a person in affections.
Taraza, three classes ahead of Odrade, had been assigned to "bring the younger girl along," a deliberate association by watchful teachers.
"Bringing along" meant a certain amount of lording it over the younger but also incorporated essentials better taught by someone closer to peer relationship. Taraza, with access to the private records of her trainee, started calling the younger girl "Dar." Odrade responded by calling Taraza "Tar." The two names acquired a certain glue - Dar and Tar. Even after Reverend Mothers overheard and reprimanded them, they occasionally lapsed into error if only for the amusement.
Odrade, looking down at Taraza now, said: "Dar and Tar."
A smile twitched the edges of Taraza's mouth.
"What is it in my records that you don't already know several times over?" Odrade asked.
Taraza sat back and waited for the chairdog to adjust itself to the new position. She rested her clasped hands on the tabletop and looked up at the younger woman.
Not much younger, really, Taraza thought.
Since school, though, Taraza had thought of Odrade as completely removed into a younger age group, creating a gap no passage of years could close.
"Care at the beginning, Dar," Taraza said.
"This project is well past its beginning," Odrade said.
"But your part in it starts now. And we are launching ourselves into such a beginning as has never before been attempted."
"Am I now to learn the entire design for this ghola?"
That was it. All the evidence of high-level dispute and the "need to know" cast away with a single word. But Odrade understood. There was an organizational rubric laid down by the original Bene Gesserit Chapter House, which had endured with only minor changes for millennia. Bene Gesserit divisions were cut by hard vertical and horizontal barriers, divided into isolated groups that converged to a single command only here at the top. Duties (for which read "assigned roles") were conducted within separated cells. Active participants within a cell did not know their contemporaries within other parallel cells.
But I know that the Reverend Mother Lucilla is in a parallel cell, Odrade thought. It's the logical answer.
She recognized the necessity. It was an ancient design copied from secret revolutionary societies. The Bene Gesserit had always seen themselves as permanent revolutionaries. It was a revolution that had been dampened only in the time of the Tyrant, Leto II.
Dampened, but not diverted or stopped, Odrade reminded herself.
"In what you're about to do," Taraza said, "tell me if you sense any immediate threat to the Sisterhood."
It was one of Taraza's peculiar demands, which Odrade had learned to answer out of wordless instinct, which then could be formed into words. Quickly, she said: "If we fail to act, that is worse."
"We reasoned that there would be danger," Taraza said. She spoke in a dry, remote voice. Taraza did not like calling up this talent in Odrade. The younger woman possessed a prescient instinct for detecting threats to the Sisterhood. It came from the wild influence in her genetic line, of course - the Atreides with their dangerous talents. There was a special mark on Odrade's breeding file: "Careful examination of all offspring." Two of those offspring had been quietly put to death.
I should not have awakened Odrade's talent now, not even for a moment, Taraza thought. But sometimes temptation was very great.
Taraza sealed the projector into her tabletop and looked at the blank surface while speaking. "Even if you find a perfect sire, you are not to breed without our permission while you are away from us."
"The mistake of my natural mother," Odrade said.
"The mistake of your natural mother was to be recognized while she was breeding!"
Odrade had heard this before. There was that thing about the Atreides line that required the most careful monitoring by the breeding mistresses. The wild talent, of course. She knew about the wild talent, that genetic force which had produced the Kwisatz Haderach and the Tyrant. What did the breeding mistresses seek now, though? Was their approach mostly negative? No more dangerous births! She had never seen any of her babies after they were born, not necessarily a curious thing for the Sisterhood. And she never saw any of the records in her own genetic file. Here, too, the Sisterhood operated with careful separation of powers.
And those earlier prohibitions on my Other Memories!
She had found the blank spaces in her memories and opened them. It was probable that only Taraza and perhaps two other councillors (Bellonda, most likely, and one other older Reverend Mother) shared the more sensitive access to such breeding information.
Had Taraza and the other really sworn to die before revealing privileged information to an outsider? There was, after all, a precise ritual of succession should a key Reverend Mother die while away from her Sisters and with no chance to pass along her encapsulated lives. The ritual had been called into play many times during the reign of the Tyrant. A terrible period! Knowing that the revolutionary cells of the Sisterhood were transparent to him! Monster! She knew that her sisters had never deluded themselves that Leto II refrained from destroying the Bene Gesserit out of some deep-seated loyalty to his grandmother, the Lady Jessica.
Are you there, Jessica?
Odrade felt the stirring far within. The failure of one Reverend Mother: "She allowed herself to fall in love!" Such a small thing but how great the consequences. Thirty-five hundred years of tyranny!
The Golden Path. Infinite? What of the lost megatrillions gone into the Scattering? What threat was posed by those Lost Ones returning now?
As though she read Odrade's mind, which sometimes she appeared to do, Taraza said: "The Scattered ones are out there... just waiting to pounce."
Odrade had heard the arguments: Danger on the one hand and on the other, something magnetically attractive. So many magnificent unknowns. The Sisterhood with its talents honed by melange over the millennia - what might they not do with such untapped resources of humanity? Think of the uncounted genes out there! Think of the potential talents floating free in universes where they might be lost forever!
"It's the not knowing that conjures up the greatest terrors," Odrade said.
"And the greatest ambitions," Taraza said.
"Then do I go to Rakis?"
"In due course. I find you adequate to the task."
"Or you would not have assigned me."
It was an old exchange between them, going right back to their school days. Taraza realized, though, that she had not entered it consciously. Too many memories tangled the two of them: Dar and Tar. Have to watch that!
"Remember where your loyalties are," Taraza said.
The existence of no-ships raises the possibility of destroying entire planets without retaliation. A large object, asteroid or equivalent, may be sent against the planet. Or the people can be set against each other by sexual subversion, and then can be armed to destroy themselves. These Honored Matres appear to favor this latter technique.
From his position in the courtyard and even when not appearing to do so, Duncan Idaho kept his attention on the observers above him. There was Patrin, of course, but Patrin did not count. It was the Reverend Mothers across from Patrin who bore watching. Seeing Lucilla, he thought: That's the new one. This thought filled him with a surge of excitement, which he took out in renewed exercise.
He completed the first three patterns of the training-play Miles Teg had ordered, vaguely aware that Patrin would report on how well he did. Duncan liked Teg and old Patrin and sensed that the feeling was reciprocated. This new Reverend Mother, though - her presence suggested interesting changes. For one thing, she was younger than the others. Also, this new one did not try to hide the eyes that were a first clue to her membership in the Bene Gesserit. His first glimpse of Schwangyu had confronted him with eyes concealed behind contact lenses that simulated non-addict pupils and slightly bloodshot whites. He had heard one of the Keep's acolytes say Schwangyu's lenses also corrected for "an astigmatic weakness that has been accepted in her genetic line as a reasonable exchange for the other qualities she transmits to her offspring."
At the time, most of this remark was unintelligible to Duncan but he had looked up the references in the Keep's library, references both scarce and severely limited in content. Schwangyu herself parried all of his questions on the subject, but the subsequent behavior of his teachers told him she had been angry. Typically, she had taken out her anger on others.
What really upset her, he suspected, was his demand to know whether she was his mother.
For a long time now Duncan had known he was something special. There were places in the elaborate compound of this Bene Gesserit Keep where he was not permitted. He had found private ways to evade such prohibitions and had stared out often through thick plaz and open windows at guards and wide reaches of cleared ground that could be enfiladed from strategically positioned pillboxes. Miles Teg himself had taught the significance of enfilade positioning.
Gammu, the planet was called now. Once, it had been known as Giedi Prime but someone named Gurney Halleck had changed that. It was all ancient history. Dull stuff. There still remained a faint smell of bitter oil in the planet's dirt from its pre-Danian days. Millennia of special plantations were changing that, his teachers explained. He could see part of this from the Keep. Forests of conifers and other trees surrounded them here.
Still covertly watching the two Reverend Mothers, Duncan did a series of cartwheels. He flexed his striking muscles as he moved, just the way Teg had taught him.
Teg also instructed in planetary defenses. Gammu was ringed by orbiting monitors whose crews could not have their families aboard. The families remained down here on Gammu, hostage to the vigilance of those guardian orbiters. Somewhere among the ships in space, there were undetectable no-ships whose crews were composed entirely of the Bashar's people and Bene Gesserit Sisters.
"I would not have taken this assignment without full charge of all defensive arrangements," Teg explained.
Duncan realized that he was "this assignment." The Keep was here to protect him. Teg's orbiting monitors, including the no-ships, protected the Keep.
It was all part of a military education whose elements Duncan found somehow familiar. Learning how to defend a seemingly vulnerable planet from attacks originating in space, he knew when those defenses were correctly placed. It was extremely complicated as a whole but the elements were identifiable and could be understood. There was, for instance, the constant monitoring of atmosphere and the blood serum of Gammu's inhabitants. Suk doctors in the pay of the Bene Gesserit were everywhere.
"Diseases are weapons," Teg said. "Our defense against diseases must be finely tuned."
Frequently, Teg railed against passive defenses. He called them "the product of a siege mentality long known to create deadly weaknesses."
When it came to military instructions from Teg, Duncan listened carefully. Patrin and the library records confirmed that the Mentat Bashar Miles Teg had been a famous military leader for the Bene Gesserit. Patrin often referred to their service together and always Teg was the hero.
"Mobility is the key to military success," Teg said. "If you're tied down in forts, even whole-planet forts, you are ultimately vulnerable."
Teg did not much care for Gammu.
"I see that you already know this place was called Giedi Prime once. The Harkonnens who ruled here taught us a few things. We have a better idea, thanks to them, of how terrifyingly brutal humans can become."
As he recalled this, Duncan observed that the two Reverend Mothers watching from the parapet obviously were discussing him.
Am I the new one's assignment?
Duncan did not like being watched and he hoped the new one would allow him some time to himself. She did not look like a tough one. Not like Schwangyu.
As he continued his exercises, Duncan timed them to a private litany: Damn Schwangyu! Damn Schwangyu!
He had hated Schwangyu from the age of nine - four years now. She did not know his hate, he thought. She had probably forgotten all about the incident where his hate had been ignited.
Barely nine and he had managed to slip through the inner guards out into a tunnel that led to one of the pillboxes. Smell of fungus in the tunnel. Dim lights. Dampness. He peered out through the box's weapons slits before being caught and hustled back into the core of the Keep.
This escapade occasioned a stern lecture from Schwangyu, a remote and threatening figure whose orders must be obeyed. That was how he still thought of her, although he had since learned about the Bene Gesserit Voice-of-Command, that vocal subtlety which could bend the will of an untrained listener.
She must be obeyed.
"You have occasioned the disciplining of an entire guard unit," Schwangyu said. "They will be severely punished."
That had been the most terrible part of her lecture. Duncan liked some of the guards and occasionally lured some of them into real play with laughter and tumbling. His prank, sneaking out to the pillbox, had hurt his friends.
Duncan knew what it was to be punished.
Damn Schwangyu! Damn Schwangyu!...
After Schwangyu's lecture, Duncan ran to his chief instructor of the moment, Reverend Mother Tamalane, another of the wizened old ones with a cool and aloof manner, snowy hair above a narrow face and a leather skin. He demanded of Tamalane to know about the punishment of his guards. Tamalane fell into a surprising pensive mood, her voice like sand rasping against wood.
"Punishments? Well, well."
They were in the small teaching room off the larger practice floor where Tamalane went each evening to prepare the next day's lessons. It was a place of bubble and spool readers and other sophisticated means for information storage and retrieval. Duncan far preferred it to the library but he was not allowed in the teaching room unattended. It was a bright room lighted by many suspensor-buoyed glowglobes. At his intrusion, Tamalane turned away from where she laid out his lessons.
"There's always something of a sacrificial banquet about our major punishments," she said. "The guards will, of course, receive major punishment."
"Banquet?" Duncan was puzzled.
Tamalane swung completely around in her swivel seat and looked directly into his eyes. Her steely teeth glittered in the bright lights. "History has seldom been good to those who must be punished," she said.
Duncan flinched at the word "history." It was one of Tamalane's signals. She was going to teach a lesson, another boring lesson.
"Bene Gesserit punishments cannot be forgotten."
Duncan focused on Tamalane's old mouth, sensing abruptly that she spoke out of painful personal experience. He was going to learn something interesting!
"Our punishments carry an inescapable lesson," Tamalane said. "It is much more than the pain."
Duncan sat on the floor at her feet. From this angle, Tamalane was a black-shrouded and ominous figure.
"We do not punish with the ultimate agony," she said. "That is reserved for a Reverend Mother's passage through the spice."
Duncan nodded. Library records referred to "spice agony," a mysterious trial that created a Reverend Mother.
"Major punishments are painful, nonetheless," she said. "They are also emotionally painful. Emotion evoked by punishment is always that emotion we judge to be the penitent's greatest weakness and thus we strengthen the punished."
Her words filled Duncan with unfocused dread. What were they doing to his guards? He could not speak but there was no need. Tamalane was not finished.
"The punishment always ends with a dessert," she said and she clapped her hands against her knees.
Duncan frowned. Dessert? That was part of a banquet. How could a banquet be punishment?
"It is not really a banquet but the idea of a banquet," Tamalane said. One clawlike hand described a circle in the air. "The dessert comes something totally unexpected. The penitent thinks: Ahhh, I have been forgiven at last! You understand?"
Duncan shook his head from side to side. No, he did not understand.
"It is the sweetness of the moment," she said. "You have been through every course of a painful banquet and come out at the end to something you can savor. But! As you savor it, then comes the most painful moment of all, the recognition, the understanding that this is not pleasure-at-the-end. No, indeed. This is the ultimate pain of the major punishment. It locks in the Bene Gesserit lesson."
"But what will she do to those guards?" The words were wrenched from Duncan.
"I cannot say what the specific elements of the individual punishments will be. I have no need to know. I can only tell you it will be different for each of them."
Tamalane would say no more. She returned to laying out the next day's lessons. "We will continue tomorrow," she said, "teaching you to identify the sources of the various accents of spoken Galach."
No one else, not even Teg or Patrin, would answer his questions about the punishments. Even the guards, when he saw them afterward, refused to speak of their ordeals. Some reacted curtly to his overtures and none would play with him anymore. There was no forgiveness among the punished. That much was clear.
Damn Schwangyu! Damn Schwangyu!...
That was where his deep hatred of her began. All of the old witches shared in his hatred. Would the new young one be the same as the old ones?
When he demanded of Schwangyu: "Why did you have to punish them?" Schwangyu took some time before answering, then: "It is dangerous for you here on Gammu. There are people who wish you harm."
Duncan did not ask why. This was another area where his questions were never answered. Not even Teg would answer, although Teg's very presence emphasized the fact of that danger.
And Miles Teg was a Mentat who must know many answers. Duncan often saw the old man's eyes glisten while his thoughts went far away. But there was no Mentat response to such questions as:
"Why are we here on Gammu?"
"Who do you guard against? Who wants to harm me?"
"Who are my parents?"
Silence greeted such questions or sometimes Teg would growl: "I cannot answer you."
The library was useless. He had discovered this when he was only eight and his chief instructor was a failed Reverend Mother named Luran Geasa - not quite as ancient as Schwangyu but well along in years, more than a hundred, anyway.
At his demand, the library produced information about Gammu/Giedi Prime, about the Harkonnens and their fall, about various conflicts where Teg had commanded. None of those battles came through as very bloody; several commentators referred to Teg's "superb diplomacy." But, one datum leading to another, Duncan learned about the time of the God Emperor and the taming of his people. This period commanded Duncan's attention for weeks. He found an old map in the records and projected it on the focus wall. The commentator's superimpositions told him that this very Keep had been a Fish Speaker Command Center abandoned during the Scattering.
Duncan wished then that he had lived during their time, serving as one of the rare male advisors in the female army that had worshiped the great God Emperor.
Oh, to have lived on Rakis in those days!
Teg was surprisingly forthcoming about the God Emperor, calling him always "the Tyrant." A library lock was opened and information about Rakis came pouring out for Duncan.
"Will I ever see Rakis?" he asked Geasa.
"You are being prepared to live there."
The answer astonished him. Everything they taught him about that faraway planet came into new focus.
"Why will I live there?"
"I cannot answer that."
With renewed interest, he returned to his studies of that mysterious planet and its miserable Church of Shai-hulud, the Divided God. Worms. The God Emperor had become those worms! The idea filled Duncan with awe. Perhaps here was something worthy of worship. The thought touched a chord in him. What had driven a man to accept that terrible metamorphosis?
Duncan knew what his guards and the others in the Keep thought about Rakis and the core of priesthood there. Sneering remarks and laughter told it all. Teg said: "We'll probably never know the whole truth of it, but I tell you, lad, that's no religion for a soldier."
Schwangyu capped it: "You are to learn about the Tyrant but you are not to believe in his religion. That is beneath you, contemptible."
In every spare study moment Duncan pored over whatever the library produced for him: the Holy Book of the Divided God, the Guard Bible, the Orange Catholic Bible and even the Apocrypha. He learned about the long defunct Bureau of the Faith and "The Pearl that IS the Sun of Understanding."
The very idea of the worms fascinated him. Their size! A big one would stretch from one end of the Keep to the other. Men had ridden the pre-Tyrant worms but the Rakian priesthood forbade this now.
He found himself gripped by accounts from the archeological team that had found the Tyrant's primitive no-chamber on Rakis. Dar-es-Balat, the place was called. The reports by Archeologist Hadi Benotto were marked "Suppressed by orders of the Rakian Priesthood." The file number on the accounts from Bene Gesserit Archives was a long one and what Benotto revealed was fascinating.
"A kernel of the God Emperor's awareness in each worm?" he asked Geasa.
"So it's said. And even if true, they are not conscious, not aware. The Tyrant himself said he would enter an endless dream."
Each study session occasioned a special lecture and Bene Gesserit explanations of religion until finally he encountered those accounts called "The Nine Daughters of Siona" and "The Thousand Sons of Idaho."
Confronting Geasa, he demanded: "My name is Duncan Idaho, too. What does that mean?"
Geasa always moved as though standing in the shadow of her failure, her long head bent forward and her watery eyes aimed at the ground. The confrontation occurred near evening in the long hall outside the practice floor. She paled at his question.
When she did not answer, he demanded: "Am I descended from Duncan Idaho?"
"You must ask Schwangyu." Geasa sounded as though the words pained her.
It was a familiar response and it angered him. She meant he would be told something to shut him up, little information in the telling. Schwangyu, however, was more open than expected.
"You carry the authentic blood of Duncan Idaho."
"Who are my parents?"
"They are long dead."
"How did they die?"
"I do not know. We received you as an orphan."
"Then why do people want to harm me?"
"They fear what you may do."
"What is it I may do?"
"Study your lessons. All will be made clear to you in time."
Shut up and study! Another familiar answer.
He obeyed because he had learned to recognize when the doors were closed on him. But now his questing intelligence met other accounts of the Famine Times and the Scattering, the no-chambers and no-ships that could not be traced, not even by the most powerful prescient minds in their universe. Here, he encountered the fact that descendants of Duncan Idaho and Siona, those ancients who had served the Tyrant God Emperor, also were invisible to prophets and prescients. Not even a Guild Steersman deep in melange trance could detect such people. Siona, the accounts told him, was a true-bred Atreides and Duncan Idaho was a ghola.
He probed the library for elaborations on this peculiar word.
Ghola. The library produced for him no more than bare-boned accounts: "Gholas: humans grown from a cadaver's cells in Tleilaxu axlotl tanks."
"A Tleilaxu device for reproducing a living human being from the cells of a cadaver."
"Describe a ghola," he demanded.
"Innocent flesh devoid of its original memories. See Axlotl Tanks."
Duncan had learned to read the silences, the blank places in what the people of the Keep revealed to him. Revelation swept over him. He knew! Only ten and he knew!
I am a ghola.
Late afternoon in the library, all of the esoteric machinery around him faded into a sensory background, and a ten-year-old sat silently before a scanner hugging the knowledge to himself.
I am a ghola!
He could not remember the axlotl tanks where his cells had grown into an infant. His first memories were of Geasa picking him up from his cradle, the alert interest in those adult eyes that had so soon faded into wary lidding.
It was as though the information so grudgingly supplied him by the Keep's people and records had at last defined a central shape: himself.
"Tell me about the Bene Tleilax," he demanded of the library.
"They are a people self-divided into Face Dancers and Masters. Face Dancers are mules, sterile and submissive to the Masters."
Why did they do this to me?
The information machines of the library were suddenly alien and dangerous. He was afraid, not that his questions might meet more blank walls, but that he would receive answers.
Why am I so important to Schwangyu and the others?
He felt that they had wronged him, even Miles Teg and Patrin. Why was it right to take the cells of a human and produce a ghola?
He asked the next question with great hesitation. "Can a ghola ever remember who he was?"
"It can be done."
"The psychological identity of ghola to original pre-sets certain responses, which can be ignited by trauma."
No answer at all!
Schwangyu intruded at this point, arriving at the library unannounced. So something about his questions had been set to alert her!
"All will be made clear to you in time," she said.
She talked down to him! He sensed the injustice in it, the lack of truthfulness. Something within him said he carried more human wisdom in his unawakened self than the ones who presumed themselves so superior. His hatred of Schwangyu reached a new intensity. She was the personification of all who tantalized him and frustrated his questions.
Now, though, his imagination was on fire. He would recapture his original memories! He felt the truth of this. He would remember his parents, his family, his friends... his enemies.
He demanded it of Schwangyu: "Did you produce me because of my enemies?"
"You have already learned silence, child," she said. "Rely on that knowledge."
Very well. That's how I will fight you, damned Schwangyu. I will be silent and I will learn. I won't show you how I really feel.
"You know," she said, "I think we're raising a stoic."
She patronized him! He would not be patronized. He would fight them all with silence and watchfulness. Duncan ran from the library and huddled in his room.
In the following months, many things confirmed that he was a ghola. Even a child knew when things around him were extraordinary. He saw other children occasionally beyond the walls, walking along the perimeter road, laughing and calling. He found accounts of children in the library. Adults did not come to those children and engage them in rigorous training of the sort imposed on him. Other children did not have a Reverend Mother Schwangyu to order every smallest aspect of their lives.
His discovery precipitated another change in Duncan's life. Luran Geasa was called away from him and did not return.
She was not supposed to let me know about gholas.
The truth was somewhat more complex, as Schwangyu explained to Lucilla on the observation parapet the day of Lucilla's arrival.
"We knew the inevitable moment would come. He would learn about gholas and ask the pointed questions."
"It was high time a Reverend Mother took over his everyday education. Geasa may have been a mistake."
"Are you questioning my judgment?" Schwangyu snapped.
"Is your judgment so perfect that it may never be questioned?" In Lucilla's soft contralto, the question had the impact of a slap.
Schwangyu remained silent for almost a minute. Presently, she said: "Geasa thought the ghola was an endearing child. She cried and said she would miss him."
"Wasn't she warned about that?"
"Geasa did not have our training."
"So you replaced her with Tamalane at that time. I do not know Tamalane but I presume she is quite old."
"What was his reaction to the removal of Geasa?"
"He asked where she had gone. We did not answer."
"How did Tamalane fare?"
"On his third day with her, he told her very calmly: I hate you. Is that what I'm supposed to do?"' "So quickly!"
"Right now, he's watching you and thinking: I hate Schwangyu. Will I have to hate this new one? But he is also thinking that you are not like the other old witches. You're young. He will know that this must be important."
Humans live best when each has his place to stand, when each knows where he belongs in the scheme of things and what he may achieve. Destroy the place and you destroy the person.
Miles Teg had not wanted the Gammu assignment. Weapons master to a ghola-child? Even such a ghola-child as this one, with all of the history woven around him. It was an unwanted intrusion into Teg's well-ordered retirement.
But he had lived all of that life as a Military Mentat under the will of the Bene Gesserit and could not compute an act of disobedience.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodiet?
Who shall guard the guardians? Who shall see that the guardians commit no offenses?
This was a question that Teg had considered carefully on many occasions. It formed one of the basic tenets of his loyalty to the Bene Gesserit. Whatever else you might say about the Sisterhood, they displayed an admirable constancy of purpose.
Moral purpose, Teg labeled it.
The Bene Gesserit moral purpose agreed completely with Teg's principles. That those principles were Bene Gesserit-conditioned in him did not enter into the question. Rational thought, especially Mentat rationality, could make no other judgment.
Teg boiled it down to an essence: If only one person followed such guiding principles, this was a better universe. It was never a question of justice. Justice required one to resort to law and that could be a fickle mistress, subject always to the whims and prejudices of those who administered the laws. No, it was a question of fairness, a concept that went much deeper. The people upon whom judgment was passed must feel the fairness of it.
To Teg, statements such as "the letter of the law must be observed" were dangerous to his guiding principles. Being fair required agreement, predictable constancy and, above all else, loyalty upward and downward in the hierarchy. Leadership guided by such principles required no outside controls. You did your duty because it was right. And you did not obey because that was predictably correct. You did it because the rightness was a thing of this moment. Prediction and prescience had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
Teg knew the Atreides reputation for reliable prescience, but gnomic utterances had no place in his universe. You took the universe as you found it and applied your principles where you could. Absolute commands in the hierarchy were always obeyed. Not that Taraza had made it a question of absolute command, but the implications were there.
"You are the perfect person for this task."
He had lived a long life with many high points and he was retired with honor. Teg knew he was old, slow and with all the defects of age waiting just at the edges of his awareness, but the call to duty quickened him even while he was forced to put down the wish to say "No."
The assignment had come from Taraza personally. The powerful senior of all (including the Missionaria Protectiva) singled him out. Not just a Reverend Mother but the Reverend Mother Superior.
Taraza came to his retirement sanctuary on Lernaeus. It honored him for her to do this and he knew it. She appeared at his gate unannounced accompanied only by two acolyte servers and a small guard force, some of whose faces he recognized. Teg had trained them himself. The time of her arrival was interesting. Morning, shortly after his breakfast. She knew the patterns of his life and certainly knew that he was most alert at this hour. So she wanted him awake and at his fullest capabilities.
Patrin, Teg's old batman brought Taraza into the east wing sitting room, a small and elegant setting with only solid furniture in it. Teg's dislike of chairdogs and other living furniture was well known. Patrin had a sour look on his face as he ushered the black-robed Mother Superior into the room. Teg recognized the look immediately. Patrin's long, pale face with its many age wrinkles might appear an unmoved mask to others, but Teg was alert to the deepened wrinkles beside the man's mouth, the set stare in the old eyes. So Taraza had said something on the way in here that had disturbed Patrin.
Tall sliding doors of heavy plaz framed the room's eastward view down a long sloping lawn to trees beside the river. Taraza paused just inside the room to admire the view.
Without being told, Teg touched a button. Curtains slid across the view and glowglobes came alight. Teg's action told Taraza he had computed a need for privacy. He emphasized this by ordering Patrin: "Please see that we are not disturbed."
"The orders for the South Farm, sir," Patrin ventured.
"Please see to that yourself. You and Firus know what I want."
Patrin closed the door a little too sharply as he left, a tiny signal but it spoke much to Teg.
Taraza moved a pace into the room and examined it. "Lime green," she said. "One of my favorite colors. Your mother had a fine eye."
Teg warmed to the remark. He had a deep affection for this building and this land. His family had been here only three generations but their mark was on the place. His mother's touches had not really been changed in many rooms.
"It's safe to love land and places," Teg said.
"I particularly liked the burnt orange carpets in the hall and the stained glass fanlight over the entry door," Taraza said. "That fanlight is a real antique, I am sure."
"You did not come here to talk about interior decoration," Teg said.
She had a high-pitched voice, which the Sisterhood's training had taught her to use with devastating effectiveness. It was not a voice easy to ignore, even when she appeared most carefully casual as she did now. Teg had seen her in Bene Gesserit Council. Her manner there was powerful and persuasive, every word an indicator of the incisive mind that guided her decisions. He could sense an important decision beneath her demeanor now.
Teg indicated a green upholstered chair at his left. She glanced at it, swept her gaze once more around the room and suppressed a smile.
Not a chairdog in the house, she would wager. Teg was an antique surrounding himself with antiques. She seated herself and smoothed her robe while waiting for Teg to take a matching chair facing her.
"I regret the need to ask that you come out of retirement, Bashar, she said. "Unfortunately, circumstances give me little choice."
Teg rested his long arms casually on his chair's arms, a Mentat in repose, waiting. His attitude said: "Fill my mind with data."
Taraza was momentarily abashed. This was an imposition. Teg was still a regal figure tall and with that large head topped by gray hair. He was, she knew, four SY short of three hundred. Granting that the Standard Year was some twenty hours less than the so-called primitive year, it was still an impressive age with experiences in Bene Gesserit service that demanded that she respect him. Teg wore, she noted, a light gray uniform with no insignia: carefully tailored trousers and jacket, white shirt open at the throat to reveal a deeply wrinkled neck. There was a glint of gold at his waist and she recognized the Bashar's sunburst he had received at retirement. How like the utilitarian Teg! He had made the golden bauble into a belt buckle. This reassured her. Teg would understand her problem.
"Could I have a drink of water?" Taraza asked. "It has been a long and tiresome journey. We came the last stage by one of our transports, which we should have replaced five hundred years ago."
Teg lifted himself from the chair, went to a wall panel and removed a chilled water bottle and glass from a cabinet behind the panel. He put these on a low table at Taraza's right hand. "I have melange," he said.
"No, thank you, Miles. I've my own supply."
Teg resumed his seat and she noted the signs of stiffness. He was still remarkably supple, however, considering his years.
Taraza poured herself a half glass of water and drank it in one swallow. She replaced the glass on the side table with elaborate care. How to approach this? Teg's manner did not fool her. He did not want to leave retirement. Her analysts had warned her about that. Since retirement, he had taken more than a casual interest in farming. His extensive acreage here on Lernaeus was essentially a research garden.
She lifted her gaze and studied him openly. Square shoulders accentuated Teg's narrow waist. He still kept himself active then. That long face with its sharp lines from the strong bones: typically Atreides. Teg returned her gaze as he always did, demanding attention but open to whatever the Mother Superior might say. His thin mouth was cocked into a slight smile, exposing bright and even teeth.
He knows I'm uncomfortable, she thought. Damn it! He's just as much a servant of the Sisterhood as I am!
Teg did not prompt her with questions. His manner remained impeccable, curiously withdrawn. She reminded herself that this was a common trait of Mentats and nothing else should be read into it.
Abruptly, Teg stood and strode to a sideboard at Taraza's left. He turned, folded his arms across his breast and leaned there looking down at her.
Taraza was forced to swivel her chair to face him. Damn him! Teg was not going to make this any easier for her. All of the Reverend Mother Examiners had remarked a difficulty in getting Teg to sit for conversation. He preferred to stand, his shoulders held with military stiffness, his gaze aimed downward. Few Reverend Mothers matched his height - more than two meters. This trait, the analysts agreed, was Teg's way (probably unconscious) of protesting the Sisterhood's authority over him. None of this, however, showed itself in his other behavior. Teg had always been the most reliable military commander the Sisterhood had ever employed.
In a multisociety universe whose major binding forces interacted with complexity despite the simplicity of labels, reliable military commanders were worth their weight in melange many times over. Religions and the common memory of imperial tyrannies always figured in the negotiations but it was economic forces that eventually carried the day and the military coin could be entered on anybody's adding machine. It was there in every negotiation and would be for as long as necessity drove the trading system - the need for particular things (such as spice or the technoproducts of Ix), the need for specialists (such as Mentats or Suk doctors), and all of the other mundane needs for which there were markets: for labor forces, for builders, for designers, for planiformed life, for artists, for exotic pleasures...
No legal system could bind such complexity into a whole and this fact quite obviously brought up another necessity - the constant need for arbiters with clout. Reverend Mothers had naturally fallen into this role within the economic web and Miles Teg knew this. He also knew that he was once more being brought out as a bargaining chip. Whether he enjoyed that role did not figure in the negotiations.
"It's not as though you had any family to hold you here," Taraza said.
Teg accepted this silently. Yes, his wife had been dead thirty-eight years now. His children were all grown and, with the exception of one daughter, gone from the nest. He had his many personal interests but no family obligations. True.
Taraza reminded him then of his long and faithful service to the Sisterhood, citing several memorable achievements. She knew the praise would have little effect on him but it provided her with a needed opening for what must follow.
"You have been apprised of your familial resemblance," she said.
Teg inclined his head no more than a millimeter.
"Your resemblance to the first Leto Atreides, grandfather of the Tyrant, is truly remarkable," she said.
Teg gave no sign that he heard or agreed. This was merely a datum, something already stored in his copious memory. He knew he bore Atreides genes. He had seen the likeness of Leto I at Chapter House. It had been oddly like looking into a mirror.
"You're a bit taller," Taraza said.
Teg continued to stare down at her.
"Damn it all, Bashar," Taraza said, "will you at least try to help me?"
"Is that an order, Mother Superior?"
"No, it's not an order!"
Teg smiled slowly. The fact that Taraza allowed herself such an explosion in front of him said many things. She would not do that with people she felt were untrustworthy. And she certainly would not permit herself such an emotional display with a person she considered merely an underling.
Taraza sat back in her chair and grinned up at him. "All right," she said. "You've had your fun. Patrin said you would be most upset with me if I called you back to duty. I assure you that you are crucial to our plans."
"What plans, Mother Superior?"
"We are raising a Duncan Idaho ghola on Gammu. He is almost six years old and ready for military education."
Teg allowed his eyes to widen slightly.
"It will be a taxing duty for you," Taraza said, "but I want you to take over his training and protection as soon as possible."
"My likeness to the Atreides Duke," Teg said. "You will use me to restore his original memories."
"In eight or ten years, yes."
"That long!" Teg shook his head. "Why Gammu?"
"His prana-bindu inheritance has been altered by the Bene Tleilax, at our orders. His reflexes will match in speed those of anyone born in our times. Gammu... the original Duncan Idaho was born and raised there. Because of the changes in his cellular inheritance we must keep all else as close to the original conditions as possible."
"Why are you doing this?" It was a Mentat's data-conscious tone.
"A female child with the ability to control the worms had been discovered on Rakis. We will have use for our ghola there."
"You will breed them?"
"I am not engaging you as a Mentat. It is your military abilities and your likeness to the original Leto that we need. You know how to restore his original memories when the time comes."
"So you're really bringing me back as a Weapons Master."
"You think that's a comedown for the man who was Supreme Bashar of all our forces?"
"Mother Superior, you command and I obey. But I will not accept this post without full command of all of Gammu's defenses."
"That already has been arranged, Miles."
"You always did know how my mind works."
"And I've always been confident of your loyalty."
Teg pushed himself away from the sideboard and stood a moment in thought, then: "Who will brief me?"
"Bellonda from Records, the same as before. She will provide you with a cipher to secure the exchange of messages between us."
"I will give you a list of people," Teg said. "Old comrades and the children of some of them. I will want all of them waiting on Gammu when I arrive."
"You don't think any of them will refuse?"
His look said: "Don't be silly!"
Taraza chuckled and she thought: There's a thing we learned well from the original Atreides - how to produce people who command the utmost devotion and loyalty.
"Patrin will handle the recruiting," Teg said. "He won't accept rank I know, but he's to get the full pay and courtesies of a colonel-aide."
"You will, of course, be restored to the rank of Supreme Bashar," she said. "We will..."
"No. You have Burzmali. We will not weaken him by bringing back his old Commander over him."
She studied him a moment, then: "We have not yet commissioned Burzmali as..."
"I am well aware of that. My old comrades keep me fully informed of Sisterhood politics. But you and I, Mother Superior, know it's only a matter of time. Burzmali is the best."
She could only accept this. It was more than a military Mentat's assessment. It was Teg's assessment. Another thought struck her.
"Then you already knew about our dispute in Council!" she accused. "And you let me..."
"Mother Superior, if I thought you would produce another monster on Rakis, I would have said so. You trust my decisions; I trust yours."
"Damn you, Miles, we've been apart too long." Taraza stood. "I feel calmer just knowing you'll be back in harness."
"Harness," he said. "Yes. Reinstate me as a Bashar on special assignment. That way, when word gets back to Burzmali, there'll be no silly questions."
Taraza produced a sheaf of ridulian papers from beneath her robe and passed them to Teg. "I've already signed these. Fill in your own reinstatement. The other authorizations are all there, transport vouchers and so on. I give you these orders personally. You are to obey me. You are my Bashar, do you understand?"
"Wasn't I always?" he asked.
"It's more important than ever now. Keep that ghola safe and train him well. He's your responsibility. And I will back you in that against anyone."
"I hear Schwangyu commands on Gammu."
"Against anyone Miles. Don't trust Schwangyu."
"I see. Will you lunch with us? My daughter has..."
"Forgive me, Miles, but I must get back soonest. I will send Bellonda at once."
Teg saw her to the door, exchanged a few pleasantries with his old students in her party and watched as they left. They had an armored groundcar waiting in the drive, one of the new models that they obviously had brought with them. Sight of it gave Teg an uneasy feeling.
Taraza had come in person, the Mother Superior herself on a messenger's errand, knowing what that would reveal to him. Knowing so intimately how the Sisterhood performed, he saw the revelation in what had just happened. The dispute in the Bene Gesserit Council went far deeper than his informants had suggested.
"You are my Bashar."
Teg glanced through the sheaf of authorizations and vouchers Taraza had left with him. Already carrying her seal and signature. The trust this implied added to the other things he sensed and increased his disquiet.
"Don't trust Schwangyu."
He slipped the papers into his pocket and went in search of Patrin. Patrin would have to be briefed, and mollified. They would have to discuss whom to call in for this assignment. He began to list some of the names in his mind. Dangerous duty ahead. It called for only the best people. Damn! Everything on the estate here would have to be passed over to Firus and Dimela. So many details! He felt his pulse quicken as he strode through the house.
Passing a house guard, one of his old soldiers, Teg paused: "Martin, cancel all of my appointments for today. Find my daughter and tell her to meet me in my study."
Word spread through the house and, from there, across the estate. Servants and family, knowing that The Reverend Mother Superior had just conversed privately with him, automatically set up a protective screen to keep idle distractions away from Teg. His eldest daughter, Dimela, cut him short when he tried to list details necessary to carry on his experimental farm projects.
"Father, I am not an infant!"
They were in the small greenhouse attached to his study. Remains of Teg's lunch sat on the corner of a potting bench. Patrin's notebook was propped against the wall behind, the luncheon tray.
Teg looked sharply at his daughter. Dimela favored him in appearance but not in height. Too angular to be a beauty but she had made a good marriage. They had three fine children, Dimela and Firus.
"Where is Firus?" Teg asked.
"He's out seeing to the replanting of the South Farm."
"Oh, yes. Patrin mentioned that."
Teg smiled. It had always pleased him that Dimela had refused the Sisterhood's bid, preferring to marry Firus, a native of Lernaeus, and remain in her father's entourage.
"All I know is that they're calling you back to duty," Dimela said. "Is it a dangerous assignment?"
"You know, you sound exactly like your mother," Teg said.
"So it is dangerous! Damn them, haven't you done enough for them?"
She turned away from him as Patrin entered the far end of the greenhouse. He heard her speak to Patrin as they passed.
"The older he gets the more he gets like a Reverend Mother himself!"
What else could she expect? Teg wondered. The son of a Reverend Mother, fathered by a minor functionary of the Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles, he had matured in a household that moved to the Sisterhood's beat. It had been apparent to him at an early age that his father's allegiance to CHOAM's interplanetary trading network vanished when his mother objected.
This house had been his mother's house until her death less than a year after his father died. The imprint of her choices lay all around him.
Patrin stopped in front of him. "I came back for my notebook. Have you added any names?"
"A few. You'd better get right on it."
"Yes, sir!" Patrin did a smart about-face and strode back the way he had come, slapping the notebook against his leg.
He feels it, too, Teg thought.
Once more, Teg glanced around him. This house was still his mother's place. After all the years he had lived here, raised a family here! Still her place. Oh, he had built this greenhouse, but the study there had been her private room.
Janet Roxbrough of the Lernaeus Roxbroughs. The furnishings, the decor, still her place. Taraza had seen that. He and his wife had changed some of the surface objects, but the core remained Janet Roxbrough's. No question about the Fish Speaker blood in that lineage. What a prize she had been for the Sisterhood! That she had wed Loschy Teg and lived out her life here, that was the oddity. An undigestible fact until you knew how the Sisterhood's breeding designs worked over the generations.
They've done it again, Teg thought. They've had me waiting in the wings all these years just for this moment.
Has not religion claimed a patent on creation for all of these millennia?
The air of Tleilax was crystalline, gripped by a stillness that was part the morning chill and part a sense of fearful crouching, as though life waited out there in the city of Bandalong, life anticipating and ravenous, which would not stir until it received his personal signal. The Mahai, Tylwyth Waff, Master of the Masters, enjoyed this hour more than any other of the day. The city was his now as he looked out through his open window. Bandalong would come alive only at his command. This was what he told himself. The fear that he could sense out there was his hold on any reality that might arise from that incubating reservoir of life: the Tleilaxu civilization that had originated here and then spread its powers afar.
They had waited millennia for this time, his people. Waff savored the moment now. All through the bad times of the Prophet Leto II (not God Emperor but God's Messenger), all through the Famines and the Scattering, through every painful defeat at the hands of lesser creatures, through all of those agonies the Tleilaxu had built their patient forces for this moment.
We have come to our moment, O Prophet!
The city that lay beneath his high window he saw as a symbol, one strong mark on the page of Tleilaxu design. Other Tleilaxu planets, other great cities, interlinked, interdependent, and with central allegiance to his God and his city, awaited the signal that all of them knew must come soon. The twinned forces of Face Dancers and Masheikh had compressed their powers in preparation for the cosmic leap. The millennia of waiting were about to end.
Waff thought of it as "the long beginning."
Yes. He nodded to himself as he looked at the crouching city. From its inception, from that infinitesimal kernel of an idea, Bene Tleilax leaders had understood the perils of a plan so extended, so protracted, so convoluted and subtle. They had known they must surmount near disaster time and again, accept galling losses, submissions and humiliations. All of this and much more had gone into the construction of a particular Bene Tleilax image. By those millennia of pretense they had created a myth.
"The vile, detestable, dirty Tleilaxu! The stupid Tleilaxu! The predictable Tleilaxu! The impetuous Tleilaxu!"
Even the Prophet's minions had fallen prey to this myth. A captive Fish Speaker had stood in this very room and shouted at a Tleilaxu Master: "Long pretense creates a reality! You are truly vile!" So they had killed her and the Prophet did nothing.
How little all of those alien worlds and peoples understood Tleilaxu restraint. Impetuosity? Let them reconsider after the Bene Tleilax demonstrated how many millennia they were capable of waiting for their ascendancy.
Waff rolled the ancient word on his tongue: The span of the bow! How far back you draw the bow before releasing your arrow. This arrow would strike deep!
"The Masheikh have waited longer than any other," Waff whispered. He dared to utter the word to himself here in his tower fastness: "Masheikh."
The rooftops below him glittered as the sun lifted. He could hear the stirrings of the city's life. The sweet bitterness of Tleilaxu smells drifted on the air coming in his window. Waff inhaled deeply and closed his window.
He felt renewed by his moment of solitary observation. Turning away from the window, he donned the white khilat robe of honor to which all Domel were conditioned to bow. The robe completely covered his short body, giving him the distinct feeling that it actually was armor.
The armor of God!
"We are the people of the Yaghist," he had reminded his councillors only last night. "All else is frontier. We have fostered the myth of our weakness and evil practices for these millennia with only one purpose. Even the Bene Gesserit believe!"
Seated in the deep, windowless sagra with its no-chamber shield, his nine councillors had smiled in silent appreciation of his words. In the judgment of the ghufran, they knew. The stage upon which the Tleilaxu determined their own destiny had always been the kehl with its right of ghufran.
It was proper that even Waff, the most powerful of all Tleilaxu, could not leave his world and be readmitted without abasing himself in the ghufran, begging pardon for contact with the unimaginable sins of aliens. To go out among the powindah could soil even the mightiest. The khasadars who policed all Tleilaxu frontiers and guarded the selamliks of the women were right to suspect even Waff. He was of the people and the kehl, yes, but he must prove it each time he left the heartland and returned, and certainly every time he entered the selamlik for the distribution of his sperm.
Waff crossed to his long mirror and inspected himself and his robe. To the powindahs, he knew, he appeared an elfin figure barely a meter and a half tall. Eyes, hair, and skin were shades of gray, all a stage for the oval face with its tiny mouth and line of sharp teeth. A Face Dancer might mimic his features and pose, might dissemble at a Masheikh's command, but no Masheikh or khasadar would be fooled. Only the powindahs would be gulled.
Except for the Bene Gesserit!
This thought brought a scowl to his face. Well, the witches had yet to encounter one of the new Face Dancers.
No other people have mastered the genetic language as well as have the Bene Tleilax, he reassured himself. We are right to call it "the language of God," for God Himself has given us this great power.
Waff strode to his door and waited for the morning bell. There was no way, he thought, to describe the richness of emotion he felt now. Time unfolded for him. He did not ask why the Prophet's true message had been heard only by the Bene Tleilax. It had been God's doing and, in that, the Prophet had been the Arm of God, worthy of respect as God's Messenger.
You prepared them for us, O Prophet.
