Paul’s Atreides Women
Book Two: MUAD’DIB
Muad’Dib could indeed, see the Future, but you must understand the limits of this power.
Think of sight. You have eyes, yet cannot see without light. If you are on the floor of a valley, you cannot see beyond your valley. Just so, Muad’Dib could not always choose to look across the mysterious terrain. He tells us that a single obscure decision of prophecy, perhaps the choice of one word over another, could change the entire aspect of the future.
He tells us "The vision of time is broad, but when you pass through it, time becomes a narrow door."
And always, he fought the temptation to choose a clear, safe course, warning "That path leads ever down into stagnation."
– from "Arrakis Awakening" by the Princess Irulan
In a palace, in the higher part of the city of Arraken, Anirul Sadow-Tokin Corrino and her Bene Gesserit retinue had all the conditions that they were used to in the Imperial planet of Kaitan. All knew to whom the palace belonged and even the Harkonnen left the palace untouched.
The building exterior was humble, but in its interior was full of opulent luxuries, including the greatest source of wealth on the planet: Water. Huge deposits of water which would make a water seller faint. The palace was built above a huge natural water deposit that was letter secretly enlarged. To improve the living conditions the entire inner part of the palace was equipped with moisture-sealed doors and windows.
And there was sand everywhere. Sand and that smell. The smell of spice. Alia couldn’t find if she loved it or hated it.
But not in the palace. Moist warm air surrounded her in the tub.
Water, warm water in a sunken tub, accepted her skin as she slid into it. Green tiles with figures of red fish worked into a sea pattern surrounded the water. Such an abundance of water occupied this space that a Fremen of old would have been outraged to see it used merely for washing human flesh.
It was lust in tension with chastity, she thought. Her flesh desired a mate. Sex still had too many mysteries to her and she missed Iphigenia’s swollen breasts and warm touch.
Alia caressed herself slightly. Her mind roamed as she recalled other moments in a tub, with her brother and their mother. Her body was languid, she lay in the tub legs spread apart, beginning to trace with a fingertip over her labia, up to her clitoris, so delicately that her movements barely made contact with her skin, as she was mostly moving the water around her inner parts, as she hesitated.
She was just tired to masturbate herself again and again. She needed some change.
Even so, she was wet and it was not due to the water, there was a warm tingle building between her legs. Alia slowly pushed a finger between her labia. A quiver went through her body as she felt her finger slide slightly inside, just a bit… just the tip. But her finger were not a man’s member and she retreated her finger to caress again her clitoris. The honey begun to flow from her and her fingers lingered around it pushing her hood, uncovering it for the water, but it was not enough, she begun to be more aggressive, fighting to restrained herself from doing more and she brought her legs together in anger.
When Anirul Corrino offered her to continue the training that her mother was giving to her as a Bene Gesserit, Alia knew that she couldn’t refuse it. She would become a Bene Gesserit in all except in name. Formally she would never proceed her training at the planet Wallach IX, but Anirul Corrino would be her guide, her teacher, as the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, the Emperor's Truthsayer, was Jessica’s mentor.
The young women had expected that Anirul Corrino would try to seduce her in the palace. The Bene Gesserit witches were masters of seduction. But to her disappointment she didn’t which increased Alia’s desire to be with someone… someone… someone to touch… someone to caress… and being caressed until an orgasm.
Her sexual hunger was rising to a frustration.
This feeling of nearness could be nothing other than flesh reaching for flesh.
Need for action fought lethargy in the warm water.
Abruptly, Alia climbed dripping from the bath, strode wet and naked into the training chamber which adjoined her bedroom. The chamber, oblong and skylighted, contained the gross and subtle instruments which toned a Bene Gesserit adept into ultimate physical and mental awareness / preparedness. There were mnemonic amplifiers, digit mills from lx to strengthen and sensitize fingers and toes, odor synthesizers, tactility sensitizers, temperature gradient fields, pattern betrayers to prevent her falling into detectable habits, alpha-wave-response trainers, blink-synchronizers to tone abilities in light / dark / spectrum analysis...
In ten-centimeter letters along one wall, written by her own hand in mnemonic paint, stood the key reminder from the Bene Gesserit Creed:
"Before us, all methods of learning were tainted by instinct. We learned how to learn. Before us, instinct-ridden researchers possessed a limited attention span… often no longer than a single lifetime. Projects stretching across fifty or more lifetimes never occurred to them. The concept of total muscle / nerve training had not entered awareness."
