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Dune: Paul’s Women, Chapter 8 (Book II)

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Paul’s Atreides Women

Book Two: MUAD’DIB

Chapter 8

 

I drove my feet through a desert
Whose mirage fluttered like a host.
Voracious for glory, greedy for danger,
I roamed the horizons of al-Kulab,
Watching time level mountains
In its search and its hunger for me.
And I saw the sparrows swiftly approach,
Bolder than the onrushing wolf.
They spread in the tree of my youth.
I heard the flock in my branches
And was caught on their beaks and claws!

- from "Arrakis Awakening" by the Princess Irulan

 

Wanna Markus informed her of the existence of the palace. How did Wanna took knowledge of its existence it was still a mystery. But for now it woudn’t matter.

Irulan Corrino couldn’t take now with Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen presence. Not after she saw the marks in Wanna’s skin and the emptiness in her hearth. Besides she didn’t felt secure. The Harkonnen had kidnapped a Bene Gesserit. The Arrakis Imperial planetologist was missing since the Harkonnen attack on the planet. It was too much.

“How can we arrive to the palace? The Harkonnen will follow all my movements.”

“I can lead you there. We can be disguised as your maidens, but we can’t have a Sardaukar escort. You may put yourself at risk, my lady. The streets of Arraken are not always safe.”

Irulan hesitated. The idea of roaming in the streets of Arraken without escort didn’t attract her.

“I was trained in the weird ways, my lady.”

“You were caught by the Harkonnen, Wanna.”

She shrugged. Indifferent.

“And I will not be caught again! My fault led to my husband’s treason and to the fall of the House of Atreides.”

Irulan nodded.

“Very well, we will go together to that palace, it is not far.” Somehow she trusted Wanna and she understood her hate to the Harkonnen.

“I will protect you with my life, my lady,” and Irulan didn’t doubt it.

In their maiden costumes covered by old robes to protect them from the sandy winds were not followed in the streets of Arraken.

When they arrived to the Bene Gesserit palace Irulan was immediately recognized and the doors were opened by the young female servant came to receive them.

“Call my mother and tell her that I am here waiting for her.”

The Bene Gesserit servant made a quick bow and disappeared.

Irulan begun to look around. The two women were in a waiting hall. The Princess smiled to Wanna.

“I know this kind of architecture. It is exactly equal to the monastery I lived in Wallach IX.” Irulan begun to recall. “Come with me… here this door leads to a corridor that gives access to a training chamber. She opened the doors and entered taken by the memories of her youth. “It is exactly the same, you see…” she rushed, “there on the other side were my private quarters…” she almost run when she crossed the chamber to the other side and opened the door to the bedroom.

 

***

 

Alia begun to felt trapped in the palace.

Did she commit a mistake not to departure with that Fremen women? Where were her mother and her brother?

She went to the training chamber again. Naked. Without any bath, her skin still honeydew from the last time that she had given pleasure to herself. The training room war the only place where she could calm down her senses hiperactivated in this planet full of spice. Her sexual hunger was rising everyday. She smelled it. She masturbated too often until her sex was swollen and her hand tired. She dreamed with Iphigenia. She dreamed awaken with Anirul. She dreamed that in the middle of the night a man would come to her bed and would brutally possess her, initiating her in the rites of love, in the rites of mating.

Paul’s sister picked a short blade and begun to cut the air in continuous movements, dancing in invisible strikes like the best swordfighters of the empire. Her heart begun to pump more blood to her system. Her adrenaline went high. The spice flowed in all her body. Her body begun to expel water in the form of sweat.

The other door of the training chamber opened. A couple of steps were heard. And the door was closed. Alia didn’t turn around, she didn’t look to her. By her scent she knew that it was Anirul.

“You should be sleeping, Alia” she said in a censure tone. “In some hours you will have to wake up to continue your Bene Gesserit training.”

“Did I ever arrive late to my morning training?” asked Alia between to mortal strikes.

Alia heard the sound of sword being taken from its wall support.

“What do you seek, Alia? What do you want?” asked Anirul when their swords met, clashing with sparks of fire, their faces stopping near each other, their noses almost touching. Alia could feel Anirul’s fast breath in her checks.