And the ghola on Gammu, this ghola at this time, was worth all of the waiting.
The morning bell sounded and Waff strode out into the hall, turned with other emerging white-robed figures and went onto the eastern balcony to greet the sun. As the Mahai and Abdl of his people, he now could identify himself with all Tleilaxu.
We are the legalists of the Shariat, the last of our kind in the universe.
Nowhere outside the sealed chambers of his malik-brothers could he reveal such a secret thought but he knew it was a thought shared in every mind around him now, and the workings of that thought were visible in Masheikh, Domel and Face Dancer alike. The paradox of kinship ties and a sense of social identity that permeated the khel from Masheikh down to the lowliest Domel was not a paradox to Waff.
We work for the same God.
A Face Dancer in the guise of Domel had bowed and opened the balcony doors. Waff, emerging into sunlight with his many companions close around, smiled at recognition of the Face Dancer. A Domel yet! It was a kin joke but Face Dancers were not kin. They were constructs, tools, just as the ghola on Gammu was a tool, all designed with the language of God spoken only by Masheikhs.
With the others who pressed close around him Waff made obeisance to the sun. He uttered the cry of the Abdl and heard it echoed by countless voices from the farthest reaches of the city.
"The sun is not God!" he shouted.
No, the sun was only a symbol of God's infinite powers and mercy - another construct, another tool. Feeling cleansed by his passage through the ghufran the previous night, renewed by the morning ritual, Waff could think now about the trip outward to powindah places and the return just completed, which had made ghufran necessary. Other worshipers made way for him as he went back to the inner corridors and entered the slide passage that dropped him to the central garden where he had asked his councillors to meet him.
It was a successful foray among the powindah, he thought.
Every time he left the inner worlds of the Bene Tleilax Waff felt himself to be on lashkar, a war party seeking that ultimate revenge which his people named secretly as Bodal (always capitalized and always the first thing reaffirmed in ghufran or khel). This most recent lashkar had been exquisitely successful.
Waff emerged from the slide into a central garden filled with sunlight by prismatic reflectors on the surrounding rooftops. A small fountain played its visual fugue at the heart of a graveled circle. A low fence of white palings at one side enclosed a closely cropped lawn, a space near enough to the fountain that the air would be moist but not so close that the splashing water would intrude on low-voiced conversation. Around the grassy enclosure, ten narrow benches of an ancient plastic were arranged - nine of them in a semicircle facing a tenth bench set slightly apart.
Pausing at the edge of the grassy enclosure, Waff glanced around him, wondering why he had never before felt quite this intense pleasure at sight of the place. The dark blue of the benches was intrinsic to the material. Centuries of use had worn the benches into soft curves along the arm rests and where countless bottoms had planted themselves, but the color was just as strong in the worn places as it was elsewhere.
Waff sat down facing his nine councillors, marshaling the words he knew he must use. The document he had brought back from his latest lashkar, indeed, the very reason for that excursion, could not have been more exquisitely timed. The label on it and the words carried a mighty message for the Tleilaxu.
From an inner pocket Waff removed the thin sheaf of ridulian crystal. He noted the quickened interest of his councillors: nine faces similar to his own, Masheikhs of the innermost kehl. All reflected expectancy. They had read this document in kehl: "The Atreides Manifesto." They had spent a night of reflection on the manifesto's message. Now, the words must be confronted. Waff placed the document on his lap.
"I propose to spread these words far and wide," Waff said.
"Without change?" That was Mirlat, the councillor closest to ghola-transformation among all of them. Mirlat no doubt aspired to Abdl and Mahai. Waff focused on the councillor's wide jaws where the cartilage had grown over the centuries as a visible mark of his current body's great age.
"Exactly as it has come into our hands," Waff said.
"Dangerous," Mirlat said.
Waff turned his head to the right, his childlike profile outlined against the fountain for his councillors to observe. God's hand is on my right! The sky above him was polished carnelian as though Bandalong, the most ancient city of the Tleilaxu, had been built under one of those gigantic artificial covers erected to protect pioneers on the harsher planets. When he returned his attention to his councillors, Waff's features remained bland.
"Not dangerous to us," he said.
"A matter of opinion," Mirlat said.
"Then let us consider opinions," Waff said. "Have we a need to fear Ix or the Fish Speakers? Indeed not. They are ours, although they do not know it."
Waff let this sink in; all of them knew that new Face Dancers sat in the highest councils of Ix and Fish Speakers, the exchange undetected.
"The Guild will not move against us or oppose us because we are their only secure source of melange," Waff said.
"Then what of these Honored Matres returned from the Scattering?" Mirlat demanded.
"We will deal with them when it is required of us," Waff said. "And we will be helped by the descendants of our own people who voluntarily went out into the Scattering."
"The time does appear opportune," one of the other councillors murmured.
It was Torg the Younger who had spoken, Waff observed. Good. There was a vote secured.
"The Bene Gesserit!" Mirlat snapped.
"I think the Honored Matres will remove the witches from our path," Waff said. "Already they growl against each other like animals in the fighting pit."
"What if the author of that manifesto is identified?" Mirlat demanded. "What then?"
Several heads nodded among the councillors. Waff marked them: people to be won over.
"It is dangerous to be called Atreides in this age," he said.
"Except perhaps on Gammu," Mirlat said. "And the name Atreides has been signed to that document!"
How odd, Waff thought. The CHOAM representative at the powindah conference that had taken Waff away from the inner planets of Tleilax had emphasized that very point. But most of CHOAM's people were secret atheists who looked on all religion as suspect, and certainly the Atreides had been a potent religious force. CHOAM worries had been almost palpable.
Waff recounted this CHOAM reaction now.
"This CHOAM hireling, damn his Godless soul, is right," Mirlat insisted. "The document's insidious."
Mirlat will have to be dealt with, Waff thought. He lifted the manifesto from his lap and read the first line aloud:
"In the beginning was the word and the word was God."
"Directly from the Orange Catholic Bible," Mirlat said. Once more, heads nodded in worried agreement.
Waff showed the points of his canines in a brief smile. "Do you suggest that there are those among the powindah who suspect the existence of the Shariat and the Masheikhs?"
It felt good to speak these words openly, reminding his listeners that only here among the innermost Tleilaxu were the old words and the old language preserved without change. Did Mirlat or any of the others fear that Atreides words could subvert the Shariat?
Waff posed this question, too, and saw the worried frowns.
"Is there one among you," Waff asked, "who believes that a single powindah knows how we use the language of God?"
There! Let them think on that! Every one of them here had been wakened time after time in ghola flesh. There was a fleshly continuity in this Council that no other people had ever achieved. Mirlat himself had seen the Prophet with his own eyes. Scytale had spoken to Muad'dib! Learning how the flesh could be renewed and the memories restored, they had condensed this power into a single government whose potency was confined lest it be demanded everywhere. Only the witches had a similar storehouse of experience upon which to draw and they moved with fearful caution, terrified that they might produce another Kwisatz Haderach!
Waff said these things to his councillors, adding: "The time for action has come."
When no one spoke disagreement, Waff said: "This manifesto has a single author. Every analysis agrees. Mirlat?"
"Written by one person and that person a true Atreides, no doubt of it," Mirlat agreed.
"All at the powindah conference affirmed this," Waff said. "Even a third-stage Guild steersman agrees."
"But that one person has produced a thing that excites violent reactions among diverse peoples," Mirlat argued.
"Have we ever questioned the Atreides talent for disruption?" Waff asked. "When the powindah showed me this document I knew God had sent us a signal."
"Do the witches still deny authorship?" Torg the Younger asked.
How alertly apt he is, Waff thought.
"Every powindah religion is called into question by this manifesto," Waff said. "Every faith except ours is left hanging in limbo."
"Exactly the problem!" Mirlat pounced.
"But only we know this," Waff said. "Who else even suspects the existence of the Shariat?"
"The Guild," Mirlat said.
"They have never spoken of it and they never will. They know what our response would be."
Waff lifted the sheaf of papers from his lap and again read aloud:
"Forces that we cannot understand permeate our universe. We see the shadows of those forces when they are projected upon a screen available to our senses, but understand them we do not."
"The Atreides who wrote that knows of the Shariat," Mirlat muttered.
Waff continued reading as though there had been no interruption:
"Understanding requires words. Some things cannot be reduced to words. There are things that can only be experienced wordlessly."
As though he handled a holy relic, Waff returned the document to his lap. Softly, so that his listeners were required to bend toward him and some cupped a hand behind an ear, Waff said: "This says our universe is magical. It says all arbitrary forms are transient and subject to magical changes. Science has led us to this interpretation as though it placed us on a track from which we cannot deviate."
He allowed these words to fester for a moment, then: "No Rakian priest of the Divided God nor any other powindah charlatan can accept that. Only we know it because our God is a magical God whose language we speak."
"We will be accused of the authorship," Mirlat said. The moment he had spoken, Mirlat shook his head sharply from side to side. "No! I see it. I see what you mean."
Waff held his silence. He could see that all of them were reflecting on their Sufi origins, recalling the Great Belief and the Zensunni ecumenism that had spawned the Bene Tleilax. The people of this kehl knew the God-given facts of their origins but generations of secrecy assured that no powindah shared their knowledge.
Words flowed silently through Waff's mind: "Assumptions based on understanding contain belief in an absolute ground out of which all things spring like plants growing from seeds."
Knowing that his councillors also recalled this catechism of the Great Belief, Waff reminded them of the Zensunni admonition.
"Behind such assumptions lies a faith in words that the powindah do not question. Only the Shariat question and we do so silently."
His councillors nodded in unison.
Waff inclined his head slightly and continued: "The act of saying that things exist that cannot be described in words shakes a universe where words are the supreme belief."
"Powindah poison!" his councillors shouted.
He had them all now and Waff hammered home his victory by demanding: "What is the Sufi-Zensunni Credo?"
They could not speak it but all reflected on it: To achieve s'tori no understanding is needed. S'tori exists without words, without even a name.
In a moment, all of them looked up and exchanged knowing glances. Mirlat took it upon himself to recite the Tleilaxu pledge:
"I can say God, but that is not my God. That is only a noise and no more potent than any other noise."
"I now see," Waff said, "that you all sense the power that has fallen into our hands through this document. Millions upon millions of copies already are being circulated among the powindah."
"Who does this?" Mirlat asked.
"Who cares?" Waff countered. "Let the powindah chase after them, seeking their origin, trying to suppress them, preaching against them. With each such action, the powindah inject more power into these words."
"Should we not preach against these words, too?" Mirlat asked.
"Only if the occasion demands it," Waff said. "See you!" He slapped the papers against his knees. "The powindah have constricted their awareness to its tightest purpose and that is their weakness. We must insure that this manifesto gains as wide a circulation as possible."
"The magic of our God is our only bridge," the councillors intoned.
All of them, Waff observed, had been restored to the central security of their faith. It had been easily managed. No Masheikh shared the powindah stupidity that whined: "In thy infinite grace, God, why me?" In one sentence, the powindah invoked infinity and denied it, never once observing their own foolishness "Scytale," Waff said.
The youngest and most baby-faced of the councillors, seated at the far left as was fitting, leaned forward eagerly.
"Arm the faithful," Waff said.
"I marvel that an Atreides has given us this weapon," Mirlat said. "How can it be that the Atreides always fasten upon an ideal that enlists the billions who must follow?"
"It is not the Atreides, it is God," Waff said. He lifted his arms then and spoke the closing ritual: "The Masheikh have met in kehl and felt the presence of their God."
Waff closed his eyes and waited for the others to leave. Masheikh! How good it was to name themselves in kehl, speaking the language of Islamiyat, which no Tleilaxu spoke outside his own secret councils; not even to Face Dancers did they speak it. Nowhere in the Wekht of Jandola, not to the farthest reaches of the Tleilaxu Yaghist, was there a living powindah who knew this secret.
Yaghist, Waff thought, rising from his bench. Yaghist, the land of the unruled.
He thought he could feel the document vibrating in his hand. This Atreides Manifesto was the very kind of thing the masses of powindah would follow to their doom.
Some days it's melange; some days it's bitter dirt.
In her third year with the priests of Rakis, the girl Sheeana lay full length atop a high curving dune. She peered into the morning distance where a great rumbling friction could be heard. The light was a ghostly silver that frosted the horizon with filmy haze. The night's chill still lay on the sand.
She knew the priests were watching her from the safety of their water-girded tower some two kilometers behind her, but this gave her little concern. The trembling of the sand beneath her body demanded full attention.
It's a big one, she thought. Seventy meters at least. A beautiful big one.
The gray stillsuit felt slick and smooth against her skin. It had none of the abrasive patches of the old hand-me-down she had worn before the priests took her into their care. She felt thankful for the fine stillsuit and the thick robe of white and purple that covered it, but most of all she felt the excitement of being here. Something rich and dangerous filled her at moments such as this.
The priests did not understand what happened here. She knew this. They were cowards. She glanced over her shoulder at the distant tower and saw sunglint on lenses.
A precocious child of eleven standard years, slender and dark-skinned with sun-streaked brown hair, she could visualize clearly what the priests saw through their spying lenses.
They see me doing what they do not dare. They see me in the path of Shaitan. I look very small on the sand and Shaitan looks very big. They can see him already.
From the rasping sound, she knew that she, too, would soon see the giant worm. Sheeana did not think of the approaching monster as Shai-hulud, God of the sands, a thing the priests chanted each morning in obeisance to the pearl of Leto II's awareness that lay encapsulated in each of the multi-ridged rulers of the desert. She thought of the worms mainly as "they who spared me," or as Shaitan.
They belonged to her now.
It was a relationship begun slightly more than three years ago during the month of her eighth birthday, the Month Igat by the old calendar. Her village had been a poor one, a pioneer venture built far beyond more secure barriers such as the qanats and ring canals of Keen. Only a moat of damp sand guarded such pioneer places. Shaitan avoided water but the sandtrout vector soon took away any dampness. Precious moisture captured in windtraps had to be expended each day to renew the barrier. Her village was a miserable cluster of shacks and hovels with two small windtraps, adequate for drinking water but with only a sporadic surplus that could be apportioned to the worm barrier.
That morning - much like this morning, the night's chill sharp in her nose and lungs, the horizon constricted by a ghostly haze - most of the village children had fanned out into the desert, there to seek bits and fragments of melange, which Shaitan sometimes left behind in his passage. Two big ones had been heard nearby in the night. Melange, even at modern deflated prices, could buy the glazed bricks to line a third windtrap.
Each searching child not only looked for the spice but also sought those signs which would reveal one of the old Fremen sietch strongholds. There were only remnants of such places now but the rock barriers provided a greater security against Shaitan. And some of the remnant sietch places were reputed to contain lost hoards of melange. Every villager dreamed of such a discovery.
Sheeana, wearing her patched stillsuit and flimsy robe, went alone to the northeast, toward the faraway smoky mound of air that told of the great city of Keen with its moisture richness lifting into the sun-warmed breezes.
Hunting scraps of melange in the sand was largely a matter of focusing attention into the nostrils. It was a form of concentration that left only bits of awareness attuned to the rasping sand that told of Shaitan's approach. Leg muscles moved automatically in the non-rhythmic walk that blended with the desert's natural sounds.
At first, Sheeana did not hear the screaming. It fitted intimately into the saltated friction of windblown sand across the barracans that concealed the village from her sight. Slowly the sound penetrated her consciousness and then it demanded her attention.
Many voices screaming!
Sheeana discarded the desert precaution of random strides. Moving swiftly as her childish muscles would carry her, she scrambled up the slipface of the barracan and stared along it toward that terrifying sound. She was in time to see that which cut off the last of the screams.
Wind and sandtrout had dried a wide arc of the barrier at the far side of her village. She could see the gap by the color difference. A wild worm had penetrated the opening. It circled close inside the remaining dampness. The gigantic flame-shadowed mouth scooped up people and hovels in a swiftly tightening circle.
Sheeana saw the last survivors huddled at the center of this destruction, a space already cleared of its rude hovels and tumbled with the remains of the windtraps. Even as she watched, some of the people tried to break away into the desert. Sheeana recognized her father among the frantic runners. None escaped. The great mouth engulfed all before turning to level the last of the village.
Smoking sand remained and nothing else of the puny village that had dared to claim a scrap of Shaitan's domain. The place where the village had been was as unmarked by human habitation as it had been before anyone walked there.
Sheeana took a gasping breath, inhaling through her nose to preserve the moisture of her body as any good child of the desert would do. She scanned the horizon for a sign of the other children but Shaitan's track had left great curves and loops all around the far side of the village. Not a single human remained in view. She shouted, the high-pitched cry that would carry far through the dry air. No response came back to her.
She moved trancelike along the ridge of the dune toward where her village had been. As she neared the place a great wave of cinnamon odor filled her nostrils, carried on the wind that still dusted the tops of the dunes. She realized then what had happened. The village had been sited disastrously atop a pre-spice blow. As the great hoard far under the sand came to fruition, expanding in an explosion of melange, Shaitan had come. Every child knew Shaitan could not resist a spiceblow.
Rage and wild desperation began to fill Sheeana. Mindlessly, she raced down the dune toward Shaitan, coming up behind the worm as it turned back through the dry place where it had entered the village. Without thought, she dashed along beside the tail, scrambled onto it and ran forward along the great ridged back. At the hump behind its mouth, she crouched and beat her fists against the unyielding surface.
The worm stopped.
Her anger suddenly converted to terror, Sheeana broke off pounding on the worm. She realized only then that she had been screaming. A terrible sense of lonely exposure filled her. She did not know how she had come here. She knew only where she was and this gripped her with an agony of fear.
The worm continued quiescent on the sand.
Sheeana did not know what to do. At any moment, the worm could roll over and crush her. Or it could burrow beneath the sand, leaving her on the surface to be scooped up at leisure.
Abruptly, a long tremor worked its way down the worm's length from its tail to Sheeana's position behind the mouth. The worm began to move ahead. It turned in a wide arc and gathered speed on a course to the northeast.
Sheeana leaned forward and gripped the leading edge of a ring ridge on the worm's back. She feared that any second it would slide beneath the sand. What could she do then? But Shaitan did not burrow. As minutes passed without any deviation from that straight and swift passage across the dunes, Sheeana found her mind working once more. She knew about this ride. The priests of the Divided God forbade it but the histories, both written and oral, said Fremen rode thus in the ancient days. Fremen stood tall atop Shaitan's back supported by slender poles with hooked ends. The priests decreed that this had been done before Leto II shared His consciousness with the God of the desert. Now, nothing was permitted that might demean the scattered bits of Leto II.
With a speed that astonished her, the worm carried Sheeana toward the mist-dazzled shape of Keen. The great city lay like a mirage on the distorted horizon. Sheeana's threadbare robe whipped against the thin surface of her patched stillsuit. Her fingers ached where she gripped the leading edge of the giant ring. The cinnamon, burnt-rock and ozone of the worm's heat exchange swept over her on shifts in the wind.
Keen began to gain definition ahead of her.
The priests will see me and be angry, she thought.
She identified the low brick structures that marked the first line of qanats and, beyond them, the enclosed barrel-curve of a surface aqueduct. Above these structures rose the walls of terraced gardens and the high profiles of giant windtraps, then the temple complex within its own water barriers.
A day's march across open sand in little more than an hour!
Her parents and village neighbors had made this journey many times for trade and to join in the dancing but Sheeana had only accompanied them twice. She remembered mostly the dancing and the violence that followed. The size of Keen filled her with awe. So many buildings! So many people! Shaitan could not harm such a place as that.
But the worm plunged straight ahead as though it would ride over qanat and aqueduct. Sheeana stared at the city rising higher and higher in front of her. Fascination subdued her terror. Shaitan was not going to stop!
The worm ground to a halt.
The tubular surface vents of the qanat lay no more than fifty meters in front of its gaping mouth. She smelled the hot cinnamon exhalations, heard the deep rumblings of Shaitan's interior furnace.
It became apparent to her at last that the journey had ended. Slowly, Sheeana released her grip on the ring. She stood, expecting any moment the worm would renew its motion. Shaitan remained quiescent. Moving cautiously, she slid off her perch and dropped to the sand. She paused there. Would it move now? She held a vague idea of dashing for the qanat but this worm fascinated her. Slipping and sliding in the disturbed sand, Sheeana moved around to the front of the worm and stared into the fearsome mouth. Within the frame of crystal teeth flames rolled forward and backward. A searing exhalation of spice odors swept over her.
The madness of that first dash down off the dune and onto the worm came back to Sheeana. "Damn you, Shaitan!" she shouted, shaking a fist at the awful mouth. "What did we ever do to you?"
These were words she had heard her mother use at the destruction of a tuber garden. No part of Sheeana's awareness had ever questioned that name, Shaitan, nor her mother's fury. She was of the poorest dregs at the bottom of the Rakian heap and she knew it. Her people believed in Shaitan first and Shai-hulud second. Worms were worms and often much worse. There was no justice on the open sand. Only danger lurked there. Poverty and fear of priests might drive her people onto the perilous dunes but they moved even then with the same angry persistence that had driven the Fremen.
This time, however, Shaitan had won.
It entered Sheeana's awareness that she stood in the deadly path. Her thoughts, not yet fully formed, recognized only that she had done a crazy thing. Much later, as the Sisterhood's teachings rounded her consciousness, she would realize that she had been overcome by the terror of loneliness. She had wanted Shaitan to take her into the company of her dead.
A grating sound issued from beneath the worm.
Sheeana stifled a scream.
Slowly at first, then faster, the worm backed off several meters. It turned there and gathered speed beside the twin-mounded track it had created coming from the desert. The grating of its passage diminished in the distance. Sheeana grew aware of another sound. She lifted her gaze to the sky. The thwock-thwock of a priestly ornithopter swept over her, brushing her with its shadow. The craft glistened in the morning sunlight as it followed the worm into the desert.
Sheeana felt a more familiar fear then.
She kept her gaze on the 'thopter. It hovered in the distance, then returned to settle gently onto a patch of worm-smoothed sand nearby. She could smell the lubricants and the sickly acridity of the 'thopter's fuel. The thing was a giant insect nestled on the sand, waiting to pounce upon her.
A hatch popped open.
Sheeana threw back her shoulders and stood her ground. Very well; they had caught her. She knew what to expect now. Nothing could be gained by flight. Only the priests used 'thopters. They could go anywhere and see anything.
Two richly robed priests, their garments all gold and white with purple trim, emerged and ran toward her across the sand. They knelt in front of Sheeana so close she could smell their perspiration and the musky melange incense which permeated their clothing. They were young but much like all the priests she could remember: soft of features, uncalloused hands, careless of their moisture losses. Neither of them wore a stillsuit under those robes.
The one on her left, his eyes on a level with Sheeana's, spoke.
"Child of Shai-hulud, we saw your Father bring you from His lands."
The words made no sense to Sheeana. Priests were men to be feared. Her parents and all the adults she had ever known had impressed this upon her by words and actions. Priests possessed ornithopters. Priests fed you to Shaitan for the slightest infraction or for no infraction at all, for only priestly whims. Her people knew many instances.
Sheeana backed away from the kneeling men and cast her glance around. Where could she run?
The one who had spoken raised an imploring hand. "Stay with us."
"You're bad!" Sheeana's voice cracked with emotion.
Both priests fell prostrate on the sand.
Far away on the city's towers, sunlight flashed off lenses. Sheeana saw them. She knew about such flashings. Priests were always watching you in the cities. When you saw the lenses flash that was the signal to be inconspicuous, to "be good."
Sheeana clasped her hands in front of her to still their trembling. She glanced left and right and then at the prostrate priests. Something was wrong here.
Heads on the sand, the two priests shuddered with fear and waited. Neither spoke.
Sheeana did not know how to respond. The crush of her immediate experiences could not be absorbed by an eight-year-old mind. She knew that her parents and all of her neighbors had been taken by Shaitan. Her own eyes had witnessed this. And Shaitan had brought her here, refusing to take her into his awful fires. She had been spared.
This was a word she understood. Spared. It had been explained to her when she learned the dancing song.
"Shai-hulud spare us!
"Take Shaitan away..."
Slowly, not wanting to arouse the prostrate priests, Sheeana began the shuffling, unrhythmic movements of the dance. As the remembered music grew within her, she unclasped her hands and swung her arms wide. Her feet lifted high in the stately movements. Her body turned, slowly at first and then more swiftly as the dance ecstasy increased. Her long brown hair whipped around her face.
The two priests dared to lift their heads. The strange child was performing The Dance! They recognized the movements: The Dance of Propitiation. She asked Shai-hulud to forgive his people. She asked God to forgive them!
They turned their heads to look at each other and, together, rocked back onto their knees. There, they began clapping in the time-honored effort to distract the dancer. Their hands clapped rhythmically as they chanted the ancient words:
"Our fathers ate manna in the desert,
"In the burning places where whirlwinds came!"
The priests excluded from their attention all except the child. She was a slender thing, they saw, with stringy muscles, thin arms and legs. Her robe and stillsuit were worn and patched like those of the poorest. Her cheekbones had high planes that drew shadows across her olive skin. Brown eyes, they noted. Reddish sun streaks drew their lines in her hair. There was a water-spare sharpness about her features - the narrow nose and chin, the wide forehead, the wide thin mouth, the long neck. She looked like the Fremen portraits in the holy of holies at Dar-es-Balat. Of course! The child of Shai-hulud would look thus.
She danced well, too. Not the slightest quickly repeatable rhythm entered her movements. There was rhythm but it was an admirably long beat, at least a hundred steps apart. She kept it up while the sun lifted higher and higher. It was almost noon before she fell exhausted to the sand.
The priests stood and looked out into the desert where Shai-hulud had gone. The stampings of the dance had not summoned Him back. They were forgiven.
That was how Sheeana's new life began.
Loudly in their own quarters and for many days, the senior priests engaged in arguments about her. At last, they brought their disputations and reports to the High Priest, Hedley Tuek. They met in the afternoon within the Hall of Small Convocations, Tuek and six priestly councillors. Murals of Leto II, a human face on the great wormshape, looked down upon them with benevolence.
Tuek seated himself on a stone bench that had been recovered from Windgap Sietch. Muad'dib himself was reputed to have sat on this bench. One of the legs still bore the carvings of an Atreides hawk.
His councillors took lesser modern benches facing him.
The High Priest was an imposing figure; silky gray hair combed smoothly to his shoulders. It was a suitable frame for the square face with its wide, thick mouth and heavy chin. Tuek's eyes retained their original clear whites surrounding dark blue pupils. Bushy, untrimmed gray eyebrows shaded his eyes.
The councillors were a motley lot. Scions of old priestly families each carried in his heart the belief that matters would move better if he were sitting on Tuek's bench.
The scrawny, pinch-faced Stiros put himself forward as opposition spokesman: "She is nothing but a poor desert waif and she rode Shai-hulud. That is forbidden and the punishment is mandatory."
Others spoke up immediately. "No! No Stiros. You have it wrong! She did not stand on Shai-hulud's back as the Fremen did. She had no maker hooks or..."
Stiros tried to shout them down.
It was deadlocked, Tuek saw: three and three with Umphrud, a fat hedonist, as advocate for "cautious acceptance."
"She had no way to guide Shai-hulud's course," Umphrud argued. "We all saw how she came down to the sand unafraid and talked to Him."
Yes, they all had seen that, either at the moment or in the holophoto that a thoughtful observer had recorded. Desert waif or not, she had confronted Shai-hulud and conversed with Him. And Shai-hulud had not engulfed her. No, indeed. The Worm-of-God had drawn back at the child's command and had returned to the desert.
"We will test her," Tuek said.
Early the following morning, an ornithopter flown by the two priests who had brought her from the desert conveyed Sheeana far out away from the sight of Keen's populace. The priests took her down to a dune top and planted a meticulous copy of a Fremen thumper in the sand. When the thumper's catch was released, a heavy beating trembled through the desert - the ancient summons to Shai-hulud. The priests fled to their 'thopter and waited high overhead while a terrified Sheeana, her worst fears realized, stood alone some twenty meters from the thumper.
Two worms came. They were not the largest the priests had ever seen, no more than thirty meters long. One of them scooped up the thumper and silenced it. Together, they rounded in parallel tracks and stopped side by side not six meters from Sheeana.
She stood submissive, fists clenched at her sides. This was what priests did. They fed you to Shaitan.
In their hovering 'thopter, the two priests watched with fascination. Their lenses transmitted the scene to equally fascinated observers in the High Priest's quarters at Keen. All of them had seen similar events before. It was a standard punishment, a handy way to remove obstructionists from the populace or priesthood, or to pave the way for acquisition of a new concubine. Never before, though, had they seen a lone child as victim. And such a child!
The Worms-of-God crept forward slowly after their first stop. They became motionless once more when only about three meters from Sheeana.
Resigned to her fate, Sheeana did not run. Soon, she thought, she would be with her parents and friends. As the worms remained motionless, anger replaced her terror. The bad priests had left her here! She could hear their 'thopter overhead. The hot spice smell from the worms filled the air around her. Abruptly, she raised her right hand and pointed up at the 'thopter.
"Go ahead and eat me! That's what they want!"
The priests overhead could not hear her words but the gesture was visible and they could see that she was talking to the two Worms-of-God. The finger pointing up at them did not bode well.
The worms did not move.
Sheeana lowered her hand. "You killed my mother and father and all my friends!" she accused. She took a step forward and shook a fist at them.
The worms retreated, keeping their distance.
"If you don't want me, go back where you came from!" She waved them away toward the desert.
Obediently, they backed farther and turned in unison.
The priests in the 'thopter tracked them until they slipped beneath the sand more than a kilometer away. Only then did the priests return, fear and trepidation in them. They plucked the child of Shai-hulud from the sand and returned her to Keen.
The Bene Gesserit embassy at Keen had a full report by nightfall. Word was on its way to the Chapter House by the following morning.
It had happened at last!
The trouble with some kinds of warfare (and be certain the Tyrant knew this, because it is implicit in his lesson) is that they destroy all moral decency in susceptible types. Warfare of these kinds will dump the destroyed survivors back into an innocent population that is incapable of even imagining what such returned soldiers might do.
One of Miles Teg's early memories was of sitting at dinner with his parents and his younger brother, Sabine. Teg had been only seven at the time, but the events lay indelibly in his memory: the dining room on Lernaeus colorful with freshly cut flowers, the low light of the yellow sun diffused by antique shades. Bright blue dinnerware and glistening silver graced the table. Acolyte servants stood ready at hand, because his mother might be permanently detached on special duty but her function as a Bene Gesserit teacher was not to be wasted.
Janet Roxbrough-Teg, a large-boned woman who appeared cast for the part of grande dame, looked down her nose from one end of the table, watching that the dinner service not be impaired by the slightest misplacement. Loschy Teg, Miles' father, always observed this with a faint air of amusement. He was a thin man with high forehead, a face so narrow his dark eyes appeared to bulge at the sides. His black hair was a perfect counterpoint for his wife's fairness.
Above the subdued sounds at the table and the rich smell of spiced edu soup, his mother instructed his father on how to deal with an importunate Free Trader. When she said "Tleilaxu," she had Miles' entire attention. His education had just recently touched on the Bene Tleilax.
Even Sabine, who succumbed many years later to a poisoner on Romo, listened with as much of his four-year-old awareness as he could muster. Sabine hero-worshiped his brother. Anything that caught the attention of Miles was of interest to Sabine. Both boys listened silently.
"The man is fronting for the Tleilaxu," Lady Janet said. "I can hear it in his voice."
"I do not doubt your ability to detect such things, my dear," Loschy Teg said. "But what am I to do? He has the proper tokens of credit and he wishes to buy the -"
"The order for the rice is unimportant at the moment. Never assume that what a Face Dancer appears to seek is actually what it seeks."
"I'm sure he's not a Face Dancer. He -"
"Loschy! I know you have learned this well at my instruction and can detect a Face Dancer. I agree that the Free Trader is not one of them. The Face Dancers remain on his ship. They know I am here."
"They know they could not fool you. Yes, but -"
"Tleilaxu strategy is always woven within a web of strategies, any one of which may be the real strategy. They learned that from us."
"My dear, if we are dealing with Tleilaxu, and I do not question your judgment, then it immediately becomes a question of melange."
Lady Janet nodded her head gently. Indeed, even Miles knew about the Tleilaxu connection with the spice. It was one of the things that fascinated him about the Tleilaxu. For every milligram of melange produced on Rakis, the Bene Tleilax tanks produced long tons. Use of melange had grown to fit the new supply and even the Spacing Guild bent its knee before this power.
"But the rice..." Loschy Teg ventured.
"My dear husband, the Bene Tleilax have no need of that much pongi rice in our sector. They require it for trade. We must find out who really needs the rice."
"You want me to delay," he said.
"Precisely. You are superb at what we now require. Don't give that Free Trader the chance to say yes or no. Someone trained by the Face Dancers will appreciate such subtlety."
"We lure the Face Dancers out of the ship while you initiate inquiries elsewhere."
Lady Janet smiled. "You are lovely when you leap ahead of me that way."
A look of understanding passed between them.
"He cannot go to another supplier in this sector," Loschy Teg said.
"He will wish to avoid a go, no-go confrontation," Lady Janet said, patting the table. "Delay, delay, and more delay. You must draw the Face Dancers out of the ship."
"They will realize, of course."
"Yes, my dear, and it is dangerous. You must always meet on your own ground and with our own guards nearby."
Miles Teg recalled that his father had, indeed, drawn the Face Dancers out of their ship. His mother had taken Miles to the viewer where he watched the copper-walled room in which his father drove the bargain that won CHOAM's highest commendation and a rich bonus.
The first Face Dancers Miles Teg ever saw: Two small men as alike as twins. Almost chinless round faces, pug noses, tiny mouths, black button eyes, and short-cropped white hair that stood up from their heads like the bristles on a brush. The two were dressed as the Free Trader had been - black tunics and trousers.
"Illusion, Miles," his mother said. "Illusion is their way. The fashioning of illusion to achieve real goals, that is how the Tleilaxu work."
"Like the magician at the Winter Show?" Miles asked, his gaze intent on the viewer and its toy-figure scene.
"Quite similar," his mother agreed. She too watched the viewer as she spoke but one arm went protectively around her son's shoulders.
"You are looking at evil, Miles. Study it carefully. The faces you see can be changed in an instant. They can grow taller, appear heavier. They could mimic your father so that only I would recognize the substitution."
Miles Teg's mouth formed a soundless "O." He stared at the viewer, listening to his father explain that the price of CHOAM's pongi rice once more had gone up alarmingly.
"And the most terrible thing of all," his mother said. "Some of the newer Face Dancers can, by touching the flesh of a victim, absorb some of the victim's memories."
"They read minds?" Miles looked up at his mother.
"Not exactly. We think they take a print of the memories, almost a holophoto process. They do not yet know that we are aware of this."
Miles understood. He was not to speak of this to anyone, not even to his father or his mother. She had taught him the Bene Gesserit way of secrecy. He watched the figures in the screen with care.
At his father's words, the Face Dancers betrayed no emotion, but their eyes appeared to glitter more brightly.
"How did they get so evil?" Miles asked.
"They are communal beings, bred not to identify with any shape or face. The appearance they present now is for my benefit. They know I am watching. They have relaxed into their natural communal shape. Mark it closely."
Miles tipped his head to one side and studied the Face Dancers. They looked so bland and ineffectual.
"They have no sense of self," his mother said. "They have only the instinct to preserve their own lives unless ordered to die for their masters."
"Would they do that?"
"They have done it many times."
"Who are their masters?"
"Men who seldom leave the planets of the Bene Tleilax."
"Do they have children?"
"Not Face Dancers. They are mules, sterile. But their masters can breed. We have taken a few of them but the offspring are strange. Few female births and even then we cannot probe their Other Memories."
Miles frowned. He knew his mother was a Bene Gesserit. He knew the Reverend Mothers carried a marvelous reservoir of Other Memories going back through all the millennia of the Sisterhood. He even knew something of the Bene Gesserit breeding design. Reverend Mothers chose particular men and had children by those men.
"What are the Tleilaxu women like?" Miles asked.
It was a perceptive question that sent a surge of pride through the Lady Janet. Yes, it was almost a certainty that she had a potential Mentat here. The breeding mistresses had been right about the gene potential of Loschy Teg.
"No one outside of their planets has ever reported seeing a Tleilaxu female," the Lady Janet said.
"Do they exist or is it just the tanks?"
"Are any of the Face Dancers women?"
"At their own choice, they can be male or female. Observe them carefully. They know what your father is doing and it angers them."
"Will they try to hurt my father?"
"They don't dare. We have taken precautions and they know it. See how the one on the left works his jaws. That is one of their anger signs."
"You said they were com... communal beings."
"Like hive insects, Miles. They have no self-image. Without a sense of self, they go beyond amorality. Nothing they say or do can be trusted."
"We have never been able to detect an ethical code in them," the Lady Janet said. "They are flesh made into automata. Without self, they have nothing to esteem or even doubt. They are bred only to obey their masters."
"And they were told to come here and buy the rice."
"Exactly. They were told to get it and there's no other place in this sector where they can do that."
"They must buy it from father?"
"He's their only source. At this very moment, son, they are paying in melange. You see?"
Miles saw the orange-brown spice markers change hands, a tall stack of them, which one of the Face Dancers removed from a case on the floor.
"The price is far, far higher than they ever anticipated," the Lady Janet said. "This will be an easy trail to follow."
"Someone will be bankrupted acquiring that shipment. We think we know who the buyer is. Whoever it is, we will learn of it. Then we will know what was really being traded here."
Lady Janet then began to point out the identifiable incongruities that betrayed a Face Dancer to trained eyes and ears. They were subtle signs but Miles picked up on them immediately. His mother told him then that she thought he might become a Mentat... perhaps even more.
Shortly before his thirteenth birthday, Miles Teg was sent away to advanced schooling at the Bene Gesserit stronghold on Lampadas, where his mother's assessment of him was confirmed. Word went back to her:
"You have given us the Warrior Mentat we had hoped for."
Teg did not see this note until sorting through his mother's effects after her death. The words inscribed on a small sheet of ridulian crystal with the Chapter House imprint below them filled him with an odd sense of displacement in time. His memory put him suddenly back on Lampadas where the love-awe he had felt for his mother was deftly transferred to the Sisterhood itself, as originally intended. He had come to understand this only during his later Mentat training but the understanding changed little. If anything, it bound him even more strongly to the Bene Gesserit. It confirmed that the Sisterhood must be one of his strengths. He already knew that the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood was one of the most powerful forces in his universe - equal at least to the Spacing Guild, superior to the Fish Speaker Council that had inherited the core of the old Atreides Empire, superior by far to CHOAM, and balanced somehow with the Fabricators of Ix and with the Bene Tleilax. A small measure of the Sisterhood's far-reaching authority could be deduced from the fact that they held this authority despite Tleilaxu tank-grown melange, which had broken the Rakian monopoly on the spice, just as Ixian navigation machines had broken the Guild monopoly on space travel.
Miles Teg knew his history well by then. Guild Navigators no longer were the only ones who could thread a ship through the folds of space - in this galaxy one instant, in a faraway galaxy the very next heartbeat.
The School Sisters held back little from him, revealing there for the first time the fact of his Atreides ancestry. That revelation was necessary because of the tests they gave him. They obviously were testing for prescience. Could he, like a Guild Navigator, detect fatal obstructions? He failed. They tried him next on no-chambers and no-ships. He was as blind to such devices as the rest of humankind. For this test, though, they fed him increased doses of the spice and he sensed the awakening of his True Self.
"The Mind at Its Beginning," a teaching Sister called it when he asked for an explanation of this odd sensation.
For a time, the universe was magical as he looked at it through this new awareness. His awareness was a circle, then a globe. Arbitrary forms became transient. He fell into trance state without warning until the Sisters taught him how to control this. They provided him with accounts of saints and mystics and forced him to draw a freehand circle with either hand, following the line with his awareness.
By the end of the term, his awareness resumed its touch with conventional labels, but the memory of the magic never left him. He found that memory a source of strength at the most difficult moments.
After accepting the assignment as Weapons Master to the ghola, Teg found his magical memory increasingly with him. It was especially useful during his first interview with Schwangyu at the Keep on Gammu. They met in the Reverend Mother's study, a place of shiny metal walls and numerous instruments, most of them with the stamp of Ix on them. Even the chair in which she sat, the morning sun coming through a window behind her and making her face difficult to see, even that chair was one of the Ixian self-molders. He was forced to sit in a chairdog, though he realized she must know he detested the use of any life form for such a demeaning task.
"You were chosen because you actually are a grandfatherly figure," Schwangyu said. The bright sunlight formed a corona around her hooded head. Deliberate! "Your wisdom will earn the child's love and respect."
"There's no way I could be a father figure."
"According to Taraza, you have the precise characteristics she requires. I know of your honorable scars and their value to us."
This only reconfirmed his previous Mentat summation: They have been planning this for a long time. They have bred for it. I was bred for it. I am part of their larger plan.
All he said was: "Taraza expects this child to become a redoubtable warrior when restored to his true self."
Schwangyu merely stared at him for a moment, then: "You must not answer any of his questions about gholas, should he encounter the subject. Do not even use the word until I give you permission. We will supply you with all of the ghola data your duties require."
Coldly parceling out his words for emphasis, Teg said: "Perhaps the Reverend Mother was not informed that I am well versed in the lore of Tleilaxu gholas. I have met Tleilaxu in battle."
"You think you know enough about the Idaho series?"
"The Idahos are reputed to have been brilliant military strategists," Teg said.
"Then perhaps the great Bashar was not informed about the other characteristics of our ghola."
No doubt of the mockery in her voice. Something else as well: jealousy and great anger poorly concealed. Teg's mother had taught him ways of reading through her own masks, a forbidden teaching, which he had always concealed. He feigned chagrin and shrugged.
It was obvious, though, that Schwangyu knew he was Taraza's Bashar. The lines had been drawn.
"At Bene Gesserit behest," Schwangyu said, "the Tleilaxu have made a significant alteration in the present Idaho series. His nerve-muscle system has been modernized."
"Without changing the original persona?" Teg fed the question to her blandly, wondering how far she would go in revelation.
"He is a ghola, not a clone!"
"Do you really? He requires the most careful prana-bindu training at all stages."
"Taraza's orders exactly," Teg said. "And we will all obey those orders."
Schwangyu leaned forward, not concealing her anger. "You have been asked to train a ghola whose role in certain plans is most dangerous to us all. I don't think you even remotely understand what you will train!"
What you will train, Teg thought. Not whom. This ghola-child would never be a whom for Schwangyu or any of the others who opposed Taraza. Perhaps the ghola would not be a whom to anyone until restored to his original self, firmly seated in that original Duncan Idaho identity.
Teg saw clearly now that Schwangyu harbored more than hidden reservations about the ghola project. She was in active opposition just as Taraza had warned. Schwangyu was the enemy and Taraza's orders had been explicit.
"You will protect that child against any threat."
Ten thousand years since Leto II began his metamorphosis from human into the sandworm of Rakis and historians still argue over his motives. Was he driven by the desire for long life? He lived more than ten times the normal span of three hundred SY, but consider the price he paid. Was it the lure of power? He is called the Tyrant for good reason but what did power bring him that a human might want? Was he driven to save humankind from itself? We have only his own words about his Golden Path to answer this and I cannot accept the self-serving records of Dar-es-Balat. Might there have been other gratifications, which only his experiences would illuminate? Without better evidence the question is moot. We are reduced to saying only that "He did it!" The physical fact alone is undeniable.
Once more, Waff knew he was on lashkar. This time the stakes were as high as they could go. An Honored Matre from the Scattering demanded his presence. A powindah of powindahs! Descendants of Tleilaxu from the Scattering had told him all they could about these terrible women.
"Far more terrible than Reverend Mothers of the Bene Gesserit," they said.
And more numerous, Waff reminded himself.
He did not fully trust the returned Tleilaxu descendants, either. Their accents were strange, their manners even stranger and their observances of the rituals questionable. How could they be readmitted to the Great Kehl? What possible rite of ghufran could cleanse them after all these centuries? It was beyond belief that they had kept the Tleilaxu secret down the generations.
They were no longer malik-brothers and yet they were the only source of information the Tleilaxu possessed about these returning Lost Ones. And the revelations they had brought! Revelations that had been incorporated in the Duncan Idaho gholas - that was worth all of the risks of contamination by powindah evil.
The meeting place with the Honored Matres was the presumed neutrality of an Ixian no-ship that held a tight orbit around a mutually selected gas giant planet in a mined-out solar system of the old Imperium. The Prophet himself had drained the last of the wealth from this system. New Face Dancers walked as Ixians among the no-ship's crew but Waff still sweated the first encounter. If these Honored Matres were truly more terrible than the Bene Gesserit witches, would the exchange of Face Dancers for Ixian crewmen be detected?
Selection of this meeting place and the arrangements had put a strain on the Tleilaxu. Was it secure? He reassured himself that he carried two sealed weapons never before seen off the Tleilaxu core planets. The weapons were the painstaking result of long effort by his artificers: two minuscule dart throwers concealed in his sleeves. He had trained with them for years until the flipping of the sleeves and the discharge of the poisoned darts was almost an instinctive reflex.
The walls of the meeting room were properly copper-toned, evidence that they were shielded from Ixian spy devices. But what instruments might the people of the Scattering have developed beyond the Ixian ken?
Waff entered the room with a hesitant step. The Honored Matre already was there seated in a leather sling chair.