As she moved into the training room, Alia caught her own reflection multiplied thousands of times in the crystal prisms of a fencing mirror swinging in the heart of a target dummy. She saw the long sword waiting on its brackets against the target, and she thought: Yes! I'll work myself to exhaustion… drain the flesh and clear the mind.
The sword felt right in her hand. She slipped the dagger from its sheath at her neck, held it sinister, tapped the activating stud with the sword tip. Resistance came alive as the aura of the target shield built up, pushing her weapon slowly and firmly away.
Prisms glittered. The target slipped to her left.
Alia followed with the tip of the long blade, thinking as she often did that the thing could almost be alive. But it was only servomotors and complex reflector circuits designed to lure the eyes away from danger, to confuse and teach. It was an instrument geared to react as she reacted, an anti-self which moved as she moved, balancing light on its prisms, shifting its target, offering its counter-blade.
Many blades appeared to lunge at her from the prisms, but only one was real. She countered the real one, slipped the sword past shield resistance to tap the target. A marker light came alive: red and glistening among the prisms... more distraction.
Again the thing attacked, moving at one-marker speed now, just a bit faster than it had at the beginning.
She parried and, against all caution, moved into the danger zone, scored with the dagger.
Two lights glowed from the prisms.
Again, the thing increased speed, moving out on its rollers, drawn like a magnet to the motions of her body and the tip of her sword.
Attack… parry… counter…
Attack… parry… counter...
She had four lights alive in there now, and the thing was becoming more dangerous, moving faster with each light, offering more areas of confusion.
Sweat glistened on her naked skin. She existed now in a universe whose dimensions were outlined by the threatening blade, the target, bare feet against the practice floor, senses / nerves / muscles… motion against motion.
Attack… parry… counter...
Six lights... seven...
She had never before risked eight.
In a recess of her mind there grew a sense of urgency, a crying out against such wildness as this. The instrument of prisms and target could not think, feel caution or remorse. And it carried a real blade. To go against less defeated the purpose of such training. That attacking blade could maim and it could kill. But the finest swordsmen in the Imperium never went against more than seven lights.
Alia experienced a sense of supreme exaltation. Attacking blade and target became blurs among blurs. She felt that the sword in her hand had come alive. She was an anti-target. She did not move the blade; it moved her.
Something flashed past her shoulder, slowed at the shield aura around the target, slid through and tripped the deactivating stud. The lights darkened. Prisms and target twisted their way to stillness.
Alia whirled, angered by the intrusion, but her reaction was thrown into tension by awareness of the supreme ability which had hurled that knife. It had been a throw timed to exquisite nicety… just fast enough to get through the shield zone and not too fast to be deflected.
And it had touched a one-millimeter spot within an eleven-light target.
Alia found her own emotions and tensions running down in a manner not unlike that of the target dummy. She was not at all surprised to see who had thrown the knife.
Anirul Corrino stood just inside the training room doorway, Shadout Mapes three steps behind her. The Bene’s Gesserit eyes were squinted in anger.
Alia, growing conscious of her nudity, thought to cover herself, found the idea amusing. What the eyes had seen could not be erased. Slowly, she replaced the dagger in its sheath at her neck.
"I might've known," she said.
"I presume you know how dangerous that was," Anirul Corrino said. She took her time reading the reactions on her face and body: the flush of her exertions coloring her skin, the wet fullness of her lips. There was a disquieting femaleness about her that Anirul had never seen in any other of her pupils.
"That was madness," Shadout Mapes rasped, coming up to stand beside Anirul Corrino. The words were angry, but Alia heard awe in her voice, saw it in that Fremen’s blue eyes.
"Eleven lights," Anirul Corrino said, shaking her head.
"I'd have made it twelve if you hadn't interfered," Alia said. She began, to pale under her close regard, added: "And why do the damned things have that many lights if we're not supposed to try for them?"
"A Bene Gesserit should ask the reasoning behind an open-ended system?" Anirul Corrino asked.
"I suppose you never tried for more than seven!" Alia said, anger returning. Anirul attentive posture began to annoy her.
“No.” Anirul recognized. “You are already much better than I ever was! That embarrasses me!”
A smile of triumph appered in Alia’s red lips.