Alia gave her a quick peek in her lips.

“I want you!”

Anirul’s tension in the sword lowered with that unexpected answer. She dropped the sword on the floor. The metal clanged and echoed as it touched the marble floor. Anirul looked to her pupil’s eyes. She was ready for that first step, she thought. He pupil smiled as she pointed the sword to her teacher and with two quick blows she cut her teacher’s tunic laces. The short tunic felt near the sword. The two were naked in front of each other.

Alia looked slowly to her teacher:

Anirul had a short bronze-brown hair, a pale face, slanted green eyes with shades of blue, bluer than a cloudless sunny sky in Caladan. She was beautifully formed, with well curved breasts, narrow hips, round buttocks, long legs, a stylized body. No wonder why she was for so many years the first imperial concubine. It was said that the emperor closed himself alone with her for several days in a row.

“Teach me the art of love!” without noticing Alia’s breath had rise and her chest gasped, giving prominence to her young breasts. Her nipples were erect, waiting for someone’s tongue.

Anirul approached Alia and laid her soft lips on her bare shoulders. They had the same stature her breasts brushed. Her nipples touched. The older woman passed her experienced hands along the soft curves of Alia’s well formed body, as if to become familiar with its curves. Alia was unmoved. Anirul slipped slowly to her knees as she kissed and caressed Alia’s perfect body. Her fingers felt all the corners of her nakedness. Slowly, she led her trough the training chamber to the bedroom until the edge of the bed and made Alia sat down.

The emperor’s consort knelt down and held Alia’s feet in her hands. Alia abandoned her legs to Anirul’s hands, held them pressed against her breasts now, while Anirul’s fingertips ran up and down her long legs, taunting her skin, giving her goose bumps.

Anirul was amazed, if Alia’s skin was so soft along the legs, what would it be then near her sex, there where it was always the softest? But Alia’s thighs were pressed together so Anirul could not continue to explore her even if she smelled her desire. Anirul stood up and leaned over Alia to kiss her into a reclining position. As Alia lay back, her legs opened slightly revealing her vagina.

Anirul moved her hands all over Alia’s body, as if to stimulate each little part of it with her touch, stroking her again from shoulders to feet, before she tried to slide her hand between Alia’s legs, more open now, so that he could almost reach her eager sex.

With her kisses Alia’s heavy blonde hair had become disheveled… wild. But Anirul was still avoiding her student’s most sensitive parts. And she couldn’t avoid smiling in joy as the younger women melted in front of her. Anirul Corrino never had the chance to gain much experience with men. The Bene Gesserit didn’t allow her, and she only knew the emperor. And even his intimacy was lost to the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. So Anirul always explored her femininity to its limits with other women.

They stayed a long time merely kissing until they were drunk with kissing. Anirul made love to the Alia’s breasts first until she shivered just a little. Then she launched upon her a bath of lovemaking, such as one might have in an endless dream, Alia’s honey flowed to her lover’s mouth creating little sounds of drizzle between the kisses. Anirul’s finger was firm, commanding, like a male member tipping her until almost touching Alia’s hymen; her tongue danced, sweeping, exploring so many niches where it woke up the thinnest nerves.

And she continued until it become excruciating for Alia.

She moaned, her head bouncing and Anirul bit into the flesh, as if to arouse a greater animalistic groan. Her magic tongue between Alia’s legs was like a stabbing, swift and agile. When the apotheosis came, it was so explosive that their bodies trembled from head to foot.

In that precise moment the bedroom door was stormed and Irulan Corrino came in talking quickly with Wanna behind her. Her mother was one her knees and still had her head between the open legs of a beautiful young woman that lied naked in the bed with a dreaming expression in her face.

Irulan couldn’t avoid staring to her splendorous sweaty body, her chest breathing heavily, and her post orgasmic gaze. For a brief moment Irulan envied her mother.

The emperor’s first concubine raised her head from Alia’s sex and looked straight to her daughter’s eyes. Anirul’s face was still all moistly and she felt unnecessary to cover her nakedness.

“Irulan! Why are you here?”

 

***

 

The man crawled across a dunetop. He was a mote caught in the glare of the noon sun.

He was dressed only in torn remnants of a jubba cloak, his skin bare to the heat through the tatters.