"You will call me what everyone else calls me," she greeted him. "Honored Matre."
He bowed as he had been warned to do. "Honored Matre."
No hint of hidden powers in her voice. A low contralto with overtones that spoke of disdain for him. She looked like an aged athlete or acrobat, slowed and retired but still maintaining her muscle tone and some of her skills. Her face was tight skin over a skull with prominent cheekbones. The thin-lipped mouth produced a sense of arrogance when she spoke, as though every word were projected downward onto lesser folk.
"Well, come in and sit down!" she commanded, waving at a sling chair facing her.
Waff heard the hatch hiss closed behind him. He was alone with her! She was wearing a snooper. He could see the lead for it going into her left ear. His dart throwers had been sealed and "washed" against snoopers, then maintained at minus 340 Kelvin in a radiation bath for five SY to make them proof against snoopers. Had it been enough?
Gently, he lowered himself into the indicated chair.
Orange-tinted contact lenses covered the Honored Matre's eyes, giving them a feral appearance. She was altogether daunting. And her clothing! Red leotards beneath a dark blue cape. The surface of the cape had been decorated with some pearly material to produce strange arabesques and dragon designs. She sat in the chair as though it were a throne, her clawlike hands resting easily on the arms.
Waff glanced around the room. His people had inspected this place in company with Ixian maintenance workers and representatives of the Honored Matre.
We have done our best, he thought, and he tried to relax.
The Honored Matre laughed.
Waff stared at her with as calm an expression as he could muster. "You are gauging me now," he accused. "You say to yourself that you have enormous resources to employ against me, subtle and gross instruments to carry out your commands."
"Do not take that tone with me." The words were low and flat but carried such a weight of venom that Waff almost recoiled.
He stared at the stringy muscles of the woman's legs, that deep red leotard fabric which flowed over her skin as though it were organic to her.
Their meeting time had been adjusted to bring them together at a mutually personal mid-morning, their waking hours having been balanced en route. Waff felt dislocated, though, and at a disadvantage. What if the stories of his informants were true? She must have weapons here.
She smiled at him without humor.
"You are trying to intimidate me," Waff said.
"And succeeding." Anger surged through Waff. He kept this from his voice. "I have come at your invitation."
"I hope you did not come to engage in a confrontation that you would surely lose," she said.
"I came to forge a bond between us," he said. And he wondered: What do they need from us? Surely they must need something.
"What bond can there be between us?" she asked. "Would you build an edifice on a disintegrating raft? Hah! Agreements can be broken and often are."
"For what tokens do we bargain?" he asked.
"Bargain? I do not bargain. I am interested in this ghola you made for the witches." Her tone gave away nothing but Waff's heartbeat quickened at her question.
In one of his ghola lifetimes, Waff had trained under a renegade Mentat. The capabilities of a Mentat were beyond him and besides, reasoning required words. They had been forced to kill the powindah Mentat but there had been some things of value in the experience. Waff allowed himself a small moue of distaste at the memory but he recalled the things of value.
Attack and absorb the data that attack produces!
"You offer me nothing in exchange!" he said, his voice loud.
"Recompense is at my discretion," she said.
Waff produced a scornful gaze. "Do you play with me?"
She showed white teeth in a feral grin. "You would not survive my play, nor want to."
"So I must be dependent upon your good will!"
"Dependency!" The word curled from her mouth as though it produced a distasteful sensation. "Why do you sell these gholas to the witches and then kill the gholas?"
Waff pressed his lips together and remained silent..
"You have somehow changed this ghola while still making it possible for him to regain his original memories," she said.
"You know so much!" Waff said. It was not quite a sneer and, he hoped, revealed nothing. Spies! She had spies among the witches! Was there also a traitor in the Tleilaxu heartlands?
"There is a girl-child on Rakis who figures in the plans of the witches," the Honored Matre said.
"How do you know this?"
"The witches do not make a move without our knowing! You think of spies but you cannot know how far our arms will reach!"
Waff was dismayed. Could she read his mind? Was it something born of the Scattering? A wild talent from out there where the original human seed could not observe?
"How have you changed this ghola?" she demanded.
Waff, armed against such devices by his Mentat teacher, almost blurted an answer. This Honored Matre had some of the witches' powers! It had been so unexpected coming from her. You expected such things from a Reverend Mother and were prepared. He was a moment recovering his balance. Waff steepled his hands in front of his chin.
"You have interesting resources," she said.
A gamin expression came over Waff's features. He knew how disarmingly elflike he could look.
"We know how much you have learned from the Bene Gesserit," he said.
A look of rage swept over her face and was gone. "They have taught us nothing!"
Waff pitched his voice at a humorously appealing level, cajoling. "Surely, this is not bargaining."
"Isn't it?" She actually appeared surprised.
Waff lowered his hands. "Come now, Honored Matre. You are interested in this ghola. You speak of things on Rakis. What do you take us for?"
"Very little. You become less valuable by the instant."
Waff sensed the coldest machine logic in her response. There was no smell of Mentat in it but something more chilling. She is capable of killing me right here!
Where were her weapons? Would she even require weapons? He did not like the look of those stringy muscles, the calluses on her hands, the hunter's gleam in her orange eyes. Could she possibly guess (or even know) about the dart throwers in his sleeves?
"We are confronted by a problem that cannot be resolved by logical means," she said.
Waff stared at her in shock. A Zensunni Master might have said that! He had said it himself on more than one occasion.
"You have probably never considered such a possibility," she said. It was as though her words dropped a mask away from her face. Waff suddenly saw through to the calculating person behind these postures. Did she take him for some padfooted seelie fit only for collecting slig shit?
Bringing as much hesitant puzzlement into his voice as possible, he asked: "How could such a problem be resolved?"
"The natural course of events will dispose of it," she said.
Waff continued to stare at her in simulated puzzlement. Her words did not smack of revelation. Still, the things implied! He said: "Your words leave me floundering."
"Humankind has become infinite," she said. "That is the true gift of the Scattering."
Waff fought to conceal the turmoil these words created. "Infinite universes, infinite time - anything may happen," he said.
"Ahhh, you are a bright little manikin," she said. "How does one allow for anything? It is not logical."
She sounded, Waff thought, like one of the ancient leaders of the Butlerian Jihad, which had tried to rid humankind of mechanical minds. This Honored Matre was strangely out of date.
"Our ancestors looked for an answer with computers," he ventured. Let her try that!
"You already know that computers lack infinite storage capacity," she said.
Again, her words disconcerted him. Could she actually read minds? Was this a form of mind-printing? What the Tleilaxu did with Face Dancers and gholas, others might do as well. He centered his awareness and concentrated on Ixians, on their evil machines. Powindah machines!
The Honored Matre swept her gaze around the room. "Are we wrong to trust the Ixians?" she asked.
Waff held his breath.
"I don't think you fully trust them," she said. "Come, come, little man. I offer you my good will."
Belatedly, Waff began to suspect that she was trying to be friendly and candid with him. She certainly had put aside her earlier pose of angry superiority. Waff's informants from the Lost Ones said the Honored Matres made sexual decisions much in the manner of the Bene Gesserit. Was she trying to be seductive? But she clearly understood and had exposed the weakness of logic.
It was very confusing!
"We are talking in circles," he said.
"Quite the contrary. Circles enclose. Circles limit. Humankind no longer is limited by the space in which to grow."
There she went again! He spoke past a dry tongue: "It is said that what you cannot control you must accept."
She leaned forward, the orange eyes intent on his face. "Do you accept the possibility of a final disaster for the Bene Tleilax?"
"If that were the case I would not be here."
"When logic fails, another tool must be used."
Waff grinned. "That sounds logical."
"Don't mock me! How dare you!"
Waff lifted his hands defensively and assumed a placating tone: "What tool would the Honored Matre suggest?"
Her answer surprised him. "Energy? In what form and how much?"
"You demand logical answers," she said.
With a feeling of sadness, Waff realized that she was not, after all Zensunni. The Honored Matre only played word games on the fringes of non-logic, circling it, but her tool was logic.
"Rot at the core spreads outward," he said.
It was as though she had not heard his testing statement. "There is untapped energy in the depths of any human we deign to touch," she said. She extended a skeletal finger to within a few millimeters of his nose.
Waff pulled back into his chair until she dropped her arm. He said: "Is that not what the Bene Gesserit said before producing their Kwisatz Haderach?"
"They lost control of themselves and of him," she sneered.
Again, Waff thought, she employed logic in thinking of the non-logical. How much she had told him in these little lapses. He could glimpse the probable history of these Honored Matres. One of the natural Reverend Mothers from the Fremen of Rakis had gone out in the Scattering. Diverse people had fled on the no-ships during and immediately after the Famine Times. A no-ship had seeded the wild witch and her concepts somewhere. That seed had returned in the form of this orange-eyed huntress.
Once more she hurled Voice at him, demanding: "What have you wrought with this ghola?"
This time, Waff was prepared and shrugged it off. This Honored Matre would have to be deflected or, if possible, slain. He had learned much from her but there was no way of telling how much she had learned from him with her unguessed talents.
They are sexual monsters, his informants had said. They enslave men by the powers of sex.
"How little you know the joys I could give you," she said. Her voice coiled like a whip around him. How tempting! How seductive!
Waff spoke defensively: "Tell me why you -"
"I need tell you nothing!"
"Then you did not come to bargain." He spoke sadly. The no-ships had, indeed, seeded those other universes with rot. Waff sensed the weight of necessity on his shoulders. What if he could not slay her?
"How dare you keep suggesting a bargain with an Honored Matre?" she demanded. "Know you that we set the price!"
"I do not know your ways, Honored Matre," Waff said. "But I sense in your words that I have offended."
No apology intended! He stared at her blandly. Many things could be deduced from her performance. Out of his millennial experiences, Waff reviewed what he had learned here. This female from the Scattering came to him for an essential piece of information. Therefore, she had no other source. He sensed desperation in her. Well masked but definitely there. She needed confirmation or refutation of something she feared.
How like a predatory bird she was, sitting there with her claw hands so lightly on the arms of her chair! Rot at the core spreads outward. He had said it and she had not heard. Clearly, atomic humankind continued to explode on its Scatterings of Scatterings. The people represented by this Honored Matre had not found a way to trace the no-ships. That was it, of course. She hunted the no-ships just as the witches of the Bene Gesserit did.
"You seek the way to nullify a no-ship's invisibility," he said.
The statement obviously rocked her. She had not expected this from the elflike manikin seated in front of her. He saw fear, then anger, then resolution pass across her features before she resumed her predatory mask. She knew, though. She knew he had seen.
"So that is what you do with your ghola," she said.
"It is what the witches of the Bene Gesserit seek with him," Waff lied.
"I underestimated you," she said. "Did you make the same mistake with me?"
"I do not think so, Honored Matre. The breeding scheme that produced you is quite obviously formidable. I think you could kick out a foot and kill me before I blinked an eye. The witches are not in the same league with you."
A smile of pleasure softened her features. "Are the Tleilaxu to be our willing servants or compelled?"
He did not try to hide outrage. "You offer us slavery?"
"That is one of your options."
He had her now! Arrogance was her weakness. Submissively, he asked: "What would you command me to do?"
"You will take back as your guests two younger Honored Matres. They are to be bred with you and... teach you our ways of ecstasy."
Waff inhaled and exhaled two slow breaths.
"Are you sterile?" she asked.
"Only our Face Dancers are mules." She would already know that. It was common knowledge.
"You call yourself Master," she said, "yet you have not mastered yourself."
More than you, Honored Matre bitch! And I call myself Masheikh, a fact that may yet destroy you.
"The two Honored Matres I send with you will make an inspection of everything Tleilaxu and return to me with their report," she said.
He sighed as though in resignation. "Are the two younger women comely?"
"Honored Matres!" she corrected him.
"Is that the only name you use?"
"If they choose to give you names, that is their privilege, not yours." She leaned sideways and rapped a bony knuckle against the floor. Metal gleamed in her hand. She had a way of penetrating this room's shielding!
The hatch opened and two women dressed much like his Honored Matre entered. Their dark capes carried less decoration and both women were younger. Waff stared at them. Were they both... He tried not to show elation but knew he failed. No matter. The older one would think he admired the beauty of these two. By signs known only to the Masters, he saw that one of the two newcomers was a new Face Dancer. A successful exchange had been made and these Scattered Ones could not detect it! The Tleilaxu had successfully passed a hurdle! Would the Bene Gesserit be as blind to these new gholas?
"You are being sensibly agreeable about this, for which you will be rewarded," the old Honored Matre said.
"I recognize your powers, Honored Matre," he said. That was true. He bowed his head to conceal the resolution that he knew he could not keep from his eyes.
She gestured to the newcomers. "These two will accompany you. Their slightest whim is your command. They will be treated with all honor and respect."
"Of course, Honored Matre." Keeping his head bowed he lifted both arms as though in salutation and submission. A dart hissed from each sleeve. As he released the darts, Waff jerked himself sideways in his chair. The motion was not quite rapid enough. The old Honored Matte's right foot shot out, catching him in the left thigh and hurling him backward on his chair.
It was the old Honored Matre's last living act. The dart from his left sleeve caught her in the back of her throat, entering through her opened mouth, a mouth left gaping in surprise. Narcotic poison cut off any outcry. The other dart hit the non-Face Dancer of the newcomers in the right eye. His Face Dancer accomplice cut off any warning shout by a blurred chop to the throat.
Two bodies slumped in death.
Painfully, Waff disentangled himself from the chair and righted it as he got to his feet. His thigh throbbed. A fraction of a meter more and she would have broken his thigh! He realized that her reaction had not been mediated by her central nervous system. As with some insects, attack could be initiated by the required muscle system. That development would have to be investigated!
His Face Dancer accomplice was listening at the open hatch. She stepped aside to allow the entry of another Face Dancer in the guise of an Ixian guard.
Waff massaged his injured thigh while his Face Dancers disrobed the dead women. The one who copied the Ixian put her head to that of the dead old Honored Matre. Things moved swiftly after that. Presently, there was no Ixian guard, only a faithful copy of the old Honored Matre and a younger Honored Matre attendant. Another pseudo-Ixian entered and copied the younger Honored Matre. Soon, there were only ashes where dead flesh had been. A new Honored Matre scooped the ashes into a bag and concealed it beneath her robe.
Waff made a careful examination of the room. The consequences of discovery made him shudder. Such arrogance as he had seen here came from obviously awesome powers. Those powers must be probed. He detained the Face Dancer who had copied the old one.
"You have printed her?"
"Yes, Master. Her waking memories were still alive when I copied."
"Transfer to her." He gestured to the one who had been an Ixian guard. They touched foreheads for a few heartbeats then parted.
"It is done," said the older one.
"How many other copies of these Honored Matres have we made?"
"None of them detected?"
"Those four must return to the heartland of these Honored Matres and learn all there is to know about them. One of those four must get back to us with what is learned."
"That is impossible, Master."
"They have cut themselves off from their source. This is their way, Master. They are a new cell and have established themselves on Gammu."
"But surely we could..."
"Your pardon, Master. The coordinates of their place in the Scattering were contained only in a no-ship's workings and have been erased."
"Their tracks are completely covered?" There was dismay in his voice.
Disaster! He was forced to rein in his thoughts from a sudden frenzied darting. "They must not learn what we have done here," he muttered.
"They will not learn from us, Master."
"What talents have they developed? What powers? Quickly!"
"They are what you would expect from a Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit but without the melange memories."
"There is no hint of it. As you know, Master, we - "Yes, yes. I know." He waved her to silence. "But the old one was so arrogant, so..."
"Your pardon, Master, but time presses. These Honored Matres have perfected the pleasures of sex far beyond that developed by any others."
"So it's true what our informants said."
"They went back to the primitive Tantric and developed their own ways of sexual stimulation, Master. Through this, they accept the worship of their followers."
"Worship." He breathed the word. "Are they superior to the Breeding Mistresses of the Sisterhood?"
"The Honored Matres believe so, Master. Shall we demon -"
"No!" Waff dropped his elfin mask at this discovery and assumed the expression of a dominant Master. The Face Dancers nodded their heads in submission. A look of glee came over Waff's face. The returned Tleilaxu of the Scattering reported truthfully! By a simple mind-print he had confirmed this new weapon of his people!
"What are your orders, Master?" the old one asked.
Waff resumed his elfin mask. "We will explore these matters only when we have returned to the Tleilaxu core at Bandalong. Meanwhile, even a Master does not give orders to an Honored Matre. You are my masters until we are free of prying eyes."
"Of course, Master. Shall I now convey your orders to the others outside?"
"Yes, and these are my orders: This no-ship must never return to Gammu. It must vanish without a trace. No survivors."
"It will be done, Master."
Technology, in common with many other activities, tends toward avoidance of risks by investors. Uncertainty is ruled out if possible. Capital investment follows this rule, since people generally prefer the predictable. Few recognize how destructive this can be, how it imposes severe limits on variability and thus makes whole populations fatally vulnerable to the shocking ways our universe can throw the dice.
On the morning after that initial test in the desert, Sheeana awoke in the priestly complex to find her bed surrounded by white-robed people.
Priests and priestesses!
"She's awake," a priestess said.
Fear gripped Sheeana. She clutched the bed covers close to her chin while she stared out at those intent faces. Were they going to abandon her in the desert again? She had slept the sleep of exhaustion in the softest bed with the cleanest linen she had experienced in her eight years but she knew everything the priests did could have a double meaning. They were not to be trusted!
"Did you sleep well?" It was the priestess who had spoken first. She was a gray-haired older woman, her face framed in a white cowl with purple trim. The old eyes were watery but alert. Pale blue. The nose was an upturned stub above a narrow mouth and outjutting chin.
"Will you speak to us?" the woman persisted. "I am Cania, your night attendant. Remember? I helped you into your bed."
At least, the tone of voice was reassuring. Sheeana sat up and took a better look at these people. They were afraid! A desert child's nose could detect the telltale pheromones. To Sheeana, it was a simple, straightforward observation: That smell equals fear.
"You thought you would hurt me," she said. "Why did you do that?"
The people around her exchanged looks of consternation.
Sheeana's fear dissipated. She had sensed the new order of things and yesterday's trial in the desert meant more change. She recalled how subservient the older woman... Cania? She had been almost groveling the previous night. Sheeana would learn in time that any person who lived through the decision to die evolved a new emotional balance. Fears were transitory. This new condition was interesting.
Cania's voice trembled when she responded: "Truly, Child of God, we did not intend harm."
Sheeana straightened the bedcovers on her lap. "My name is Sheeana." That was desert politeness. Cania already had produced a name. "Who are these others?"
"They will be sent away if you don't want them... Sheeana." Cania indicated a florid-faced woman at her left dressed in a robe similar to her own. "All except Alhosa, of course. She is your day attendant."
Alhosa curtsied at the introduction.
Sheeana stared up at a face puffy with waterfat, heavy features in a nimbus of fluffy blond hair. Shifting her attention abruptly, Sheeana looked at the men in the group. They watched her with heavy-lidded intentness, some with looks of trembling suspicion. The fear smell was strong.
"Send them away." Sheeana waved a hand at the priests. "They are haram!" It was the gutter word, the lowest term of all for that which was most evil.
The priests recoiled in shock.
"Begone!" Cania commanded. There was no mistaking the look of malevolent glee on her face. Cania had not been included among the vile ones. But these priests clearly stood among those labeled as haram! They must have done something hideous for God to send a child-priestess to chastise them. Cania could believe it of priests. They had seldom treated her the way she deserved.
Like chastened bedogs, the priests bowed themselves backward and left Sheeana's chamber. Among those who went out into the hallway was a historian-locutor named Dromind, a dark man with a busy mind that tended to fasten onto ideas like the beak of a carrion bird onto a morsel of meat. When the chamber door closed behind them, Dromind told his trembling companions that the name Sheeana was a modern form of the ancient name, Siona.
"You all know Siona's place in the histories," he said. "She served Shai-hulud in His transformation from human shape into the Divided God."
Stiros, a wrinkled older priest with dark lips and pale, glistening eyes, looked wonderingly at Dromind. "That is extremely curious," Stiros said. "The Oral Histories claim that Siona was instrumental in His translation from the One into the Many. Sheeana. Do you think..."
"Let us not forget the Hadi Benotto translation of God's own holy words," another priest interrupted. "Shai-hulud referred many times to Siona."
"Not always with favor," Stiros reminded them. "Remember her full name: Siona Ibn Fuad al-Seyefa Atreides."
"Atreides," another priest whispered.
"We must study her with care," Dromind said.
A young acolyte-messenger hurried up the hallway to the group and sought among them until he spied Stiros. "Stiros," the messenger said, "you must clear this hallway immediately."
"Why?" It was an indignant voice from the press of the rejected priests.
"She is to be moved into the High Priest's quarters," the messenger said.
"By whose orders?" Stiros demanded.
"High Priest Tuek himself says this," the messenger said. "They have been listening." He waved a hand vaguely toward the direction from which he had come.
All of the group in the hall understood. Rooms could be shaped to send voices from them into other places. There were always listeners.
"What have they heard?" Stiros demanded. His old voice quavered.
"She asked if her quarters were the best. They are about to move her and she must not find any of you out here."
"But what are we to do?" Stiros asked.
"Study her," Dromind said.
The hall was cleared immediately and all of them began the process of studying Sheeana. The pattern born here would print itself on all of their lives over the subsequent years. The routine that took shape around Sheeana produced changes felt in the farthest reaches of the Divided God's influence. Two words ignited the change: "Study her."
How naive she was, the priests thought. How curiously naive. But she could read and she displayed an intense interest in the Holy Books she found in Tuek's quarters. Her quarters now.
All was propitiation from the highest to the lowest. Tuek moved into the quarters of his chief assistant and the bumping process moved downward. Fabricators waited upon Sheeana and measured her. The finest stillsuit was fashioned for her. She acquired new robes of priestly gold and white with purple trim.
People began avoiding historian-locutor Dromind. He took to buttonholing his fellows and expounding the history of the original Siona as though this said something important about the present bearer of the ancient name.
"Siona was the mate of the Holy Duncan Idaho," Dromind reminded anyone who would listen. "Their descendants are everywhere."
"Indeed? Pardon me for not listening further but I am really on an urgent errand."
At first, Tuek was more patient with Dromind. The history was interesting and its lessons obvious. "God has sent us a new Siona," Tuek said. "All should be clear."
Dromind went away and returned with more tidbits from the past. "The accounts from Dar-es-Balat take on a new meaning now," Dromind told his High Priest. "Should we not make further tests and comparisons of this child?"
Dromind had braced the High Priest immediately after breakfast. The remains of Tuek's meal still occupied the serving table on the balcony. Through the open window, they could hear stirrings overhead in Sheeana's quarters.
Tuek put a cautioning finger to his lips and spoke in a hushed voice. "The Holy Child goes of her own choice to the desert." He went to a wall map and pointed to an area southwest of Keen. "Apparently this is an area that interests her or... I should say, calls her."
"I am told she makes frequent use of dictionaries," Dromind said. "Surely, that cannot be a -"
"She is testing us," Tuek said. "Do not be fooled."
"But Lord Tuek, she asks the most childish questions of Cania and Alhosa."
"Do you question my judgment, Dromind?"
Belatedly, Dromind realized he had overstepped the proper bounds. He fell silent but his expression said many more words were compressed within him.
"God has sent her to weed out some evil that has crept into the ranks of the anointed," Tuek said. "Go! Pray and ask your self if that evil has lodged itself within you."
When Dromind had gone, Tuek summoned a trusted aide. "Where is the Holy Child?"
"She has gone out into the desert, Lord, to commune with her Father."
"To the southwest?"
"Dromind must be taken far out to the east and left on the sand. Plant several thumpers to make sure he never returns."
Even after Dromind was translated into the Mouth of God, the priests continued to follow his original injunction. They studied Sheeana.
Sheeana also studied.
Gradually, so gradually that she could not identify the point of transition, she recognized her great power over those around her. At first, it was a game, a continual Children's Day with adults jumping to obey each childish whim. But it appeared that no whim was too difficult.
Did she require a rare fruit for her table?
The fruit was served to her on a golden dish.
Did she glimpse a child far below on the teeming streets and require that child as a playmate?
That child was hustled up to Sheeana's temple quarters. When fear and shock passed, the child might even join in some game, which the priests and priestesses observed intently. Innocent skipping about on the rooftop garden, giggling whispers - all were subjected to intense analysis. Sheeana found the awe of such children a burden. She seldom called the same child back to her, preferring to learn new things from new playmates.
The priests achieved no consensus about the innocence of such encounters. The playmates were put through fearful interrogation until Sheeana discovered this and raged at her guardians.
Inevitably, word of Sheeana spread throughout Rakis and off-planet. The Sisterhood's reports accumulated. The years passed in a kind of sublimely autocratic routine - feeding Sheeana's curiosity. It was a curiosity that appeared to have no limits. None of those among the immediate attendants thought of this as education: Sheeana teaching the priests of Rakis and they teaching her. The Bene Gesserit, however, observed this aspect of Sheeana's life at once and watched it closely.
"She is in good hands. Leave her there until she is ready for us," Taraza ordered. "Keep a defense force on constant alert and see that I get regular reports."
Not once did Sheeana reveal her true origins nor what Shaitan had done to her family and neighbors. That was a private thing between Shaitan and herself. She thought of her silence as payment for having been spared.
Some things paled for Sheeana. She made fewer trips into the desert. Curiosity continued but it became obvious that an explanation of Shaitan's behavior toward her might not be found on the open sand. And although she knew there were embassies of other powers on Rakis, the Bene Gesserit spies among her attendants made sure that Sheeana did not express too much interest in the Sisterhood. Soothing answers to dampen such interest were provided and metered out to Sheeana as required.
The message from Taraza to her observers on Rakis was direct and pointed: "The generations of preparation have become the years of refinement. We will move only at the proper moment. There is no longer any doubt that this child is the one."
In my estimation, more misery has been created by reformers than by any other force in human history. Show me someone who says "Something must be done!" and I will show you a head full of vicious intentions that have no other outlet. What we must strive for always! is to find the natural flow and go with it.
The overcast sky lifted as the sun of Gammu climbed, picking up the scents of grass and surrounding forest extracted and condensed by the morning dampness.
Duncan Idaho stood at a Forbidden Window inhaling the smells. This morning Patrin had told him: "You are fifteen years of age. You must consider yourself a young man. You no longer are a child."
"Is it my birthday?"
They were in Duncan's sleeping chamber where Patrin had just aroused him with a glass of citrus juice.
"I do not know your birthday."
"Do gholas have birthdays?"
Patrin remained silent. It was forbidden to speak of gholas with the ghola.
"Schwangyu says you can't answer that question," Duncan said.
Patrin spoke with obvious embarrassment. "The Bashar wishes me to tell you that your training class will be delayed this morning. He wishes you to do the leg and knee exercises until you are called."
"I did those yesterday!"
"I merely convey the Bashar's orders." Patrin took the empty glass and left Duncan alone.
Duncan dressed quickly. They would expect him for breakfast in the Commissary. Damn them! He did not need their breakfast. What was the Bashar doing? Why couldn't he start the classes on time? Leg and knee exercises! That was just make-work because Teg had some other unexpected duty. Angrily, Duncan took a Forbidden Route to a Forbidden Window. Let the damned guards be punished!
He found the odors coming through the open window evocative but could not place the memories that lurked at the edges of his awareness. He knew there were memories. Duncan found this frightening but magnetic - like walking along the edge of a cliff or openly confronting Schwangyu with his defiance. He had never walked along the edge of a cliff nor openly confronted Schwangyu with defiance, but he could imagine such things. Just seeing a filmbook holophoto of a cliff-edge path was enough to make his stomach tighten. As for Schwangyu, he often imagined angry disobedience and suffered the same physical reaction.
Someone else is in my mind, he thought.
Not just in his mind - in his body. He could sense other experiences as though he had just awakened, knowing he had dreamed but unable to recall the dream. This dream-stuff called up knowledge that he knew he could not possess.
Yet he did possess it.
He could name some of the trees he smelled out there but those names were not in the library's records.
This Forbidden Window was forbidden because it pierced an outer wall of the Keep and could be opened. It was often open, as now, for ventilation. The window was reached from his room by climbing over a balcony rail and slipping through a storeroom air shaft. He had learned to do this without the slightest disturbance of rail or storeroom or shaft. Quite early, it had been made clear to him that those trained by the Bene Gesserit could read extremely small signs. He could read some of those signs himself, thanks to the teachings of Teg and Lucilla.
Standing well back in the shadows of the upper hallway, Duncan focused on rolling slopes of forest climbing to rocky pinnacles. He found the forest compelling. The pinnacles beyond it possessed a magical quality. It was easy to imagine that no human had ever touched that land. How good it would be to lose himself there, to be only his own person without worrying that another person dwelled within him. A stranger there.
With a sigh, Duncan turned away and returned to his room along his secret route. Only when he was back in the safety of his room did he allow himself to say that he had done it once more. No one would be punished for this venture.
Punishments and pain, which hung like an aura around the places forbidden to him, only made Duncan exercise extreme caution when he broke the rules.
He did not like to think of the pain Schwangyu would cause him if she discovered him at a Forbidden Window. Even the worst pain, though, would not cause him to cry out, he told himself. He had never cried out even at her nastier tricks. He merely stared back at her, hating her but absorbing her lesson. To him, Schwangyu's lesson was direct: Refine his ability to move unobserved, unseen and unheard, leaving no spoor to betray his passage.
In his room, Duncan sat on the edge of his cot and contemplated the blank wall in front of him. Once, when he had stared at that wall, an image had formed there - a young woman with light amber hair and sweetly rounded features. She looked out of the wall at him and smiled. Her lips moved without sound. Duncan already had learned lip reading, though, and he read the words clearly.
"Duncan, my sweet Duncan."
Was that his mother? he wondered. His real mother?
Even gholas had real mothers somewhere back there. Lost in the time behind the axlotl tanks there had been a living woman who bore him and... and loved him. Yes, loved him because he was her child. If that face on the wall was his mother, how had her image found its way there? He could not identify the face but he wanted it to be his mother.
The experience frightened him but fear did not prevent him from wanting to repeat it. Whoever that young woman was, her fleeting presence tantalized him. The stranger within him knew that young woman. He felt sure of this. Sometimes, he wanted to be that stranger only for an instant - long enough to gather up all of those hidden memories - but he feared this desire. He would lose his real self, he thought, if the stranger entered his awareness.
Would that be like death? he wondered.
Duncan had seen death before he was six. His guards had repelled intruders and one of the guards was killed. Four intruders died as well. Duncan had watched the five bodies brought into the Keep - flaccid muscles, arms dragging. Some essential thing was gone from them. Nothing remained to call up memories - self-memories or stranger-memories.
The five were taken somewhere deep within the Keep. He heard a guard say later that the four intruders were loaded with "shere." That was his first encounter with the idea of an Ixian Probe.
"An Ixian Probe can raid the mind even of a dead person," Geasa explained. "Shere is a drug that protects you from the probe. Your cells will be totally dead before the drug effect is gone."
Adroit listening told Duncan the four intruders were being probed in other ways as well. These other ways were not explained to him but he suspected this must be something secret to the Bene Gesserit. He thought of it as another hellish trick of the Reverend Mothers. They must animate the dead and extract information from the unwilling flesh. Duncan visualized depersonalized muscles performing at the will of a diabolical observer.
The observer was always Schwangyu.
Such images filled Duncan's mind despite every effort by his teachers to dispel "foolishness invented by the ignorant." His teachers said these wild stories were valuable only to create fear of the Bene Gesserit among the uninitiated. Duncan refused to believe that he was of the initiated. Looking at a Reverend Mother he always thought: I'm not one of them!
Lucilla was most persistent lately. "Religion is a source of energy," she said. "You must recognize this energy. It can be directed for your own purposes."
Their purposes, not mine, he thought.
He imagined his own purposes and projected his own images of himself triumphant over the Sisterhood, especially over Schwangyu. Duncan felt that his imaginative projections were a subterranean reality that worked on him from that place where the stranger dwelled. But he learned to nod and give the appearance that he, too, found such religious credulity amusing.
Lucilla recognized the dichotomy in him. She told Schwangyu: "He thinks mystical forces are to be feared and, if possible, avoided. As long as he persists in this belief he cannot learn to use our most essential knowledge."
They met for what Schwangyu called "a regular assessment session," just the two of them in Schwangyu's study. The time was shortly after their light supper. The sounds of the Keep around them were those of transition - night patrols beginning, off-duty personnel enjoying one of their brief free-time periods. Schwangyu's study had not been completely insulated from such things, a deliberate contrivance of the Sisterhood's renovators. The trained senses of a Reverend Mother could detect many things from the sounds around her.
Schwangyu felt more and more at a loss in these "assessment sessions." It was increasingly obvious that Lucilla could not be won over to those opposing Taraza. Lucilla also was immune to a Reverend Mother's manipulative subterfuges. Most damnable of all, Lucilla and Teg between them were imparting highly volatile abilities to the ghola. Dangerous in the extreme. Added to all of her other problems, Schwangyu nurtured a growing respect for Lucilla.
"He thinks we use occult powers to practice our arts," Lucilla said. "How did he arrive at such a peculiar idea?"
Schwangyu felt the disadvantage imposed by this question. Lucilla already knew this had been done to weaken the ghola. Lucilla was saying: "Disobedience is a crime against our Sisterhood!"
"If he wants our knowledge, he will surely get it from you," Schwangyu said. No matter how dangerous, in Schwangyu's view, this was certainly a truth.
"His desire for knowledge is my best lever," Lucilla said, "but we both know that is not enough." There was no reproof in Lucilla's tone but Schwangyu felt it nevertheless.
Damn her! She's trying to win me over! Schwangyu thought.
Several responses entered Schwangyu's mind: "I have not disobeyed my orders." Pah! A disgusting excuse! "The ghola has been treated according to standard Bene Gesserit training practices." Inadequate and untrue. And this ghola was not a standard object of education. There were depths in him that could only be matched by a potential Reverend Mother. And that was the problem!
"I have made mistakes," Schwangyu said.
There! That was a double-pronged answer that another Reverend Mother could appreciate.
"You made no mistake when you damaged him," Lucilla said.
"But I failed to anticipate that another Reverend Mother might expose the flaws in him," Schwangyu said.
"He wants our powers only to escape us," Lucilla said. "He's thinking: Someday I'll know as much as they do and then I'll run away."
When Schwangyu did not respond, Lucilla said: "That was clever. If he runs, we will have to hunt him down and destroy him ourselves."
"I will not make your mistake," Lucilla said. "I tell you openly what I know you would see anyway. I now understand why Taraza sent an Imprinter to one so young."
Schwangyu's smile vanished. "What are you doing?"
"I am bonding him to me the way we bond all of our acolytes to their teachers. I am treating him with candor and loyalty as one of our own."
"But he's male!"
"So the spice agony will be denied him, but nothing else. He is, I think, responding."
"And when the time comes for the ultimate stage of imprinting?" Schwangyu asked.
"Yes, that will be delicate. You think it will destroy him. That, of course, was your plan."
"Lucilla, the Sisterhood is not unanimous in following Taraza's designs for this ghola. Certainly, you know this."
It was Schwangyu's most powerful argument and the fact that it had been reserved for this moment said much. The fears that they might produce another Kwisatz Haderach were deep-seated and the dissension in the Bene Gesserit comparably powerful.
"He is primitive genetic stock and not bred to be a Kwisatz Haderach," Lucilla said.
"But the Tleilaxu have interfered with his genetic inheritance!"
"Yes; at our orders. They have sped up his nerve and muscle responses."
Is that all they have done?" Schwangyu asked.
"You've seen the cell studies," Lucilla said.
"If we could do as much as the Tleilaxu we would not need them," Schwangyu said. "We would have our own axlotl tanks."
"You think they have hidden something from us," Lucilla said.
"They had him completely outside our observation for nine months!"
"I have heard all of these arguments," Lucilla said.
Schwangyu threw up her hands in a gesture of capitulation. "He's all yours, then, Reverend Mother. And the consequences are on your head. But you will not remove me from this post no matter what you report to Chapter House."
"Remove you? Certainly not. I don't want your faction sending someone unknown to us."
"There is a limit to the insults I will take from you," Schwangyu said.
"And there's a limit to how much treachery Taraza will accept," Lucilla said.
"If we get another Paul Atreides or, the Gods forbid, another Tyrant, it will be Taraza's doing," Schwangyu said. "Tell her I said so."
Lucilla stood. "You may as well know that Taraza left entirely at my discretion how much melange I feed this ghola. I have already begun increasing his intake of the spice."
Schwangyu pounded both fists on her desk. "Damn you all! You will destroy us yet!"
The Tleilaxu secret must be in their sperm. Our tests prove that their sperm does not carry forward in a straight genetic fashion. Gaps occur. Every Tleilaxu we have examined has hidden his inner self from us. They are naturally immune to an Ixian Probe! Secrecy at the deepest levels, that is their ultimate armor and their ultimate weapon.
On a morning of Sheeana's fourth year in priestly sanctuary, the reports of their spies brought a gleam of special interest to the Bene Gesserit watchers on Rakis.
"She was on the roof, you say?" the Mother Commander of the Rakian Keep asked.
Tamalane, the commander, had served previously on Gammu and knew more than most about what the Sisterhood hoped to conjoin here. The spies' report had interrupted Tamalane's breakfast of cifruit confit laced with melange. The messenger stood at ease beside the table while Tamalane resumed eating as she reread the report.
"On the roof, yes, Reverend Mother," the messenger said. Tamalane glanced up at the messenger, Kipuna, a Rakian native acolyte being groomed for sensitive local duties. Swallowing a mouthful of her confit, Tamalane said: " 'Bring them back!' Those were her exact words?"
Kipuna nodded curtly. She understood the question. Had Sheeana spoken with preemptory command?
Tamalane resumed scanning the report, looking for the sensitive signals. She was glad they had sent Kipuna herself. Tamalane respected the abilities of this Rakian woman. Kipuna had the soft round features and fuzzy hair common among much of the Rakian priestly class, but there was no fuzzy brain under that hair.
"Sheeana was displeased," Kipuna said. "The 'thopter passed nearby the rooftop and she saw the two manacled prisoners in it quite clearly. She knew they were being taken to death in the desert. "
Tamalane put down the report and smiled. "So she ordered the prisoners brought back to her. I find her choice of words fascinating."
"Bring them back?" Kipuna asked. "That seems a simple enough order. How is it fascinating?"
Tamalane admired the directness of the acolyte's interest. Kipuna was not about to pass up a chance at learning how a real Reverend Mother's mind worked.
"It was not that part of her performance that interested me," Tamalane said. She bent to the report, reading aloud: " 'You are servants unto Shaitan, not servants unto servants.' " Tamalane looked up at Kipuna. "You saw and heard all of this yourself?"
"Yes, Reverend Mother. It was judged important that I report to you personally should you have other questions."
"She still calls him Shaitan," Tamalane said. "How that must gall them! Of course, the Tyrant himself said it: 'They will call me Shaitan.' "
"I have seen the reports out of the hoard found at Dar-es-Balat," Kipuna said.
"There was no delay in bringing back the two prisoners?" Tamalane asked.
"As quickly as a message could be transmitted to the 'thopter, Reverend Mother. They were returned within minutes."
"So they are watching her and listening all the time. Good. Did Sheeana give any sign that she knew the two prisoners? Did any message pass between them?"
"I am sure they were strangers to her, Reverend Mother. Two ordinary people of the lower orders, rather dirty and poorly clothed. They smelled of the unwashed from the perimeter hovels."
"Sheeana ordered the manacles removed and then she spoke to this unwashed pair. Her exact words now: What did she say?"
" 'You are my people.' "
"Lovely, lovely," Tamalane said. "Sheeana then ordered that these two be taken away, bathed and given new clothes before being released. Tell me in your own words what happened next."
"She summoned Tuek who came with three of his councillor-attendants. It was... almost an argument."
"Memory-trance, please," Tamalane said. "Replay the exchange for me."
Kipuna closed her eyes, breathed deeply and fell into memory-trance. Then: "Sheeana says, 'I do not like it when you feed my people to Shaitan.' Councillor Stiros says, 'They are sacrificed to Shai-hulud!' Sheeana says, 'To Shaitan!' Sheeana stamps her foot in anger. Tuek says, 'Enough, Stiros. I will not hear more of this dissension.' Sheeana says, 'When will you learn?' Stiros starts to speak but Tuek silences him with a glare and says, 'We have learned, Holy Child.' Sheeana says, 'I want -' "
"Enough," Tamalane said.
The acolyte opened her eyes and waited silently.
Presently, Tamalane said, "Return to your post, Kipuna. You have done very well, indeed."
"Thank you, Reverend Mother."
"There will be consternation among the priests," Tamalane said.
"Sheeana's wish is their command because Tuek believes in her. They will stop using the worms as instruments of punishment."
"The two prisoners," Kipuna said.
"Yes, very observant of you. The two prisoners will tell what happened to them. The story will be distorted. People will say that Sheeana protects them from the priests."
"Isn't that exactly what she's doing, Reverend Mother?"
"Ahhhh, but consider the options open to the priests. They will increase their alternative forms of punishment - whippings and certain deprivations. While fear of Shaitan eases because of Sheeana, fear of the priests will increase."
Within two months, Tamalane's reports to Chapter House contained confirmation of her own words.
"Short rations, especially short water rations, have become the dominant form of punishment," Tamalane reported. "Wild rumors have penetrated the farthest reaches of Rakis and soon will find lodging on many other planets as well."
Tamalane considered the implications of her report with care. Many eyes would see it, including some not in sympathy with Taraza. Any Reverend Mother would be able to call up an image of what must be happening on Rakis. Many on Rakis had seen Sheeana's arrival atop a wild worm from the desert. The priestly response of secrecy had been flawed from the beginning. Curiosity unsatisfied tended to create its own answers. Guesses were often more dangerous than facts.
Previous reports had told of the children brought to play with Sheeana. The much-garbled stories of such children were repeated with increasing distortions and those distortions had been dutifully sent on to Chapter House. The two prisoners, returned to the streets in their new finery, only compounded the growing mythology. The Sisterhood, artists in mythology, possessed on Rakis a ready-made energy to be subtly amplified and directed.
"We have fed a wish-fulfillment belief into the populace," Tamalane reported. She thought of the Bene Gesserit-originated phrases as she reread her latest report.
"Sheeana is the one we have long awaited."
It was a simple enough statement that its meaning could be spread without unacceptable distortion.
"The Child of Shai-hulud comes to chastise the priests!"
That one had been a bit more complicated. A few priests died in dark alleys as a result of popular fervency. This had fed a new alertness into the corps of priestly enforcers with predictable injustices inflicted upon the populace.
Tamalane thought of the priestly delegation that had waited upon Sheeana as a result of turmoil among Tuek's councillors. Seven of them led by Stiros had intruded upon Sheeana's luncheon with a child from the streets. Knowing that this would happen Tamalane had been prepared and a secret recording of the incident had been brought to her, the words audible, every expression visible, the thoughts quite apparent to a Reverend Mother's trained eye.
"We were sacrificing to Shai-hulud!" Stiros protested.
"Tuek told you not to argue with me about that," Sheeana said.
How the priestesses smiled at the discomfiture of Stiros and the other priests!
"But Shai-hulud -" Stiros began.
"Shaitan!" Sheeana corrected him and her expression was easily read: Did these stupid priests know nothing?
"But we have always thought -"
"You were wrong!" Sheeana stamped a foot.
Stiros feigned the need for instruction. "Are we to believe that Shai-hulud, the Divided God, is also Shaitan?"
What a complete fool he was, Tamalane thought. Even a pubescent girl could confound him, as Sheeana proceeded to do.
"Any child of the streets knows this almost as soon as she can walk!" Sheeana ranted.
Stiros spoke slyly: "How do you know what is in the minds of street children?"
"You are evil to doubt me!" Sheeana accused. It was an answer she had learned to use often, knowing it would get back to Tuek and cause trouble.
Stiros knew this only too well. He waited with downcast eyes while Sheeana, speaking with heavy patience as one telling an old fable to a child, explained to him that either god or devil or both could inhabit the worm of the desert. Humans had only to accept this. It was not left to humans to decide such things.
Stiros had sent people into the desert for speaking such heresy. His expression (so carefully recorded for Bene Gesserit analysis) said such wild concepts were always springing up from the muck at the bottom of the Rakian heap. But now! He had to contend with Tuek's insistence that Sheeana spoke gospel truth!
As she looked at the recording, Tamalane thought the pot was boiling nicely. This she reported to Chapter House. Doubts flogged Stiros; doubts everywhere except among the populace in their devotion to Sheeana. Spies close to Tuek said he was even beginning to doubt the wisdom of his decision to translate the historian-locutor, Dromind.
"Was Dromind right to doubt her?" Tuek demanded of those around him.
"Impossible!" the sycophants said.
What else could they say? The High Priest could make no mistake in such decisions. God would not allow it. Sheeana clearly confounded him, though. She put the decisions of many previous High Priests into a terrible limbo. Reinterpretation was being demanded on all sides.
Stiros kept pounding at Tuek: "What do we really know about her?"