"And speaking of embarrassment..." Anirul looked intensely to Alia’s naked body.
"Next time, perhaps you'll have yourselves announced," Alia said. She brushed past Anirul Corrino into the bedroom, found a loose gray robe, slipped into it, began brushing her hair before a wall mirror. She felt sweaty, sad, a post-coitus kind of sadness that left her with a desire to bathe once more... and to sleep.
"Why're you here with her?" she asked. “And who is she? She is not a Bene Gesserit. She is a Fremen.”
"My Lady," Shadout Mapes said. There was an odd inflection in his voice that brought Alia around to stare at her.
"My Lady!" Shadout Mapes said, his voice sharper. “I am looking for you since the Harkonnen attacked us… I was sent by your mother.”
“Where is my mother?”
Mapes looked to the marble floor: “I don’t know, my Lady.”
“That doesn’t help me much. Where is my father? My brother? Were is Duncan… or Gurney?”
The Fremen woman felt her heart race, Shadout Mapes didn’t had any answers to that young woman. She stood in silence. Ashamed.
Alia stood in front of her. With her right hand she raised the Fremen’s chin to look to her bluish eyes.
“What is your name?”
“Shadout Mapes, my Lady.”
“How did you find me?”
“I am a Fremen, and I know Arraken since I was a young girl. I saw you leave the spaceship with the Bene Gesserit, so this would be the most probably place.”
Alia nodded, probably the Fremen woman was right.
“So, why did my mother send you, Mapes?”
“To pick you in the spaceport and escort you to the palace. But we were surprised by the Harkonnen attack.”
“Yes, but why she sent you, and not a proper escort?” Alia caressed the Fremen’s attractive face. She needed to touch someone. And the Fremen woman was so beautiful.
“She trusted me, and she knew that there was a traitor among the Duke’s men.” Alia’s caresses and the humidity of the place were shaking Mapes confidence.
“And now that you find me… what do you want? To where you want to escort me?”
“I can lead you to a Fremen sietch. Iphigenia is with me, and I can take you both to the safety of a sietch.”
“Would I be safer there than here with Anirul Corrino?
Mapes look to the Emperor’s first concubine.
“Most probably, my Lady.”
“I don’t think so, Mapes. Go back to Iphigenia, tell her that I am sorry, and if you can both find some of the members of my house, you know were I am. Find someone, anyone of my house… and then I can depart with you…” Alia still hesitated. She would like to have Iphigenia’s presence in the Anirul’s palace, she needed someone, but she also knew that Anirul wouldn’t permit it. Iphigenia was not a Bene Gesserit.
Shadout Mapes understood the logic behind the young Atreides reasoning, she bowed to the young woman and only said "My lady" as farewell words.
As the ornithopters glided out of the night above them, Paul grabbed his mother’s arm, snapped:
Then he saw the lead craft in the moonlight, the way its wings cupped to brake for landing, the reckless dash of the hands at the controls.
"It’s Idaho," he breathed.
The craft and its companions settled into the basin like a covey of birds coming to nest.
Idaho was out of his ’thopter and running toward them before the dust settled. Two figures in Fremen robes followed him. Paul recognized one: the tall, sandy-bearded Kynes.
"This way!" Kynes called and he veered left.
Behind Kynes, other Fremen were throwing fabric covers over their ornithopters. The craft became a row of shallow dunes.
Idaho skidded to a stop in front of Paul, saluted. "M’Lord, the Fremen have a temporary hiding place nearby where we –"
"What about that back there?"
Paul pointed to the violence above the distant cliff – the jetflares, the purple beams of lasguns lacing the desert.
A rare smile touched Idaho’s round, placid face. "M’Lord... Sire, I’ve left them a little sur –"
Glaring white light filled the desert – bright as a sun, etching their shadows onto the rock floor of the ledge. In one sweeping motion, Idaho had Paul’s arm in one hand, Jessica’s shoulder in the other, hurling them down off the ledge into the basin. They sprawled together in the sand as the roar of an explosion thundered over them. Its shock wave tumbled chips off the rock ledge they had vacated.
Ducan Idaho landed on Jessica. In a glimpse he couldn’t avoid to fell the contact with his duke’s concubine body. The closeness of the moment troubled him. One of his hands was in her waist. He removed it quickly. In all that dust her sweet aroma invaded his nostrils. Her proximity always made him uncomfortable.