The hood had been ripped from the cloak, but the man had fashioned a turban from a torn strip of cloth. Wisps of sandy hair protruded from it, matched by a sparse beard and thick brows. Beneath the blue-within-blue eyes, remains of a dark stain spread down to his cheeks. A matted depression across mustache and beard showed where a stillsuit tube had marked out its path from nose to catchpockets.

The man stopped half across the dunecrest, arms stretched down the slipface. Blood had clotted on his back and on his arms and legs. Patches of yellow-gray sand clung to the wounds.

Slowly, he brought his hands under him, pushed himself to his feet, stood there swaying. And even in this almost-random action there remained a trace of once-precise movement.

"I am Liet-Kynes," he said, addressing himself to the empty horizon, and his voice was a hoarse caricature of the strength it had known. "I am His Imperial Majesty’s Planetologist," he whispered, "planetary ecologist for Arrakis. I am steward of this land."

He stumbled, fell sideways along the crusty surface of the windward face. His hands dug feebly into the sand.

I am steward of this sand, he thought.

He realized that he was semi-delirious, that he should dig himself into the sand, find the relatively cool underlayer and cover himself with it. But he could still smell the rank, semisweet esters of a prespice pocket somewhere underneath this sand. He knew the peril within this fact more certainly than any other Fremen. If he could smell the pre-spice mass, that meant the gasses deep under the sand were nearing explosive pressure. He had to get away from here.

His hands made weak scrabbling motions along the dune face.

A thought spread across his mind–clear, distinct: The real wealth of a planet is in its landscape, how we take part in that basic source of civilization–agriculture.

And he thought how strange it was that the mind, long fixed on a single track, could not get off that track. The Harkonnen troopers had left him here without water or stillsuit, thinking a worm would get him if the desert didn’t. They had thought it amusing to leave him alive to die by inches at the impersonal hands of his planet.

The Harkonnens always did find it difficult to kill Fremen, he thought. We don’t die easily.

I should be dead now... I will be dead soon... but I can’t stop being an ecologist.

"The highest function of ecology is understanding consequences."

The voice shocked him because he recognized it and knew the owner of it was dead. It was the voice of his father who had been planetologist here before him- -his father long dead, killed in the cave-in at Plaster Basin.

"Got yourself into quite a fix here, Son," his father said. "You should’ve known the consequences of trying to help the child of that Duke."

I’m delirious, Kynes thought.

The voice seemed to come from his right. Kynes scraped his face through sand, turning to look in that direction–nothing except a curving stretch of dune dancing with heat devils in the full glare of the sun.

"The more life there is within a system, the more niches there are for life," his father said.

And the voice came now from his left, from behind him.

Why does he keep moving around? Kynes asked himself. Doesn’t he want me to see him?

"Life improves the capacity of the environment to sustain life," his father said. "Life makes needed nutrients more readily available. It binds more energy into the system through the tremendous chemical interplay from organism to organism."

Why does he keep harping on the same subject? Kynes asked himself. I knew that before I was ten.

Desert hawks, carrion-eaters in this land as were most wild creatures, began to circle over him. Kynes saw a shadow pass near his hand, forced his head farther around to look upward.

The birds were a blurred patch on silver-blue sky–distant flecks of soot floating above him.

"We are generalists," his father said. "You can’t draw neat lines around planet-wide problems. Planetology is a cut-and-fit science."

What’s he trying to tell me? Kynes wondered. Is there some consequence I failed to see?

His cheek slumped back against the hot sand, and he smelled the burned rock odor beneath the prespice gasses. From some corner of logic in his mind, a thought formed: Those are carrion-eater birds over me. Perhaps some of my Fremen will see them and come to investigate.

"To the working planetologist, his most important tool is human beings," his father said.

"You must cultivate ecological, literacy among the people. That’s why I’ve created this entirely new form of ecological notation."

He’s repeating things he said to me when I was a child, Kynes thought.

He began to feel cool, but that corner of logic in his mind told him: The sun is overhead. You have no stillsuit and you’re hot; the sun is burning the moisture out of your body. His fingers clawed feebly at the sand.

They couldn’t even leave me a stillsuit!