Tamalane had a full account of the most recent such confrontation. Stiros and Tuek alone, debating far into the night, just the two of them (they thought) in Tuek's quarters, comfortably ensconced in rare blue chairdogs, melange-laced confits close at hand. Tamalane's holophoto record of the meeting showed a single yellow glowglobe drifting on its suspensors close above the pair, the light dimmed to ease the strain on tired eyes.
"Perhaps that first time, leaving her in the desert with a thumper, was not a good test," Stiros said.
It was a sly statement. Tuek was noted for not having an excessively complicated mind. "Not a good test? Whatever do you mean?"
"God might wish us to perform other tests."
"You have seen her yourself! Many times in the desert talking to God!"
"Yes!" Stiros almost pounced. Clearly, it was the response he wanted. "If she can stand unharmed in the presence of God, perhaps she can teach others how this is accomplished."
"You know this angers her when we suggest it."
"Perhaps we have not approached the problem in quite the right way."
"Stiros! What if the child is right? We serve the Divided God. I have been thinking long and earnestly upon this. Why would God divide? Is this not God's ultimate test?"
The expression on Stiros' face said this was exactly the kind of mental gymnastics his faction feared. He tried to divert the High Priest but Tuek was not to be shifted from a single-track plunge into metaphysics.
"The ultimate test," Tuek insisted. "To see the good in evil and the evil in good."
Stiros' expression could only be described as consternation. Tuek was God's Supreme Anointed. No priest was allowed to doubt that! The thing that might now arise if Tuek went public with such a concept would shake the foundations of priestly authority! Clearly, Stiros was asking himself if the time had not come to translate his High Priest.
"I would never suggest that I might debate such profound ideas with my High Priest," Stiros said. "But perhaps I can offer a proposal that might resolve many doubts."
"Propose then," Tuek said.
"Subtle instruments could be introduced in her clothing. We might listen when she talks to -"
"Do you think God would not know what we did?"
"Such a thought never crossed my mind!"
"I will not order her taken into the desert," Tuek said.
"But if it is her own idea to go?" Stiros assumed his most ingratiating expression. "She has done this many times."
"But not recently. She appears to have lost her need to consult with God."
"Could we not offer suggestions to her?" Stiros asked.
"Sheeana, when will you speak again with your Father? Do you not long to stand once more in His presence?"
"That has more the sound of prodding than suggestion."
"I am only proposing that -"
"This Holy Child is no simpleton! She talks to God, Stiros. God might punish us sorely for such presumption."
"Did God not put her here for us to study?" Stiros asked.
This was too close to the Dromind heresy for Tuek's liking. He sent a baleful stare at Stiros.
"What I mean," Stiros said, "is that surely God means us to learn from her."
Tuek himself had said this many times, never hearing in his own words a curious echo of Dromind's words.
"She is not to be prodded and tested," Tuek said.
"Heaven forbid!" Stiros said. "I will be the soul of holy caution. And everything I learn from the Holy Child will be reported to you immediately."
Tuek merely nodded. He had his own ways to be sure Stiros spoke the truth.
The subsequent sly proddings and testings were reported immediately to Chapter House by Tamalane and her subordinates.
"Sheeana has a thoughtful look," Tamalane reported.
Among the Reverend Mothers on Rakis and those to whom they reported, this thoughtful look had an obvious interpretation. Sheeana's antecedents had been deduced long ago. Stiros' intrusions were making the child homesick. Sheeana kept a wise silence but she clearly thought much about her life in a pioneer village. Despite all of the fears and perils, those obviously had been happy times for her. She would remember the laughter, poling the sand for its weather, hunting scorpions in the crannies of the village hovels, smelling out spice fragments in the dunes. From Sheeana's repeated trips to the area, the Sisterhood had made a reasonably accurate guess as to the location of the lost village and what had happened to it. Sheeana often stared at one of Tuek's old maps on the wall of her quarters.
As Tamalane expected, one morning Sheeana stabbed a finger at the place on the wall map where she had gone many times. "Take me there," Sheeana commanded her attendants.
A 'thopter was summoned.
While priests listened avidly in a 'thopter hovering far overhead, Sheeana once more confronted her nemesis in the sand. Tamalane and her advisors, tuned into the priestly circuits, observed just as avidly.
Nothing even remotely suggesting a village remained on the duneswept waste where Sheeana ordered herself deposited. She used a thumper this time however. Another of Stiros' sly suggestions accompanied by careful instructions on use of the ancient means to summon the Divided God.
A worm came.
Tamalane watched on her own relay projector, thinking the worm only a middling monster. Its length she estimated at about fifty meters. Sheeana stood only about three meters in front of the gaping mouth. The huffing of the worm's interior fires was clearly audible to the observers.
"Will you tell me why you did it?" Sheeana demanded.
She did not flinch from the worm's hot breath. Sand crackled beneath the monster but she gave no sign that she heard.
"Answer me!" Sheeana commanded.
No voice came from the worm but Sheeana appeared to be listening, her head cocked to one side.
"Then go back where you came from," Sheeana said. She waved the worm away.
Obediently, the worm backed off and returned beneath the sands.
For days, while the Sisterhood spied upon them with glee, the priests debated that sparse encounter. Sheeana could not be questioned lest she learn that she had been overheard. As before, she refused to discuss anything about her visits to the desert.
Stiros continued his sly prodding. The result was precisely what the Sisterhood expected. Without any warning, Sheeana would awaken some days and say: "Today, I will go into the desert."
Sometimes she used a thumper, sometimes she danced her summons. Far out on the sands beyond the sight of Keen or any other inhabited place, the worms came to her. Sheeana alone in front of a worm talked to it while others listened. Tamalane found the accumulated recordings fascinating as they passed through her hands on their way to Chapter House.
"I should hate you!"
What a turmoil that caused among the priests! Tuek wanted an open debate: "Should all of us hate the Divided God at the same time we love Him?"
Stiros barely shut off this suggestion with the argument that God's wishes had not been made clear.
Sheeana asked one of her gigantic visitors: "Will you let me ride you again?"
When she approached, the worm retreated and would not let her mount.
On another occasion, she asked: "Must I stay with the priests?"
This particular worm proved to be the target of many questions, and among them:
"Where do people go when you eat them?"
"Why are people false to me?"
"Should I punish the bad priests?"
Tamalane laughed at that final question, thinking of the turmoil it would cause among Tuek's people. Her spies duly reported the dismay of the priests.
"How does He answer her?" Tuek asked. "Has anyone heard God respond?"
"Perhaps He speaks directly into her soul," a councillor ventured.
"That's it!" Tuek leaped at this offering. "We must ask her what God tells her to do."
Sheeana refused to be drawn into such discussions.
"She has a pretty fair assessment of her powers," Tamalane reported. "She's not going into the desert very much now despite Stiros' proddings. As we might expect, the attraction has waned. Fear and elation will carry her just so far before paling. She has, however, learned an effective command:
The Sisterhood marked this as an important development. When even the Divided God obeyed, no priest or priestess was about to question her authority to issue such a command.
"The priests are building towers in the desert," Tamalane reported. "They want more secure places from which to observe Sheeana when she does go out there."
The Sisterhood had anticipated this development and had even done some of its own prodding to speed up the projects.
Each tower had its own windtrap, its own maintenance staff, its own water barrier, gardens and other elements of civilization. Each was a small community spreading the established areas of Rakis farther and farther into the domain of the worms.
Pioneer villages no longer were necessary and Sheeana got the credit for this development.
"She is our priestess," the populace said.
Tuek and his councillors spun on the point of a pin: Shaitan and Shai-hulud in one body? Stiros lived in daily fear that Tuek would announce the fact. Stiros' advisors finally rejected the suggestion that Tuek be translated. Another suggestion that Priestess Sheeana have a fatal accident was greeted with horror by all, even Stiros finding it too great a venture.
"Even if we remove this thorn, God may visit us with an even more terrible intrusion," he said. And he warned: "The oldest books say that a little child shall lead us."
Stiros was only the most recent among those who looked upon Sheeana as something not quite mortal. It was observable that those around her, Cania included, had come to love Sheeana. She was so ingenuous, so bright and responsive.
Many observed that this growing affection for Sheeana extended even to Tuek.
For the people touched by this power, the Sisterhood had an immediate recognition. The Bene Gesserit knew a label for this ancient effect: expanding worship. Tamalane reported profound changes moving through Rakis as people everywhere on the planet began praying to Sheeana instead of to Shaitan or even to Shai-hulud.
"They see that Sheeana intercedes for the weakest people," Tamalane reported. "It is a familiar pattern. All goes as ordered. When do you send the ghola?"
The outer surface of a balloon is always larger than the center of the damned thing! That's the whole point of the Scattering!
One of the Sisterhood's swifter lighters took Miles Teg up to the Guild Transport circling Gammu. He did not like leaving the Keep at this moment but the priorities were obvious. He also had a gut reaction about this venture. In his three centuries of experience, Teg had learned to trust his gut reactions. Matters were not going well on Gammu. Every patrol, every report of remote sensors, the accounts of Patrin's spies in the cities - everything fueled Teg's disquiet.
Mentat fashion, Teg felt the movement of forces around the Keep and within it. His ghola charge was threatened. The order for him to report aboard the Guild Transport prepared for violence, however, came from Taraza herself with an unmistakable crypto-identifier on it.
On the lighter taking him upward, Teg set himself for battle. Those preparations he could make had been made. Lucilla was warned. He felt confident about Lucilla. Schwangyu was another matter. He fully intended to discuss with Taraza a few essential changes in the Gammu Keep. First, though, he had another battle to win. Teg had not the slightest doubt that he was entering combat.
As his lighter moved in to dock, Teg looked out a port and saw the gigantic Ixian symbol within the Guild cartouche on the Transport's dark side. This was a ship the Guild had converted to Ixian mechanism, substituting machines for the traditional navigator. There would be Ixian technicians aboard to service the equipment. A genuine Guild navigator would be there, too. The Guild had never quite learned to trust a machine even while they paraded these converted Transports as a message to Tleilaxu and Rakians.
"You see: we do not absolutely require your melange!"
This was the announcement contained in that giant symbol of Ix on the spaceship's side.
Teg felt the slight lurch of the docking grapples and took a deep, quieting breath. He felt as he always did just before battle: Empty of all false dreams. This was a failure. The talking had failed and now came the contest of blood... unless he could prevail in some other way. Combat these days was seldom a massive thing but death was there nonetheless. That represented a more permanent kind of failure. If we cannot adjust our differences peacefully we are less than human.
An attendant with the unmistakable signs of Ix in his speech guided Teg to the room where Taraza waited. All along the corridors and in the pneumotubes carrying him to Taraza, Teg looked for signs to confirm the secret warning in the Mother Superior's message. All seemed serene and ordinary - the attendant properly deferential toward the Bashar. "I was a Tireg commander at Andioyu," the attendant said, naming one of the almost-battles where Teg had prevailed.
They came to an ordinary oval hatch in the wall of an ordinary corridor. The hatch opened and Teg entered a white-walled room of comfortable dimensions - sling chairs, low side tables, glowglobes tuned to yellow. The hatch slid into its seals behind him with a solid thump, leaving his guide behind him in the corridor.
A Bene Gesserit acolyte parted the gossamer hangings that concealed a passage on Teg's right. She nodded to him. He had been seen. Taraza would be notified.
Teg suppressed a trembling in his calf muscles.
He had not misinterpreted Taraza's secret warning. Were his preparations adequate? There was a black sling chair at his left, a long table in front of it and another chair at the end of the table. Teg went to this side of the room and waited with his back to the wall. The brown dust of Gammu still clung to his boot toes, he noted.
Peculiar smell in the room. He sniffed. Shere! Had Taraza and her people armed themselves against an Ixian Probe? Teg had taken his usual shere capsule before embarking on the lighter. Too much knowledge in his head that might be useful to an enemy. The fact that Taraza left the smell of shere around her quarters had another implication: It was a statement to some observer whose presence she could not prevent.
Taraza entered through the gossamer hangings. She appeared tired, he thought. He found this remarkable because the Sisters were capable of concealing fatigue until almost ready to drop. Was she actually low in energy or was this another gesture for hidden observers?
Pausing just into the room, Taraza studied Teg. The Bashar appeared much older than when she had last seen him, Taraza thought. Duty on Gammu was having its effect, but she found this reassuring. Teg was doing his job.
"Your quick response is appreciated, Miles," she said.
Appreciated! Their agreed word for "We are being watched secretly by a dangerous foe."
Teg nodded while his gaze went to the hangings where Taraza had entered.
Taraza smiled and moved farther into the room. No signs of the melange cycle in Teg, she observed. Teg's advanced years always raised the suspicion that he might resort to the leavening effect of the spice. Nothing about him revealed even the faintest hint of the melange addiction that even the strongest sometimes turned to when they felt their end approaching. Teg wore his old uniform jacket of Supreme Bashar but without the gold starbursts at shoulder and collar. This was a signal she recognized. He said: "Remember how I earned this in your service. I have not failed you this time, either."
The eyes that studied her were level; no hint of judgment escaped them. His entire appearance spoke of quiet within, everything at variance with what she knew must be occurring in him at this moment. He awaited her signal.
"Our ghola must be awakened at the first opportunity," she said. She waved a hand to silence him as he started to respond. "I have seen Lucilla's reports and I know he is too young. But we are required to act."
She spoke for the watchers, he realized. Were her words to be believed?
"I now give you the order to awaken him," she said and she flexed her left wrist in the confirmation gesture of their secret language.
It was true! Teg glanced at the hangings that concealed the passage where Taraza had entered. Who was it listening there?
He put his Mentat talents to the problem. There were missing pieces but that did not stop him. A Mentat could work without certain pieces if he had enough to create a pattern. Sometimes, the sketchiest outline was enough. It supplied the hidden shape and then he could fit the missing pieces to complete a whole. Mentats seldom had all the data they might desire, but he was trained to sense patterns, to recognize systems and wholeness. Teg reminded himself now that he also had been trained in the ultimate military sense: You trained a recruit to train a weapon, to aim the weapon correctly.
Taraza was aiming him. His assessment of their situation had been confirmed.
"Desperate attempts will be made to kill or capture our ghola before you can awaken him," she said.
He recognized her tone: the coldly analytic offering of data to a Mentat. She saw that he was in Mentat mode, then.
The Mentat pattern-search rolled through his mind. First, there was the Sisterhood's design for the ghola, largely unknown to him, but ranging somehow around the presence of a young female on Rakis who (so they said) could command worms. Idaho gholas: charming persona and with something else that had made the Tyrant and the Tleilaxu repeat him countless times. Duncans by the shipload! What service did this ghola provide that the Tyrant had not let him remain among the dead? And the Tleilaxu: They had decanted Duncan Idaho gholas from their axlotl tanks for millennia, even after the death of the Tyrant. The Tleilaxu had sold this ghola to the Sisterhood twelve times and the Sisterhood had paid in the hardest currency: melange from their own precious stores. Why did the Tleilaxu accept in payment something they produced so copiously? Obvious: to deplete the Sisterhood's supplies. A special form of greed there. The Tleilaxu were buying supremacy - a power game!
Teg focused on the quietly waiting Mother Superior. "The Tleilaxu have been killing our gholas to control our timing," he said.
Taraza nodded but did not speak. So there was more. Once again, he fell into Mentat mode.
The Bene Gesserit were a valuable market for the Tleilaxu melange, not the only source because there was always the trickle from Rakis, but valuable, yes; very valuable. It was not reasonable that the Tleilaxu would alienate a valuable market unless they had a more valuable market standing ready.
Who else had an interest in Bene Gesserit activities? The Ixians without a doubt. But Ixians were not a good market for melange. The Ixian presence on this ship spoke of their independence. Since Ixians and Fish Speakers made common cause, the Fish Speakers could be set aside from this pattern quest.
What great power or assemblage of powers in this universe possessed...
Teg froze that thought as though he had applied the dive brakes in a 'thopter, letting his mind float free while he sorted other considerations.
Not in this universe.
The pattern took shape. Wealth. Gammu assumed a new role in his Mentat computations. Gammu had been gutted long ago by the Harkonnens, abandoned as a festering carcass, which the Danians had restored. There was a time, though, when even Gammu's hopes were gone. Without hopes there had not even been dreams. Climbing from that cesspool, the population had employed only the basest pragmatism. If it works, it is good.
In his first survey of Gammu he had noted the numbers of banking houses. They were even marked, some of them, as Bene Gesserit - safe. Gammu served as the fulcrum for manipulation of enormous wealth. The bank he had visited to study its use as an emergency contact came back fully into his Mentat awareness. He had realized at once that the place did not confine itself to purely planetary business. It was a bankers' bank.
Not just wealth but WEALTH.
A Prime Pattern development did not come into Teg's mind but he had enough for a Testing Projection. Wealth not of this universe. People from the Scattering.
All of this Mentat sorting had taken only a few seconds. Having reached a testing point, Teg set himself loose-of-muscle and nerve, glanced once at Taraza and strode across to the concealed entry. He noted that, Taraza gave no sign of alarm at his movements. Whipping aside the hangings, Teg confronted a man almost as tall as himself: military-style clothing with crossed spears at the collar tabs. The face was heavy, the jaws wide; green eyes. A look of surprised alertness, one hand poised above a pocket that bulged obviously with a weapon.
Teg smiled at the man, let the hangings fall and returned to Taraza.
"We are being observed by people from the Scattering," he said.
Taraza relaxed. Teg's performance had been memorable.
The hangings swished aside. The tall stranger entered and stopped about two paces from Teg. A glacial expression of anger gripped his features.
"I warned you not to tell him!" The voice was a grating baritone with an accent new to Teg.
"And I warned you about the powers of this Mentat Bashar," Taraza said. A look of loathing flashed across her features.
The man subsided and a subtle look of fear came over his face. "Honored Matre, I -"
"Don't you dare call me that!" Taraza's body tensed in a fighting posture that Teg had never before seen her display.
The man inclined his head slightly. "Dear lady, you do not control the situation here. I must remind you that my orders -"
Teg had heard enough. "Through me, she does control here," he said. "Before coming here I set certain protective measures in motion. This..." he glanced around him and returned his attention to the intruder, whose face now bore a wary expression "... is not a no-ship. Two of our no-ship monitors have you in their sights at this moment."
"You would not survive!" the man barked.
Teg smiled amiably. "No one on this ship would survive." He clenched his jaw to key the nerve signal and activate the tiny pulsetimer in his skull. It played its graphic signals against his visual centers. "And you don't have much time in which to make a decision."
"Tell him how you knew to do this," Taraza said.
"The Mother Superior and I have our own private means of communication," Teg said. "But further than that, there was no need for her to warn me. Her summons was enough. The Mother Superior on a Guild Transport at a time like this? Impossible!"
"Impasse," the man growled.
"Perhaps," Teg said. "But neither Guild nor Ix will risk a total and all-out attack by Bene Gesserit forces under the command of a leader trained by me. I refer to the Bashar Burzmali. Your support has just dissolved and vanished."
"I told him nothing of this," Taraza said. "You have just witnessed the performance of a Mentat Bashar, which I doubt could be equaled in your universe. Think of that if you consider going against Burzmali, a man trained by this Mentat."
The intruder looked from Taraza to Teg and back to Taraza. "This is the way out of our seeming impasse," Teg said. "The Mother Superior Taraza and her entourage leave with me. You must decide immediately. Time is running out."
"You're bluffing." There was no force in the words.
Teg faced Taraza and bowed. "It has been a great honor to serve you, Reverend Mother Superior. I bid you farewell."
"Perhaps death will not part us," Taraza said. It was the traditional farewell of a Reverend Mother to a Sister-equal.
"Go!" The heavy-featured man dashed to the corridor hatchway and flung it open, revealing two Ixian guards, looks of surprise on their faces. His voice hoarse, the man ordered: "Take them to their lighter."
Still relaxed and calm, Teg said: "Summon your people, Mother Superior." To the man standing at the hatchway, Teg said: "You value your own skin too much to be a good soldier. None of my people would have made such an error."
"There are true Honored Matres aboard this ship," the man grated. "I am sworn to protect them."
Teg grimaced and turned to where Taraza was leading her people from the adjoining room: two Reverend Mothers and four acolytes. Teg recognized one of the Reverend Mothers: Darwi Odrade. He had seen her before only at a distance but the oval face and lovely eyes were arresting: so like Lucilla.
"Do we have time for introductions?" Taraza asked.
"Of course, Mother Superior."
Teg nodded and grasped the hand of each woman as Taraza presented them.
As they left, Teg turned to the uniformed stranger. "One must always observe the niceties," Teg said. "Otherwise we are less than human."
Not until they were on the lighter, Taraza seated beside him and her entourage nearby, did Teg ask the overriding question.
"How did they take you?"
The lighter was plunging planetward. The screen in front of Teg showed that the Ix-branded Guildship obeyed his command to remain in orbit until his party was safely behind its planetary defenses.
Before Taraza could respond, Odrade leaned across the aisle separating them and said: "I have countermanded the Bashar's orders to destroy that Guildship, Mother."
Teg swiveled his head sharply and glared at Odrade. "But they took you captive and..." He scowled. "How did you know I -"
Taraza's voice conveyed overwhelming reproof. He grinned ruefully. Yes, she knew him almost as well as he knew himself... better in some respects.
"They did not just capture us, Miles," Taraza said. "We allowed ourselves to be taken. Ostensibly, I was escorting Dar to Rakis. We left our no-ship at Junction and asked for the fastest Guild Transport. All of my Council, including Burzmali, agreed that these intruders from the Scattering would subvert the Transport and take us to you, aiming to pick up all the pieces of the ghola project."
Teg was aghast. The risk!
"We knew you would rescue us," Taraza said. "Burzmali was standing by in case you failed."
"That Guildship you've spared," Teg said, "will summon assistance and attack our -"
"They will not attack Gammu," Taraza said. "Too many diverse forces from the Scattering are assembled on Gammu. They would not dare alienate so many."
"I wish I were as certain of that as you appear to be," Teg said.
"Be certain, Miles. Besides, there are other reasons for not destroying the Guildship. Ix and the Guild have been caught taking sides. That's bad for business and they need all of the business they can get."
"Unless they have more important customers offering greater profits!"
"Ahhhhh, Miles." She spoke in a musing voice. "What we latter-day Bene Gesserit really do is try to let matters achieve a calmer tone, a balance. You know this."
Teg found this true but he locked on one phrase: "... latter-day..." The words conveyed a sense of summation-at-death. Before he could question this, Taraza continued:
"We like to settle the most passionate situations off the battlefield. I must admit we have the Tyrant to thank for that attitude. I don't suppose you've ever thought of yourself as a product of the Tyrant's conditioning, Miles, but you are."
Teg accepted this without comment. It was a factor in the entire spread of human society. No Mentat could avoid it as a datum.
"That quality in you, Miles, drew us to you in the first place," Taraza said. "You can be damnably frustrating at times but we wouldn't have you any other way."
By subtle revelations in tone and manner, Teg realized that Taraza was not speaking solely for his benefit, but was also directing her words at her entourage.
"Have you any idea, Miles, how maddening it is to hear you argue both sides of an issue with equal force? But your simpatico is a powerful weapon. How terrified some of our foes have been to find you confronting them where they had not the slightest suspicion you might appear!"
Teg allowed himself a tight smile. He glanced at the women seated across the aisle from them. Why was Taraza directing such words at this group? Darwi Odrade appeared to be resting, head back, eyes closed. Several of the others were chatting among themselves. None of this was conclusive to Teg. Even Bene Gesserit acolytes could follow several trains of thought simultaneously. He returned his attention to Taraza.
"You really feel things the way the enemy feels them," Taraza said. "That is what I mean. And, of course, when you're in that mental frame there is no enemy for you."
"Yes, there is!"
"Don't mistake my words, Miles. We have never doubted your loyalty. But it's uncanny how you make us see things we have no other way of seeing. There are times when you are our eyes."
Darwi Odrade, Teg saw, had opened her eyes and was looking at him. She was a lovely woman. Something disturbing about her appearance. As with Lucilla, she reminded him of someone in his past. Before Teg could follow this thought, Taraza spoke.
"Has the ghola this ability to balance between opposing forces?" she asked.
"He could be a Mentat," Teg said.
"He was a Mentat in one incarnation, Miles."
"Do you really want him awakened so young?"
"It is necessary, Miles. Deadly necessary."
The failure of CHOAM? Quite simple: They ignore the fact that larger commercial powers wait at the edges of their activities, powers that could swallow them the way a slig swallows garbage. This is the true threat of the Scattering - to them and to us all.
Odrade spared only part of her awareness to the conversation between Teg and Taraza. Their lighter was a small one, its passenger quarters cramped. It would use atmospherics to dampen its descent, she knew, and she prepared herself for the buffeting. The pilot would be sparing of their suspensors on such a craft, saving energy.
She used these moments as she used all such time now to gird herself for the coming necessities. Time pressed; a special calendar drove her. She had looked at a calendar before leaving Chapter House, caught as often happened to her by the persistence of time and its language: seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years... Standard Years, to be precise. Persistence was an inadequate word for the phenomenon. Inviolability was more like it. Tradition. Never disturb tradition. She held the comparisons firmly in mind, the ancient flow of time imposed on planets that did not tick to the primitive human clock. A week was seven days. Seven! How powerful that number remained. Mystical. It was enshrined in the Orange Catholic Bible. The Lord made a world in six days "and on the seventh day He rested."
Good for Him! Odrade thought. We all should rest after great labors.
Odrade turned her head slightly and looked across the aisle at Teg. He had no idea how many memories of him she possessed. She could mark how the years had treated that strong face. Teaching the ghola had drained his energies, she saw. That child in the Gammu Keep must be a sponge absorbing anything and everything around him.
Miles Teg, do you know how we use you? she wondered.
It was a thought that weakened her but she allowed it to persist in her awareness almost with a feeling of defiance. How easy it would be to love that old man! Not as a mate, of course... but love, nonetheless. She could feel the bond tugging at her and recognized it with the fine edge of her Bene Gesserit abilities. Love, damnable love, weakening love.
Odrade had felt this tugging with the first mate she had been sent to seduce. Curious sensation. Her years of Bene Gesserit conditioning had made her wary of it. None of her proctors had allowed her the luxury of that unquestioning warmth, and she had learned in time the reasons behind such isolating care. But there she was, sent by the breeding mistresses, ordered to get that close to a single individual, to let him enter her. All of the clinical data lay there in her awareness and she could read the sexual excitement in her partner even as she allowed it in herself. She had, after all, been carefully prepared for this role by men the Breeding Mistresses selected and conditioned with exquisite nicety for just such training.
Odrade sighed and looked away from Teg, closing her eyes in remembrance. Training Males never let their emotions reflect a bonding abandonment to their students. It was a necessary flaw in the sexual education.
That first seduction upon which she had been sent: She had been quite unprepared for the melting ecstasy of a simultaneous orgasm, a mutuality and sharing as old as humankind... older! And with powers capable of overwhelming the reason. The look on her male companion's face, the sweet kiss, his total abandonment of all self-protective reserves, unguarded and supremely vulnerable. No Training Male had ever done that! Desperately, she grasped for the Bene Gesserit lessons. Through those lessons, she saw the essence of this man on his face, felt that essence in her deepest fibers. For just an instant, she permitted an equal response, experiencing a new height of ecstasy that none of her teachers had hinted might be attainable. For that instant, she understood what had happened to the Lady Jessica and the other Bene Gesserit failures.
This feeling was love!
Its power frightened her (as the Breeding Mistresses had known it would) and she fell back into the careful Bene Gesserit conditioning, allowing a mask of pleasure to take over the brief natural expression on her face, employing calculated caresses where natural caresses would have been easier (but less effective).
The male responded as expected, stupidly. It helped to think of him as stupid.
Her second seduction had been easier. She could still call up the features of that first one, though, doing it sometimes with a calloused sense of wonder. Sometimes, his face came to her of itself and for no reason she could identify immediately.
With the other males she had been sent to breed, the memory markers were different. She had to hunt her past for the look of them. The sensory recordings of those experiences did not go as deep. Not so with that first one!
Such was the dangerous power of love.
And look at the troubles this hidden force had caused the Bene Gesserit over the millennia. The Lady Jessica and her love for her Duke had been only one example among countless others. Love clouded reason. It diverted the Sisters from their duties. Love could be tolerated only where it caused no immediate and obvious disruptions or where it served the larger purposes of the Bene Gesserit. Otherwise it was to be avoided.
Always, though, it remained an object of disquieting watchfulness.
Odrade opened her eyes and glanced again at Teg and Taraza. The Mother Superior had taken up a new subject. How irritating Taraza's voice could be at times! Odrade closed her eyes and listened to the conversation, tied to those two voices by some link in her awareness that she could not avoid.
"Very few people realize how much of the infrastructure in a civilization is dependency infrastructure," Taraza said. "We have made quite a study of this."
Love is a dependency-infrastructure, Odrade thought. Why had Taraza hit on this subject at this time? The Mother Superior seldom did anything without deep motives. "Dependency infrastructure is a term that includes all things necessary for a human population to survive at existing or increased numbers," Taraza said.
"Melange?" Teg asked.
"Of course, but most people look at the spice and say, 'How nice it is that we can have it and it can give us so much longer lives than were enjoyed by our ancestors.' "
"Providing they can afford it." Teg's voice had a bite in it, Odrade noted.
"As long as no single power controls all of the market, most people have enough," Taraza said.
"I learned economics at my mother's knee," Teg said. "Food, water, breathable air, living space not contaminated by poisons - there are many kinds of money and the value changes according to the dependency."
As she listened to him, Odrade almost nodded in agreement. His response was her own. Don't belabor the obvious, Taraza! Get to your point.
"I want you to remember your mother's teachings very clearly," Taraza said. How mild her voice was suddenly! Taraza's voice changed abruptly then and she snapped: "Hydraulic despotism!"
She does that shift of emphasis well, Odrade thought. Memory spewed up the data like a spigot suddenly opened full force. Hydraulic despotism: central control of an essential energy such as water, electricity, fuel, medicines, melange... Obey the central controlling power or the energy is shut off and you die!
Taraza was talking once more: "There's another useful concept that I'm sure your mother taught you - the key log."
Odrade was very curious now. Taraza was headed somewhere important with this conversation. Key log: a truly ancient concept from the days before suspensors when lumbermen sent their fallen timber rushing down rivers to central mill sites. Sometimes the logs jammed up in the river and an expert was brought in to find the one log, the key log, which would free the jam when removed. Teg, she knew, would have an intellectual understanding of the term but she and Taraza could call up actual witnesses from Other Memories, see the explosion of broken bits of wood and water as a jam was released.
"The Tyrant was a key log," Taraza said. "He created the jam and he released it."
The lighter began trembling sharply as it took its first bite of Gammu's atmosphere. Odrade felt the tightness of her restraining harness for a few seconds, then the craft's passage became steadier. Conversation stopped for this interval, then Taraza continued:
"Beyond the so-called natural dependencies are some religions that have been created psychologically. Even physical necessities can have such an underground component."
"A fact the Missionaria Protectiva understands quite well," Teg said. Again, Odrade heard that undercurrent of deep resentment in his voice. Taraza certainly must hear it, too. What was she doing? She could weaken Teg!
"Ahhh, yes," Taraza said. "Our Missionaria Protectiva. Humans have such a powerful need that their own belief structure be the 'true belief.' If it gives you pleasure or a sense of security and if it is incorporated into your belief structure, what a powerful dependency that creates!"
Again, Taraza fell silent while their lighter went through another atmospheric buffeting.
"I wish he would use his suspensors!" Taraza complained.
"It saves fuel," Teg said. "Less dependency."
Taraza chuckled. "Oh, yes, Miles. You know the lesson well. I see your mother's hand in it. Damn the dam when the child strikes out in a dangerous direction."
"You think of me as a child?" he asked.
"I think of you as someone who has just had his first direct encounter with the machinations of the so-called Honored Mattes."
So that's it, Odrade thought. And with a feeling of shock, Odrade realized that Taraza was aiming her words at a broader target than just Teg.
She's talking to me!
"These Honored Matres, as they call themselves," Taraza said, "have combined sexual ecstasy and worship. I doubt that they have even guessed at the dangers."
Odrade opened her eyes and looked across the aisle at the Mother Superior. Taraza's gaze was fixed intently on Teg, an unreadable expression except for the eyes, which burned with the necessity for him to understand.
"Dangers," Taraza repeated. "The great mass of humankind possesses an unmistakable unit-identity. It can be one thing. It can act as a single organism."
"So the Tyrant said," Teg countered.
"So the Tyrant demonstrated! The Group Soul was his to manipulate. There are times, Miles, when survival demands that we commune with the soul. Souls, you know, are always seeking outlet."
"Hasn't communing with souls gone out of style in our time?" Teg asked. Odrade did not like the bantering tone in his voice and noted that it aroused a matching anger in Taraza.
"You think I talk about fashions in religion?" Taraza demanded, her high-pitched voice insistently harsh. "We both know religions can be created! I'm talking about these Honored Matres who ape some of our ways but have none of our deeper awareness. They dare place themselves at the center of worship!"
"A thing the Bene Gesserit always avoids," he said. "My mother said that worshipers and the worshiped are united by the faith."
"And they can be divided!"
Odrade saw Teg suddenly fall into Mentat mode, an unfocused stare in his eyes, his features placid. She saw now part of what Taraza was doing. The Mentat rides Roman, one foot on each steed. Each foot is based on a different reality as the pattern-search hurtles him forward. He must ride different realities to a single goal.
Teg spoke in a Mentat's musing, unaccented voice: "Divided forces will battle for supremacy."
Taraza gave a sigh of pleasure almost sensual in its natural venting.
"Dependency infrastructure," Taraza said. "These women from the Scattering would control dividing forces, all of those forces trying mightily to take the lead. That military officer on the Guildship, when he spoke of his Honored Matres, spoke with both awe and hatred. I'm sure you heard it in his voice, Miles. I know how well your mother taught you."
"I heard." Teg was once more focused on Taraza, hanging on her every word as was Odrade.
"Dependencies," Taraza said. "How simple they can be and how complex. Take, for example, tooth decay."
"Tooth decay?" Teg was shocked off his Mentat track and Odrade, observing this, saw that his reaction was precisely what Taraza wanted. Taraza was playing her Mentat Bashar with a fine hand.
And I am supposed to see this and learn from it, Odrade thought.
"Tooth decay," Taraza repeated. "A simple implant at birth prevents this bane for most of humankind. Still, we must brush the teeth and otherwise care for them. It is so natural to us that we seldom think about it. The devices we use are assumed to be wholly ordinary parts of our environment. Yet the devices, the materials in them, the instructors in tooth care and the Suk monitors, all have their interlocked relationships."
"A Mentat does not need interdependencies explained to him," Teg said. There was still curiosity in his voice but with a definite undertone of resentment.
"Quite," Taraza said. "That is the natural environment of a Mentat's thinking process."
"Then why do you belabor this?"
"Mentat, look at what you now know of these Honored Matres and tell me: What is their flaw?"
Teg spoke without hesitation: "They can only survive if they continue to increase the dependency of those who support them. It's an addict's dead-end street."
"Precisely. And the danger?"
"They could take much of humankind down with them."
"That was the Tyrant's problem, Miles. I'm sure he knew it. Now, pay attention to me with great care. And you, too, Dar." Taraza looked across the aisle and met Odrade's gaze. "Both of you listen to me. We of the Bene Gesserit are setting very powerful... elements adrift in the human current. They may jam up. They are sure to cause damage. And we..."
Once more, the lighter entered a period of severe buffeting. Conversation was impossible while they clung to their seats and listened to the roaring, creaking around them. When this interruption eased, Taraza raised her voice.
"If we survive this damnable machine and get down to Gammu, you must go aside with Dar there, Miles. You have seen the Atreides Manifesto. She will tell you about it and prepare you. That is all."
Teg turned and looked at Odrade. Once more, her features tugged at his memories: a remarkable likeness to Lucilla, but there was something else. He put this aside. The Atreides Manifesto? He had read it because it came to him from Taraza with instructions that he do so. Prepare me? For what?
Odrade saw the questioning look on Teg's face. Now, she understood Taraza's motive. The Mother Superior's orders took on a new meaning as did words from the Manifesto itself.
"Just as the universe is created by the participation of consciousness, the prescient human carries that creative faculty to its ultimate extreme. This was the profoundly misunderstood power of the Atreides bastard, the power that he transmitted to his son, the Tyrant."
Odrade knew those words with an author's intimacy but they came back to her now as though she had never before encountered them.
Damn you, Tar! Odrade thought. What if you're wrong?
At the quantum level our universe can be seen as an indeterminate place, predictable in a statistical way only when you employ large enough numbers. Between that universe and a relatively predictable one where the passage of a single planet can be timed to a picosecond, other forces come into play. For the in-between universe where we find our daily lives, that which you believe is a dominant force. Your beliefs order the unfolding of daily events. If enough of us believe, a new thing can be made to exist. Belief structure creates a filter through which chaos is sifted into order.
Teg's thoughts were in turmoil as he returned to Gammu from the Guildship. He stepped from the lighter at the black-charred edge of the Keep's private landing field and looked around him as though for the first time. Almost noon. So little time had passed and so much had changed.
To what extent would the Bene Gesserit go in imparting an essential lesson? he wondered. Taraza had dislodged him from his familiar Mentat processes. He felt that the whole incident on the Guildship had been staged just for him. He had been shaken from a predictable course. How strange Gammu appeared as he crossed the guarded strip to the entry pits.
Teg had seen many planets, learned their ways and how they printed themselves on their inhabitants. Some planets had a big yellow sun that sat in close and kept living things warm, evolving, growing. Some planets had little shimmer-suns that hung far away in a dark sky, and their light touched very little. Variations existed within and even outside this range. Gammu was a yellow-green variation with a day of 31.27 standard hours and a 2.6 SY. Teg had thought he knew Gammu.
When the Harkonnens were forced to abandon it, colonists left behind by the Scattering came from the Danian group, calling it by the Halleck name given to it in the great remapping. The colonists had been known as Caladanian in those days but millennia tended to shorten some labels.
Teg paused at the entryway to the protective revetments that led from the field down beneath the Keep. Taraza and her party lagged behind him. He saw Taraza was talking intently to Odrade.
Atreides Manifesto, he thought.
Even on Gammu, few admitted to either Harkonnen or Atreides ancestry, although the genotypes were visible here - especially the dominant Atreides: those long, sharp noses, the high foreheads and sensual mouths. Often, the pieces were scattered - the mouth on one face, those piercing eyes on another and countless mixtures. Sometimes, though, one person carried it all and then you saw the pride, that inner knowledge:
"I am one of them!"
Gammu's natives recognized it and gave it walkway room but few labeled it.
Underlying all of this was what the Harkonnens had left behind - genetic lines tracing far away into the dawn times of Greek and Pathan and Mameluke, shadows of ancient history that few outside of professional historians or those trained by the Bene Gesserit could even name.
Taraza and her party caught up with Teg. He heard her say to Odrade: "You must tell Miles all of it."
Very well, she would tell him, he thought. He turned and led the way past the inner guards to the long passage under the pillboxes into the Keep proper.
Damn the Bene Gesserit! he thought. What were they really doing here on Gammu?
Plenty of Bene Gesserit signs could be seen on this planet: the back-breeding to fix selected traits, and here and there a visible emphasis on seductive eyes for women.
Teg returned a guard captain's salute without changing focus. Seductive eyes, yes. He had seen this soon after his arrival at the ghola's Keep and especially during his first inspection tour of the planet. He had seen himself in many faces, too, and recalled the thing old Patrin had mentioned so many times.
"You have the Gammu look, Bashar."
Seductive eyes! That guard captain back there had them. She and Odrade and Lucilla were alike in this. Few people paid much attention to the importance of eyes when it came to seduction, he thought. It took a Bene Gesserit upbringing to make that point. Big breasts in a woman and hard loins in a man (that tightly muscular look to the buttocks) - these were naturally important in sexual matchings. But without the eyes, the rest of it could go for nothing. Eyes were essential. You could drown in the right kind of eyes, he had learned, sink right into them and be unaware of what was being done to you until penis was firmly clasped in vagina.
He had noted Lucilla's eyes immediately after his arrival on Gammu and had walked cautiously. No doubts about how the Sisterhood used her talents!
There was Lucilla now, waiting at the central inspection and decontamination chamber. She gave him the flickering handsign that all was well with the ghola. Teg relaxed and watched as Lucilla and Odrade confronted each other. The two women had remarkably similar features despite the age difference. Their bodies were quite different, though, Lucilla more solid against Odrade's willowy form.
The guard captain of the seductive eyes came up beside Teg and leaned close to him. "Schwangyu has just learned who you brought back with you," she said, nodding toward Taraza. "Ahhh, there she is now."
Schwangyu stepped from a lift tube and crossed to Taraza, giving only an angry glare to Teg.
Taraza wanted to surprise you, he thought. We all know why.
"You don't appear happy to see me," Taraza said, addressing Schwangyu.
"I am surprised, Mother Superior," Schwangyu said. "I had no idea." She glanced once more at Teg, a look of venom in her eyes.
Odrade and Lucilla broke off their mutual examination. "I had heard about it, of course," Odrade said, "but it is a stopper to confront yourself in the face of another person."
"I warned you," Taraza said.
"What are your orders, Mother Superior?" Schwangyu asked. It was as close as she could come to asking the purpose of Taraza's visit.
"I would like a private word with Lucilla," Taraza said.
"I'll have quarters prepared for you," Schwangyu said.
"Don't bother," Taraza said. "I'm not staying. Miles has already arranged for my transport. Duty requires my presence at Chapter House. Lucilla and I will talk outside in the courtyard." Taraza put a finger to her cheek. "Oh, and I'd like to watch the ghola unobserved for a few minutes. I'm sure Lucilla can arrange it."
"He's taking the more intense training quite well," Lucilla said as the two moved off toward a lift tube.
Teg turned his attention to Odrade, noting as his gaze passed across Schwangyu's face the intensity of her anger. She was not trying to conceal it.
Was Lucilla a sister or a daughter of Odrade? Teg wondered. It occurred to him suddenly that there must be a Bene Gesserit purpose behind the resemblance. Yes, of course - Lucilla was an Imprinter!
Schwangyu overcame her anger. She looked with curiosity at Odrade. "I was just about to take lunch, Sister," Schwangyu said. "Would you care to join me?"
"I must have a word alone with the Bashar," Odrade said. "If it is all right, perhaps we could remain here for our talk? I must not be seen by the ghola."
Schwangyu scowled, not trying to hide her upset from Odrade. They knew at Chapter House where loyalties lay! But no one... no one! would remove her from this post of observational command. Opposition had its rights!
Her thoughts were clear even to Teg. He noted the stiffness of Schwangyu's back as she left them.
"It is bad When Sister is turned against Sister," Odrade said.
Teg gave a handsign to his guard captain, ordering her to clear the area. Alone, Odrade said. Alone it would be. To Odrade, he said: "This is one of my areas. No spies or other means of observing us here."
"I thought as much," Odrade said.
"We have a service room over there." Teg nodded to his left. "Furniture, even chairdogs if you prefer."
"I hate it when they try to cuddle me," she said. "Could we talk here?" She put a hand under Teg's arm. "Perhaps we could walk a bit. I got so stiff sitting in that lighter."
"What is it you're supposed to tell me?" he asked as they strolled.
"My memories are no longer selectively filtered," she said. "I have them all, only on the female side, naturally."
"So?" Teg pursed his lips. This was not the overture he had expected. Odrade appeared more like one who would take off on a direct approach.
"Taraza says you have read the Atreides Manifesto. Good. You know it will cause upset in many quarters."
"Schwangyu already has made it the subject of a diatribe against 'you Atreides.' "
Odrade stared at him solemnly. As the reports all said, Teg remained an imposing figure, but she had known that without the reports.
"We are both Atreides, you and I," Odrade said.
Teg came to full alert.
"Your mother explained that to you in detail," Odrade said, "when you took your first school leave back to Lernaeus."
Teg stopped and stared down at her. How could she know this? To his knowledge, he had never before met and conversed with this remote Darwi Odrade. Was he the subject of special discussions at Chapter House? He held his silence, forcing her to carry the conversation.
"I will recount a conversation between a man and my birthmother," Odrade said. "They are in bed and the man says: 'I fathered a few children when I first escaped from the close bondage of the Bene Gesserit, back when I thought myself an independent agent, free to enlist and fight anywhere I chose.' "
Teg did not try to conceal his surprise. Those were his own words! Mentat memory told him Odrade had them down as accurately as a mechanical recorder. Even the tone!
"More?" she asked as he continued to stare at her. "Very well. The man says: 'That was before they sent me to Mentat training, of course. What an eye-opener that was! I had never been out of the Sisterhood's sight for an instant! I was never a free agent.' "
"Not even when I spoke those words," Teg said.
"True." She urged him by pressure on his arm as they continued their stroll across the chamber. "The children you fathered all belonged to the Bene Gesserit. The Sisterhood takes no chances that our genotype will be sent into the wild gene pool."
"Let my body go to Shaitan, their precious genotype remains in Sisterhood care," he said.
"My care," Odrade said. "I am one of your daughters."
Again, he forced her to stop.
"I think you know who my mother was," she said. She held up a hand for silence as he started to respond. "Names are not necessary."
Teg studied Odrade's features, seeing the recognizable signs there. Mother and daughter were matched. But what of Lucilla?