He quickly sat up, avoiding to look at her, then brushed sand from himself.
"Not the family atomics!" Jessica said. "I thought –"
"You planted a shield back there," Paul said.
"A big one turned to full force," Idaho said. "A lasgun beam touched it and... " He shrugged.
"Subatomic fusion," Jessica said. "That’s a dangerous weapon."
"Not weapon, m’Lady, defense. That scum will think twice before using lasguns another time."
The Fremen from the ornithopters stopped above them. One called in a low voice: "We should get under cover, friends."
Paul got to his feet as Idaho helped Jessica up.
"That blast will attract considerable attention, Sire," Idaho said.
Sire, Paul thought.
The word had such a strange sound when directed at him. Sire had always been his father.
He felt himself touched briefly by his powers of prescience, seeing himself infected by the wild race consciousness that was moving the human universe toward chaos. The vision left him shaken, and he allowed Idaho to guide him along the edge of the basin to a rock projection.
Fremen there were opening a way down into the sand with their compaction tools.
"May I take your pack, Sire?" Idaho asked.
"It’s not heavy, Duncan," Paul said.
"You have no body shield," Idaho said. "Do you wish mine?" He glanced at the distant cliff. "Not likely there’ll be any more lasgun activity about."
"Keep your shield, Duncan. Your right arm is shield enough for me."
Jessica saw the way the praise took effect, how Idaho moved closer to Paul, and she thought: Such a sure hand my son has with his people.
The Fremen removed a rock plug that opened a passage down into the native basement complex of the desert. A camouflage cover was rigged for the opening.
"This way," one of the Fremen said, and he led them down rock steps into darkness.
Behind them, the cover blotted out the moonlight. A dim green glow came alive ahead, revealing the steps and rock walls, a turn to the left. Robed Fremen were all around them now, pressing downward.
They rounded the corner, found another down-slanting passage. It opened into a rough cave chamber.
Kynes stood before them, jubba hood thrown back. The neck of his stillsuit glistening in the green light. His long hair and beard were mussed. The blue eyes without whites were a darkness under heavy brows.
In the moment of encounter, Kynes wondered at himself: Why am I helping these people? It’s the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done. It could doom me with them.
He looked to Jessica, and found her a woman of a stunning intelligence and beauty, even her stillsuit couldn’t hide her voluptuous figure. For a moment the Imperial Planetologist envied the old duke.
Then he looked squarely at Paul, seeing the boy who had taken on the mantle of manhood, masking grief, suppressing all except the position that now must be assumed – the dukedom.
And Kynes realized in that moment the dukedom still existed and solely because of this youth – and this was not a thing to be taken lightly.
Jessica loosed her red hair and glanced once around the chamber, registering it on her senses in the Bene Gesserit way – a laboratory, a civil place full of angles and squares in the ancient manner.
"This is one of the Imperial Ecological Testing Stations my father wanted as advance bases," Paul said.
His father wanted! Kynes thought.
And again Kynes wondered at himself. Am I foolish to aid these fugitives? Why am I doing it? It’d be so easy to take them now, to buy the Harkonnen trust with them.
Paul followed his mother’s example, gestalting the room, seeing the workbench down one side, the walls of featureless rock. Instruments lined the bench–dials glowing, wire gridex planes with fluting glass emerging from them. An ozone smell permeated the place.
Some of the Fremen moved on around a concealing angle in the chamber and new sounds started there–machine coughs, the whinnies of spinning belts and multidrives.
Paul looked to the end of the room, saw cages with small animals in them stacked against the wall.
"You’ve recognized this place correctly," Kynes said. "For what would you use such a place, Paul Atreides?"
"To make this planet a fit place for humans," Paul said.
Perhaps that’s why I help them, Kynes thought.
The machine sounds abruptly hummed away to silence. Into this void there came a thin animal squeak from the cages. It was cut off abruptly as though in embarrassment.
Paul returned his attention to the cages, saw that the animals were brown-winged bats. An automatic feeder extended from the side wall across the cages.
A Fremen emerged from the hidden area of the chamber, spoke to Kynes: "Liet, the field-generator equipment is not working. I am unable to mask us from proximity detectors."
"Can you repair it?" Kynes asked.
"Not quickly. The parts..." The man shrugged.
"Yes," Kynes said. "Then we’ll do without machinery. Get a hand pump for air out to the surface."
"Immediately." The man hurried away.