As though she heard his question, Odrade said: "Lucilla is from a parallel breeding line. Quite remarkable, isn't it, what careful breed-matching can achieve?"
Teg cleared his throat. He felt no emotional attachment to this newly revealed daughter. Her words and other important signals of her performance demanded his primary attention.
"This is no casual conversation," he said. "Is this all of what you were to reveal to me? I thought the Mother Superior said..."
"There is more," Odrade agreed. "The Manifesto - I am its author. I wrote it at Taraza's orders and following her detailed instructions."
Teg glanced around the large chamber as though to make sure no one overheard. He spoke in a lowered voice: "The Tleilaxu are spreading it far and wide!"
"Just as we hoped."
"Why are you telling me this? Taraza said you were to prepare me for..."
"There will come a time when you must know our purpose. It is Taraza's wish that you make your own decisions then, that you really become a free agent."
Even as she spoke, Odrade saw the Mentat glaze in his eyes.
Teg breathed deeply. Dependencies and key logs! He felt the Mentat sense of an enormous pattern just beyond the reach of his accumulated data. He did not even consider for an instant that some form of filial devotion had prompted these revelations. There was a fundamentalist, dogmatic, and ritualistic essence apparent in all Bene Gesserit training despite every effort to prevent this. Odrade, this daughter out of his past, was a full Reverend Mother with extraordinary powers of muscle and nerve control - full memories on the female side! She was one of the special ones! She knew tricks of violence that few humans ever suspected. Still, that similarity, that essence remained and a Mentat always saw it.
What does she want?
Affirmation of his paternity? She already had all of the confirmation she could need.
Observing her now, the way she waited so patiently for his thoughts to resolve, Teg reflected that it often was said with truth that Reverend Mothers no longer were completely members of the human race. They moved somehow outside the main flow, perhaps parallel to it, perhaps diving into it occasionally for their own purposes, but always removed from humankind. They removed themselves. It was an identifying mark of the Reverend Mother, a sense of extra identity that made them closer to the long-dead Tyrant than to the human stock from which they sprang.
Manipulation. That was their mark. They manipulated everyone and everything.
"I am to be the Bene Gesserit eyes," Teg said. "Taraza wants me to make a human decision for all of you."
Obviously pleased, Odrade squeezed his arm. "What a father I have!"
"Do you really have a father?" he asked and he recounted for her what he had been thinking about the Bene Gesserit removing themselves from humanity.
"Outside humanity," she said. "What a curious idea. Are Guild navigators also outside their original humanity?"
He thought about this. Guild navigators diverged widely from humankind's more common shape. Born in space and living out their lives in tanks of melange gas, they distorted the original form, elongated and repositioned limbs and organs. But a young navigator in estrus and before entering the tank could breed with a norm. It had been demonstrated. They became non-human but not in the way of the Bene Gesserit.
"Navigators are not your mental kin," he said. "They think human. Guiding a ship through space, even with prescience to find the safe way, has a pattern a human can accept."
"You don't accept our pattern?"
"As far as I can, but somewhere in your development you shift outside the original pattern. I think you may perform a conscious act even to appear human. This way you hold my arm right now, as though you really were my daughter."
"I am your daughter but I'm surprised you think so little of us."
"Quite the contrary: I stand in awe of you."
"Of your own daughter?"
"Of any Reverend Mother."
"You think I exist only to manipulate lesser creatures?"
"I think you no longer really feel human. There's a gap in you, something missing, something you've removed. You no longer are one of us."
"Thank you," Odrade said. "Taraza told me you would not hesitate to answer truthfully, but I knew that for myself."
"For what have you prepared me?"
"You will know it when it occurs; that is all I can say... all I am permitted to say."
Manipulating again! he thought. Damn them!
Odrade cleared her throat. She appeared about to say something more but she remained silent as she guided Teg around and strolled with him back across the chamber.
Even though she had known what Teg must say, his words pained her. She wanted to tell him that she was one of those who still felt human, but his judgment of the Sisterhood could not be denied.
We are taught to reject love. We can simulate it but each of us is capable of cutting it off in an instant.
There were sounds behind them. They stopped and turned. Lucilla and Taraza emerged from a lift tube speaking idly about their observations of the ghola.
"You are absolutely right to treat him as one of us," Taraza said.
Teg heard but made no comment as they awaited the approach of the two women.
He knows, Odrade thought. He will not ask me about my birthmother. There was no bonding, no real imprint. Yes, he knows.
Odrade closed her eyes and memory startled her by producing of itself an image of a painting. The thing occupied a space on the wall of Taraza's morning room. Ixian artifice had preserved the painting in the finest hermetically sealed frame behind a cover of invisible plaz. Odrade often stopped in front of the painting, feeling each time that her hand might reach out and actually touch the ancient canvas so cunningly preserved by the Ixians.
Cottages at Cordeville.
The artist's name for his work and his own name were preserved on a burnished plate beneath the painting: Vincent Van Gogh.
The thing dated from a time so ancient that only rare remnants such as this painting remained to send a physical impression down the ages. She had tried to imagine the journeys that painting had taken, the serial chance that had brought it intact to Taraza's room.
The Ixians had been at their best in the preservation and restoration. An observer could touch a dark spot on the lower left corner of the frame. Immediately, you were engulfed in the true genius, not only of the artist, but of the Ixian who had restored and preserved the work. His name was there on the frame: Martin Buro. When touched by the human finger, the dot became a sense projector, a benign spin-off of the technology that had produced the Ixian Probe. Buro had restored not only the painting but the painter - Van Gogh's feeling - accompaniment to each brush stroke. All had been captured in the brush strokes, recorded there by human movements.
Odrade had stood there engrossed through the whole performance so many times she felt she could recreate the painting independently.
Recalling this experience so near to Teg's accusation, she knew at once why her memory had reproduced the image for her, why that painting still fascinated her. For the brief space of that replay she always felt totally human, aware of the cottages as places where real people dwelled, aware in some complete way of the living chain that had paused there in the person of the mad Vincent Van Gogh, paused to record itself.
Taraza and Lucilla stopped about two paces from Teg and Odrade. There was a smell of garlic on Taraza's breath.
"We stopped for a small bite to eat," Taraza said. "Would you like anything?"
It was exactly the wrong question. Odrade freed her hand from Teg's arm. She turned quickly and wiped her eyes on her cuff. Looking up once more at Teg, she saw surprise on his face. Yes, she thought, those were real tears!
"I think we've done everything here that we can," Taraza said.
"It's time you were on your way to Rakis, Dar."
"Past time," Odrade said.
Life cannot find reasons to sustain it, cannot be a source of decent mutual regard, unless each of us resolves to breathe such qualities into it.
Hedley Tuek, High Priest of the Divided God, had grown increasingly angry with Stiros. Although too old himself ever to hope for the High Priest's bench, Stiros had sons, grandsons, and numerous nephews. Stiros had transferred his personal ambitions to his family. A cynical man, Stiros. He represented a powerful faction in the priesthood, the so-called "scientific community," whose influence was insidious and pervasive. They veered dangerously close to heresy.
Tuek reminded himself that more than one High Priest had been lost in the desert, regrettable accidents. Stiros and his faction were capable of creating such an accident.
It was afternoon in Keen and Stiros had just departed, obviously frustrated. Stiros wanted Tuek to go into the desert and personally observe Sheeana's next venture there. Suspicious of the invitation, Tuek declined.
A strange argument ensued, full of innuendo and vague references to Sheeana's behavior plus wordy attacks on the Bene Gesserit. Stiros, always suspicious of the Sisterhood, had taken an immediate dislike to the new commander of the Bene Gesserit Keep on Rakis, this... what, was her name? Oh, yes, Odrade. Odd name but then the Sisters often took odd names. That was their privilege. God Himself had never spoken against the basic goodness of the Bene Gesserit. Against individual Sisters, yes, but the Sisterhood itself had shared God's Holy Vision.
Tuek did not like the way Stiros spoke of Sheeana. Cynical. Tuek had finally silenced Stiros with pronouncements delivered here in the Sanctus with its high altar and images of the Divided God. Prismatic beam-relays cast thin wedges of brilliance through drifting incense from burning melange onto the double line of tall pillars that led up to the altar. Tuek knew his words went directly to God from this setting.
"God works through our latter-day Siona," Tuek had told Stiros, noting the confusion on the old councillor's face. "Sheeana is the living reminder of Siona, that human instrument who translated Him into His present Divisions."
Stiros raged, saying things he would not dare repeat before the full Council. He presumed too much on his long association with Tuek.
"I tell you she is sitting here surrounded by adults intent upon justifying themselves to her and -"
"And to God!" Tuek could not let such words pass.
Leaning close to the High Priest, Stiros grated: "She is at the center of an educational system geared to anything her imagination demands. We deny her nothing!"
"Nor should we."
It was as though Tuek had not spoken. Stiros said, "Cania has provided her with recordings from Dar-es-Balat!"
"I am the Book of Fate," Tuek intoned, quoting God's own words from the hoard at Dar-es-Balat.
"Exactly! And she listens to every word!"
"Why does this disturb you?" Tuek asked in his calmest tone.
"We don't test her knowledge. She tests ours!"
"God must want it so."
No mistaking the bitter anger on Stiros' face. Tuek observed this and waited while the old councillor marshaled new arguments. Resources for such arguments were, of course, enormous. Tuek did not deny this. It was the interpretations that mattered. Which was why a High Priest must be the final interpreter. Despite (or perhaps because of) their way of viewing history, the priesthood knew a great deal of how God had come to reside on Rakis. They had Dar-es-Balat itself and all of its contents - the earliest known no-chamber in the universe. For millennia, while Shai-hulud translated the verdant planet of Arrakis into desert-Rakis, Dar-es-Balat waited under the sands. From that Holy Hoard, the priesthood possessed God's own voice, His printed words and even holophotos. Everything was explained and they knew that the desert surface of Rakis reproduced the original form of the planet, the way it looked in the beginning when it was the only known source of the Holy Spice.
"She asks about God's family," Stiros said. "Why should she have to ask about -"
"She tests us. Do we give Them Their proper places? The Reverend Mother Jessica to her son, Muad'dib, to his son, Leto II - the Holy Triumvirate of Heaven."
"Leto III," Stiros muttered. "What of the other Leto who died at Sardaukar hands? What of him?"
"Careful, Stiros," Tuek intoned. "You know my great-grandfather pronounced upon that question from this very bench. Our Divided God was reincarnated with part of Him remaining in heaven to mediate the Ascendancy. That part of Him became nameless then, as the True Essence of God should always be!"
Tuek heard the terrible cynicism in the old man's voice. Stiros' words seemed to tremble in the incense-laden air, inviting terrible retribution.
"Then why does she ask how our Leto was transformed into the Divided God?" Stiros demanded.
Did Stiros question the Holy Metamorphosis? Tuek was aghast. He said: "In time, she will enlighten us."
"Our feeble explanations must fill her with dismay," Stiros sneered.
"You go too far, Stiros!"
"Indeed? You do not think it enlightening that she asks how the sandtrout encapsulate most of Rakis' water and recreate the desert?"
Tuek tried to conceal his growing anger. Stiros did represent a powerful faction in the priesthood, but his tone and his words raised questions that had been answered by High Priests long ago. The Metamorphosis of Leto II had given birth to uncounted sandtrout, each carrying a Bit of Himself. Sandtrout to Divided God: The sequence was known and worshiped. To question this denied God.
"You sit here and do nothing!" Stiros accused. "We are pawns of -"
"Enough!" Tuek had heard all he wanted to hear of this old man's cynicism. Drawing his dignity around him, Tuek spoke the words of God:
"Your Lord knows very well what is in your heart. Your soul suffices this day as a reckoner against you. I need no witnesses. You do not listen to your soul, but listen instead to your anger and your rage."
Stiros retired in frustration.
After considerable thought, Tuek enrobed himself in his most suitable finery of white, gold, and purple. He went to visit Sheeana.
Sheeana was in the roof garden atop the central priestly complex, there with Cania and two others - a young priest named Baldik, who was in Tuek's private service, and an acolyte priestess named Kipuna, who behaved too much like a Reverend Mother for Tuek's liking. The Sisterhood had its spies here, of course, but Tuek did not like to be aware of it. Kipuna had taken over much of Sheeana's physical training and there had grown a rapport between child and acolyte priestess that aroused Cania's jealousy. Even Cania, however, could not stand in the way of Sheeana's commands.
The four of them stood beside a stone bench almost in the shadow of a ventilator tower. Kipuna held Sheeana's right hand, manipulating the child's fingers. Sheeana was growing tall, Tuek noted. Six years she had been his charge. He could see the first beginnings of breasts poking out her robe. There was not a breath of wind on the rooftop and the air felt heavy in Tuek's lungs.
Tuek glanced around the garden to assure himself that his security arrangements were not being ignored. One never knew from what quarter danger might appear. Four of Tuek's own personal guards, well armed but concealing it, shared the rooftop at a distance - one at each corner. The parapet enclosing the garden was a high one, just the guards' heads standing above the rim. The only building higher than this priestly tower was Keen's primary windtrap about a thousand meters to the west.
Despite the visible evidence that his security orders were being carried out, Tuek sensed danger. Was God warning him? Tuek still felt disturbed by Stiros' cynicism. Was it wrong to allow Stiros that much latitude?
Sheeana saw Tuek approaching and stopped the odd finger-flexing exercises she was performing at Kipuna's instructions. Giving every appearance of knowledgeable patience, the child stood silently with her gaze fixed on the High Priest, forcing her companions to turn and watch with her.
Sheeana did not find Tuek a fearsome figure. She rather liked the old man although some of his questions were so bumbling. And his answers! Quite by accident, she had discovered the question that most disturbed Tuek.
Some of the attendant priests interpreted her question aloud as: "Why do you believe this?" Sheeana immediately picked up on this and thereafter her probings of Tuek and the others took the unvarying form:
"Why do you believe this?"
Tuek stopped about two paces from Sheeana and bowed. "Good afternoon, Sheeana." He twisted his neck nervously against the collar of his robe. The sun felt hot on his shoulders and he wondered why the child chose to be out here so often.
Sheeana maintained her probing stare at Tuek. She knew this gaze disturbed him.
Tuek cleared his throat. When Sheeana looked at him that way, he always wondered: Is it God looking at me through her eyes?
Cania spoke. "Sheeana has been asking today about the Fish Speakers."
In his most unctuous tones, Tuek said: "God's own Holy Army."
"All of them women?" Sheeana asked. She spoke as though she could not believe it. To those at the base of Rakian society, Fish Speakers were a name from ancient history, people cast out in the Famine Times.
She is testing me, Tuek thought. Fish Speakers. The modern carriers of the name had only a small trading-spying delegation on Rakis, composed of both men and women. Their ancient origins no longer were significant to their current activities, mostly working as an arm of Ix.
"Men always served the Fish Speakers in an advisory capacity," Tuek said. He watched carefully to see how Sheeana would respond.
"Then there were always the Duncan Idahos," Cania said.
"Yes, yes, of course: the Duncans." Tuek tried not to scowl. That woman was always interrupting! Tuek did not like being reminded of this aspect to God's historical presence on Rakis. The recurrent ghola and his position in the Holy Army carried overtones of Bene Tleilax indulgence. But there was no avoiding the fact that Fish Speakers had guarded the Duncans from harm, acting of course at the behest of God. The Duncans were holy, no doubt of it, but in a special category. By God's own account, He had killed some of the Duncans himself, obviously translating them immediately into heaven.
"Kipuna has been telling me about the Bene Gesserit," Sheeana said.
How the child's mind darted around!
Tuek cleared his throat, recognizing his own ambivalent attitude toward the Reverend Mothers. Reverence was demanded for those who were "Beloved of God," such as the Saintly Chenoeh. And the first High Priest had constructed a logical account of how the Holy Hwi Noree, Bride of God, had been a secret Reverend Mother. Honoring these special circumstances, the priesthood felt an irritating responsibility toward the Bene Gesserit, which was carried out chiefly by selling melange to the Sisterhood at a price ridiculously below that charged by the Tleilaxu.
In her most ingenuous tones, Sheeana said: "Tell me about the Bene Gesserit, Hedley."
Tuek glanced sharply at the adults around Sheeana, trying to catch a smile on their faces. He did not know how to deal with Sheeana calling him by his first name that way. In one sense, it was demeaning. In another sense, she honored him by such intimacy.
God tests me sorely, he thought.
"Are the Reverend Mothers good people?" Sheeana asked.
Tuek sighed. The records all confirmed that God harbored reservations about the Sisterhood. God's words had been examined carefully and submitted finally to a High Priest's interpretation. God did not let the Sisterhood threaten his Golden Path. That much was clear.
"Many of them are good," Tuek said.
"Where is the nearest Reverend Mother?" Sheeana asked.
"At the Sisterhood's Embassy here in Keen," Tuek said.
"Do you know her?"
"There are many Reverend Mothers in the Bene Gesserit Keep," he said.
"What's a Keep?"' "That's what they call their home here."
"One Reverend Mother must be in charge. Do you know that one?"
"I knew her predecessor, Tamalane, but this one is new. She has only just arrived. Her name is Odrade."
"That's a funny name."
Tuek's own thought, but he said: "One of our historians tells me it is a form of the name Atreides."
Sheeana reflected upon this. Atreides. That was the family that had brought Shaitan into being. Before the Atreides there had been only the Fremen and Shai-hulud. The Oral History, which her people preserved against all priestly prohibition, chanted the begats of the most important people on Rakis. Sheeana had heard these names many nights in her village.
"Muad'dib begat the Tyrant."
"The Tyrant begat Shaitan."
Sheeana did not feel like arguing truth with Tuek. Anyway, he looked tired today. She said merely: "Bring me this Reverend Mother Odrade."
Kipuna hid a gloating smile behind her hand.
Tuek stepped back, aghast. How could he comply with such a demand? Even the Rakian priesthood did not command the Bene Gesserit! What if the Sisterhood refused him? Could he offer a gift of melange in exchange? That might be a sign of weakness. The Reverend Mothers might bargain! No harder bargainers lived than the Sisterhood's cold-eyed Reverend Mothers. This new one, this Odrade, looked to be one of the worst.
All of these thoughts fled through Tuek's mind in an instant.
Cania intruded, giving Tuek the needed approach. "Perhaps Kipuna could convey Sheeana's invitation," Cania said.
Tuek darted a glance at the young acolyte priestess. Yes! Many suspected (Cania among them, obviously) that Kipuna spied for the Bene Gesserit. Of course, everyone on Rakis spied for someone. Tuek put on his most gracious smile as he nodded to Kipuna.
"Do you know any of the Reverend Mothers, Kipuna?"
"Some of them are known to me, My Lord High Priest," Kipuna said.
At least she still shows the proper deference!
"Excellent," Tuek said. "Would you be so kind as to start this gracious invitation from Sheeana moving up through the Sisterhood's embassy."
"I will do my poor best, My Lord High Priest."
"I'm sure you will!"
Kipuna began a prideful turn toward Sheeana, the knowledge of success growing within her. Sheeana's request had been ridiculously easy to ignite, given the techniques provided by the Sisterhood. Kipuna smiled and opened her mouth to speak. A movement at the parapet about forty meters behind Sheeana caught Kipuna's attention. Something glinted in the sunlight there. Something small and...
With a strangled cry, Kipuna grabbed up Sheeana, hurled her at the startled Tuek and shouted: "Run!" With that, Kipuna dashed toward the swiftly advancing brightness - a tiny seeker trailing a long length of shigawire.
In his younger days, Tuek had played batball. He caught Sheeana instinctively, hesitated for an instant and then recognized the danger. Whirling with the squirming, protesting girl in his arms, Tuek dashed through the open door of the stair tower. He heard the door slam behind him and Cania's rapid footsteps close on his heels.
"What is it? What is it?" Sheeana pounded her fists against Tuek's chest as she shouted.
"Hush, Sheeana! Hush!" Tuek paused on the first landing. Both a chute and suspensor-drop led from this landing into the building's core. Cania stopped beside Tuek, her panting loud in the narrow space.
"It killed Kipuna and two of your guards," Cania gasped. "Cut them up! I saw it. God preserve us!"
Tuek's mind was a maelstrom. Both the chute and the suspensor-drop system were enclosed wormholes through the tower. They could be sabotaged. The attack on the roof might be only one element in a far more complex plot.
"Put me down!" Sheeana insisted. "What's happening?"
Tuek eased her to the floor but kept one of her hands clutched in his hand. He bent over her, "Sheeana, dear, someone is trying to harm us."
Sheeana's mouth formed a silent "O," then: "They hurt Kipuna?"
Tuek looked up at the roof door. Was that an ornithopter he heard up there? Stiros! Conspirators could take three vulnerable people into the desert so easily!
Cania had regained her breath. "I hear a 'thopter," she said. "Shouldn't we be getting away from here?"
"We will go down by the stairs," Tuek said.
"But the -"
"Do as I say!"
Keeping a firm hold on Sheeana's hand, Tuek led the way down to the next landing. In addition to the chute and suspensor access, this landing had a door into a wide curving hall. Only a few short steps beyond the door lay the entrance to Sheeana's quarters, once Tuek's own quarters. Again he hesitated.
"Something's happening on the roof," Cania whispered.
Tuek looked down at the fearfully silent child beside him. Her hand felt sweaty.
Yes, there was some sort of uproar on the roof - shouts, the hiss of burners, much running about. The roof door, now out of sight above them, crashed open. This decided Tuek. He flung open the door into the hallway and dashed out into the arms of a tightly grouped wedge of black-robed women. With an empty sense of defeat, Tuek recognized the woman at the point of the wedge: Odrade!
Someone plucked Sheeana away from him and hustled her back into the press of robed figures. Before Tuek or Cania could protest, hands were clapped over their mouths. Other hands pinioned them against a wall of the hallway. Some of the robed figures went through the doorway and up the stairs.
"The child is safe and that's all that's important for the moment," Odrade whispered. She looked into Tuek's eyes. "Make no outcry." The hand was removed from his mouth. Using Voice, she said: "Tell me about the roof!"
Tuek found himself complying without reservation. "A seeker towing a long shigawire. It came over the parapet. Kipuna saw it and -"
"Where is Kipuna?"
"Dead. Cania saw it." Tuek described Kipuna's brave dash toward the threat.
Kipuna dead! Odrade thought. She concealed a fiercely angry sense of loss. What a waste. There must be admiration for such a brave death, but the loss! The Sisterhood always needed such courage and devotion, but it also required the genetic wealth Kipuna had represented. It was gone, taken by these stumbling fools!
At a gesture from Odrade, the hand was removed from Cania's mouth. "Tell me what you saw," Odrade said.
"The seeker whipped the shigawire around Kipuna's neck and..." Cania shuddered.
The dull thump of an explosion reverberated above them, then silence. Odrade waved a hand. Robed women spread along the hallway, moving silently out of sight beyond the curve. Only Odrade and two others, both chill-eyed younger women with intense expressions, remained beside Tuek and Cania. Sheeana was nowhere to be seen.
"The Ixians are in this somewhere," Odrade said.
Tuek agreed. That much shigawire... "Where have you taken the child?" he asked.
"We are protecting her," Odrade said. "Be still." She tipped her head, listening.
A robed woman sped back around the curve of the hallway and whispered something in Odrade's ear. Odrade produced a tight smile.
"It is over," Odrade said. "We will go to Sheeana."
Sheeana occupied a softly cushioned blue chair in the main room of her quarters. Black-robed women stood in a protective arc behind her. The child appeared to Tuek quite recovered from the shock of the attack and escape but her eyes glittered with excitement and unasked questions. Sheeana's attention was directed at something off to Tuek's right. He stopped and looked there, gasping at what he saw.
A naked male body lay against the wall in an oddly crumpled position, the head twisted until the chin lay back over the left shoulder. Open eyes stared out with the emptiness of death.
The shredded rags of Stiros' robe, obviously torn from him violently, lay in an untidy heap near the body's feet.
Tuek looked at Odrade.
"He was in on it," she said. "There were Face Dancers with the Ixians."
Tuek tried to swallow in a dry throat.
Cania shuffled past him toward the body. Tuek could not see her face but Cania's presence reminded him that there had been something between Stiros and Cania in their younger days. Tuek moved instinctively to place himself between Cania and the seated child.
Cania stopped at the body and nudged it with a foot. She turned a gloating expression on Tuek. "I had to make sure he was really dead," she said.
Odrade glanced at a companion. "Get rid of the body." She looked at Sheeana. It was Odrade's first chance for a more careful study of the child since leading the assault force here to deal with the attack on the temple complex.
Tuek spoke behind Odrade. "Reverend Mother, could you explain please what - Odrade interrupted without turning. "Later."
Sheeana's expression quickened at Tuek's words. "I thought you were a Reverend Mother!"
Odrade merely nodded. What a fascinating child. Odrade experienced the sensations she felt while standing in front of the ancient painting in Taraza's quarters. Some of the fire that had gone into the work of art inspired Odrade now. Wild inspiration! That was the message from the mad Van Gogh. Chaos brought into magnificent order. Was that not part of the Sisterhood's coda?
This child is my canvas, Odrade thought. She felt her hand tingle to the feeling of that ancient brush. Her nostrils flared to the smells of oils and pigments.
"Leave me alone with Sheeana," Odrade ordered. "Everybody out."
Tuek started to protest but stopped when one of Odrade's robed companions gripped his arm. Odrade glared at him.
"The Bene Gesserit have served you before," she said. "This time, we saved your life."
The woman holding Tuek's arm tugged at him.
"Answer his questions," Odrade said. "But do it somewhere else."
Cania took a step toward Sheeana. "That child is my -"
"Leave!" Odrade barked, all the powers of Voice in the command.
"You almost lost her to a bumbling lot of conspirators!" Odrade said, glaring at Cania. "We will consider whether you get any further opportunity to associate with Sheeana."
Tears started in Cania's eyes but Odrade's condemnation could not be denied. Turning, Cania fled with the others.
Odrade returned her attention to the watchful child.
"We've been a long time waiting for you," Odrade said. "We will not give those fools another opportunity to lose you."
Law always chooses sides on the basis of enforcement power. Morality and legal niceties have little to do with it when the real question is: Who has the clout?
Immediately after Taraza and her party left Gammu, Teg threw himself into his work. New in-Keep procedures had to be laid out, holding Schwangyu at arm's length from the ghola. Taraza's orders.
"She can observe all she wants. She can't touch."
In spite of the work pressures, Teg found himself staring into space at odd moments, prey to free-floating anxiety. The experience of rescuing Taraza's party from the Guildship and Odrade's odd revelations did not fit into any data classification he constructed.
Dependencies... key logs...
Teg found himself seated in his own workroom, an assignment schedule projected in front of him with shift changes to approve and, for a moment, he had no idea of the time or even the date. It took a moment to relocate himself.
Midmorning. Taraza and her party had been gone two days. He was alone. Yes, Patrin had taken over this day's training schedule with Duncan, freeing Teg for the command decisions.
The workroom around Teg felt alien. Yet, when he looked at each element in it, he found each thing familiar. Here was his own personal data console. His uniform jacket had been draped neatly across a chair-back beside him. He tried to fall into Mentat mode and found his own mind resisting. He had not encountered that phenomenon since training days.
Taraza and Odrade between them had thrown him back into some form of training.
In a detached way, he felt his memory offering up a long-ago conversation with Taraza. How familiar it was. He was right there, caught in the moments of his own memory-snare.
Both he and Taraza had been quite tired after making the decisions and taking the actions to prevent a bloody confrontation - the Barandiko incident. Nothing but a hiccough in history now but at the time it had demanded all of their combined energies.
Taraza invited him into the small parlor of her quarters on her no-ship after the agreement was signed. She spoke casually, admiring his sagacity, the way he had seen through to the weaknesses that would force a compromise.
They had been awake and active for almost thirty hours and Teg was glad for the opportunity to sit while Taraza dialed her foodrink installation. It dutifully produced two tall glasses of creamy brown liquid.
Teg recognized the smell as she handed him his glass. It was a quick source of energy, a pick-me-up that the Bene Gesserit seldom shared with outsiders. But Taraza no longer considered him an outsider.
His head tipped back, Teg took a long swallow of the drink, his gaze on the ornate ceiling of Taraza's small parlor. This no-ship was an old-fashioned model, built in the days when more care had been taken with decoration - heavily incised cornices, baroque figures carved in every surface.
The taste of the drink pushed his memory back into childhood, the heavy infusion of melange...
"My mother made this for me whenever I was overly strenuous," he said, looking at the glass in his hand. He already could feel the calming energy flow through his body.
Taraza took her own drink to a chairdog opposite him, a fluffy white bit of animate furniture that fitted itself to her with the ease of long familiarity. For Teg, she had provided a traditional green upholstered chair, but she saw his glance flick across the chairdog and grinned at him.
"Tastes differ, Miles." She sipped her drink and sighed. "My, that was strenuous but it was good work. There were moments when it was right on the edge of getting very nasty."
Teg found himself touched by her relaxation. No pose, no ready-made mask to set them apart and define their separate roles in the Bene Gesserit hierarchy. She was being obviously friendly and not even a hint of seductiveness. So this was just what it seemed to be - as much as that could be said about any encounter with a Reverend Mother.
With quick elation, Teg realized that he had become quite adept at reading Alma Mavis Taraza, even when she adopted one of her masks.
"Your mother taught you more than she was told to teach you," Taraza said. "A wise woman but another heretic. That's all we seem to be breeding nowadays."
"Heretic?" He was caught by resentment.
"That's a private joke in the Sisterhood," Taraza said. "We're supposed to follow a Mother Superior's orders with absolute devotion. And we do, except when we disagree."
Teg smiled and took a deep draught of his drink.
"It's odd," Taraza said, "but while we were in that tight little confrontation I found myself reacting to you as I would to one of my Sisters."
Teg felt the drink warming his stomach. It left a tingling in his nostrils. He placed the empty glass on a side table and spoke while looking at it. "My eldest daughter..."
"That would be Dimela. You should have let us have her, Miles."
"It was not my decision."
"But one word from you..." Taraza shrugged. "Well, that's past. What about Dimela?"
"She thinks I'm often too much like one of you."
"She is fiercely loyal to me, Mother Superior. She doesn't really understand our relationship and -"
"What is our relationship?"
"You command and I obey."
Taraza looked at him over the lip of her glass. When she put down the glass, she said: "Yes, you've never really been a heretic, Miles. Perhaps... someday..."
He spoke quickly, wanting to divert Taraza from such ideas. "Dimela thinks the long use of melange makes many people become like you."
"Is that so? Isn't it odd, Miles, that a geriatric potion should have so many side effects?"
"I don't find that odd."
"No, of course you wouldn't." She drained her glass and put it aside. "I was addressing the way a significant life extension has produced in some people, you especially, a profound knowledge of human nature."
"We live longer and observe more," he said.
"I don't think it's quite that simple. Some people never observe anything. Life just happens to them. They get by on little more than a kind of dumb persistence, and they resist with anger and resentment anything that might lift them out of that false serenity."
"I've never been able to strike an acceptable balance sheet for the spice," he said, referring to a common Mentat process of data sorting.
Taraza nodded. Obviously, she found the same difficulty. "We of the Sisterhood tend to be more single-track than Mentats," she said. "We have routines to shake ourselves out of it but the condition persists."
"Our ancestors have had this problem for a long time," he said.
"It was different before the spice," she said.
"But they lived such short lives."
"Fifty, one hundred years; that doesn't seem very long to us, but still..."
"Did they compress more into the available time?"
"Oh, they were frenetic at times."
She was giving him observations from her Other Memories, he realized. Not the first time he had shared in such ancient lore. His mother had produced such memories on occasion, but always as a lesson. Was Taraza doing that now? Teaching him something?
"Melange is a many-handed monster," she said.
"Do you sometimes wish we had never found it?"
"The Bene Gesserit would not exist without it."
"Nor the Guild."
"But there would have been no Tyrant, no Muad'dib. The spice gives with one hand and takes with all of its others."
"Which hand contains that which we desire?" he asked. "Isn't that always the question?"
"You're an oddity, you know that, Miles? Mentats so seldom dip into philosophy. I think it's one of your strengths. You are supremely able to doubt."
He shrugged. This turn in the conversation disturbed him.
"You are not amused," she said. "But cling to your doubts anyway. Doubt is necessary to a philosopher."
"So the Zensunni assure us."
"All mystics agree on it, Miles. Never underestimate the power of doubts. Very persuasive. S'tori holds up doubt and surety in a single hand."
Really quite surprised, he asked: "Do Reverend Mothers practice Zensunni rituals?" He had never even suspected this before.
"Just once," she said. "We achieve an exalted form of s'tori, total. It involves every cell."
"The spice agony," he said.
"I was sure your mother told you. Obviously, she never explained the affinity with the Zensunni."
Teg swallowed past a lump in his throat. Fascinating! She gave him a new insight into the Bene Gesserit. This changed his entire concept, including his image of his own mother. They were removed from him into an unattainable place where he could never follow. They might think of him as a comrade on occasion but he could never enter the intimate circle. He could simulate, no more. He would never be like Muad'dib or the Tyrant.
"Prescience," Taraza said.
The word shifted his attention. She had changed the subject but not changed it.
"I was thinking about Muad'dib," he said.
"You think he predicted the future," she said.
"That is the Mentat teaching."
"I hear the doubt in your voice, Miles. Did he predict or did he create? Prescience can be deadly. The people who demand that the oracle predict for them really want to know next year's price on whalefur or something equally mundane. None of them wants an instant-by-instant prediction of his personal life."
"No surprises," Teg said.
"Exactly. If you possessed such fore-knowledge, your life would become an unutterable bore."
"You think Muad'dib life was a bore?"
"And the Tyrant's, too. We think their entire lives were devoted to trying to break out of chains they themselves created."
"But they believed..."
"Remember your philosopher's doubts, Miles. Beware! The mind of the believer stagnates. It fails to grow outward into an unlimited, infinite universe."
Teg sat silently for a moment. He sensed the fatigue that had been driven beyond his immediate awareness by the drink, sensed also the way his thoughts were roiled by the intrusion of new concepts. These were things that he had been taught would weaken a Mentat, yet he felt strengthened by them.
She is teaching me, he thought. There is a lesson here.
As though projected into his mind and outlined there in fire, he found his entire Mentat-attention fixated on the Zensunni admonition that was taught to every beginning student in the Mentat School:
By your belief in granular singularities, you deny all movement - evolutionary or devolutionary. Belief fixes a granular universe and causes that universe to persist. Nothing can be allowed to change because that way your non-moving universe vanishes. But it moves of itself when you do not move. It evolves beyond you and is no longer accessible to you.
"The oddest thing of all," Taraza said, sinking into tune with this mood she had created, "is that the scientists of Ix cannot see how much their own beliefs dominate their universe."
Teg stared at her, silent and receptive.
"Ixian beliefs are perfectly submissive to the choices they make on how they will look at their universe," Taraza said. "Their universe does not act of itself but performs according to the kinds of experiments they choose."
With a start, Teg came out of the memories and awoke to find himself in the Gammu Keep. He still sat in the familiar chair in his workroom. A glance around the room showed nothing moved from where he had put it. Only a few minutes had passed but the room and its contents no longer were alien. He dipped into and out of Mentat mode. Restored.
The smell and taste of the drink Taraza had given him so long ago still tingled on his tongue and in his nostrils. A Mentat blink and he knew he could call up the scene entire once more - the low light of shaded glowglobes, the feeling of the chair beneath him, the sounds of their voices. It was all there for replay, frozen into a time-capsule of isolated memory.
Calling up that old memory created a magical universe where his abilities were amplified beyond his wildest expectations. No atoms existed in that magical universe, only waves and awesome movements all around. He was forced there to discard all barriers built of belief and understanding. This universe was transparent. He could see through it without any interfering screens upon which to project its forms. The magical universe reduced him to a core of active imagination where his own image-making abilities were the only screen upon which any projection might be sensed.
There, I am both the performer and the performed!
The workroom around Teg wavered into and out of his sensory reality. He felt his awareness constricted to its tightest purpose and yet that purpose filled his universe. He was open to infinity.
Taraza did this deliberately! he thought. She has amplified me!
A feeling of awe threatened him. He recognized how his daughter, Odrade, had drawn upon such powers to create the Atreides Manifesto for Taraza. His own Mentat powers were submerged in that greater pattern.
Taraza was demanding a fearful performance from him. The need for such a thing both challenged and terrified him. It could very well mean the end of the Sisterhood.
The basic rule is this: Never support weakness; always support strength.
"How is it that you can order the priests around?" Sheeana asked. "This is their place."
Odrade answered casually but picked her words to fit the knowledge she knew Sheeana already possessed: "The priests have Fremen roots. They've always had Reverend Mothers somewhere near. Besides, child, you order them around, too."
Odrade suppressed a smile.
Little more than three hours had passed since her assault force had broken the attack on the temple complex. In that time, Odrade had set up a command center in Sheeana's quarters, carried on the necessary business of assessment and preliminary retaliation, all the while prompting and observing Sheeana.
Odrade glanced around the room she had chosen as command center. A scrap of Stiros' ripped garments still lay near the wall in front of her. Casualties. The room was an oddly shaped place. No two walls parallel. She sniffed. Still a residual smell of ozone from the snoopers with which her people had assured the privacy of these quarters.
Why the odd shape? The building was ancient, remodeled and added to many times, but that did not explain this room. A pleasantly rough texture of creamy stucco on walls and ceiling. Elaborate spice-fiber hangings flanked the two doors. It was early evening and sunlight filtered by lattice shades stippled the wall opposite the windows. Silver-yellow glowglobes hovered near the ceiling, all tuned to match the sunlight. Muted street sounds came through the ventilators beneath the windows. The soft pattern of orange rugs and gray tiles on the floor spoke of wealth and security but Odrade suddenly did not feel secure.
A tall Reverend Mother came from the adjoining communications room. "Mother Commander," she said, "the messages have been sent to Guild, Ix, and Tleilaxu."
Odrade spoke absently. "Acknowledged."
The messenger returned to her duties.
"What are you doing?" Sheeana asked.
Odrade pursed her lips in thought. Their guides through the temple complex had brought them along a maze of hallways and stairs, glimpses of courtyards through arches, then into a splendid Ixian suspensor-tube system, which carried them silently to another hallway, more stairs, another curved hallway... finally, into this room.
Once more, Odrade swept her gaze around the room.
"Why are you studying this room?" Sheeana asked.
The room was an irregular polyhedron with the smaller side to the left. About thirty-five meters long, half that at the widest. Many low divans and chairs in various degrees of comfort. Sheeana sat in queenly splendor on a bright yellow chair with wide soft arms. Not a chairdog in the place. Much brown and blue and yellow fabric. Odrade stared at the white lattice of a ventilator above a painting of mountains on the wider end wall. A cool breeze came through the ventilators below the windows and wafted toward the ventilator above the painting.
"This was Hedley's room," Sheeana said.
"Why do you annoy him by using his first name, child?"
"Does that annoy him?"
"Don't play word games with me, child! You know it annoys him and that's why you do it."
"Then why did you ask?"
Odrade ignored this while continuing her careful study of the room. The wall opposite the painting stood at an oblique angle to the outer wall. She had it now. Clever! This room had been constructed so that even a whisper here could be heard by someone beyond the high ventilator. No doubt the painting concealed another airway to carry sounds from this room. No snooper, sniffer, or other instrument would detect such an arrangement. Nothing would "beep" at a spying eye or ear. Only the wary senses of someone trained in deception had winkled it out.
A hand signal summoned a waiting acolyte. Odrade's fingers flickered in silent communication: "Find out who is listening beyond that ventilator." She nodded toward the ventilator above the painting. "Let them continue. We must know to whom they report."
"How did you know to come and save me?" Sheeana asked. The child had a lovely voice but it needed training, Odrade thought. There was a steadiness to it, though, that could be shaped into a powerful instrument.
"Answer me!" Sheeana ordered.
The imperious tone startled Odrade, arousing quick anger, which she was forced to suppress. Corrections would have to be made immediately!
"Calm yourself, child," Odrade said. She pitched the command in a precise tenor and saw it take effect.
Again, Sheeana startled her: "That's another kind of Voice. You're trying to calm me. Kipuna told me all about Voice."
Odrade turned squarely facing Sheeana and looked down at her. Sheeana's first grief had passed but there was still anger when she spoke of Kipuna.
"I am busy shaping our response to that attack," Odrade said. "Why do you distract me? I should think you would want them punished."
"What will you do to them? Tell me! What will you do?"
A surprisingly vindictive child, Odrade thought. That would have to be curbed. Hatred was as dangerous an emotion as love. The capacity for hatred was the capacity for its opposite.
Odrade said: "I have sent Guild, Ix, and Tleilaxu the message we always dispatch when we have been annoyed. Three words: 'You will pay.' "
"How will they pay?"
"A proper Bene Gesserit punishment is being fashioned. They will feel the consequences of their behavior."
"But what will you do?"
"In time, you may learn. You may even learn how we design our punishment. For now, there is no need that you know."
A sullen look came over Sheeana's face. She said: "You're not even angry. Annoyed. That's what you said."
"Curb your impatience, child! There are things you do not understand."
The Reverend Mother from the communications room returned, glanced once at Sheeana and spoke to Odrade. "Chapter House acknowledges receipt of your report. They approve your response."
When the Reverend Mother from communications remained standing there, Odrade said: "There is more?"
A flickering glance to Sheeana spoke of the woman's reservations. Odrade held up her right palm, the signal for silent communication.
The Reverend Mother responded, her fingers dancing with unleashed excitement: "Taraza's message - The Tleilaxu are the pivotal element. Guild must be made to pay dearly for its melange. Shut down Rakian supply to them. Throw Guild and Ix together. They will overextend selves in face of crushing competition from the Scattering. Ignore Fish Speakers for now. They fall with Ix. Master of Masters responds to us from Tleilaxu. He goes to Rakis. Trap him."
Odrade smiled softly to acknowledge that she understood. She watched the other woman leave the room. Not only did Chapter House agree with actions taken on Rakis, a suitable Bene Gesserit punishment had been fashioned with fascinating speed. Obviously Taraza and her advisors had anticipated this moment.
Odrade allowed herself a sigh of relief. The message to Chapter House had been terse: an outline account of the attack, the list of the Sisterhood's casualties, identification of the attackers and a confirming note to Taraza that Odrade already had transmitted the required warning to the guilty: "You will pay."
Yes, those fool attackers now knew the hornet's nest had been aroused. That would create fear - an essential part of the punishment.
Sheeana squirmed in her chair. Her attitude said she would now try a new approach. "One of your people said there were Face Dancers." She gestured with her chin toward the roof.
What a vast reservoir of ignorance this child was, Odrade thought. That emptiness would have to be filled. Face Dancers! Odrade thought about the bodies they had examined. The Tleilaxu had finally sent their Face Dancers into action. It was a test of the Bene Gesserit, of course. These new ones were extremely difficult to detect. They still gave off the characteristic smell of their unique pheromones, though. Odrade had sent that datum in her message to Chapter House.
The problem now was to keep the Bene Gesserit knowledge secret. Odrade summoned an acolyte messenger. Indicating the ventilator with a flick of her eyes, Odrade spoke silently with her fingers: "Kill those who listen!"
"You are too interested in Voice, child," Odrade said, speaking down to Sheeana in the chair. "Silence is a most valuable tool for learning."
"But could I learn Voice? I want to learn it."
"I am telling you to be silent and to learn by your silence."
"I command you to teach me Voice!"
Odrade reflected on Kipuna's reports. Sheeana had established effective Voice control over most of those around her. The child had learned it on her own. An intermediate level Voice for a limited audience. She was a natural. Tuek and Cania and the others were frightened by Sheeana. Religious fantasies contributed to that fear, of course, but Sheeana's mastery of Voice pitch and tone displayed an admirable unconscious selectivity.
The indicated response to Sheeana was obvious, Odrade knew. Honesty. It was a most powerful lure and it served more than one purpose.
"I am here to teach you many things," Odrade said, "but I do not do this at your command."
"Everyone obeys me!" Sheeana said.
She's barely into puberty and already at Aristocrat level, Odrade thought. Gods of our own making! What can she become?
Sheeana slipped out of her chair and stood looking up at Odrade with a questioning expression. The child's eyes were on a level with Odrade's shoulders. Sheeana was going to be tall, a commanding presence. If she survived.
"You answer some of my questions but you won't answer others," Sheeana said. "You said you'd been waiting for me but you won't explain. Why won't you obey me?"
"A foolish question, child."
"Why do you keep calling me child?"
"Are you not a child?"
"But you're still a child."
"The priests obey me."
"They're afraid of you."
"No, I'm not."
"Good! It gets tiresome when people only fear you."
"The priests think you come from God."
"Don't you think that?"
"Why should I? We -" Odrade broke off as an acolyte messenger entered. The acolyte's fingers danced in silent communication: "Four priests listened. They have been killed. All were minions of Tuek."
Odrade waved the messenger away.
"She talks with her fingers," Sheeana said. "How does she do that?"
"You ask too many of the wrong questions, child. And you haven't told me why I should consider you an instrument of God."
"Shaitan spares me. I walk on the desert and when Shaitan comes, I talk to him."
"Why do you call him Shaitan instead of Shai-hulud?"
"Everybody asks that same stupid question!"
"Then give me your stupid answer."
The sullen expression returned to Sheeana's face. "It's because of how we met."