Kynes turned back to Paul. "You gave a good answer."
Jessica marked the easy rumble of the man’s voice. It was a royal voice, accustomed to command.
And she had not missed the reference to him as Liet. Liet was the Fremen alter ego, the other face of the tame planetologist.
"We’re most grateful for your help, Doctor Kynes," she said.
"Mm-m-m, we’ll see," Kynes said. He nodded to one of his men. "Spice coffee in my quarters, Shamir."
"At once, Liet," the man said.
Kynes indicated an arched opening in the side wall of the chamber. "If you please?"
Jessica allowed herself a regal nod before accepting. She saw Paul give a hand signal to Idaho, telling him to mount guard here.
The passage, two paces deep, opened through a heavy door into a square office lighted by golden glowglobes. Jessica passed her hand across the door as she entered, was startled to identify plasteel.
Paul stepped three paces into the room, dropped his pack to the floor. He heard the door close behind him, studied the place –a bout eight meters to a side, walls of natural rock, curry-colored, broken by metal filing cabinets on their right. A low desk with milk glass top shot full of yellow bubbles occupied the room’s center. Four suspensor chairs ringed the desk.
Kynes moved around Paul, held a chair for Jessica. She sat down, noting the way her son examined the room. Kynes couldn’t avoid inspiring her scent… it was intoxicating… she almost smelled… at sex…
Paul remained standing for another eyeblink. A faint anomaly in the room’s air currents told him there was a secret exit to their right behind the filing cabinets.
"Will you sit down, Paul Atreides?" Kynes asked.
How carefully he avoids my title, Paul thought. But he accepted the chair, remained silent while Kynes sat down.
"You sense that Arrakis could be a paradise," Kynes said. "Yet, as you see, the Imperium sends here only its trained hatchetmen, its seekers after the spice!"
Paul held up his thumb with its ducal signet. "Do you see this ring?"
"Do you know its significance?"
Jessica turned sharply to stare at her son.
"Your father most probably lies dead in the ruins of Arrakeen," Kynes said. "You are technically the Duke."
"I’m a soldier of the Imperium," Paul said, "technically a hatchetman."
Kynes face darkened. "Even with the Emperor’s Sardaukar standing over your father’s body?"
"The Sardaukar are one thing, the legal source of my authority is another," Paul said.
"Arrakis has its own way of determining who wears the mantle of authority," Kynes said. And Jessica, turning back to look at him, thought: There’s steel in this man that no one has taken the temper out of... and we’ve need of steel. Paul’s doing a dangerous thing.
Paul said: "The Sardaukar on Arrakis are a measure of how much our beloved Emperor feared my father. Now, I will give the Padishah Emperor reasons to fear the –"
"Lad," Kynes said, "there are things you don’t –"
"You will address me as Sire or my Lord," Paul said.
Gently, Jessica thought.
Kynes stared at Paul, and Jessica noted the glint of admiration in the planetologist’s face, the touch of humor there.
"Sire," Kynes said.
"I am an embarrassment to the Emperor," Paul said. "I am an embarrassment to all who would divide Arrakis as their spoil. As I live, I shall continue to be such an embarrassment that I stick in their throats and choke them to death!"
"Words," Kynes said.
Paul stared at him. Presently, Paul said: "You have a legend of the Lisan al-Gaib here, the Voice from the Outer World, the one who will lead the Fremen to paradise. Your men have –"
"Superstition!" Kynes said.
"Perhaps, "Paul agreed. "Yet perhaps not. Superstitions sometimes have strange roots and stranger branchings."
"You have a plan," Kynes said. "This much is obvious... Sire."
"Could your Fremen provide me with proof positive that the Sardaukar are here in Harkonnen uniform?"
"The Emperor will put a Harkonnen back in power here," Paul said. "Perhaps even Beast Rabban. Let him. Once he has involved himself beyond escaping his guilt, let the Emperor face the possibility of a Bill of Particulars laid before the Landsraad. Let him answer there where –"
"Paul!" Jessica said.
"Granted that the Landsraad High Council accepts your case," Kynes said, "there could be only one outcome: general warfare between the Imperium and the Great Houses."
"Chaos," Jessica said.
"But I’d present my case to the Emperor," Paul said, "and give him an alternative to chaos."
Jessica spoke in a dry tone: "Blackmail?"
"One of the tools of statecraft, as you’ve said yourself," Paul said, and Jessica heard the bitterness in his voice. "The Emperor has no sons, only daughters."
"You’d aim for the throne?" Jessica asked. She almost smiled but her Bene Gesserit training impeded her to show her emotions; that encounter between Paul and Irulan in that nigh at the palace may had open fruitful paths.
"The Emperor will not risk having the Imperium shattered by total war," Paul said.
"Planets blasted, disorder everywhere – he’ll not risk that."
"This is a desperate gamble you propose," Kynes said.
"What do the Great Houses of the Landsraad fear most?" Paul asked. "They fear most what is happening here right now on Arrakis – the Sardaukar picking them off one by one. That’s why there is a Landsraad. This is the glue of the Great Convention. Only in union do they match the Imperial forces."
"But they’re –"
"This is what they fear," Paul said. "Arrakis would become a rallying cry. Each of them would see himself in my father – cut out of the herd and killed."
Kynes spoke to Jessica, looking directly to her green eyes: "Would his plan work?"
"I’m no Mentat," Jessica said.
"But you are Bene Gesserit." She shot a probing stare at him, said: "His plan has good points and bad points... as any plan would at this stage. A plan depends as much upon execution as it does upon concept."
" ’Law is the ultimate science,’ " Paul quoted. "Thus it reads above the Emperor ’s door. I propose to show him law."
"And I’m not sure I could trust the person who conceived this plan," Kynes said. "Arrakis has its own plan that we –"
"From the throne," Paul said, "I could make a paradise of Arrakis with the wave of a hand. This is the coin I offer for your support."
Kynes stiffened. "My loyalty’s not for sale, Sire."
Paul stared across the desk at him, meeting the cold glare of those blue- within-blue eyes, studying the bearded face, the commanding appearance. A harsh smile touched Paul’s lips and he said: "Well spoken. I apologize."
Kynes met Paul’s stare and, presently, said: "No Harkonnen ever admitted error. Perhaps you’re not like them, Atreides."
"It could be a fault in their education," Paul said. "You say you’re not for sale, but I believe I’ve the coin you’ll accept. For your loyalty I offer my loyalty to you... totally."
My son has the Atreides sincerity, Jessica thought. He has that tremendous, almost naive honor – and what a powerful force that truly is.
She saw that Paul’s words had shaken Kynes.
"This is nonsense," Kynes said. "You’re just a boy and –"
"I’m the Duke," Paul said. "I’m an Atreides. No Atreides has ever broken such a bond."
"When I say totally," Paul said, "I mean without reservation. I would give my life for you."
"Sire!" Kynes said, and the word was torn from him, but Jessica saw that he was not now speaking to a boy of fifteen, but to a man, to a superior. Now Kynes meant the word.
In this moment he’d give his life for Paul, she thought. How do the Atreides accomplish this thing so quickly, so easily?
"I know you mean this," Kynes said. "Yet the Harkon–"
The door behind Paul slammed open. He whirled to see reeling violence– shouting, the clash of steel, wax-image faces grimacing in the passage.
With his mother beside him, Paul leaped for the door, seeing Idaho blocking the passage, his bloodpitted eyes there visible through a shield blur, claw hands beyond him, arcs of steel chopping futilely at the shield. There was the orange fire-mouth of a stunner repelled by the shield. Idaho’s blades were through it all, flick-flicking, red dripping from them.
Then Kynes was beside Paul and they threw their weight against the door.
Paul had one last glimpse of Idaho standing against a swarm of Harkonnen uniforms–his jerking, controlled staggers, the black goat hair with a red blossom of death in it.
Then the door was closed and there came a snick as Kynes threw the bolts.
"I appear to’ve decided," Kynes said.
"Someone detected your machinery before it was shut down," Paul said. He pulled his mother by her hand away from the door, met the despair in her eyes.
"I should’ve suspected trouble when the coffee failed to arrive," Kynes said.
"You’ve a bolt hole out of here," Paul said. "Shall we use it?"
Kynes took a deep breath, said: "This door should hold for at least twenty minutes against all but a lasgun."
"They’ll not use a lasgun for fear we’ve shields on this side," Paul said.
"Those were Sardaukar in Harkonnen uniform," Jessica whispered.
They could hear pounding on the door now, rhythmic blows.