"And how did you meet?"
Sheeana tipped her head to one side and looked up at Odrade for a moment, then: "That's a secret."
"And you know how to keep secrets?"
Sheeana straightened and nodded but Odrade saw uncertainty in the movement. The child knew when she was being led into an impossible position!
"Excellent!" Odrade said. "The keeping of secrets is one of a Reverend Mother's most essential teachings. I'm glad we won't have to bother with that one."
"But I want to learn everything!"
Such petulance in her voice. Very poor emotional control.
"You must teach me everything!" Sheeana insisted.
Time for the whip, Odrade thought. Sheeana had spoken and postured sufficiently that even a fifth-grade acolyte could feel confident of controlling her now.
Using the full power of Voice, Odrade said: "Don't take that tone with me, child! Not if you wish to learn anything!"
Sheeana went rigid. She was more than a minute absorbing what had happened to her and then relaxing. Presently, she smiled, a warm and open expression. "Oh, I'm so glad you came! It's been so boring lately."
Nothing surpasses the complexity of the human mind.
The Gammu night, often quickly foreboding in this latitude, was almost two hours away. Gathering clouds shadowed the Keep. At Lucilla's command, Duncan had returned to the courtyard for an intense session of self-directed practice.
Lucilla observed from the parapet where she had first watched him.
Duncan moved in the tumbling twists of the Bene Gesserit eightfold combat, hurling his body across the grass, rolling, flipping himself from side to side, darting up and then down.
It was a fine display of random dodging, Lucilla thought. She could see no predictable pattern in his movements and the speed was dazzling. He was almost sixteen SY and already coming onto the platform potential of his prana-bindu endowment.
The carefully controlled movements of his training exercises revealed so much! He had responded quickly when she first ordered these evening sessions. The initial step of her instructions from Taraza had been accomplished. The ghola loved her. No doubt of it. She was mother-fixed to him. And it had been accomplished without seriously weakening him, although Teg's anxieties had been aroused.
My shadow is on this ghola but he is not a supplicant nor a dependent follower, she reassured herself. Teg worries about it for no reason.
Just that morning, she had told Teg, "Wherever his strengths dictate, he continues to express himself freely."
Teg should see him right now, she thought. These new practice movements were largely Duncan's own creation.
Lucilla suppressed a gasp of appreciation at a particularly nimble leap, which took Duncan almost to the center of the courtyard. The ghola was developing a nerve-muscle equilibrium that, given time, might be matched to a psychological equilibrium at least equal to Teg's. The cultural impact of such an achievement would be awesome. Look at all those who gave instinctive allegiance to Teg and, through Teg, to the Sisterhood.
We have the Tyrant to thank for much of that, she thought.
Before Leto II, no widespread system of cultural adjustments had ever endured long enough to approach the balance that the Bene Gesserit held as an ideal. It was this equilibrium - "flowing along the blade of a sword" - that fascinated Lucilla. It was why she lent herself so unreservedly to a project whose total design she did not know, but which demanded of her a performance that instinct labeled repugnant.
Duncan is so young!
What the Sisterhood required of her next had been spelled out explicitly by Taraza: the Sexual Imprint. Only that morning, Lucilla had posed naked before her mirror, forming the attitudes and motions of face and body that she knew she would use to obey Taraza's orders. In artificial repose, Lucilla had seen her own face appear like that of a prehistoric love goddess - opulent with flesh and the promise of softness into which an aroused male might hurl himself.
In her education, Lucilla had seen ancient statues from the First Times, little stone figures of human females with wide hips and sagging breasts that assured abundance for a suckling infant. At will, Lucilla could produce a youthful simulation of that ancient form.
In the courtyard below Lucilla, Duncan paused a moment and appeared to be thinking out his next movements. Presently, he nodded to himself, leaped high and twisted in the air, landing like a springbok on one leg, which kicked him sideways into gyrations more akin to dance than to combat.
Lucilla drew her mouth into a tight line of resolution.
The secret of sex was no secret at all, she thought. The roots were attached to life itself. This explained, of course, why her first command-seduction for the Sisterhood had planted a male face in her memory. The Breeding Mistress had told her to expect this and not be alarmed by it. But Lucilla had realized then that the Sexual Imprint was a two-edged sword. You might learn to flow along the edge of the blade but you could be cut by it. Sometimes, when that male face of her first command-seduction returned unbidden into her mind, Lucilla felt confounded by it. The memory came so frequently at the peak of an intimate moment, forcing her to great efforts of concealment.
"You are strengthened thus," the Breeding Mistresses reassured her.
Still, there were times when she felt that she had trivialized something better left a mystery.
A feeling of sourness at what she must do swept over Lucilla. These evenings when she observed Duncan's training sessions had been her favorite times each day. The lad's muscular development showed such definite progress - moving in the growth of sensitive muscle and nerve links - all of the prana-bindu marvels for which the Sisterhood was so famous. The next step was almost upon her, though, and she no longer could sink into watchful appreciation of her charge.
Miles Teg would come out presently, she knew. Duncan's training would move again into the practice room with its more deadly weapons.
Once more, Lucilla wondered about him. She had felt herself more than once attracted to him in a particular way that she recognized immediately. An Imprinter enjoyed some latitude in selecting her own breeding partners, provided she had no prior commitments nor contrary orders. Teg was old but his records suggested he might still be virile. She would not be able to keep the child, of course, but she had learned to deal with that.
Why not? she had asked herself.
Her plan had been simple in the extreme. Complete the Imprint on the ghola and then, registering her intent with Taraza, conceive a child by the redoubtable Miles Teg. Practical introductory seduction had been indicated, but Teg had not succumbed. His Mentat cynicism stopped her one afternoon in the dressing chamber off the Weapons Room.
"My breeding days are over, Lucilla. The Sisterhood should be satisfied with what I already have given."
Teg, clad only in black exercise leotards, finished wiping his sweaty face with a towel and dropped the towel into a hamper. He spoke without looking at her: "Would you please leave me now?"
So he saw through her overtures!
She should have anticipated that, Teg being who he was. Lucilla knew she might still seduce him. No Reverend Mother of her training should fail, not even with a Mentat of Teg's obvious powers.
Lucilla stood there a moment undecided, her mind automatically planning how to circumvent this preliminary rejection. Something stopped her. Not anger at the rejection, not the remote possibility that he might indeed be proof against her wiles. Pride and its possible fall (there was always that possibility) had little to do with it.
There was a quiet dignity in Teg and she had the certain knowledge of what his courage and prowess had already given to the Sisterhood. Not quite sure of her motives, Lucilla turned away from him. Possibly it was the underlying gratitude that the Sisterhood felt toward him. To seduce Teg now would be demeaning, not only of him but of herself. She could not bring herself to such an action, not without a direct order from a superior.
As she stood on the parapet, some of these memories clouded her senses. There was movement in the shadows at the doorway from the Weapons Wing. Teg could be glimpsed there. Lucilla took a firmer grip on her responses and focused on Duncan. The ghola had stopped his controlled tumbling across the lawn. He stood quietly, breathing deeply, his attention aimed upward at Lucilla. She saw perspiration on his face and in dark blotchings on his light blue singlesuit.
Leaning over the parapet, Lucilla called down to him: "That was very good, Duncan. Tomorrow, I will begin teaching you more of the foot-fist combinations."
The words came out of her without censoring and she knew their source at once. They were for Teg standing in the shadowed doorway down there, not for the ghola. She was saying to Teg: "See! You aren't the only one who teaches him deadly abilities."
Lucilla realized then that Teg had insinuated himself further into her psyche than she should permit. Grimly, she swung her gaze to the tall figure emerging from the doorway's shadows. Duncan already was running toward the Bashar.
As Lucilla focused on Teg, reaction flashed through her ignited by the most elemental Bene Gesserit responses. The steps of this reaction could be defined later: Something wrong! Danger! Teg is not Teg! In the reactive flash, however, none of this took separate form. She responded, hurling all the volume of Voice she could muster:
Duncan dropped flat on the grass, his attention riveted to the Teg-figure emerging from the Weapons Wing. There was a field-model lasgun in the man's hands.
Face Dancer! Lucilla thought. Only hyperalertness revealed him to her. One of the new ones!
"Face Dancer!" Lucilla shouted.
Duncan kicked himself sideways and leaped up, twisting flat in the air at least a meter off the ground. The speed of his reaction shocked Lucilla. She had not known any human could move that fast! The lasgun's first bolt cut beneath Duncan as he seemed to float in the air.
Lucilla jumped to the parapet and dropped to a handhold on the window ledge of the next lower level. Before she was stopped, her right hand shot out and found the protruding rainspout that memory told her was there. Her body arched sideways and she dropped to a window ledge at the next level. Desperation drove her even though she knew she would be too late.
Something crackled on the wall above her. She saw a molten line cut toward her as she flung herself to the left, twisting and dropping onto the lawn. Her gaze captured the scene around her in a flashing deit-grasp as she landed.
Duncan moved toward the attacker, dodging and twisting in a terrifying replay of his practice session. The speed of his movements!
Lucilla saw indecision in the face of the false Teg.
She darted toward the Face Dancer, feeling the creature's thoughts: Two of them after me!
Failure was inevitable, though, and Lucilla knew it even as she ran. The Face Dancer had only to shift his weapon into full burn at close range. He could lace the air in front of him. Nothing could penetrate such a defense. As she cast about in her mind, desperately seeking some way to defeat the attacker, she saw red smoke appear on the false Teg's breast. A line of red darted upward at an oblique angle through the muscles of the arm holding the lasgun. The arm fell away like a piece dropping from a statue. The shoulder tipped away from the torso in a spout of blood. The figure toppled, dissolving into more red smoke and blood spray, crumbling into pieces on the steps, all dark tans and blue-tinged reds.
Lucilla smelled the distinctive Face Dancer pheromones as she stopped. Duncan came up beside her. He peered past the dead Face Dancer at movement in the hallway.
Another Teg emerged behind the dead one. Lucilla identified the reality: Teg himself.
"That's the Bashar," Duncan said.
Lucilla experienced a small surge of pleasure that Duncan had learned this identity-lesson so well: how to recognize your friends even if you only saw bits of them. She pointed to the dead Face Dancer. "Smell him."
Duncan inhaled. "Yes, I have it. But he wasn't a very good copy. I saw what he was as soon as you did."
Teg emerged into the courtyard carrying a heavy lasgun cradled across his left arm. His right hand held a firm grip on the stock and trigger. He swept his gaze around the courtyard, then focused on Duncan and finally on Lucilla.
"Bring Duncan inside," Teg said.
It was the order of a battlefield commander, depending only on superior knowledge of what should be done in the emergency. Lucilla obeyed without question.
Duncan did not speak as she led him by the hand past the bloody meat that had been the Face Dancer, then into the Weapons Wing. Once inside, he glanced back at the sodden heap and asked: "Who let him in?"
Not: "How did he get in?" she observed. Duncan already had seen past the inconsequentials to the heart of their problem.
Teg strode ahead of them toward his own quarters. He stopped at the door, glanced inside and motioned for Lucilla and Duncan to follow.
In Teg's bedroom there was the thick smell of burned flesh and wisps of smoke dominated by the charred barbecue odor that Lucilla so detested: cooked human meat! A figure in one of Teg's uniforms lay face down on the floor where it had fallen off his bed.
Teg rolled the figure over with one boot toe, exposing the face: staring eyes, a rictus grin. Lucilla recognized one of the perimeter guards, one of those who had come to the Keep with Schwangyu, so the Keep's records said.
"Their point man," Teg said. "Patrin took care of him and we put one of my uniforms on him. It was enough to fool the Face Dancers because we didn't let them see the face before we attacked. They didn't have time to make a memory print."
"You know about that?" Lucilla was startled.
"Bellonda briefed me thoroughly!"
Abruptly, Lucilla saw the further significance of what Teg said. She suppressed a swift flare of anger. "How did you let one of them get into the courtyard?"
His voice mild, Teg said: "There was rather urgent activity in here. I had to make a choice, which turned out to be the right one."
She did not try to hide her anger. "The choice to let Duncan fend for himself?"
"To leave him in your care or let other attackers get themselves firmly entrenched inside. Patrin and I had a bad time clearing this wing. We had our hands full." Teg glanced at Duncan. "He came through very well, thanks to our training."
"That... that thing almost got him!"
"Lucilla!" Teg shook his head. "I had it timed. You two could last at least a minute out there. I knew you would throw yourself in that thing's path and sacrifice yourself to save Duncan. Another twenty seconds."
At Teg's words, Duncan turned a shiny-eyed look on Lucilla. "Would you have done that?"
When Lucilla did not respond, Teg said: "She would have done that. "
Lucilla did not deny it. She remembered now, though, the incredible speed with which Duncan had moved, the dazzling shifts of his attack.
"Battle decisions," Teg said, looking at Lucilla.
She accepted this. As usual, Teg had made the correct choice. She knew, though, that she would have to communicate with Taraza. The prana-bindu accelerations in this ghola went beyond anything she had expected. She stiffened as Teg straightened to full alert, his gaze on the doorway behind her. Lucilla whirled.
Schwangyu stood there, Patrin behind her, another heavy lasgun over his arm. Its muzzle, Lucilla noted, was aimed at Schwangyu.
"She insisted," Patrin said. There was an angry set to the old aide's face. The deep lines beside his mouth pointed downward.
"There's a trail of bodies clear out to the south pillbox," Schwangyu said. "Your people won't let me out there to inspect. I command you to countermand those orders immediately."
"Not until my clean-up crews are finished," Teg said.
"They're still killing people out there! I can hear it!" A venomous edge had entered Schwangyu's voice. She glared at Lucilla.
"We're also questioning people out there," Teg said.
Schwangyu shifted her glare to Teg. "If it's too dangerous here then we will take the... the child to my quarters. Now!"
"We will not do that," Teg said. His tone was low-key but positive.
Schwangyu stiffened with displeasure. Patrin's knuckles went white on the stock of his lasgun. Schwangyu swung her gaze past the gun and up to Lucilla's appraising stare. The two women looked into each other's eyes.
Teg allowed the moment to hold for a beat, then said: "Lucilla, take Duncan into my sitting room." He nodded toward a door behind him.
Lucilla obeyed, pointedly keeping her body between Schwangyu and Duncan the whole time.
Once behind the closed door, Duncan said: "She almost called me 'the ghola.' She's really upset."
"Schwangyu has let several things slip past her guard," Lucilla said.
She glanced around Teg's sitting room, her first view of this part of his quarters: the Bashar's inner sanctum. It reminded her of her own quarters - that same mixture of orderliness and casual disarray. Reading spools lay in a clutter on a small table beside an old-fashioned chair upholstered in soft gray. The spool reader had been swung aside as though its user had just stepped out for a moment, intending to return soon. A Bashar's black uniform jacket lay across a nearby hard chair with sewing material in a small open box atop it. The jacket's cuff showed a carefully patched hole.
So he does his own mending.
This was an aspect of the famous Miles Teg she had not expected. If she had thought about it, she would have said Patrin would absorb such chores.
"Schwangyu let the attackers in, didn't she?" Duncan asked.
"Her people did." Lucilla did not hide her anger. "She has gone too far. A pact with the Tleilaxu!"
"Will Patrin kill her?"
"I don't know nor do I care!"
Outside the door, Schwangyu spoke with anger, her voice loud and quite clear: "Are we just going to wait here, Bashar?"
"You can leave anytime you wish." That was Teg.
"But I can't enter the south tunnel!"
Schwangyu sounded petulant. Lucilla knew it for something the old woman did deliberately. What was she planning? Teg must be very cautious now. He had been clever out there, revealing for Lucilla the gaps in Schwangyu's control, but they had not plumbed Schwangyu's resources. Lucilla wondered if she should leave Duncan here and return to Teg's side.
Teg said: "You can go now but I advise you not to return to your quarters."
"And why not?" Schwangyu sounded surprised, really surprised and not covering it well.
"One moment," Teg said.
Lucilla became aware of shouting at a distance. A heavy thumping explosion sounded from nearby and then another one more distant. Dust sifted from the cornice above the door to Teg's sitting room.
"What was that?" Schwangyu again, her voice overly loud.
Lucilla moved to place herself between Duncan and the wall to the hallway.
Duncan stared at the door, his body poised for defense.
"That first blast was what I expected them to do." Teg again. "The second, I fear, was what they did not expect."
A whistle piped nearby loud enough to cover something Schwangyu said.
"That's it Bashar!" Patrin.
"What is happening?" Schwangyu demanded.
"The first explosion, dear Reverend Mother, was your quarters being destroyed by our attackers. The second explosion was us destroying the attackers."
"I just got the signal, Bashar!" Patrin again. "We got them all. They came down by floater from the no-ship just as you expected."
"The ship?" Teg's voice was full of angry demand.
"Destroyed the instant it came through the space fold. No survivors."
"You fools!" Schwangyu screamed. "Do you know what you've done?"
"I carried out my orders to protect that boy from any attack," Teg said. "By the way, weren't you supposed to be in your quarters at this hour?"
"They were after you when they blasted your quarters. The Tleilaxu are very dangerous, Reverend Mother."
"I don't believe you!"
"I suggest you go look. Patrin, let her pass."
As she listened, Lucilla heard the unspoken argument. The Mentat Bashar had been trusted here more than a Reverend Mother and Schwangyu knew it. She would be desperate. That was clever, suggesting her quarters had been destroyed. She might not believe it, though. Foremost in Schwangyu's mind now would be the realization that both Teg and Lucilla recognized her complicity in the attack. There was no telling how many others were aware of this. Patrin knew, of course.
Duncan stared at the closed door, his head tipped slightly to the right. There was a curious expression on his face, as though he saw through the door and actually watched the people out there.
Schwangyu spoke, the most careful control in her voice. "I don't believe my quarters were destroyed." She knew Lucilla was listening.
"There is only one way to make sure," Teg said.
Clever! Lucilla thought. Schwangyu could not make a decision until she was certain whether the Tleilaxu had acted treacherously.
"You will wait here for me, then! That's an order!" Lucilla heard the swish of Schwangyu's robes as the Reverend Mother departed.
Very bad emotional control, Lucilla thought. What this revealed about Teg, though, was equally disturbing. He did it to her! Teg had kept a Reverend Mother off balance.
The door in front of Duncan swung open. Teg stood there, one hand on the latch. "Quick!" Teg said. "We must be out of the Keep before she returns."
"Out of the Keep?" Lucilla did not hide her shock.
"Quick, I say! Patrin has prepared a way for us."
"But I must -"
"You must nothing! Come as you are. Follow me or we will be forced to take you."
"Do you really think you could take a..." Lucilla broke off. This was a new Teg in front of her and she knew he would not have made such a threat unless he was prepared to carry it out.
"Very well," she said. She took Duncan's hand and followed Teg out of his quarters.
Patrin stood in the hallway looking to his right. "She's gone," the old man said. He looked at Teg. "You know what to do, Bashar?"
Lucilla had never before heard Teg use the batman's diminutive name.
Patrin grinned, a gleaming full-toothed smile. "Sorry, Bashar. The excitement, you know. I'll leave you to it, then. I have my part to play."
Teg waved Lucilla and Duncan down the hallway to the right. She obeyed and heard Teg close on her heels. Duncan's hand was sweaty in her hand. He pulled free and strode beside her without looking back.
The suspensor-drop at the end of the hallway was guarded by two of Teg's own people. He nodded to them. "Nobody follows."
They spoke in unison: "Right, Bashar."
Lucilla realized as she entered the drop with Duncan and Teg that she had chosen sides in a dispute whose workings she did not fully understand. She could feel the movements of the Sisterhood's politics like a swift current of water pouring all around her. Usually, the movement remained mostly a gentle wave washing the strand, but now she sensed a great destructive surge preparing to thunder its surf upon her.
Duncan spoke as they emerged into the sorting chamber for the south pillbox.
"We should all be armed," he said.
"We will be very soon," Teg said. "And I hope you're prepared to kill anyone who tries to stop us."
The significant fact is this: No Bene Tleilax female has ever been seen away from the protection of their core planets. (Face Dancer mules who simulate females do not count in this analysis. They cannot be breeders.) The Tleilaxu sequester their females to keep them from our hands. This is our primary deduction. It must also be in the eggs that the Tleilaxu Masters conceal their most essential secrets.
"So we meet at last," Taraza said.
She stared across the two meters of open space between their chairs at Tylwyth Waff. Her analysts assured her that this man was Tleilaxu Master of Masters. What an elfin little figure he was to hold so much power. The prejudices of appearance must be discarded here, she warned herself.
"Some would not believe this possible," Waff said.
He had a piping little voice, Taraza noted; something else to be measured by different standards.
They sat in the neutrality of a Guild no-ship with Bene Gesserit and Tleilaxu monitors clinging to the Guildship's hull like predatory birds on a carcass. (The Guild had been cravenly anxious to placate the Bene Gesserit. "You will pay." The Guild knew. Payment had been exacted from them before.) The small oval room in which they met was conventionally copper-walled and "spy-proof." Taraza did not believe this for an instant. She presumed also that the bonds between Guild and Tleilaxu, forged of melange, still existed in full force.
Waff did not try to delude himself about Taraza. This woman was far more dangerous than any Honored Matre. If he killed Taraza, she would be replaced immediately by someone just as dangerous, someone with every essential piece of information possessed by the present Mother Superior.
"We find your new Face Dancers very interesting," Taraza said.
Waff grimaced involuntarily. Yes, far more dangerous than the Honored Matres, who were not yet even blaming the Tleilaxu for the loss of an entire no-ship.
Taraza glanced at the small double-faced digital clock on the low side table at her right, a position where the clock could be read easily by either of them. The Waff-side face had been matched to his internal clock. She noted that the two internal-time readings stood within ten seconds of synchronization at an arbitrary midafternoon. It was one of the niceties of this confrontation where even the positioning and spacing between their chairs had been specified in the arrangements.
The two of them were alone in the room. The oval space around them was about six meters in its long dimension, half that in width. They occupied identical sling chairs of peg-fastened wood, which supported orange fabric; not a bit of metal or other foreign material in either of them. The only other furnishing of the room was the side table with its clock. The table was a thin black surface of plaz on three spindly wooden legs. Each of the principals in this meeting had been snooped with care. Each had three personal guards outside the room's one hatch. Taraza did not think the Tleilaxu would try a Face Dancer exchange, not under the present circumstances!
"You will pay."
The Tleilaxu, too, were extremely aware of their vulnerability, especially now that they knew a Reverend Mother could expose the new Face Dancers.
Waff cleared his throat. "I do not expect us to reach an agreement," he said.
"Then why did you come?"
"I seek an explanation of this odd message we have received from your Keep on Rakis. For what are we supposed to pay?"
"I beg of you, Ser Waff, drop these foolish pretenses in this room. There are facts known to both of us that cannot be avoided."
"No female of the Bene Tleilax has ever been provided to us for breeding." And she thought: Let him sweat that one! It was damnably frustrating not to have a line of Tleilaxu Other Memories for Bene Gesserit investigation and Waff would know it.
Waff scowled. "Surely you don't think I would bargain with the life of -" He broke off and shook his head. "I cannot believe this is the payment you would ask."
When Taraza did not respond, Waff said: "The stupid attack on the Rakian temple was undertaken independently by people on the scene. They have been punished."
Expected gambit number three, Taraza thought.
She had participated in numerous analysis-briefings before this meeting, if one could call them briefings. Analyses there had been in excess. Very little was known about this Tleilaxu Master, this Tylwyth Waff. Some extremely important optional projections had been arrived at by inference (if these proved to be true). The trouble was that some of the most interesting data came from unreliable sources. One salient fact could be depended upon, however: The elfin figure seated across from her was deadly dangerous.
Waff's gambit number three engaged her attention. It was time to respond. Taraza produced a knowing smile.
"That is precisely the kind of lie we expected from you," she said.
"Do we begin with insults?" He spoke without heat.
"You set the pattern. Let me warn you that you will not be able to deal with us the way you dealt with those whores from the Scattering."
Waff's frozen stare invited Taraza to a daring gambit. The Sisterhood's deductions, based partly on the disappearance of an Ixian conference ship, were accurate! Maintaining her same smile, she now pursued the optional conjecture line as though it were known fact. "I think," she said, "the whores might like to learn that they have had Face Dancers among them."
Waff suppressed his anger. These damnable witches! They knew! Somehow, they knew! His councillors had been extremely doubtful about this meeting. A substantial minority had recommended against it. The witches were so... so devilish. And their retaliations!
Time to shift his attention to Gammu, Taraza thought. Keep him off balance. She said: "Even when you subvert one of us, as you did with Schwangyu on Gammu, you learn nothing of value!"
Waff flared: "She thought to... to hire us like a band of assassins! We only taught her a lesson!"
Ahhhh, his pride shows itself, Taraza thought. Interesting. The implications of a moral structure behind such pride must be explored.
"You've never really penetrated our ranks," Taraza said.
"And you have never penetrated the Tleilaxu!" Waff managed to produce this boast with passable calm. He needed time to think! To plan!
"Perhaps you would like to know the price of our silence," Taraza suggested. She took Waff's stony glare for agreement and added: "For one thing, you will share with us everything you learn about those Scattering-spawned whores who call themselves Honored Matres."
Waff shuddered. Much had been confirmed by killing the Honored Matres. The sexual intricacies! Only the strongest psyche could resist entanglement in such ecstasies. The potential of this tool was enormous! Must that be shared with these witches?
"Everything you learn from them," Taraza insisted.
"Why do you call them whores?"
"They try to copy us, yet they sell themselves for power and make a mockery of everything we represent. Honored Matres!"
"They outnumber you at least ten thousand to one! We have seen the evidence."
"One of us could defeat them all," Taraza said.
Waff sat in silence, studying her. Was that merely a boast? You could never be sure when it came to the Bene Gesserit witches. They did things. The dark side of the magic universe belonged to them. On more than one occasion the witches had blunted the Shariat. Was it God's will that the true believers pass through another trial?
Taraza allowed the silence to continue building its own tensions. She sensed Waff's turmoil. It reminded her of the Sisterhood's preliminary conference in preparation for this meeting with him. Bellonda had asked the question of deceptive simplicity:
"What do we really know about the Tleilaxu?"
Taraza had felt the answer surge into every mind around the Chapter House conference table: We may know for sure only what they want us to know.
None of her analysts could avoid the suspicion that the Tleilaxu had deliberately created a masking-image of themselves. Tleilaxu intelligence had to be measured against the fact that they alone controlled the secret of the axlotl tanks. Was that a lucky accident as some suggested? Then why had others been unable to duplicate this accomplishment in all of these millennia?
Were the Tleilaxu using the ghola process for their own kind of immortality? She could see suggestive hints in Waff's actions... nothing definite but highly suspicious.
At the Chapter House conferences, Bellonda had returned repeatedly to their basic suspicions, hammering at them: "All of it... all of it, I say! Everything in our archives could be garbage fit only for slig fodder!"
This allusion had caused some of the more relaxed Reverend Mothers around the table to shudder.
Those slowly creeping crosses between giant slugs and pigs might provide meat for some of the most expensive meals in their universe but the creatures themselves embodied everything the Sisterhood held repugnant about the Tleilaxu. Sligs had been one of the earliest Bene Tleilax barter items, a product grown in their tanks and formed with the helical core from which all life took its shapes. That the Bene Tleilax made them added to the aura of obscenity around a creature whose multimouths ground incessantly on almost any garbage, passing that garbage swiftly into excrement that not only smelled of the sty but was slimy.
"The sweetest meat this side of heaven," Bellonda had quoted from a CHOAM promotion.
"And it comes from obscenity," Taraza had added.
Taraza thought of this as she stared at Waff. For what possible reason might people build around themselves a mask of obscenity? Waff's flare of pride could not be fitted neatly into that image.
Waff coughed lightly into his hand. He felt the pressure of the seams where he had concealed two of his potent dart-throwers. The minority among his councillors had advised: "As with the Honored Matres, the winner in this encounter with the Bene Gesserit will be the one who emerges carrying the most secret information about the other. Death of the opponent guarantees success."
I might kill her but what then?
Three more full Reverend Mothers waited outside that hatch. Doubtless Taraza had a signal prepared for the instant the hatch was opened. Without that signal, violence and disaster were sure to ensue. He did not believe for an instant that even his new Face Dancers could overcome those Reverend Mothers out there. The witches would be on full alert. They would have recognized the nature of Waff's guards.
"We will share," Waff said. The admissions implicit in this hurt him but he knew he had no alternatives. Taraza's brag about relative abilities might be inaccurate because of its extreme claim, but he sensed truth in it nonetheless. He had no illusions, however, about what would ensue if the Honored Matres learned what had actually happened to their envoys. The missing no-ship could not yet be laid at the Tleilaxu door. Ships did vanish. Deliberate assassination was another matter altogether. The Honored Matres surely would try to exterminate such a brash opponent. If only as an example. Tleilaxu returned from the Scattering said as much. Having seen Honored Matres, Waff now believed those stories.
Taraza said: "My second agenda item for this meeting is our ghola."
Waff squirmed in the sling chair.
Taraza felt repelled by Waff's tiny eyes, the round face with its snub nose and too-sharp teeth.
"You have been killing our gholas to control the movement of a project in which you have no part other than to provide a single element," Taraza accused.
Waff once more wondered if he must kill her. Was nothing hidden from these damnable witches? The implication that the Bene Gesserit had a traitor in the Tleilaxu core could not be ignored. How else could they know?
He said: "I assure you, Reverend Mother Superior, that the ghola - "Assure me of nothing! We assure ourselves." A look of sadness on her face, Taraza shook her head slowly from side to side. "And you think we don't know that you sold us damaged goods."
Waff spoke quickly: "He meets every requirement imposed by your contract!"
Again, Taraza shook her head from side to side. This diminutive Tleilaxu Master had no idea what he was revealing here. "You have buried your own scheme in his psyche," Taraza said. "I warn you, Ser Waff, that if your alterations obstruct our design, we will wound you deeper than you think possible."
Waff passed a hand across his face, feeling the perspiration on his forehead. Damnable witches! But she did not know everything. The Tleilaxu returned from the Scattering and the Honored Matres she maligned so bitterly had provided the Tleilaxu with a sexually loaded weapon that would not be shared, no matter the promises made here!
Taraza digested Waff's reactions silently and decided on a bold lie. "When we captured your Ixian conference ship, your new Face Dancers did not die quite fast enough. We learned a great deal."
Waff poised himself on the edge of violence.
Bullseye! Taraza thought. The bold lie had opened an avenue of revelation into one of the more outrageous suggestions from her advisors. It did not seem outrageous now. "The Tleilaxu ambition is to produce a complete prana-bindu mimic," her advisor had suggested.
All of the Sisters at the conference had been astonished by the suggestion. It implied a form of mental copy going beyond the memory print about which they already knew.
The advisor, Sister Hesterion from Archives, had come armed with a tightly organized list of supporting material. "We already know that what an Ixian Probe does mechanically, the Tleilaxu do with nerves and flesh. The next step is obvious."
Seeing Waff's reaction to her bold lie, Taraza continued to watch him carefully. He was at his most dangerous right now.
A look of rage came over Waff's face. The things the witches knew were too dangerous! He did not doubt Taraza's claim in the slightest. I must kill her no matter the consequences to me! We must kill them all. Abominations! It's their word and it describes them perfectly.
Taraza correctly interpreted his expression. She spoke quickly: "You are in absolutely no danger from us as long as you do not injure our designs. Your religion, your way of life, those are your business."
Waff hesitated, not so much from what Taraza said as from the reminder of her powers. What else did they know? To continue in a subservient position, though! After rejecting such an alliance with the Honored Matres. And with ascendancy so near after all of those millennia. Dismay filled him. The minority among his councillors had been right after all: "There can be no bond between our peoples. Any accord with powindah forces is a union based upon evil."
Taraza still sensed the potential violence in him. Had she pushed him too far? She held herself in defensive readiness. An involuntary jerking of his arms alerted her. Weapons in his sleeves! Tleilaxu resources were not to be underestimated. Her snoopers had detected nothing.
"We know about the weapons you carry," she said. Another bold lie suggested itself. "If you make a mistake now, the whores will also learn how you use those weapons."
Waff took three shallow breaths. When he spoke, he had himself under control: "We will not be Bene Gesserit satellites!"
Taraza responded in an even-toned, soothing voice: "I have not by word or action suggested such a role for you."
She waited. There was no change in Waff's expression, no slightest shift in the unfocused glare he directed at her.
"You threaten us," he muttered. "You demand that we share everything we -"
"Share!" she snapped. "One does not share with unequal partners."
"And what would you share with us?" he demanded.
She spoke with the chiding tone she would use to a child: "Ser Waff, ask yourself why you, a ruling member of your oligarchy, came to this meeting?"
His voice still firmly controlled, Waff countered: "And why did you, Mother Superior of the Bene Gesserit, come here?"
She spoke mildly: "To strengthen us."
"You did not say what you would share," he accused. "You still hope for advantage."
Taraza continued to watch him carefully. She had seldom sensed such suppressed rage in a human. "Ask me openly what you want," she said.
"And you will give it out of your great generosity!"
"I will negotiate."
"Where was the negotiation when you ordered me... ORDERED ME! to - "You came here firmly resolved to break any agreement we made," she said. "Not once have you tried to negotiate! You sit in front of someone willing to bargain with you and you can only -"
"Bargain?" Waff's memory was hurled back to the Honored Matre's anger at that word.
"I said it," Taraza said. "Bargain."
Something like a smile twitched the corners of Waff's mouth. "You think I have authority to bargain with you?"
"Have a care, Ser Waff," she said. "You have the ultimate authority. It resides in that final ability to destroy an opponent utterly. I have not threatened that, but you have." She glanced at his sleeves.
Waff sighed. What a quandary. She was powindah! How could one bargain with a powindah?
"We have a problem that cannot be resolved by rational means," Taraza said.
Waff hid his surprise. Those were the very words the Honored Matre had used! He cringed inwardly at what that might signify. Could Bene Gesserit and Honored Matres make common cause? Taraza's bitterness argued otherwise, but when were the witches to be trusted?
Once more, Waff wondered if he dared sacrifice himself to eliminate this witch. What would it serve? Others among them surely knew what she knew. It would only precipitate the disaster. There was that internal dispute among the witches, but, again, that might just be another ruse.
"You ask us to share something," Taraza said. "What if I were to offer you some of our prize human bloodlines?"
There was no mistaking how Waff's interest quickened.
He said: "Why should we come to you for such things? We lave our tanks and we can pick up genetic examples almost anywhere."
"Examples of what?" she asked.
Waff sighed. You could never escape that Bene Gesserit incisiveness. It was like a sword thrust. He guessed that he had revealed things to her that led naturally to this subject. The damage already had been done. She correctly deduced (or spies had told her!) that the wild pool of human genes held little interest for the Tleilaxu with their more sophisticated knowledge of life's innermost language. It never paid to underestimate either the Bene Gesserit or the products of their breeding programs. God Himself knew they had produced Muad'dib and the Prophet!
"What more would you demand in exchange for this?" he asked.
"Bargaining at last!" Taraza said. "We both know, of course, that I am offering breeding mothers of the Atreides line." And she thought: "Let him hope for that! They will look like Atreides but they will not be Atreides!"
Waff felt his pulse quicken. Was this possible? Did she have the slightest idea what the Tleilaxu might learn from an examination of such source material?
"We would want first selection of their offspring," Taraza said.
"Alternate first selection, then?"
"What do you mean, perhaps?" She leaned forward. Waff's intensity told her she was on a hot trail.
"What else would you ask of us?"
"Our breeding mothers must have unfettered access to your genetic laboratories."
"Are you mad?" Waff shook his head in exasperation. Did she think the Tleilaxu would give away their strongest weapon just like that?
"Then we will accept a fully operational axlotl tank."
Waff merely stared at her.
Taraza shrugged. "I had to try."
"I suppose you did."
Taraza sat back and reviewed what she had learned here. Waff's reaction to that Zensunni probe had been interesting. "A problem that cannot be resolved by rational means." The words had produced a subtle effect on him. He had seemed to rise out of some place within himself, a questioning look in his eyes. Gods preserve us all! Is Waff a secret Zensunni?
No matter the dangers, this had to be explored. Odrade must be armed with every possible advantage on Rakis.
"Perhaps we have done all we can for now," Taraza said. "There is time to complete our bargain. God alone in His infinite mercy has given us infinite universes where anything may happen."
Waff clapped his hands once without thinking. "The gift of surprises is the greatest gift of all!" he said.
Not just Zensunni, Taraza thought. Sufi also. Sufi! She began to readjust her perspective on the Tleilaxu. How long have they been holding this close to their breasts?
"Time does not count itself," Taraza said, probing. "One has only to look at any circle."
"Suns are circles," Waff said. "Each universe is a circle." He held his breath waiting for her response.
"Circles are enclosures," Taraza said, picking the proper response out of her Other Memories. "Whatever encloses and limits must expose itself to the infinite."
Waff raised his hands to show her his palms then dropped his arms into his lap. His shoulders lost some of their tense upward thrust. "Why did you not say these things at the beginning?" he asked.
I must exercise great care, Taraza cautioned herself. The admissions in Waff's words and manner required careful review.
"What has passed between us reveals nothing unless we speak more openly," she said. "Even then, we would only be using words."
Waff studied her face, trying to read in that Bene Gesserit mask some confirmation of the things implied by her words and manner. She was powindah, he reminded himself. The powindah could never be trusted... but if she shared the Great Belief...
"Did God not send His Prophet to Rakis, there to test us and teach us?" he asked.
Taraza delved deep into her Other Memories. A Prophet on Rakis? Muad'dib? No... that did not square with either Sufi or Zensunni beliefs in...
The Tyrant! She closed her mouth into a grim line. "What one cannot control one must accept," she said.
"For surely that is God's doing," Waff replied.
Taraza had seen and heard enough. The Missionaria Protectiva had immersed her in every known religion. Other Memories reinforced this knowledge and filled it out. She felt a great need to get herself safely away from this room. Odrade must be alerted!
"May I make a suggestion?" Taraza asked.
Waff nodded politely.
"Perhaps there is here the substance of a greater bond between us than we imagined," she said. "I offer you the hospitality of our Keep on Rakis and the services of our commander there."
"An Atreides?" he asked.
"No," Taraza lied. "But I will, of course, alert our Breeding Mistresses to your needs."
"And I will assemble the things you require in payment," he said. "Why will the bargain be completed on Rakis?"
"Is that not the proper place?" she asked. "Who could be false in the home of the Prophet?"
Waff sat back in his chair, his arms relaxed in his lap. Taraza certainly knew the proper responses. It was a revelation he had never expected.
Taraza stood. "Each of us listens to God personally," she said.
And together in the kehl, he thought. He looked up at her, reminding himself that she was powindah. None of them could be trusted. Caution! This woman was, after all, a Bene Gesserit witch. They were known to create religions for their own ends. Powindah!
Taraza went to the hatch, opened it and gave her security signal. She turned once more toward Waff who still sat in his chair. He has not penetrated our true design, she thought. The ones we send to him must be chosen with extreme care. He must never suspect that he is part of our bait.
His elfin features composed, Waff stared back at her.
How bland he looked, Taraza thought. But he could be trapped! An alliance between Sisterhood and Tleilaxu offered new attractions. But on our terms!
"Until Rakis," she said.
What social inheritances went outward with the Scattering? We know those times intimately. We know both the mental and physical settings. The Lost Ones took with them a consciousness confined mostly to manpower and hardware. There was a desperate need for room to expand driven by the myth of Freedom. Most had not learned the deeper lesson of the Tyrant, that violence builds its own limits. The Scattering was wild and random movement interpreted as growth (expansion). It was goaded by a profound fear (often unconscious) of stagnation and death.
Odrade lay full length on her side along the ledge of the bow window, her cheek lightly touching the warm plaz through which she could see the Great Square of Keen. Her back was supported by a red cushion, which smelled of melange as did many things here on Rakis. Behind her lay three rooms, small but efficient and well removed from both Temple and Bene Gesserit Keep. This removal had been a requirement of the Sisterhood's agreement with the priests.
"Sheeana must be guarded more securely," Odrade had insisted.
"She cannot become the ward of only the Sisterhood!" Tuek had objected.
"Nor of the priests," Odrade countered.
Six stories below Odrade's bow window vantage, an enormous bazaar spread out in loosely organized confusion, almost filling the Great Square. The silvered yellow light of a lowering sun washed the scene with brilliance, picking out the bright colors of canopies, drawing long shadows across the uneven ground. There was a dusty radiance about the light where scattered clumps of people milled about patched umbrellas and the jumbled alignments of wares.
The Great Square was not actually square. It stretched out around the bazaar a full kilometer across from Odrade's window and easily twice that distance to the left and right - a giant rectangle of packed earth and old stones, which had been churned into bitter dust by daytime shoppers braving the heat in hopes of gaining a bargain then.
As evening advanced, a different sense of activity unfolded beneath Odrade - more people arriving, a quickening and more frenetic pulse to the movement.
Odrade tipped her head to peer down sharply at the ground near her building. Some of the merchants directly beneath her window had wandered off to their nearby quarters. They would return soon, after a meal and short siesta, ready to make full use of those more valuable hours when people in the open could breathe air that did not burn their throats.
Sheeana was overdue, Odrade noted. The priests dared not delay much longer. They would be working frantically now, firing questions at Sheeana, admonishing her to remember that she was God's own emissary to His Church. Reminding Sheeana of many contrived allegiances that Odrade would have to ferret out and make humorous before dispatching such trivia into proper perspective.
Odrade arched her back and went through a silent minute of tiny exercises to relieve tensions. She admitted to a certain sympathy for Sheeana. The girl's thoughts would be chaos right now. Sheeana knew little or nothing about what to expect once she came fully under a Reverend Mother's tutelage. There was little doubt that the young mind was cluttered with myths and other misinformation.
As my mind was, Odrade thought.
She could not avoid remembrance at a moment such as this. Her immediate task was clear: exorcism, not only for Sheeana but for herself.
She thought the haunting thoughts of a Reverend Mother in her memories: Odrade, age five, the comfortable house on Gamma. The road outside the house is lined with what pass for middle-echelon mansions in the planet's seacoast cities - low one-story buildings on wide avenues. The houses reach far down to an outcurving sea frontage where they are much wider than along the avenues. Only on the sea side do they become more expansive and less jealous of every square meter.
Odrade's Bene Gesserit-honed memory rolled through that faraway house, its occupants, the avenue, the playmates. She felt the tightness in her breast that told her such memories were attached to later events.
The Bene Gesserit creche on Al Dhanab's artificial world, one of the original Sisterhood safe planets. (Later, she learned that the Bene Gesserit once considered making the entire planet into a no-chamber. Energy requirements defeated this plan.) The creche was a cascade of variety to a child from Gammu's comforts and friendships. Bene Gesserit education included intense physical training. There were regular admonishments that she could not hope to become a Reverend Mother without passage through much pain and frequent periods of seemingly hopeless muscular exercises.
Some of her companions failed at this stage. They left to become nurses, servants, laborers, casual breeders. They filled niches of necessity wherever the Sisterhood required them. There were times when Odrade felt longingly that this failure might not be a bad life - fewer responsibilities, lesser goals. That had been before she emerged from Primary Training.
I thought of it as emerging, coming through victorious. I came out the other side.
Only to find herself immersed in new and harsher demands.
Odrade sat up on her Rakian window ledge and pushed her cushion aside. She turned her back on the bazaar. It was becoming noisier out there. Damned priests! They were stretching delay to its absolute limits!
I must think about my own childhood because that will help me with Sheeana, she thought. Immediately, she sneered at her own weakness. Another excuse!
It took some postulants at least fifty years to become Reverend Mothers. This was ground into them during Secondary Training: a lesson of patience. Odrade showed an early penchant for deep study. There was consideration that she might become one of the Bene Gesserit Mentats and probably an Archivist. This idea was dropped on the discovery that her talents lay in a more profitable direction. She was aimed at more sensitive duties in Chapter House.
That wild talent among the Atreides often had this employment. Care with details, that was Odrade's hallmark. She knew her sisters could predict some of her actions simply from their deep knowledge of her. Taraza did it regularly. Odrade had overheard the explanation from Taraza's own lips:
"Odrade's persona is exquisitely reflected in her performance of duties."
There was a joke in Chapter House: "Where does Odrade go when she's off duty? She goes to work."
Chapter House imposed little need to adopt the covering masks that a Reverend Mother used automatically on the Outside. She might show emotions momentarily, deal openly with mistakes of her own and of others, feel sad or bitter or even, sometimes, happy. Men were available - not for breeding, but for occasional solace. All such Bene Gesserit Chapter House males were quite charming and a few were even sincere in their charm. These few, of course, were much in demand.
Recognition twisted through Odrade's mind.
So I come to it as I always do.
Odrade felt the warm evening sunlight of Rakis on her back. She knew where her body sat, but her mind opened itself to the coming encounter with Sheeana.
It would be so easy and so dangerous.
In this moment, she envied the Station Mothers, the ones allowed to live out a lifetime with a mated breeding partner. Miles Teg came from such a union. Other Memories told her how it had been for the Lady Jessica and her Duke. Even Muad'dib had chosen that form of mating.
It is not for me.
Odrade admitted to a bitter jealousy that she had not been permitted such a life. What were the compensations of the life into which she had been guided?