Kynes indicated the cabinets against the right-hand wall, said: "This way." He crossed to the first cabinet, opened a drawer, manipulated a handle within it. The entire wall of cabinets swung open to expose the black mouth of a tunnel. "This door also is plasteel," Kynes said.
"You were well prepared," Jessica said.
"We lived under the Harkonnens for eighty years," Kynes said. He herded them into the darkness, closed the door.
In the sudden blackness, Jessica saw a luminous arrow on the floor ahead of her.
Kynes’ voice came from behind them: "We’ll separate here. This wall is tougher. It’ll stand for at least an hour. Follow the arrows like that one on the floor. They’ll be extinguished by your passage. They lead through a maze to another exit where I’ve secreted a ’thopter. There’s a storm across the desert tonight. Your only hope is to run for that storm, dive into the top of it, ride with it. My people have done this in stealing ’thopters. If you stay high in the storm you’ll survive."
"What of you?" Paul asked.
"I’ll try to escape another way. If I’m captured... well, I’m still Imperial Planetologist. I can say I was your captive."
Running like cowards, Paul thought. But how else can I live to avenge my father? He turned to face the door.
Jessica heard him move, said "Duncan’s dead, Paul. You saw the wound. You can do nothing for him."
"I’ll take full payment for them all one day," Paul said.
"Not unless you hurry now," Kynes said.
Paul felt the man’s hand on his shoulder.
"Where will we meet, Kynes?" Paul asked.
"I’ll send Fremen searching for you. The storm’s path is known. Hurry now, and the Great Mother give you speed and luck."
They heard him go, a scrambling in the blackness.
Jessica found Paul’s hand, pulled him gently while kissing his face. "We must not get separated," she said.
He followed her across the first arrow, seeing it go black as they touched it. Another arrow beckoned ahead.
They crossed it, saw it extinguish itself, saw another arrow ahead.
They were running now.
Plans within plans within plans within plans, Jessica thought. Have we become part of someone else’s plan now?
The arrows led them around turnings, past side openings only dimly sensed in the faint luminescence.
Their way slanted downward for a time, then up, ever up. They came finally to steps, rounded a corner and were brought short by a glowing wall with a dark handle visible in its center.
Paul pressed the handle.
The wall swung away from them. Light flared to reveal a rock-hewn cavern with an ornithopter squatting in its center. A flat gray wall with a doorsign on it loomed beyond the aircraft.
"Where did Kynes go?" Jessica asked.
"He did what any good guerrilla leader would," Paul said. "He separated us into two parties and arranged that he couldn’t reveal where we are if he’s captured. He won’t really know."
Paul drew her into the room, noting how their feet kicked up dust on the floor.
"No one’s been here for a long time," he said.
"He seemed confident the Fremen could find us," she said.
"I share that confidence."
Paul released her hand, crossed to the ornithopter ’s left door, opened it, and secured his pack in the rear. "This ship’s proximity masked," he said. "Instrument panel has remote door control, light control. Eighty years under the Harkonnens taught them to be thorough."
Jessica leaned against the craft’s other side, catching her breath.
"The Harkonnens will have a covering force over this area," she said. "They’re not stupid."
She considered her direction sense, pointed right. "The storm we saw is that way."
Paul nodded, fighting an abrupt reluctance to move. He knew its cause, but found no help in the knowledge. Somewhere this night he had passed a decision- nexus into the deep unknown.
He knew the time-area surrounding them, but the here-and-now existed as a place of mystery.
It was as though he had seen himself from a distance go out of sight down into a valley.
Of the countless paths up out of that valley, some might carry a Paul Atreides back into sight, but many would not.
"The longer we wait the better prepared they’ll be," Jessica said.
"Get in and strap yourself down," he said.
He joined her in the ornithopter, still wrestling with the thought that this was blind ground, unseen in any prescient vision. And he realized with an abrupt sense of shock that he had been giving more and more reliance to prescient memory and it had weakened him for this particular emergency.
"If you rely only on your eyes, your other senses weaken." It was a Bene Gesserit axiom.
He took it to himself now, promising never again to fall into that trap... if he lived through this.
Paul fastened his safety harness, saw that his mother was secure, checked the aircraft. The wings were at full spread-rest, their delicate metal interleavings extended. He touched the retractor bar, watched the wings shorten for jet-boost take-off the way Gurney Halleck had taught him. The starter switch moved easily. Dials on the instrument panel came alive as the jetpods were armed. Turbines began
their low hissing.
"Ready?" he asked.
He touched the remote control for lights.
Darkness blanketed them.
His hand was a shadow against the luminous dials as he tripped the remote door control.
Grating sounded ahead of them. A cascade of sand swished away to silence. A dusty breeze touched Paul’s cheeks. He closed his door, feeling the sudden pressure.
A wide patch of dust-blurred stars framed in angular darkness appeared where the door-wall had been. Starlight defined a shelf beyond, a suggestion of sand ripples.
Paul depressed the glowing action-sequence switch on his panel. The wings snapped back and down, hurling the ’thopter out of its nest. Power surged from the jetpods as the wings locked into lift attitude.
Jessica let her hands ride lightly on the dual controls, feeling the sureness of her son’s movements.
She was frightened, yet exhilarated. Now, Paul’s training is our only hope, she thought. His youth and swiftness.
Paul fed more power to the jetpods. The ’thopter banked, sinking them into their seats as a dark wall lifted against the stars ahead. He gave the craft more wing, more power. Another burst of lifting wingbeats and they came out over rocks, silver-frosted angles and outcroppings in the starlight. The dust- reddened second moon showed itself above the horizon to their right, defining the ribbon trail of the storm.
Paul’s hands danced over the controls. Wings snicked in to beetle stubs. G- force pulled at their flesh as the craft came around in a tight bank.
"Jetflares behind us!" Jessica said.
"I saw them."
He slammed the power arm forward.
Their ’thopter leaped like a frightened animal, surged southwest toward the storm and the great curve of desert. In the near distance, Paul saw scattered shadows telling where the line of rocks ended, the basement complex sinking beneath the dunes. Beyond stretched moonlit fingernail shadows – dunes diminishing one into another.
And above the horizon climbed the flat immensity of the storm like a wall against the stars.
Something jarred the ’thopter.
"Shellburst!" Jessica gasped. "They’re using some kind of projectile weapon."
She saw a sudden animal grin on Paul’s face. "They seem to be avoiding their lasguns,"
"But we’ve no shields!"
"Do they know that?"
Again the ’thopter shuddered.
Paul twisted to peer back. "Only one of them appears to be fast enough to keep up with us."
He returned his attention to their course, watching the storm wall grow high in front of them.
It loomed like a tangible solid.
"Projectile launchers, rockets, all the ancient weaponry–that’s one thing we’ll give the Fremen," Paul whispered.
"The storm," Jessica said. "Hadn’t you better turn?"
"What about the ship behind us?"
"He’s pulling up."
Paul stubbed the wings, banked hard left into the deceptively slow boiling of the storm wall, felt his cheeks pull in the G-force.
They appeared to glide into a slow clouding of dust that grew heavier and heavier until it blotted out the desert and the moon. The aircraft became a long, horizontal whisper of darkness lighted only by the green luminosity of the instrument panel.
Through Jessica’s mind flashed all the warnings about such storms–that they cut metal like butter, etched flesh to bone and ate away the bones. She felt the buffeting of dust-blanketed wind. It twisted them as Paul fought the controls. She saw him chop the power, felt the ship buck. The metal around them hissed and trembled.
"Sand!" Jessica shouted.
She saw the negative shake of his head in the light from the panel. "Not much sand this high."
But she could feel them sinking deeper into the maelstrom.
Paul sent the wings to their full soaring length, heard them creak with the strain. He kept his eyes fixed on the instruments, gliding by instinct, fighting for altitude.
The sound of their passage diminished.
The ’thopter began rolling off to the left. Paul focused on the glowing globe within the attitude curve, fought his craft back to level flight.
Jessica had the eerie feeling that they were standing still, that all motion was external. A vague tan flowing against the windows, a rumbling hiss reminded her of the powers around them.
Winds to seven or eight hundred kilometers an hour, she thought. Adrenaline edginess gnawed at her.
I must not fear, she told herself, mouthing the words of the Bene Gesserit litany.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Slowly her long years of training prevailed.
"We have the tiger by the tail," Paul whispered. "We can’t go down, can’t land... and I don’t think I can lift us out of this. We’ll have to ride it out."
Calmness drained out of her. Jessica felt her teeth chattering, clamped them together. Then she heard Paul’s voice, low and controlled, reciting the litany:
"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 me I will turn to see fear’s path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."