"A life without love can be devoted more intensely to the Sisterhood. We provide our own forms of support to the initiated. Do not worry about sexual enjoyment. That is available whenever you feel the need."
With charming men!
Since the days of the Lady Jessica, through the Tyrant's times and beyond, many things had changed... including the Bene Gesserit. Every Reverend Mother knew it.
A deep sigh shuddered through Odrade. She glanced back over her shoulder at the bazaar. Still no sign of Sheeana.
I must not love this child!
It was done. Odrade knew she had played out the mnemonic game in its required Bene Gesserit form. She swiveled her body and sat cross-legged on the ledge. It was a commanding view of the bazaar and over the rooftops of the city and its basin. Those few remnant hills out there south of here were, she knew, the last of what had been the Shield Wall of Dune, the high ramparts of basement rock breached by Muad'dib and his sandworm-mounted legions.
Heat danced from the ground beyond the qanat and canal that protected Keen from intrusions by the new worms. Odrade smiled softly. The priests found nothing strange in moating their communities to keep their Divided God from intruding upon them.
We will worship you, God, but don't bother us. This is our religion, our city. You see, we no longer call this place Arrakeen. Now, it's Keen. The planet no longer is Dune or Arrakis. Now, it's Rakis. Keep your distance, God. You are the past and the past is an embarrassment.
Odrade stared at those distant hills dancing in the heat shimmer. Other Memories could superimpose the ancient landscape. She knew that past.
If the priests delay bringing Sheeana much longer I will punish them.
Heat still filled the bazaar below her, held there by storage in the ground and the thick walls surrounding the Great Square. Temperature diffusion was amplified by the smoke of many small fires lighted in the surrounding buildings and among the tent-sheltered congeries of life scattered through the bazaar. It had been a hot day, well above thirty-eight degrees. This building, though, had been a Fish Speaker Center in the old days and was cooled by Ixian machinery with evaporation pools on the roof.
We will be comfortable here.
And they would be as secure as Bene Gesserit protective measures could make them. Reverend Mothers walked those halls out there. The priests had their representatives in the building but none of those would intrude where Odrade did not want them. Sheeana would meet with them here on occasion but the occasions would be only as Odrade permitted.
It is happening, Odrade thought. Taraza's plan moves ahead.
Fresh in Odrade's mind was the latest communication from Chapter House. What that revealed about the Tleilaxu filled Odrade with excitement that she carefully dampened. This Waff, this Tleilaxu Master, would be a fascinating study.
Zensunni! And Sufi!
"A ritual pattern frozen for millennia," Taraza said.
Unspoken in Taraza's report was another message. Taraza is placing her complete confidence in me. Odrade felt strength flow into her from this awareness.
Sheeana is the fulcrum. We are the lever. Our strength will come from many sources.
Odrade relaxed. She knew that Sheeana would not permit the priests to delay much longer. Odrade's own patience had suffered the assaults of anticipation. It would be worse for Sheeana.
They had become conspirators, Odrade and Sheeana. The first step. It was a marvelous game to Sheeana. She had been born and bred to distrust priests. What fun to have an ally at last!
Some form of activity stirred the people directly below Odrade's window. She peered downward, curious. Five naked men there had linked arms in a circle. Their robes and stillsuits lay in a pile at one side watched over by a dark-skinned young girl in a long brown dress of spice fiber. Her hair was bound by a red rag.
Odrade had seen many reports of this phenomenon but this was her first personal view of it since arriving. The onlookers included a trio of tall Priest Guardians in yellow helmets with high crests. The Guardians wore short robes that freed their legs for action, and each carried a metal-clad staff.
As the dancers circled, the watchful crowd grew predictably restive. Odrade knew the pattern. Soon, there would be a chanting outcry and a great melee. Heads would be cracked. Blood would flow. People would scream and run about. Eventually, it would all subside without official intervention. Some would go away weeping. Some would depart laughing. And the Priest Guardians would not interfere.
The pointless insanity of this dance and its consequences had fascinated the Bene Gesserit for centuries. Now it held Odrade's rapt attention. The devolution of this ritual had been followed by the Missionaria Protectiva. Rakians called it "Dance Diversion." They had other names for it, as well, and the most significant was "Siaynoq." This dance was what had become of the Tyrant's greatest ritual, his moment of sharing with his Fish Speakers.
Odrade recognized and respected the energy in this phenomenon. No Reverend Mother could fail to see that. The waste of it, however, disturbed her. Such things should be channeled and focused. This ritual needed some useful employment. All it did now was drain away forces that might prove destructive to the priests if left untapped.
A sweet fruit odor wafted into Odrade's nostrils. She sniffed and looked at the vents beside her window; heat from the mob and the warmed earth created an updraft. This carried odors from below through the Ixian vents. She pressed her forehead and nose against the plaz to peer directly downward. Ahhh, the dancers or the mob had tipped over a merchant's stall. The dancers were stomping in the fruit. Yellow pulp spurted up to their thighs.
Odrade recognized the fruit merchant among the onlookers, a familiar wizened face she had seen several times at his stall beside her building's entrance. He appeared unconcerned by his loss. Like all the others around him, he concentrated his attention on the dancers. The five naked men moved with a disjointed high lift of their feet, an unrhythmic and seemingly uncoordinated display, which came around periodically to a repeated pattern - three of the dancers with both feet on the ground and the other two held aloft by their partners.
Odrade recognized it. This was related to the ancient Fremen way of sandwalking. This curious dance was a fossil with roots in the need to move without signaling your presence to a worm.
People began to crowd nearer the dancers out of the bazaar's great rectangle, hopping upward like children's toys to raise their eyes above the throng for a glimpse of the five naked men.
Odrade saw Sheeana's escort then, movement far off to the right where a wide avenue entered the square. Animal-track symbols on a building there said the wide avenue was God's Way. Historical awareness said the avenue had been Leto II's route into the city from his high-walled Sareer far off to the south. With a care for details, one could still discern some of the forms and patterns that had been the Tyrant's city of Onn, the festival center built around the more ancient city of Arrakeen. Onn had obliterated many marks of Arrakeen but some avenues persisted: some buildings were too useful to replace. Buildings inevitably defined streets.
Sheeana's escort came to a stop where the avenue debouched into the bazaar. Yellow-helmeted Guardians probed ahead, clearing a path with their staves. The guards were tall: When grounded, the thick, two-meter staff would come only to the shoulders of the shortest among them. Even in the most disordered crowd you could not miss a Priest Guardian, but Sheeana's protectors were the tallest of the tall.
They were in motion once more leading their party toward Odrade. Their robes swung open at each stride revealing the slick gray of the best stillsuits. They walked straight ahead, fifteen of them in a shallow vee which skirted the thicker clusters of stalls.
A loose band of priestesses with Sheeana at their center marched behind the guards. Odrade caught glimpses of Sheeana's distinctive figure, that sun-streaked hair and proudly upthrust face, within her escort. It was the yellow-helmeted Priest Guardians, though, who attracted Odrade's attention. They moved with an arrogance conditioned into them from infancy. These guards knew they were better than the ordinary folk. And the ordinary folk reacted predictably by opening a way for Sheeana's party.
It was all done so naturally that Odrade could see the ancient pattern of it as though she watched another ritual dance, which had not changed in millennia.
As she had often done, Odrade thought of herself now as an archeologist, not one who sifted the dusty detritus of the ages but rather a person who focused where the Sisterhood frequently concentrated its awareness: on the ways people carried their past within them. The Tyrant's own design was apparent here. Sheeana's approach was a thing laid down by the God Emperor himself.
Beneath Odrade's window the five naked men continued to dance. Among the onlookers, however, Odrade saw a new awareness. Without any concerted turning of heads toward the approaching phalanx of Priest Guardians, the watchers below Odrade knew.
Animals always know when the herders arrive.
Now, the crowd's restiveness produced a quicker pulse. They would not be denied their chaos! A clod of dirt flew from the throng's outskirts and struck the ground near the dancers. The five men did not miss a step in their extended pattern but their speed increased. The length of the series between repetitions spoke of remarkable memories.
Another clod of dirt flew from the crowd and struck a dancer's shoulder. None of the five men faltered.
The crowd began to scream and chant. Some shouted curses. The chanting became a hand-clapping intrusion onto the dancers' movements.
Still, the pattern did not change.
The mob's chanting became a harsh rhythm, repeated shouts that echoed against the Great Square's wails. They were trying to break the dancers' pattern. Odrade sensed a profound importance in the scene below her.
Sheeana's party had come more than halfway across the bazaar. They moved through the wider lanes between stalls and turned now directly toward Odrade. The crowd was at its densest about fifty meters ahead of the Priest Guardians. The Guardians moved at a steady pace, disdainful of those who scurried aside. Under the yellow helmets, eyes were fixed straight ahead, staring over the mob. Not one of the advancing Guardians gave any outward sign that he saw mob or dancers or any other barrier that might impede him.
The mob stopped its chanting abruptly as though an invisible conductor had waved his hand for silence. The five men continued to dance. The silence below Odrade was charged with a power that made her neck hairs stand up. Directly below Odrade, the three Priest Guardians among the onlookers turned as one man and moved out of view into her building.
Deep within the crowd, a woman shouted a curse.
The dancers gave no sign that they heard.
The mob crowded forward, diminishing the space around the dancers by at least half. The girl who guarded the dancers' stillsuits and robes no longer was visible.
Onward, Sheeana's phalanx marched, the priestesses and their young charge directly behind.
Violence erupted off to Odrade's right. People there began striking each other. More missiles arced toward the five dancing men. The mob resumed its chant in a quicker beat.
At the same time, the rear of the crowd parted for the Guardians. Watchers there did not take their attention from the dancers, did not pause in their contributions to the growing chaos, but a way was opened through them.
Absolutely captivated, Odrade stared downward. Many things occurred simultaneously: the melee, the people cursing and striking each other, the continuing chant, the implacable advance of the Guardians.
Within the shield of priestesses, Sheeana could be seen darting her gaze from side to side, trying to see the excitement around her.
Some within the crowd produced clubs and struck out at the people around them, but nobody threatened the Guardians or any other member of Sheeana's party.
The dancers continued to prance within a tightening circle of watchers. Everyone crowded close against Odrade's building, forcing her to press her head against the plaz and peer at a sharp angle downward.
The Guardians leading Sheeana's party advanced through a widening lane amidst this chaos. The priestesses looked neither left nor right. Yellow-helmeted Guardians stared straight ahead.
Disdain was too feeble a word for this performance, Odrade decided. And it was not correct to say that the swirling mob ignored the incoming party. Each was aware of the other but they existed in separate worlds, observing the strict rules of that separation. Only Sheeana ignored the secret protocol, hopping upward to try for a glimpse past the bodies shielding her.
Directly beneath Odrade, the mob surged forward. The dancers were overwhelmed by the crush, swept aside like ships caught in a gigantic wave. Odrade saw spots of naked flesh being pummeled and thrust from hand to hand through the screaming chaos. Only by the most intense concentration could Odrade separate the sounds being carried up to her.
It was madness! '
None of the dancers resisted. Were they being killed? Was it a sacrifice? The Sisterhood's analyses did not even begin to touch this actuality.
Yellow helmets moved aside beneath Odrade, opening a way for Sheeana and her priestesses to pass into the building, then the Guardians closed ranks. They turned and formed a protective arc around the building's entrance. They held their staves horizontally and overlapped at waist height.
The chaos beyond them began to subside. None of the dancers was visible but there were casualties, people sprawled on the ground, others staggering. Bloody heads could be seen.
Sheeana and the priestesses were out of Odrade's view in the building. Odrade sat back and tried to sort out what she had just witnessed.
Absolutely none of the Sisterhood's accounts or holophoto records captured this thing! Part of it was the smells - dust, sweat, an intense concentration of human pheromones. Odrade took a deep breath. She felt herself trembling inside. The mob had become individuals who moved out into the bazaar. She saw weepers. Some cursed. Some laughed.
The door behind Odrade burst open. Sheeana entered laughing. Odrade whirled and glimpsed her own guards and some of the priestesses in the hallway before Sheeana closed the door.
The girl's dark brown eyes glittered with excitement. Her narrow face, already beginning to soften with the curves she would display as an adult, was tense with suppressed emotion. The tension dissolved as she focused on Odrade.
Very good, Odrade thought, as she observed this. Lesson one of the bonding already has begun.
"You saw the dancers?" Sheeana demanded, whirling and skipping across the floor to stop in front of Odrade. "Weren't they beautiful? I think they're so beautiful! Cania didn't want me to look. She says it's dangerous for me to take part in Siaynoq. But I don't care! Shaitan would never eat those dancers!"
With a sudden outflowing awareness, which she had experienced before only during the spice agony, Odrade saw through to the total pattern of what she had just witnessed in the Great Square. It had needed only Sheeana's words and presence to make the thing clear.
Deep within the collective awareness of these people they carried, all unconsciously, a language that could say things to them they did not want to hear. The dancers spoke it. Sheeana spoke it. The thing was composed of voice tones and movements and pheromones, a complex and subtle combination that had evolved the way all languages evolved.
Out of necessity.
Odrade grinned at the happy girl standing in front of her. Now, Odrade knew how to trap the Tleilaxu. Now, she knew more of Taraza's design.
I must accompany Sheeana into the desert at the first opportunity. We will wait only for the arrival of this Tleilaxu Master, this Waff. We will take him with us!
Liberty and Freedom are complex concepts. They go back to religious ideas of Free Will and are related to the Ruler Mystique implicit in absolute monarchs. Without absolute monarchs patterned after the Old Gods and ruling by the grace of a belief in religious indulgence, Liberty and Freedom would never have gained their present meaning. These ideals owe their very existence to past examples of oppression. And the forces that maintain such ideas will erode unless renewed by dramatic teaching or new oppressions. This is the most basic key to my life.
Some thirty kilometers into the thick forest northeast of the Gammu Keep, Teg kept them waiting under the cover of a life-shield blanket until the sun dipped behind the high ground to the west.
"Tonight, we go a new direction," he said.
For three nights now, he had led them through tree-enclosed darkness with a masterful demonstration of Mentat Memory, each step directed precisely along the track that Patrin had laid out for him.
"I'm stiff from too much sitting," Lucilla complained. "And it's going to be another cold night."
Teg folded the life-shield blanket and put it in the top of his pack. "You two can start moving around a bit," he said. "But we won't leave here until full dark."
Teg sat up with his back against the bole of a thickly branched conifer, looking out from the deeper shadows as Lucilla and Duncan moved into the glade. The two of them stood there a moment, shivering as the last of the day's warmth fled into the night's chill. Yes, it would be cold again tonight, Teg thought, but they would have little chance to think about that.
Schwangyu would never expect them still to be this close to the Keep and on foot.
Taraza should have been more emphatic in her warnings about Schwangyu, Teg thought. Schwangyu's violent and open disobedience of a Mother Superior defied tradition. Mentat logic would not accept the situation without more data.
His memory brought up a saying from school days, one of those warning aphorisms by which a Mentat was supposed to rein in his logic.
"Given a trail of logic, occam's razor laid out with impeccable detail, the Mentat may follow such logic to personal disaster. "
So logic was known to fail.
He thought back to Taraza's behavior on the Guildship and immediately afterward. She wanted me to know I would be completely on my own. I must see the problem in my own way, not in her way.
So the threat from Schwangyu had to be a real threat that he discovered and faced and solved on his own.
Taraza had not known what would happen to Patrin because of all this.
Taraza did not really care what happened to Patrin. Or to me. Or to Lucilla.
But what about the ghola?
Taraza must care!
It was not logical that she would... Teg dumped this line of reasoning. Taraza did not want him to act logically. She wanted him to do exactly what he was doing, what he had always done in the tight spots.
So there was a species of logic to all of this but it kicked the performers out of the nest into chaos.
From which we must make our own order.
Grief welled up in his consciousness. Patrin! Damn you, Patrin! You knew and I didn't! What will I do without you?
Teg could almost hear the old aide's response, that stiffly formal voice Patrin always used when he was chiding his commander.
"You will do your best, Bashar."
The most coldly progressive reasoning said Teg would never again see Patrin in the flesh nor hear the old man's actual voice. Still... the voice remained. The person persisted in memory.
"Shouldn't we be going?"
It was Lucilla, standing close in front of his position beneath the tree. Duncan waited beside her. Both of them had shouldered their packs.
While he sat thinking, night had fallen. Rich starlight created vague shadows in the glade. Teg lifted himself to his feet, took his pack and, bending to avoid the low branches, emerged into the glade. Duncan helped Teg shoulder his pack.
"Schwangyu will consider this eventually," Lucilla said. "Her searchers will come after us here. You know it."
"Not until they have followed out the false trail and found the end of it," Teg said. "Come."
He led the way westward through an opening in the trees.
Three nights he had led them along what he called "Patrin's memory-path." As he walked on this fourth night, Teg berated himself for not projecting the logical consequences of Patrin's behavior.
I understood the depths of his loyalty but I did not project that loyalty into a most obvious result. We were together so many years I thought I knew his mind as I knew my own. Patrin, damn you! There was no need for you to die!
Teg admitted to himself then that there had been a need. Patrin had seen it. The Mentat had not permitted himself to see it. Logic could move just as blindly as any other faculty.
As the Bene Gesserit often said and demonstrated.
So we walk. Schwangyu does not expect this.
Teg was forced to admit that walking the wild places of Gammu created a whole new perspective for him. This entire region had been allowed to overgrow with plant life during the Famine Times and the Scattering. It had been replanted later but mostly as a random wilderness. Secret trails and private landmarks guided today's access. Teg imagined Patrin as a youth learning this region - that rocky butte visible in starlight through a gap in the trees, that spiked promontory, these lanes through giant trees.
"They will expect us to make a run for a no-ship, " he and Patrin had agreed, fleshing out their plan. "The decoy must take the searchers in that direction."
Patrin had not said that he would be the decoy.
Teg swallowed past a lump in his throat.
Duncan could not be protected in the Keep, he justified himself.
That was true.
Lucilla had jittered through their first day under the life-shield that protected them from discovery by the instruments of aerial searchers.
"We must get word to Taraza!"
"When we can."
"What if something happens to you? I must know all of your escape plan."
"If something happens to me, you will not be able to follow Patrin's path. There isn't time to put it in your memory."
Duncan took little part in the conversation that day. He watched them silently or dozed, awakening fitful and with an angry look in his eyes.
On the second day under the shielding blanket, Duncan suddenly demanded of Teg: "Why do they want to kill me?"
"To frustrate the Sisterhood's plan for you," Teg said.
Duncan glared at Lucilla. "What is that plan?"
When Lucilla did not answer, Duncan said: "She knows. She knows because I'm supposed to depend on her. I'm supposed to love her!"
Teg thought Lucilla concealed her dismay quite well. Obviously, her plans for the ghola had fallen into disarray, all of the sequencing thrown out of joint by this flight.
Duncan's behavior revealed another possibility: Was the ghola a latent Truthsayer? What additional powers had been bred into this ghola by the sly Tleilaxu?
At their second nightfall in the wilderness, Lucilla was full of accusations. "Taraza ordered you to restore his original memories! How can you do that out here?"
"When we reach sanctuary."
A silent and acutely alert Duncan accompanied them that night. There was a new vitality in him. He had heard!
Nothing must harm Teg, Duncan thought. Wherever and whatever sanctuary might be, Teg must reach it safely. Then, I will know!
Duncan was not sure what he would know but now he fully accepted the prize in it. This wilderness must lead to that goal. He recalled staring out at the wild places from the Keep and how he had thought to be free here. That sense of untouched freedom had vanished. The wilderness was only a path to something more important.
Lucilla, bringing up the rear of this march, forced herself to remain calm, alert, and to accept what she could not change. Part of her awareness held firmly to Taraza's orders:
"Stay close to the ghola and, when the moment comes, complete your assignment."
One pace at a time, Teg's body measured out the kilometers. This was the fourth night. Patrin had estimated four nights to reach their goal.
And what a goal!
The emergency escape plan centered on a discovery Patrin had made here as a teenager of one of Gammu's many mysteries. Patrin's words came back to Teg: "On the excuse of a personal reconnaissance, I returned to the place two days ago. It is untouched. I am still the only person who has ever been there."
"How can you be sure?"
"I took my own precautions when I left Gammu years ago, little things that would be disturbed by another person. Nothing has been moved."
"A Harkonnen no-globe?"
"Very ancient but the chambers are still intact and functioning."
"What about food, water... "
"Everything you could want or need is there, laid down in the nullentropy bins at the core."
Teg and Patrin made their plans, hoping they would never have to use this emergency bolt hole, holding the secret of it close while Patrin replayed for Teg the hidden way to this childhood discovery.
Behind Teg, Lucilla let out a small gasp as she tripped over a root.
I should have warned her, Teg thought. Duncan obviously was following Teg's lead by sound. Lucilla, just as obviously, had much of her attention on her own private thoughts.
Her facial resemblance to Darwi Odrade was remarkable, Teg told himself. Back there at the Keep, the two women side by side, he had marked the differences dictated by their differing ages. Lucilla's youth showed itself in more subcutaneous fat, a rounding of the facial flesh. But the voices! Timbre, accent, tricks of atonal inflection, the common stamp of Bene Gesserit speech mannerisms. They would be almost impossible to tell apart in the dark.
Knowing the Bene Gesserit as he did, Teg knew this was no accident. Given the Sisterhood's propensity for doubling and redoubling its prized genetic lines to protect the investment, there had to be a common ancestral source.
Atreides, all of us, he thought.
Taraza had not revealed her design for the ghola, but just being within that design gave Teg access to the growing shape of it. No complete pattern, but he could already sense a wholeness there.
Generation after generation, the Sisterhood dealing with the Tleilaxu, buying Idaho gholas, training them here on Gammu, only to have them assassinated. All of that time waiting for the right moment. It was like a terrible game, which had come into frenetic prominence because a girl capable of commanding the worms had appeared on Rakis.
Gammu itself had to be part of the design. Caladanian marks all over the place. Danian subtleties piled atop the more brutal ancient ways. Something other than population had come out of the Danian Sanctuary where the Tyrant's grandmother, the Lady Jessica, had lived out her days.
Teg had seen the overt and covert marks when he made his first reconnaissance tour of Gammu.
The signs were here to be read. It flowed around their universe, moving amoebalike to insinuate itself into any place where it could lodge. There was wealth from the Scattering on Gammu, Teg knew. Wealth so great that few suspected (or could imagine) its size and power.
He stopped walking abruptly. Physical patterns in the immediate landscape demanded his full attention. Ahead of them lay an exposed ledge of barren rock, its identifying markers planted in his memory by Patrin. This passage would be one of the more dangerous.
"No caves or heavy growth to conceal you. Have the blanket ready. "
Teg removed the life-shield from his pack and carried it over his arm. Once more he indicated that they should continue. The dark weave of the shield fabric hissed against his body as he moved.
Lucilla was becoming less of a cipher, he thought. She aspired to a Lady in front of her name. The Lady Lucilla. No doubt that had a pleasing sound to her. A few such titled Reverend Mothers were appearing now that Major Houses were emerging from the long obscurity imposed by the Tyrant's Golden Path.
Lucilla, the Seductress-Imprinter.
All such women of the Sisterhood were sexual adepts. Teg's own mother had educated him in the workings of that system, sending him to well-selected local women when he was quite young, sensitizing him to the signs he must observe within himself as well as in the women. It was a forbidden training outside of Chapter House surveillance, but Teg's mother had been one of the Sisterhood's heretics.
"You will have a need for this, Miles."
No doubt there had been some prescience in her. She had armed him against the Imprinters who were trained in orgasmic amplification to fix the unconscious ties - male to female.
Lucilla and Duncan. An imprint on her would be an imprint on Odrade.
Teg almost heard the pieces go snick as they locked together in his mind. Then what of the young woman on Rakis? Would Lucilla teach the techniques of seduction to her imprinted pupil, arm him to ensnare the one who commanded worms?
Not enough data yet for a Prime Computation.
Teg paused at the end of the dangerous open rock passage. He put away the blanket and sealed his pack while Duncan and Lucilla waited close behind. Teg heaved a sigh. The blanket always worried him. It did not have the deflective powers of a full battle shield but if a lasgun's beam hit the thing the consequent quick-fire could be fatal.
This was how Teg always classified such weapons and mechanical devices. Better to rely on your wits, your own flesh, and the Five Attitudes of the Bene Gesserit Way as his mother had taught him.
Use the instruments only when they are absolutely required to amplify the flesh: that was the Bene Gesserit teaching.
"Why are we stopping?" Lucilla whispered.
"I am listening to the night," Teg said.
Duncan, his face a ghostly blur in the tree-filtered starlight, stared at Teg. Teg's features reassured him. They were lodged somewhere in an unavailable memory, Duncan thought. I can trust this man.
Lucilla suspected that they were stopping here because Teg's old body demanded respite but she could not bring herself to say this. Teg said his escape plan included a way of getting Duncan to Rakis. Very well. That was all that mattered for the moment.
She already had figured out that this sanctuary somewhere ahead of them must involve a no-ship or a no-chamber. Nothing else would suffice. Somehow, Patrin had been the key to it. Teg's few hints had revealed that Patrin was the source of their escape route.
Lucilla had been the first to realize how Patrin would have to pay for their escape. Patrin was the weakest link. He remained behind where Schwangyu could capture him. Capture of the decoy was inevitable. Only a fool would suppose that a Reverend Mother of Schwangyu's powers would be incapable of wresting secrets from a mere male. Schwangyu would not even require the heavy persuasion. The subtleties of Voice and those painful forms of interrogation that remained a Sisterhood monopoly - the agony box and nerve-node pressures - those were all she would require.
The form Patrin's loyalty would take had been clear to Lucilla then. How could Teg have been so blind?
That long, trusting bond between the two men. Schwangyu would act swiftly and brutally. Patrin knew it. Teg had not examined his own certain knowledge.
Duncan's voice shocked her from these thoughts.
" 'Thopter! Behind us!"
"Quick!" Teg whipped the blanket from his pack and threw it over them. They huddled in earth-smelling darkness, listening to the ornithopter pass above them. It did not pause or return.
When they felt certain they had not been detected, Teg once more led them up Patrin's memory-track.
"That was a searcher," Lucilla said. "They are beginning to suspect... or Patrin..."
"Save your energy for walking," Teg snapped.
She did not press him. They both knew Patrin was dead. Argument over this had been exhausted.
This Mentat goes deep, Lucilla told herself.
Teg was the child of a Reverend Mother and that mother had trained him beyond the permitted limits before the Sisterhood took him into their manipulative hands. The ghola was not the only one here with unknown resources.
Their trail turned back and forth upon itself, a game track climbing a steep hill through thick forest. Starlight did not penetrate the trees. Only the Mentat's marvelous memory kept them on the path.
Lucilla felt duff underfoot. She listened to Teg's movements, reading them to guide her feet.
How silent Duncan is, she thought. How closed in upon himself. He obeyed orders. He followed where Teg led them. She sensed the quality of Duncan's obedience. He kept his own counsel. Duncan obeyed because it suited him to do so - for now. Schwangyu's rebellion had planted something wildly independent in the ghola. And what things of their own had the Tleilaxu planted in him?
Teg stopped at a level spot beneath tall trees to regain his wind. Lucilla could hear him breathing deeply. This reminded her once more that the Mentat was a very old man, far too old for these exertions. She spoke quietly:
"Are you all right, Miles?"
"I'll tell you when I'm not."
"How much farther?" Duncan asked.
"Only a short way now."
Presently, he resumed his course through the night. "We must hurry," he said. "This saddle-back ridge is the last bit."
Now that he had accepted the fact of Patrin's death, Teg's thoughts swung like a compass needle to Schwangyu and what she must be experiencing. Schwangyu would feel her world falling in around her. The fugitives had been gone four nights! People who could elude a Reverend Mother this way might do anything! Of course, the fugitives probably were off-planet by now. A no-ship. But what if...
Schwangyu's thoughts would be full of what-ifs.
Patrin had been the fragile link but Patrin had been well trained in the removal of fragile links, trained by a master - Miles Teg.
Teg dashed dampness from his eyes with a quick shake of his head. Immediate necessity required that core of internal honesty which he could not avoid. Teg had never been a good liar, not even to himself. Quite early in his training, he had realized that his mother and the others involved in his upbringing had conditioned him to a deep sense of personal honesty.
Adherence to a code of honor.
The code itself, as he recognized its shape in him, attracted Teg's fascinated attention. It began with recognition that humans were not created equal, that they possessed different inherited abilities and experienced different events in their lives. This produced people of different accomplishments and different worth.
To obey this code, Teg realized early that he must place himself accurately into the flow of observable hierarchies accepting that a moment might come when he could evolve no further.
The code's conditioning went deep. He could never find its ultimate roots. It obviously was attached to something intrinsic to his humanity. It dictated with enormous power the limits of behavior permitted to those above as well as to those below him in the hierarchical pyramid.
The key token of exchange: loyalty.
Loyalty went upward and downward, lodging wherever it found a deserving attachment. Such loyalties, Teg knew, were securely locked into him. He felt no doubts that Taraza would support him in everything except a situation demanding that he be sacrificed to the survival of the Sisterhood. And that was right in itself. That was where the loyalties of all of them eventually lodged.
I am Taraza's Bashar. That is what the code says.
And this was the code that had killed Patrin.
I hope you suffered no pain, old friend.
Once more, Teg paused under the trees. Taking his fighting knife from its boot sheath, he scratched a small mark in a tree beside him.
"What are you doing?" Lucilla demanded.
"This is a secret mark," Teg said. "Only the people I have trained know about it. And Taraza, of course."
"But why are you..."
"I will explain later."
Teg moved forward, stopping at another tree where he made the tiny mark, a thing which an animal might make with a claw, something to blend into the natural forms of this wilderness.
As he worked his way ahead, Teg realized he had come to a decision about Lucilla. Her plans for Duncan must be deflected. Every Mentat projection Teg could make about Duncan's safety and sanity required this. The awakening of Duncan's pre-ghola memories must come ahead of any Imprint by Lucilla. It would not be easy to block her, Teg knew. It required a better liar than he had ever been to dissemble for a Reverend Mother.
It must be made to appear accidental, the normal outcome of the circumstances. Lucilla must never suspect opposition.
Teg held few illusions about succeeding against an aroused Reverend Mother in close quarters. Better to kill her. That, he thought he could do. But the consequences! Taraza could never be made to see such a bloody act as obedience to her orders.
No, he would have to bide his time, wait and watch and listen.
They emerged into a small open area with a high barrier of volcanic rock close ahead of them. Scrubby bushes and low thorn trees grew close against the rock, visible as dark blotches in the starlight.
Teg saw the blacker outline of a crawl space under the bushes.
"It's belly crawling from here in," Teg said.
"I smell ashes," Lucilla said. "Something's been burned here."
"This is where the decoy came," Teg said. "He left a charred area just down to our left - simulating the marks of a no-ship's take-off burn."
Lucilla's quickly indrawn breath was audible. The audacity! Should Schwangyu dare bring in a prescient searcher to follow Duncan's tracks (because Duncan alone among them had no Siona blood in his ancestry to shield him) all of the marks would agree that they had come this way and fled off-planet in a no-ship... provided...
"But where are you taking us?" she asked.
"It's a Harkonnen no-globe," Teg said. "It has been here for millennia and now it's ours."
Quite naturally, holders of power wish to suppress wild research. Unrestricted questing after knowledge has a long history of producing unwanted competition. The powerful want a "safe line of investigations," which will develop only those products and ideas that can be controlled and, most important, that will allow the larger part of the benefits to be captured by inside investors. Unfortunately, a random universe full of relative variables does not insure such a "safe line of investigations."
Hedley Tuek, High Priest and titular ruler of Rakis, felt himself inadequate to the demands just imposed upon him.
Dust-fogged night enveloped the city of Keen, but here in his private audience chamber the brilliance of many glowglobes dispelled shadows. Even here, in the heart of the Temple, though, the wind could be heard, a distant moan, this planet's periodic torment.
The audience chamber was an irregular room seven meters long and four meters at its widest end. The opposite end was almost imperceptibly narrower. The ceiling, too, made a gentle slope in that direction. Spice fiber hangings and clever shadings in light yellows and grays concealed these irregularities. One of the hangings covered a focusing horn that carried even the smallest sounds to listeners outside the room.
Only Darwi Odrade, the new commander of the Bene Gesserit Keep on Rakis, sat with Tuek in the audience chamber. The two of them faced each other across a narrow space defined by their soft green cushions.
Tuek tried to conceal a grimace. The effort twisted his normally imposing features into a revealing mask. He had taken great care in preparing himself for this night's confrontations. Dressers had smoothed his robe over his tall, rather stout figure. Golden sandals covered his long feet. The stillsuit under his robe was only for display: no pumps or catchpockets, no uncomfortable and time-consuming adjustments required. His silky gray hair was combed long to his shoulders, a suitable frame for his square face with its wide thick mouth and heavy chin. His eyes fell abruptly into a look of benevolence, an expression he had copied from his grandfather. This was how he had looked on entering the audience chamber to meet Odrade. He had felt himself altogether imposing, but, now, he suddenly felt naked and disheveled.
He's really a rather empty-headed fellow, Odrade thought.
Tuek was thinking: I cannot discuss that terrible Manifesto with her! Not with a Tleilaxu Master and those Face Dancers listening in the other room. What ever possessed me to allow that?
"It is heresy, pure and simple," Tuek said.
"But you are only one religion among many," Odrade countered. "And with people returning from the Scattering, the proliferation of schisms and variant beliefs..."
"We are the only true belief!" Tuek said.
Odrade hid a smile. He said it right on cue. And Waff surely heard him. Tuek was remarkably easy to lead. If the Sisterhood was right about Waff, Tuek's words would enrage the Tleilaxu Master.
In a deep and portentous tone, Odrade said: "The Manifesto raises questions that all must address, believers and non-believers alike."
"What has all this to do with the Holy Child?" Tuek demanded. "You told me we must meet on matters concerning -"
"Indeed! Don't try to deny that you know there are many people who are beginning to worship Sheeana. The Manifesto implicates -"
"Manifesto! Manifesto! It is a heretical document, which will be obliterated. As for Sheeana, she must be returned to our exclusive care!"
"No." Odrade spoke softly.
How agitated Tuek was, she thought. His stiff neck moved minimally as he turned his head from side to side. The movements pointed to a wall hanging on Odrade's right, defining the place as though Tuek's head carried an illuminating beam to reveal that particular hanging. What a transparent man, this High Priest. He might just as well announce that Waff listened to them somewhere behind that hanging.
"Next, you will spirit her away from Rakis," Tuek said.
"She stays here," Odrade said. "Just as we promised you."
"But why can't she..."
"Come now! Sheeana has made her wishes clear and I'm sure her words have been reported to you. She wishes to be a Reverend Mother."
"She already is the -"
"M'Lord Tuek! Don't try to dissemble with me. She has stated her wishes and we are happy to comply. Why should you object? Reverend Mothers served the Divided God in the Fremen times. Why not now?"
"You Bene Gesserit have ways of making people say things they do not want to say," Tuek accused. "We should not be discussing this privately. My councillors -"
"Your councillors would only muddy our discussion. The implications of the Atreides Manifesto -"
"I will discuss only Sheeana!" Tuek drew himself up in what he thought of as his posture of adamant High Priest.
"We are discussing her," Odrade said.
"Then let me make it clear that we require more of our people in her entourage. She must be guarded at all -"
"The way she was guarded on that rooftop?" Odrade asked.
"Reverend Mother Odrade, this is Holy Rakis! You have no rights here that we do not grant!"
"Rights? Sheeana has become the target, yes the target! of many ambitions and you wish to discuss rights?"
"My duties as High Priest are clear. The Holy Church of the Divided God will -"
"M'Lord Tuek! I am trying very hard to maintain the necessary courtesies. What I do is for your benefit as well as our own. The actions we have taken -"
"Actions? What actions?" The words were pressed from Tuek with a hoarse grunting. These terrible Bene Gesserit witches! Tleilaxu behind him and a Reverend Mother in front! Tuek felt like a ball in a fearsome game, bounced back and forth between terrifying energies. Peaceful Rakis, the secure place of his daily routines, had vanished and he had been projected into an arena whose rules he did not fully understand.
"I have sent for the Bashar Miles Teg," Odrade said. "That is all. His advance party should arrive soon. We are going to reinforce your planetary defenses."
"You dare to take over -"
"We take over nothing. At your own father's request, Teg's people redesigned your defenses. The agreement under which this was done contains, at your father's insistence, a clause requiring our periodic review."
Tuek sat in dazed silence. Waff, that ominous little Tleilaxu, had heard all of this. There would be conflict! The Tleilaxu wanted a secret agreement setting melange prices. They would not permit Bene Gesserit interference.
Odrade had spoken of Tuek's father and now Tuek wished only that his long-dead father sat here. A hard man. He would have known how to deal with these opposing forces. He had always handled the Tleilaxu quite well. Tuek recalled listening (just as Waff listened now!) to a Tleilaxu envoy named Wose... and another one named Pook. Ledden Pook. What odd names they had.
Tuek's confused thoughts abruptly offered up another name. Odrade had just mentioned it: Teg! Was that old monster still active?
Odrade was speaking once more. Tuek tried to swallow in a dry throat as he leaned forward, forcing himself to pay attention.
"Teg will also look into your on-planet defenses. After that rooftop fiasco -"
"I officially forbid this interference with our internal affairs," Tuek said. "There is no need. Our Priest Guardians are adequate to -"
"Adequate?" Odrade shook her head sadly. "What an inadequate word, given the new circumstances on Rakis."
"What new circumstances?" There was terror in Tuek's voice.
Odrade merely sat there staring at him.
Tuek tried to force some order into his thoughts. Could she know about the Tleilaxu listening back there? Impossible! He inhaled a trembling breath. What was this about the defenses of Rakis? The defenses were excellent, he reassured himself. They had the best Ixian monitors and no-ships. More than that, it was to the advantage of all independent powers that Rakis remain equally independent as another source of the spice.
To the advantage of everyone except the Tleilaxu with the damnable melange overproduction from their axlotl tanks!
This was a shattering thought. A Tleilaxu Master had heard every word spoken in this audience chamber!
Tuek called on Shai-hulud, the Divided God, to protect him. That terrible little man back there said he spoke also for Ixians and Fish Speakers. He produced documents. Was that the "new circumstances" of which Odrade spoke? Nothing remained long hidden from the witches!
The High Priest could not repress a shudder at the thought of Waff: that round little head, those glittering eyes; that pug nose and those sharp teeth in that brittle smile. Waff looked like a slightly enlarged child until you met those eyes and heard him speak in his squeaky voice. Tuek recalled that his own father had complained of those voices: "The Tleilaxu say such terrible things in their childish voices!"
Odrade shifted on her cushions. She thought of Waff listening out there. Had he heard enough? Her own secret listeners certainly would be asking themselves that question now. Reverend Mothers always replayed these verbal contests, seeking improvements and new advantages for the Sisterhood.
Waff has heard enough, Odrade told herself. Time to shift the play.
In her most matter-of-fact tones, Odrade said: "M'Lord Tuek, someone important is listening to what we say here. Is it polite that such a person listen secretly?"
Tuek closed his eyes. She knows!
He opened his eyes and met Odrade's unrevealing stare. She looked like someone who might wait through eternity for his response.
"Polite? I... I..."
"Invite the secret listener to come sit with us," Odrade said.
Tuek passed a hand across his damp forehead. His father and grandfather, High Priests before him, had laid down ritual responses for most occasions, but nothing for a moment such as this. Invite the Tleilaxu to sit here? In this chamber with... Tuek was reminded suddenly that he did not like the smell of Tleilaxu Masters. His father had complained of that: "They smell of disgusting food!"
Odrade got to her feet. "I would much rather look upon those who hear my words," she said. "Shall I go myself and invite the hidden listener to -"
"Please!" Tuek remained seated but lifted a hand to stop her. "I had little choice. He comes with documents from Fish Speakers and Ixians. He said he would help us to return Sheeana to our -"
"Help you?" Odrade looked down at the sweating priest with something akin to pity. This one thought he ruled Rakis?
"He is of the Bene Tleilax," Tuek said. "He is called Waff and -"
"I know what he is called and I know why he is here, M'Lord Tuek. What astonishes me is that you would allow him to spy on -"
"It is not spying! We were negotiating. I mean, there are new forces to which we must adjust our -"
"New forces? Oh, yes: the whores from the Scattering. Does this Waff bring some of them with him?"
Before Tuek could respond, the audience chamber's side door opened. Waff entered right on cue, two Face Dancers behind him.
He was told not to bring Face Dancers! Odrade thought.
"Just you!" Odrade said, pointing. "Those others were not invited, were they, M'Lord?"
Tuek lifted himself heavily to his feet, noting the nearness of Odrade, remembering all of the terrible stories about the Reverend Mothers' physical prowess. The presence of Face Dancers added to his confusion. They always filled him with such terrible misgivings.
Turning toward the door and trying to compose his features into a look of invitation, Tuek said: "Only... only Ambassador Waff, please."
Speech hurt Tuek's throat. This was worse than terrible! He felt naked before these people.
Odrade gestured to a cushion near her. "Waff is it? Please come and sit down."
Waff nodded to her as though he had never seen her before. How polite! With a gesture to his Face Dancers that they remain outside, he crossed to the indicated cushion but stood waiting beside it.
Odrade saw a flux of tensions move through the little Tleilaxu. Something like a snarl flickered across his lips. He still had those weapons in his sleeves. Was he about to break their agreement?
It was time, Odrade knew, for Waff's suspicions to regain all of their original strength and more. He would be feeling trapped by Taraza's maneuverings. Waff wanted his breeding mothers! The reek of his pheromones announced his deepest fears. He carried in his mind, then, his part of their agreement - or at least a form of that sharing. Taraza did not expect Waff really to share all of the knowledge he had gained from the Honored Matres.
"M'Lord Tuek tells me you have been... ahhh, negotiating," Odrade said. Let him remember that word! Waff knew where the real negotiation must be concluded. As she spoke, Odrade sank to her knees, then back onto her cushion, but her feet remained positioned to throw her out of any line of attack from Waff.
Waff glanced down at her and at the cushion she had indicated for him. Slowly, he sank onto his cushion but his arms remained on his knees, the sleeves directed at Tuek.
What is he doing? Odrade wondered. Waff's movements said he was embarked on a plan of his own.
Odrade said: "I have been trying to impress upon the High Priest the importance of the Atreides Manifesto to our mutual -"
"Atreides!" Tuek blurted. He almost collapsed onto his cushion. "It cannot be Atreides."
"A very persuasive manifesto," Waff said, reinforcing Tuek's obvious fears.
At least that was according to plan, Odrade thought. She said: "The promise of s'tori cannot be ignored. Many people equate s'tori with the presence of their god."
Waff sent a surprised and angry stare at her.
Tuek said: "Ambassador Waff tells me that Ixians and Fish Speakers are alarmed by that document, but I have reassured him that -"
"I think we may ignore the Fish Speakers," Odrade said. "They hear the noise of god everywhere."
Waff recognized the cant in her words. Was she jibing at him? She was right about the Fish Speakers, of course. They had been so far weaned from their old devotions that they influenced very little and whatever they did influence could be guided by the new Face Dancers who now led them.
Tuek tried to smile at Waff. "You spoke of helping us to..."
"Time for that later," Odrade interrupted. She had to keep Tuek's attention on the document that disturbed him so much. She paraphrased from the Manifesto: "Your will and your faith - your belief system - dominate your universe."
Tuek recognized the words. He had read the terrible document. This Manifesto said God and all of His works were no more than human creations. He wondered how he should respond. No High Priest could let such a thing go unchallenged.
Before Tuek could find words, Waff locked eyes with Odrade and responded in a way he knew she would interpret correctly. Odrade could do no less, being who she was.
"The error of prescience," Waff said. "Isn't that what this document calls it? Isn't that where it says the mind of the believer stagnates?"
"Exactly!" Tuek said. He felt thankful for the Tleilaxu intervention. That was precisely the core of this dangerous heresy!
Waff did not look at him, but continued to stare at Odrade. Did the Bene Gesserit think their design inscrutable? Let her meet a greater power. She thought herself so strong! But the Bene Gesserit could not really know how the Almighty guarded the future of the Shariat!
Tuek was not to be stopped. "It assaults everything we hold sacred! And it's being spread everywhere!"
"By the Tleilaxu," Odrade said.
Waff lifted his sleeves, directing his weapons at Tuek. He hesitated only because he saw that Odrade had recognized part of his intentions.
Tuek stared from one to the other. Was Odrade's accusation true? Or was that just another Bene Gesserit trick?
Odrade saw Waff's hesitation and guessed its reason. She cast through her mind, seeking an answer to his motivations. What advantage could the Tleilaxu gain by killing Tuek? Obviously, Waff aimed to substitute one of his Face Dancers for the High Priest. But what would that gain him?
Sparring for time, Odrade said: "You should be very cautious, Ambassador Waff."
"When has caution ever governed great necessities?" Waff asked.
Tuek lifted himself to his feet and moved heavily to one side, wringing his hands. "Please! These are holy precincts. It is wrong to discuss heresies here unless we plan to destroy them." He looked down on Waff. "It's not true, is it? You are not the authors of that terrible document?"
"It is not ours," Waff agreed. Damn that fop of a priest! Tuek had moved well to one side and once more presented a moving target.
"I knew it!" Tuek said, striding around behind Waff and Odrade.
Odrade kept her gaze on Waff. He planned murder! She was sure of it.
Tuek spoke from behind her. "You do not know how you wrong us, Reverend Mother. Ser Waff has asked that we form a melange cartel. I explained that our price to you must remain unchanged because one of you was the grandmother of God."
Waff bowed his head, waiting. The priest would come back into range. God would not permit a failure.
Tuek stood behind Odrade looking down at Waff. A shudder passed through the priest. Tleilaxu were so... so repellent and amoral. They could not be trusted. How could Waff's denial be accepted?
Not wavering from her contemplation of Waff, Odrade said: "But, M'Lord Tuek, was not the prospect of increased income attractive to you?" She saw Waff's right arm come around slightly, almost aimed at her. His intentions became clear.
"M'Lord Tuek," Odrade said, "this Tleilaxu intends to murder us both."
At her words, Waff jerked both arms up, trying to aim at the two separated and difficult targets. Before his muscles responded, Odrade was under his guard. She heard the faint hiss of dart throwers but felt no sting. Her left arm came up in a slashing blow to break Waff's right arm. Her right foot broke his left arm.
He had never suspected such speed in the Bene Gesserit. It was almost a match for what he had seen in the Honored Matre on the Ixian conference ship. Even through his pain he realized that he must report this. Reverend Mothers command synaptic bypasses under duress!
The door behind Odrade burst open. Waff's Face Dancers rushed into the chamber. But Odrade already was behind Waff, both hands on his throat. "Stop or he dies!" she shouted.
The two froze.
Waff squirmed under her hands.
"Be still!" she commanded. Odrade glanced at Tuek sprawled on the floor to her right. One dart had hit its target.
"Waff has killed the High Priest," Odrade said, speaking for her own secret listeners.
The two Face Dancers continued to stare at her. Their indecision was easy to see. None of them, she saw, had realized how this played into Bene Gesserit hands. Trap the Tleilaxu indeed!
Odrade spoke to the Face Dancers. "Remove yourselves and that body to the corridor and close the door. Your Master has done a foolish thing. He will have need of you later." To Waff, she said: "For the moment, you need me more than you need your Face Dancers. Send them away."
"Go," Waff squeaked.
When the Face Dancers continued to stare at her, Odrade said: "If you do not leave immediately, I will kill him and then I will dispatch both of you."
"Do it!" Waff screamed.
The Face Dancers took this as the command to obey their Master. Odrade heard something else in Waff's voice. He obviously would have to be talked out of suicidal hysteria.
Once she was alone with him, Odrade removed the exhausted weapons from his sleeves and pocketed them. They could be examined in detail later. There was little she could do for his broken bones except render him briefly unconscious and set them. She improvised splints from cushions and torn strips of green fabric from the High Priest's furnishings.
Waff reawakened quickly. He groaned when he looked at Odrade.
"You and I are now allies," Odrade said. "The things that have transpired in this chamber have been heard by some of my people and by representatives from a faction that wants to replace Tuek with one of their own number."
It was too fast for Waff. He was a moment grasping what she had said. His mind fastened, though, on the most important thing.
"I imagine Tuek was difficult to deal with," she said. "Offer him obvious benefits and he invariably waffled. You have done some of the priests a favor by killing him."
"They are listening now?" Waff squeaked.
"Of course. Let us discuss your proposed spice monopoly. The late lamented High Priest said you mentioned this. Let me see if I can deduce the extent of your offer."
"My arms," Waff moaned.
"You're still alive," she said. "Be thankful for my wisdom. I could have killed you."
He turned his head away from her. "That would have been better."
"Not for the Bene Tleilax and certainly not for my Sisterhood," she said. "Let me see. Yes, you promised to provide Rakis with many new spice harvesters, the new airborne ones, which only touch the desert with their sweeper heads."
"You listened!" Waff accused.
"Not at all. A very attractive proposal, since I'm sure the Ixians are providing them free for their own reasons. Shall I continue?"
"You said we are allies."
"A monopoly would force the Guild to buy more Ixian navigation machines," she said. "You would have the Guild in the jaws of your crusher."
Waff lifted his head to glare at her. The movement sent agony through his broken arms and he groaned. Despite the pain, he studied Odrade through almost lidded eyes. Did the witches really believe that was the extent of the Tleilaxu plan? He hardly dared hope the Bene Gesserit were so misled.
"Of course that was not your basic plan," Odrade said.
Waff's eyes snapped wide open. She was reading his mind! "I am dishonored," he said. "When you saved my life you saved a useless thing." He sank back.
Odrade inhaled a deep breath. Time to use the results of the Chapter House analyses. She leaned close to Waff and whispered in his ear: "The Shariat needs you yet."
Odrade sat back. That gasp said it all. Analysis confirmed.
"You thought you had better allies in the people from the Scattering," she said. "Those Honored Matres and other hetairas of that ilk. I ask you: does the slig make alliance with its garbage?"
Waff had heard that question uttered only in khel. His face pale, he breathed in shallow gasps. The implications in her words! He forced himself to ignore the pain in his arms. Allies, she said. She knew about the Shariat! How could she possibly know?
"How can either of us be unmindful of the many advantages in an alliance between Bene Tleilax and Bene Gesserit?" Odrade asked.
Alliance with the powindah witches? Waff's mind was filled with turmoil. The agony of his arms was held so tentatively at bay. This moment felt so fragile! He tasted acid bile on the back of his tongue.
"Ahhhh," Odrade said. "Do you hear that? The priest, Krutansik, and his faction have arrived outside our door. They will propose that one of your Face Dancers assume the guise of the late Hedley Tuek. Any other course would cause too much turmoil. Krutansik is a fairly wise man who has held himself in the background until now. His Uncle Stiros groomed him well."
"What does your Sisterhood gain from alliance with us?" Waff managed.
Odrade smiled. Now she could speak the truth. That was always much easier and often the most powerful argument.
"Our survival in the face of the storm that is brewing among the Scattered Ones," she said. "Tleilaxu survival, too. The farthest thing from our desires is an end to those who preserve the Great Belief."
Waff cringed. She spoke it openly! Then he understood. What matter if others heard? They could not see through to the secrets beneath her words.
"Our breeding mothers are ready for you," Odrade said. She stared hard into his eyes and made the handsign of a Zensunni priest.
Waff felt a tight band release itself from his breast. The unexpected, the unthinkable, the unbelievable thing was true! The Bene Gesserit were not powindah! All the universe would yet follow the Bene Tleilax into the True Faith! God would not permit otherwise. Especially not here on the planet of the Prophet!
Bureaucracy destroys initiative. There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept. Who enjoys appearing inept?
The reports, the summations and scattered tidbits lay in rows across the long table where Taraza sat. Except for the night watch and essential services, Chapter House Core slumbered around her. Only the familiar sounds of maintenance activities penetrated her private chambers. Two glowglobes hovered over her table, bathing the dark wood surface and rows of ridulian paper in yellow light. The window beyond her table was a dark mirror reflecting the room.
The holoprojector flickered with its continuing production above the tabletop - more bits and pieces that she had summoned.
Taraza rather distrusted Archivists, which she knew was an ambivalent attitude because she recognized the underlying necessity for data. But Chapter House Records could only be viewed as a jungle of abbreviations, special notations, coded insertions, and footnotes. Such material often required a Mentat for translation or, what was worse, in times of extreme fatigue demanded that she delve into Other Memories. All Archivists were Mentats, of course, but this did not reassure Taraza. You could never consult Archival Records in a straightforward manner. Much of the interpretation that emerged from that source had to be accepted on the word of the ones who brought it or (hateful!) you had to rely on the mechanical search by the holosystem. This, in its turn, required a dependency on those who maintained the system. It gave functionaries more power than Taraza cared to delegate.
Taraza hated dependency. This was a rueful admission, reminding her that few developing situations were ever precisely what you imagined they would be. Even the best of Mentat projections accumulated errors... given enough time.
Still, every move the Sisterhood made required the consultation of Archives and seemingly endless analyses. Even ordinary commerce demanded it. She found this a frequent irritation. Should they form this group? Sign that agreement?
There always came the moment during a conference when she was forced to introduce a note of decision:
"Analysis by Archivist Hesterion accepted."
Or, as was often the case: "Archivists' report rejected; not pertinent."
Taraza leaned forward to study the holoprojection: "Possible breeding plan for Subject Waff."
She scanned the numbers, gene plans from the cell sample forwarded by Odrade. Fingernail scrapings seldom produced enough material for a secure analysis but Odrade had done quite well under the cover of setting the man's broken bones. Taraza shook her head at the data. Offspring would surely be like all the previous ones the Bene Gesserit had attempted with Tleilaxu: The females would be immune to memory probing; males, of course, would be an impenetrable and repellent chaos.
Taraza sat back and sighed. When it came to breeding records, the monumental cross-referencing assumed staggering proportions. Officially, it was the "College of Ancestral Pertinence," CAP to the Archivists. Among the Sisters at large, it was known as the "Stud Record," which, although accurate, failed to convey the sense of detail listed under the proper Archival headings. She had asked for Waff's projections to be carried out into three hundred generations, an easy and rather rapid task, sufficient for all practical purposes. Three-hundred-Gen mainlines (such as Teg, his collaterals and siblings) had proved themselves dependable for millennia. Instinct told her it would be bootless to waste more time on the Waff projections.
Fatigue welled up in Taraza. She put her head in her hands and rested them for a moment on the table, feeling the coolness of the wood.
What if I am wrong about Rakis?
Opposition arguments could not be shuffled away into Archival dust. Damn this dependency on computers! The Sisterhood had carried its main lines in computers even back in the Forbidden Days after the Butlerian Jihad's wild smashing of "the thinking machines." In these "more enlightened" days, one tended not to question the unconscious motives behind that ancient orgy of destruction.
Sometimes, we make very responsible decisions for unconscious reasons. A conscious search of Archives or Other Memories carries no guarantees.
Taraza released one of her hands and slapped it against the tabletop. She did not like dealing with the Archivists who came trotting in with answers to her questions. A disdainful lot they were, full of secret jokes. She had heard them comparing their CAP work to stock breeding, to Farm Forms and Animal Racing Authority. Damn their jokes! The right decision now was far more important than they could possibly imagine. Those serving sisters who only obeyed orders did not have Taraza's responsibilities.
She lifted her head and looked across the room at the niche with its bust of Sister Chenoeh, the ancient one who had met and conversed with the Tyrant.
You knew, Taraza thought. You were never a Reverend Mother but still you knew. Your reports show it. How did you know to make the right decision?
Odrade's request for military assistance required an immediate answer. The time limits were too tight. But with Teg, Lucilla, and the ghola missing, the contingency plan had to be brought into play.
More of his unexpected behavior. He could not leave the ghola in jeopardy, of course. Schwangyu's actions had been predictable.
What had Teg done? Had he gone to ground in Ysai or one of the other major cities on Gammu? No. If that were the case, Teg would have reported by now through one of the secret contacts they had prepared. He possessed a complete list of those contacts and had investigated some of them personally.
Obviously, Teg did not place full trust in the contacts. He had seen something during his inspection tour that he had not passed along through Bellonda.
Burzmali would have to be called in and briefed, of course. Burzmali was the best, trained by Teg himself; prime candidate for Supreme Bashar. Burzmali must be sent to Gammu.
I'm playing a hunch, Taraza thought.
But if Teg had gone to ground, the trail started on Gammu. The trail could have ended there as well. Yes, Burzmali to Gammu. Rakis must wait. There were certain obvious attractions in this move. It would not alert the Guild. The Tleilaxu and the ones from the Scattering, however, would certainly rise to the bait. If Odrade failed to trap the Tleilaxu... no, Odrade would not fail. That one had become almost a certainty.
You see, Miles? I have learned from you.
None of this deflected the opposition within the Sisterhood, though.
Taraza put both palms flat on her table and pressed hard, as though trying to sense the people out there in Chapter House, the ones who shared Schwangyu's opinions. Vocal opposition had subsided but that always meant the violence was being readied.
What shall I do?
The Mother Superior was supposed to be immune to indecision in a crisis. But the Tleilaxu connection had unbalanced their data. Some of the recommendations for Odrade appeared obvious and already had been transmitted. That much of the plan was plausible and simple.
Take Waff into the desert far beyond unwanted eyes. Contrive a situation-in-extremis and the consequent religious experience in the old and reliable pattern dictated by the Missionaria Protectiva. Test whether the Tleilaxu were using the ghola process for their own kind of immortality. Odrade was perfectly capable of carrying out that much of the revised plan. It depended heavily on this young woman, Sheeana, though.
The worm itself is the unknown.
Taraza reminded herself that today's worm was not the original worm of Rakis. Despite Sheeana's demonstrated command over them, they were unpredictable. As Archives would say, they had no track record. Taraza held little doubt that Odrade had made an accurate deduction about the Rakians and their dances. That was a plus.
But we do not yet speak it. That was a negative.
I must make a decision tonight!
Taraza sent her surface awareness roaming backward along that unbroken line of Mothers Superior, all of those female memories encapsulated within the fragile awareness of herself and two others - Bellonda and Hesterion. It was a tortuous track through Other Memories, which she felt too tired to follow. Right at the edge of the track would be observations of Muad'dib, the Atreides bastard who had shaken the universe twice - once by dominating the Imperium with his Fremen hordes, and then by spawning the Tyrant.
If we are defeated this time it could be the end of us, she thought. We could be swallowed whole by these hell-spawned females from the Scattering.
Alternatives presented themselves: The female child on Rakis could be passed into the Sisterhood's core to live out her life somewhere at the end of a no-ship's flight. An ignominious retreat.
So much depended on Teg. Had he failed the Sisterhood at last or had he found an unexpected way to conceal the ghola?
I must find a way to delay, Taraza thought. We must give Teg time to communicate with us. Odrade will have to drag out the plan on Rakis.
It was dangerous but it had to be done.
Stiffly, Taraza lifted herself from her chairdog and went to the darkened window across from her. Chapter House Planet lay in star-shadowed darkness. A refuge: Chapter House Planet. Such planets were not even recipients of names anymore; only numbers somewhere in Archives. This planet had seen fourteen hundred years of Bene Gesserit occupancy but even that must be considered temporary. She thought of the guardian no-ships orbiting overhead: Teg's own defense system in depth. Still, Chapter House remained vulnerable.
The problem had a name: "accidental discovery."
It was an eternal flaw. Out there in the Scattering, humankind expanded exponentially, swarming across unlimited space. The Tyrant's Golden Path secure at last. Or was it? Surely, the Atreides worm had planned more than the simple survival of the species.
He did something to us that we have not yet unearthed - even after all of these millennia. I think I know what he did. My opposition says otherwise.
It was never easy for a Reverend Mother to contemplate the bondage they had suffered under Leto II as he whipped his Imperium for thirty-five hundred years along his Golden Path.
We stumble when we review those times.
Seeing her own reflection in the window's dark plaz, Taraza glared at herself. It was a grim face and the fatigue easily visible.
I have every right to be tired and grim!
She knew that her training had channeled her deliberately into negative patterns. These were her defenses and her strengths. She remained distant in all human relationships, even in the seductions she had performed for the Breeding Mistresses. Taraza was the perpetual devil's advocate and this had become a dominant force in the entire Sisterhood, a natural consequence of her elevation to Mother Superior. Opposition developed easily in that environment.
As the Sufis said: Rot at the core always spreads outward.
What they did not say was that some rots were noble and valuable.
She reassured herself now with her more dependable data: The Scattering took the Tyrant's lessons outward in the human migrations, changed in unknown ways but ultimately submissive to recognition. And in time, a way would be found to nullify a no-ship's invisibility. Taraza did not think the people of the Scattering had found this - at least not the ones skulking back into the places that had spawned them.
There was absolutely no safe course through the conflicting forces, but she thought the Sisterhood had armed itself as well as it could. The problem was akin to that of a Guild navigator threading his ship through the folds of space in a way that avoided collisions and entrapments.
Entrapments, they were the key, and there was Odrade springing the Sisterhood's traps on the Tleilaxu.
When Taraza thought about Odrade, which was often in these crisis times, their long association reasserted itself. It was as though she looked at a faded tapestry in which some figures remained bright. Brightest of all, assuring Odrade's position close to the seats of Sisterhood command, was her capacity for cutting across details and getting at the surprising meat of a conflict. It was a form of that dangerous Atreides prescience working secretly within her. Using this hidden talent was the one thing that had aroused the most opposition, and it was the one argument that Taraza admitted had the most validity. That thing working far below the surface, its hidden movements indicated only by occasional turbulence, that was the problem!
"Use her but stand ready to eliminate her," Taraza had argued. "We will still have most of her offspring."
Taraza knew she could depend on Lucilla... provided Lucilla had found sanctuary somewhere with Teg and the ghola. Alternate assassins existed at the Keep on Rakis, of course. That weapon might have to be armed soon.
Taraza experienced a sudden turmoil within herself. Other Memories advised caution in the utmost. Never again lose control of the breeding lines! Yes, if Odrade escaped an elimination attempt, she would be alienated forever. Odrade was a full Reverend Mother and some of those must still remain out there in the Scattering - not among the Honored Matres the Sisterhood had observed... but still...
Never Again! That was the operational motto. Never another Kwisatz Haderach or another Tyrant.
Control the breeders: Control their offspring.
Reverend Mothers did not die when their flesh died. They sank farther and farther into the Bene Gesserit living core until their casual instructions and even their unconscious observations became a part of the continuing Sisterhood.
Make no mistakes about Odrade!
The response to Odrade required specific tailoring and exquisite care. Odrade, who allowed certain limited affections, "a mild warmth," she called them, argued that emotions provided valuable insights if you did not let them govern you. Taraza saw this mild warmth as a way into the heart of Odrade, a vulnerable opening.
I know what you think of me, Dar, with your mild warmth toward an old companion from school days. You think I am a potential danger to the Sisterhood but that I can be saved from myself by watchful "friends."
Taraza knew that some of her advisors shared Odrade's opinion, listened quietly and reserved judgment. Most of them still followed the Mother Superior's lead but many knew of Odrade's wild talent and had recognized Odrade's doubts. Only one thing kept most of the Sisters in line and Taraza did not try to delude herself about it.
Every Mother Superior acted out of a profound loyalty to her Sisterhood. Nothing must endanger Bene Gesserit continuity, not even herself. In her precise and harshly self-judgmental way, Taraza examined her relationship to the Sisterhood's continuing life.
Obviously, there was no immediate necessity to eliminate Odrade. Yet, Odrade was now so close to the center of the ghola design that little occurring there could escape her sensitive observation. Much that had not been revealed to her would become known. The Atreides Manifesto had been almost a gamble. Odrade, the obvious person to produce the Manifesto, could only achieve a deeper insight as she wrote the document, but the words themselves were the ultimate barrier to revelation.
Waff would appreciate that, Taraza knew.
Turning from the dark window, Taraza went back to her chairdog. The moment of crucial decision - go or no-go - could be delayed but intermediate steps must be taken. She composed a sample message in her mind and examined it while sending a summons to Burzmali. The Bashar's favorite student would have to be sent into action but not as Odrade wanted.
The message to Odrade was essentially simple:
"Help is on the way. You are on the scene, Dar. Where safety of girl Sheeana is concerned, use own judgment. In all other matters that do not conflict with my orders, carry out the plan."
There. That was it. Odrade had her instructions, the essentials that she would accept as "the plan" even while she would recognize an incomplete pattern. Odrade would obey. The "Dar" was a nice touch, Taraza thought. Dar and Tar. That opening into Odrade's limited warmth would not be well shielded from the Dar-and-Tar direction.
The long table on the right is set for a banquet of roast desert hare in sauce cepeda. The other dishes, clockwise to the right from the far end of the table, are aplomage sirian, chukka under glass, coffee with melange (note the hawk crest of the Atreides on the urn), pot-a-oie and, in the Balut crystal bottle, sparkling Caladan wine. Note the ancient poison detector concealed in the chandelier.
Teg found Duncan in the tiny dining alcove off the no-globe's gleaming kitchen. Pausing in the passage to the alcove, Teg studied Duncan carefully: eight days here and the lad appeared finally to have recovered from the peculiar rage that had seized him as they entered the globe's access tube.
They had come through a shallow cave musky with the odors of a native bear. The rocks at the back of the lair were not rocks, although they would have deceived even the most sophisticated examination. A slight protrusion in the rocks would shift if you knew or stumbled upon the secret code. That circular and twisting movement opened the entire rear wall of the cave.
The access tube, brilliantly lighted automatically once they sealed the portal behind them, was decorated with Harkonnen griffins on walls and ceiling. Teg was struck by the image of a young Patrin stumbling into this place for the first time (The shock! The awe! The elation!) and he failed to observe Duncan's reaction until a low growl swelled in the enclosed space.
Duncan stood growling (almost a moan), fists clenched, gaze fixed on a Harkonnen griffin along the right-hand wall. Rage and confusion warred for supremacy on his face. He lifted both fists and crashed them against the raised figure, drawing blood from his hands.
"Damn them to the deepest pits of hell!" he shouted.
It was an oddly mature curse issuing from the youthful mouth.
The instant the words were out Duncan relapsed into uncontrolled shudders. Lucilla put an arm around him and stroked his neck in a soothing, almost sensual way, until the shuddering subsided.
"Why did I do that?" Duncan whispered.
"You will know when your original memories are restored," she said.
"Harkonnens," Duncan whispered and blood suffused his face. He looked up at Lucilla. "Why do I hate them so much?"
"Words cannot explain it," she said. "You will have to wait for the memories."
"I don't want the memories!" Duncan shot a startled look at Teg. "Yes! Yes, I do want them."
Later as he looked up at Teg in the no-globe's dining alcove, Duncan's memory obviously returned to that moment.
Teg glanced around the area. Duncan sat alone at the auto-scrubbed table, a cup of brown liquid in front of him. Teg recognized the smell: one of the many melange-laced items from the nullentropy bins. The bins were a treasure house of exotic foods, clothing, weapons, and other artifacts - a museum whose value could not be calculated. There was a thin layer of dust all through the globe but no deterioration of the things stored here. Every bit of the food was laced with melange, not at an addict level unless you were a glutton, but always noticeable. Even the preserved fruit had been dusted with the spice.
The brown liquid in Duncan's cup was one of the things Lucilla had tasted and pronounced capable of sustaining life. Teg did not know precisely how Reverend Mothers did this, but his own mother had been capable of it. One taste and they knew the contents of food or drink.
A glance at the ornate clock set into the wall at the closed end of the alcove told Teg it was later than he thought, well into the third hour of their arbitrary afternoon. Duncan should still be up on the elaborate practice floor but they both had seen Lucilla take off into the globe's upper reaches and Teg saw this as a chance for them to talk unobserved.
Pulling up a chair, Teg seated himself on the opposite side of the table.
Duncan said, "I hate those clocks!"
"You hate everything here," Teg said, but he took a second look at the clock. It was another antique, a round face with two analog hands and a digital second counter. The two hands were priapean - naked human figures: a large male with enormous phallus and a smaller female with legs spread wide. Each time the two clock hands met, the male appeared to enter the female.
"Gross," Teg agreed. He pointed to Duncan's drink: "You like that?"
"It's all right, sir. Lucilla says I should have it after exercise."
"My mother used to make me a similar drink for after heavy exertions," Teg said. He leaned forward and inhaled, remembering the aftertaste, the cloying melange in his nostrils.
"Sir, how long must we stay here?" Duncan asked.
"Until we are found by the right people or until we're sure we will not be found."
"But... cut off in here, how will we know?"
"When I judge it's time, I'll take the life-shield blanket and start keeping watch outside."
"I hate this place!"
"Obviously. But have you learned nothing about patience?"
Duncan grimaced. "Sir, why are you keeping me from being alone with Lucilla?"
Teg, exhaling as Duncan spoke, locked on the partial exhalation and then resumed breathing. He knew, though, that the lad had observed. If Duncan knew, then Lucilla must know!
"I don't think Lucilla knows what you're doing, sir," Duncan said, "but it's getting pretty obvious." He glanced around him. "If this place didn't take so much of her attention... Where does she dash off to like that?"
"I think she's up in the library."
"I agree it's primitive but it's also fascinating." Teg lifted his gaze to the scrollwork on the nearby kitchen ceiling. The moment of decision had arrived. Lucilla could not be depended upon to remain distracted much longer. Teg shared her fascination, though. It was easy to lose yourself in these marvels. The whole no-globe complex, some two hundred meters in diameter, was a fossil preserved intact from the time of the Tyrant.
When she spoke about it, Lucilla's voice took on a husky, whispering quality. "Surely, the Tyrant must have known about this place."
Teg's Mentat awareness had been immersed immediately in this suggestion. Why did the Tyrant permit Family Harkonnen to squander so much of their last remaining wealth on such an enterprise?
Perhaps for that very reason - to drain them.
The cost in bribes and Guild shipping from the Ixian factories must have been astronomical.
"Did the Tyrant know that one day we would need this place?" Lucilla asked.
No avoiding the prescient powers that Leto II had so often demonstrated, Teg agreed.
Looking at Duncan seated across from him, Teg felt his neck hairs rising. There was something eerie about this Harkonnen hideaway, as though the Tyrant himself might have been here. What had happened to the Harkonnens who built it? Teg and Lucilla had found absolutely no clues to why the globe had been abandoned.
Neither of them could wander through the no-globe without experiencing an acute sense of history. Teg was constantly confounded by unanswered questions.
Lucilla, too, commented on this.
"Where did they go? There's nothing in my Other Memories to give the slightest clue."
"Did the Tyrant lure them out and kill them?"
"I'm going back to the library. Perhaps today I'll find something."
For the first two days of their occupation, the globe had received a careful examination by Lucilla and Teg. A silent and sullen Duncan tagged along as though he feared to be left alone. Each new discovery awed them or shocked them.
Twenty-one skeletons preserved in transparent plaz along a wall near the core! Macabre observers of everyone who passed through there to the machinery chambers and the nullentropy bins.
Patrin had warned Teg about the skeletons. On one of his first youthful examinations of the globe, Patrin had found records that said the dead ones were the artisans who had built the place, all slain by the Harkonnens to preserve the secret.
Altogether, the globe was a remarkable achievement, an enclosure cut out of Time, sealed away from everything external. After all of these millennia, its frictionless machinery still created a mimetic projection that even the most modern instruments could not distinguish from the background of dirt and rock.
"The Sisterhood must acquire this place intact!" Lucilla kept saying. "It's a treasure house! They even kept their family's breeding records!"
That wasn't all the Harkonnens had preserved here. Teg kept finding himself repelled by subtle and gross touches on almost everything in the globe. Like that clock! Clothing, instruments for maintaining the environment, for education and pleasure - everything had been marked by that Harkonnen compulsion to flaunt their uncaring sense of superiority to all other people and all other standards.
Once more, Teg thought of Patrin as a youth in this place, probably no older than the ghola. What had prompted Patrin to keep it a secret even from his wife of so many years? Patrin had never touched on the reasons for secrecy, but Teg made his own deductions. An unhappy childhood. The need for his own secret place. Friends who were not friends but only people waiting to sneer at him. None of those companions could be permitted to share such a wonder. It was his! This was more than a place of lonely security. It had been Patrin's private token of victory.
"I spent many happy hours there, Bashar. Everything still works. The records are ancient but excellent once you grasp the dialect. There is much knowledge in the place. But you will understand when you get there. You will understand many things I have never told you."
The antique practice floor showed signs of Patrin's frequent usage. He had changed the weapons coding on some of the automata in a way Teg recognized. The time-counters told of muscle-torturing hours at the complicated exercises. This globe explained those abilities which Teg had always found so remarkable in Patrin. Natural talents had been honed here.
The automata of the no-globe were another matter.
Most of them represented defiance of the ancient proscriptions against such devices. More than that, some had been designed for pleasure functions that confirmed the more revolting stories Teg had heard about the Harkonnens. Pain as pleasure! In its own way, these things explained the primly unbending morality that Patrin had taken away from Gammu.
Revulsion created its own patterns.
Duncan took a deep swallow of his drink and looked at Teg over the lip of the cup.
"Why did you come down here alone when I asked you to complete that last round of exercises?" Teg asked.
"The exercises made no sense." Duncan put down his cup.
Well, Taraza, you were wrong, Teg thought. He has struck out for complete independence sooner than you predicted.
Also, Duncan had stopped addressing his Bashar as "sir."
"You disobey me?"
"Then exactly what is it you're doing?"
"I have to know!"
"You won't like me very much when you do know."
Duncan looked startled. "Sir?"
Ahhhh, the "sir" is back!
"I have been preparing you for certain kinds of very intense pain," Teg said. "It is necessary before we can restore your original memories."
"We know of no other way to bring back the original Duncan Idaho - the one who died."
"Sir, if you can do that, I will be nothing but grateful."
"So you say. But you may very well see me then as just one more whip in the hands of those who have recalled you to life."
"Isn't it better to know, sir?"
Teg passed the back of a hand across his mouth. "If you hate me... can't say I'd blame you."
"Sir, if you were in my place, is that how you would feel?" Duncan's posture, tone of voice, facial expression - all showed trembling confusion.
So far so good, Teg thought. The procedural steps were laid out with a precision that demanded that every response from the ghola be interpreted with care. Duncan was now filled with uncertainty. He wanted something and he feared that thing.
"I'm only your teacher, not your father!" Teg said.
Duncan recoiled at the harsh tone. "Aren't you my friend?"
"That's a two-way street. The original Duncan Idaho will have to answer that for himself."
A veiled look entered Duncan's eyes. "Will I remember this place, the Keep, Schwangyu and..."
"Everything. You'll undergo a kind of double-vision memory for a time, but you'll remember it all."
A cynical look came over the young face and, when he spoke, it was with bitterness. "So you and I will become comrades."
All of a Bashar's command and presence in his voice, Teg followed the reawakening instructions precisely.
"I'm not particularly interested in becoming your comrade." He fixed a searching glare on Duncan's face. "You might make Bashar someday. I think it possible you have the right stuff. But I'll be long dead by then."
"You're only comrades with Bashars?"
"Patrin was my comrade and he never rose above squad leader."
Duncan looked into his empty cup and then at Teg. "Why didn't you order something to drink? You worked hard up there, too."
Perceptive question. It did not do to underestimate this youth. He knew that food sharing was one of the most ancient rituals of association.
"The smell of yours was enough," Teg said. "Old memories. I don't need them right now."
"Then why did you come down here?"
There it was, revealed in the young voice - hope and fear. He wanted Teg to say a particular thing.
"I wanted to take a careful measurement of how far those exercises have carried you," Teg said. "I needed to come down here and look at you."
"Why so careful?"
Hope and fear! It was time for the precise shift of focus.
"I've never trained a ghola before."
Ghola. The word lay suspended between them, hanging on the cooking smells that the globe's filters had not scrubbed from the air. Ghola! It was laced with spice pungency from Duncan's empty cup.
Duncan leaned forward without speaking, his expression eager. Lucilla's observation came into Teg's mind: "He knows how to use silence."
When it became obvious that Teg would not expand on that simple statement, Duncan sank back with a disappointed look. The left corner of his mouth turned downward, a sullen, festering expression. Everything focused inward the way it had to be.
"You did not come down here to be alone," Teg said. "You came here to hide. You're still hiding in there and you think no one will ever find you."
Duncan put a hand in front of his mouth. It was a signal gesture for which Teg had been waiting. The instructions for this moment were clear: "The ghola wants the original memories wakened and fears this utterly. That is the major barrier you must sunder."
"Take your hand away from your mouth!" Teg ordered.
Duncan dropped his hand as though it had been burned. He stared at Teg like a trapped animal.
"Speak the truth," Teg's instructions warned. "At this moment, every sense afire, the ghola will see into your heart."
"I want you to know," Teg said, "that what the Sisterhood has ordered me to do to you, that this is distasteful to me."
Duncan appeared to crouch into himself. "What did they order you to do?"
"The skills I was ordered to give you are flawed."
"Part of it was comprehensive training, the intellectual part. In that respect, you have been brought to the level of regimental commander."
"Better than Patrin?"
"Why must you be better than Patrin?"
"Wasn't he your comrade?"
"You said he never rose above squad leader!"
"Patrin was fully capable of taking over command of an entire multi-planet force. He was a tactical magician whose wisdom I employed on many occasions."
"But you said he never -"
"It was his choice. The low rank gave him the common touch that we both found useful many times."
"Regimental commander?" Duncan's voice was little more than a whisper. He stared at the tabletop.
"You have an intellectual grasp of the functions, a bit impetuous but experience usually smooths that out. Your weapons skills are superior for your age."
Still not looking at Teg, Duncan asked: "What is my age... sir?"
Just as the instructions cautioned: The ghola will dance all around the central issue. "What is my age?" How old is a ghola.
His voice coldly accusing, Teg said: "If you want to know your ghola-age, why don't you ask that?"
"Wha... what is that age, sir?"
There was such a weight of misery in the youthful voice that Teg felt tears start in the corners of his eyes. He had been warned about this, too. "Do not reveal too much compassion!" Teg covered the moment by clearing his throat. He said: "That's a question only you can answer."
The instructions were explicit: "Turn it back on him! Keep him focused inward. Emotional pain is as important to this process as the physical pain."
A deep sigh shuddered through Duncan. He closed his eyes tightly. When Teg had first seated himself at the table, Duncan had thought: Is this the moment? Will he do it now? But Teg's accusing tone, the verbal attacks, were completely unexpected. And now Teg sounded patronizing.
He's patronizing me!
Cynical anger surged into Duncan. Did Teg think him such a fool that he could be taken in by the most common ploy of a commander? Tone of voice and attitude alone can subjugate another's will. Duncan sensed something else in the patronizing, though: a core of plasteel that would not be penetrated. Integrity... purpose. And Duncan had seen the tears start, the covering gesture.
Opening his eyes and looking directly at Teg, Duncan said: "I don't mean to be disrespectful or ungrateful or rude, sir. But I can't go on without answers."
Teg's instructions were clear: "You will know when the ghola reaches the point of desperation. No ghola will try to hide this. It is intrinsic to their psyche. You will recognize it in voice and posture."
Duncan had almost reached the critical point. Silence was mandatory for Teg now. Force Duncan to ask his questions, to take his own course.
Duncan said: "Did you know that I once thought of killing Schwangyu?"
Teg opened his mouth and closed it without a sound. Silence! But the lad was serious!
"I was afraid of her," Duncan said. "I don't like being afraid." He lowered his gaze. "You once told me that we only hate what's really dangerous to us."
"He will approach it and retreat, approach and retreat. Wait until he plunges."
"I don't hate you," Duncan said, looking once more at Teg. "I resented it when you said ghola to my face. But Lucilla's right: We should never resent the truth even when it hurts."
Teg rubbed his own lips. The desire to speak filled him but it was not yet plunge time.
"Doesn't it surprise you that I considered killing Schwangyu?" Duncan asked.
Teg held himself rigid. Even the shaking of his head would be taken as a response.
"I thought of slipping something into her drink," Duncan said. "But that's a coward's way and I'm not a coward. Whatever else, I'm not that."
Teg remained silently immobile.
"I think you really care what happens to me, Bashar," Duncan said. "But you're right: we will never be comrades. If I survive, I will surpass you. Then... it will be too late for us to be comrades. You spoke the truth."
Teg was unable to prevent himself from inhaling a deep breath of Mentat realization: no avoiding the signs of strength in the ghola. Somewhere recently, perhaps in this very alcove just now, the youth had ceased being a youth and had become a man. The realization saddened Teg. It went so fast! No normal growing-up in between.
"Lucilla does not really care what happens to me the way you do," Duncan said. "She's just following her orders from that Mother Superior, Taraza."
Not yet! Teg cautioned himself. He wet his lips with his tongue.
"You have been obstructing Lucilla's orders," Duncan said. "What is it she's supposed to do to me?"
The moment had come. "What do you think she's supposed to do?" Teg demanded.
"I don't know!"
"The original Duncan Idaho would know."
"You know! Why won't you tell me?"
"I'm only supposed to help restore your original memories."
"Then do it!"
"Only you can really do it."
"I don't know how!"
Teg sat forward on the edge of his chair, but did not speak. Plunge point? He sensed something lacking in Duncan's desperation.
"You know I can read lips, sir," Duncan said. "Once I went up to the tower observatory. I saw Lucilla and Schwangyu down below talking. Schwangyu said: 'Never mind that he's so young! You've had your orders.' "
Once more cautiously silent, Teg stared back at Duncan. It was like Duncan to move around secretly in the Keep, spying, seeking knowledge. And he had seated himself in that memory-mode now, not realizing that he still was spying and seeking... but in a different way.
"I didn't think she was supposed to kill me," Duncan said. "But you know what she was supposed to do because you've been obstructing her." Duncan pounded a fist on the table. "Answer me, damn you!"
Ahhhh, full desperation!
"I can only tell you that what she intends conflicts with my orders. I was commanded by Taraza herself to strengthen you and guard you from harm."
"But you said my training was... was flawed!"
"Necessary. It was done to prepare you for your original memories."
"What am I supposed to do?"
"You already know."
"I don't, I tell you! Please teach me!"
"You do many things without having been taught them. Did we teach you disobedience?"
"Please help me!" It was a desperate wail.
Teg forced himself to chilly remoteness. "What in the nether hell do you think I'm doing?"
Duncan clenched both fists and pounded them on the table, making his cup dance. He glared at Teg. Abruptly, an odd expression came over Duncan's face - something grasping in his eyes.
"Who are you?" Duncan whispered.
The key question!
Teg's voice was a lash striking out at a suddenly defenseless victim: "Who do you think I am?"
A look of utter desperation twisted Duncan's features. He managed only a gasping stutter: "You're... you're..."
"Duncan! Stop this nonsense!" Teg jumped to his feet and stared down with assumed rage.
Teg's right hand shot out in a swift arc. The open palm cracked against Duncan's cheek. "How dare you disobey me?" Left hand out, another rocking slap. "How dare you?"
Duncan reacted so swiftly that Teg experienced an electric instant of absolute shock. Such speed! Although there were separate elements in Duncan's attack, it occurred in one fluid blur: a leap upward, both feet on the chair, rocking the chair, using that motion to slash the right arm down at Teg's vulnerable shoulder nerves.
Responding out of trained instincts, Teg dodged sideways and flailed his left leg over the table into Duncan's groin. Teg still did not completely escape. The heel of Duncan's hand continued downward to strike beside the knee of Teg's flailing leg. It numbed the whole leg.
Duncan sprawled across the tabletop, trying to slide backward in spite of the disabling kick. Teg supported himself, left hand on table, and chopped with the other hand to the base of Duncan's spine, into the nexus deliberately weakened by the exercises of the past few days.
Duncan groaned as paralyzing agony shot through his body. Another person would have been immobilized, screaming, but Duncan merely groaned as he clawed toward Teg, continuing the attack.
Relentless in the necessities of the moment, Teg proceeded to create greater pain in his victim, making sure each time that Duncan saw the attacker's face at the instant of greatest agony.
"Watch his eyes." the instructions warned. And Bellonda, reinforcing the procedure, had cautioned: "His eyes will seem to look through you but he will call you Leto."
Much later, Teg found difficulty in recalling each detail of his obedience to the reawakening procedure. He knew that he continued to function as commanded but his memory went elsewhere, leaving the flesh free to carry out his orders. Oddly, his trick memory fastened onto another act of disobedience: the Cerbol Revolt, himself at middle age but already a Bashar with a formidable reputation. He had donned his best uniform without its medals (a subtle touch, that) and had presented himself in the scorching noon heat of Cerbol's battle-plowed fields. Completely unarmed in the path of the advancing rebels!
Many among the attackers owed him their lives. Most of them had once given him their deepest allegiance. Now, they were in violent disobedience. And Teg's presence in their path said to those advancing soldiers:
"I will not wear the medals that tell what I did for you when we were comrades. I will not be anything that says I am one of you. I wear only the uniform that announces that I am still the Bashar. Kill me if that is how far you will carry your disobedience."
When most of the attacking force threw down their arms and came forward, some of their commanders bent the knee to their old Bashar and he remonstrated: "You never needed to bow to me or get on your knees! Your new leaders have taught you bad habits."
Later, he told the rebels he shared some of their grievances. Cerbol had been badly misused. But he also warned them:
"One of the most dangerous things in the universe is an ignorant people with real grievances. That is nowhere near as dangerous, however, as an informed and intelligent society with grievances. The damage that vengeful intelligence can wreak, you cannot even imagine. The Tyrant would seem a benevolent father figure by comparison with what you were about to create!"
It was all true, of course, but in a Bene Gesserit context, and it helped little with what he was commanded to do to the Duncan Idaho ghola - creating mental and physical agony in an almost helpless victim.
Easiest to recall was the look in Duncan's eyes. They did not change focus, but glared directly up into Teg's face, even at the instant of the final screaming shout:
"Damn you, Leto! What are you doing?"
He called me Leto.
Teg limped backward two steps. His left leg tingled and ached where Duncan had struck it. Teg realized that he was panting and at the end of his reserves. He was much too old for such exertions and the things he had just done made him feel dirty. The reawakening procedure was thoroughly fixed in his awareness, though. He knew that gholas once had been awakened by conditioning them unconsciously to attempt murder on someone they loved. The ghola psyche, shattered and forced to reassemble, was always psychologically scarred. This new technique left the scars in the one who managed the process.
Slowly, moving against the outcry of muscles and nerves that had been stunned by agony, Duncan slid backward off the table and stood leaning against his chair, trembling and glaring at Teg.
Teg's instructions said: "You must stand very quietly. Do not move. Let him look at you as he will."
Teg stood unmoving as he had been instructed. Memory of the Cerbol Revolt left his mind: He knew what he had done then and now. In a way, the two times were similar. He had told the rebels no ultimate truths (if such existed); only enough to lure them back into the fold. Pain and its predictable consequences. "This is for your own good."
Was it really good, what they did to this Duncan Idaho ghola?
Teg wondered what was occurring in Duncan's consciousness. Teg had been told as much as was known about these moments, but he could see that the words were inadequate. Duncan's eyes and face gave abundant evidence of internal turmoil - a hideous twisting of mouth and cheeks, the gaze darting this way and that.
Slowly, exquisite in its slowness, Duncan's face relaxed. His body continued to tremble. He felt the throbbing of his body as a distant thing, aches and darting pains that had happened to someone else. He was here, though, in this immediate moment - whatever and wherever this was. His memories would not mesh. He felt suddenly out of place in flesh too young, not fitted to his pre-ghola existence. The darting and twisting of awareness was all internal now.
Teg's instructors had said: "He will have ghola-imposed filters on his pre-ghola memories. Some of the original memories will come flooding back. Other recollections will return more slowly. There will be no meshing, though, until he recalls that original moment of death." Bellonda had then given Teg the known details of that fatal moment.
"Sardaukar," Duncan whispered. He looked around him at the Harkonnen symbols that permeated the no-globe. "The Emperor's crack troops wearing Harkonnen uniforms!" A wolfish grin twisted his mouth. "How they must have hated that!"
Teg remained silently watchful.
"They killed me," Duncan said. It was a flatly unemotional statement, all the more chilling for its positive delivery. A violent shudder passed through him and the trembling subsided. "At least a dozen of them in that little room." He looked directly at Teg. "One of them got through at me like a meat cleaver right down on my head." He hesitated, his throat working convulsively. His gaze remained on Teg. "Did I buy Paul enough time to escape?"
"Answer all of his questions truthfully."
Now, they came to a testing moment. Where had the Tleilaxu acquired the Idaho cells? The Sisterhood's tests said they were original, but suspicions remained. The Tleilaxu had done something of their own to this ghola. His memories could be a valuable clue to that thing.
"But the Harkonnens..." Duncan said. His memories from the Keep meshed. "Oh, yes. Oh, yes!" A fierce laugh shook him. He sent a roaring victory shout at the long-dead Baron Vladimir Harkonnen: "I paid you back, Baron! Oh, I did it to you for all of the ones you destroyed!"
"You remember the Keep and the things we taught you?" Teg asked.
A puzzled frown drew deep crease lines across Duncan's forehead. Emotional pain warred with his physical pains. He nodded in response to Teg's question. There were two lives, one that had been walled off behind the axlotl tanks and another... another... Duncan felt incomplete. Something remained suppressed within him. The reawakening was not finished. He stared angrily at Teg. Was there more? Teg had been brutal. Necessary brutality? Was this how you had to restore a ghola?
"I..." Duncan shook his head from side to side like a great wounded animal in front of the hunter.
"Do you have all of your memories?" Teg insisted.
"All? Oh, yes. I remember Gammu when it was Giedi Prime - the oil-soaked, blood-soaked hell hole of the Imperium! Yes, indeed, Bashar. I was your dutiful student. Regimental commander!" Again, he laughed, throwing his head back in an oddly adult gesture for that young body.
Teg experienced the sudden release of a deep satisfaction, far deeper than relief. It had worked as they said it would.
"Do you hate me?" he asked.
"Hate you? Didn't I tell you I would be grateful?"
Abruptly, Duncan lifted his hands and peered at them. He shifted his gaze downward at his youthful body. "What a temptation!" he muttered. He dropped his hands and focused on Teg's face, tracing the lines of identity. "Atreides," he said. "You're a