"The presence of moisture in the air helps prevent too-rapid evaporation from living bodies," his father said.

Why does he keep repeating the obvious? Kynes wondered.

He tried to think of moisture in the air–grass covering this dune... open water somewhere beneath him, a long qanat flowing with water open to the sky except in text illustrations. Open water... irrigation water... it took five thousand cubic meters of water to irrigate one hectare of land per growing season, he remembered.

"Our first goal on Arrakis," his father said, "is grassland provinces. We will start with these mutated poverty grasses. When we have moisture locked in grasslands, we’ll move on to start upland forests, then a few open bodies of water–small at first–and situated along lines of prevailing winds with windtrap moisture precipitators spaced in the lines to recapture what the wind steals. We must create a true sirocco–a moist wind–but we will never get away from the necessity for windtraps."

Always lecturing me, Kynes thought. Why doesn’t he shut up? Can’t he see I’m dying?

"You will die, too," his father said, "if you don’t get off the bubble that’s forming right now deep underneath you. It’s there and you know it. You can smell the pre-spice gasses. You know the little makers are beginning to lose some of their water into the mass."

The thought of that water beneath him was maddening. He imagined it now– sealed off in strata of porous rock by the leathery half-plant, half-animal little makers–and the thin rupture that was pouring a cool stream of clearest, pure, liquid, soothing water into...

A pre-spice mass!

He inhaled, smelling the rank sweetness. The odor was much richer around him than it had been. Kynes pushed himself to his knees, heard a bird screech, the hurried flapping of wings.

This is spice desert, he thought. There must be Fremen about even in the day sun. Surely they can see the birds and will investigate.

"Movement across the landscape is a necessity for animal life," his father said. "Nomad peoples follow the same necessity. Lines of movement adjust to physical needs for water, food, minerals. We must control this movement now, align it for our purposes."

"Shut up, old man," Kynes muttered.

"We must do a thing on Arrakis never before attempted for an entire planet," his father said. "We must use man as a constructive ecological force–inserting adapted terraform life: a plant here, an animal there, a man in that place–to transform the water cycle, to build a new kind of landscape."

"Shut up!" Kynes croaked.

"It was lines of movement that gave us the first clue to the relationship between worms and spice," his father said.

A worm, Kynes thought with a surge of hope. A maker ’s sure to come when this bubble bursts. But I have no hooks. How can I mount a big maker without hooks?

He could feel frustration sapping what little strength remained to him. Water so near–only a hundred meters or so beneath him; a worm sure to come, but no way to trap it on the surface and use it.

Kynes pitched forward onto the sand, returning to the shallow depression his movements had defined.

He felt sand hot against his left cheek, but the sensation was remote.

"The Arrakeen environment built itself into the evolutionary pattern of native life forms," his father said. "How strange that so few people ever looked up from the spice long enough to wonder at the near-ideal nitrogen-oxygen-CO2 balance being maintained here in the absence of large areas of plant cover. The energy sphere of the planet is there to see and understand–a relentless process, but a process nonetheless. There is a gap in it? Then something occupies that gap. Science is made up of so
many things that appear obvious after they are explained.

I knew the little maker was there, deep in the sand, long before I ever saw it."

"Please stop lecturing me, Father," Kynes whispered.

A hawk landed on the sand near his outstretched hand. Kynes saw it fold its wings, tip its head to stare at him. He summoned the energy to croak at it. The bird hopped away two steps, but continued to stare at him.

"Men and their works have been a disease on the surface of their planets before now,"
his father said. "Nature tends to compensate for diseases, to remove or encapsulate them, to incorporate them into the system in her own way."

The hawk lowered its head, stretched its wings, refolded them. It transferred its attention to his outstretched hand.

Kynes found that he no longer had the strength to croak at it.

"The historical system of mutual pillage and extortion stops here on Arrakis," his father said.

"You cannot go on forever stealing what you need without regard to those who come after.

The physical qualities of a planet are written into its economic and political record. We have the record in front of us and our course is obvious."

He never could stop lecturing, Kynes thought. Lecturing, lecturing, lecturing–always lecturing.

The hawk hopped one step closer to Kynes’ outstretched hand, turned its head first one way and then the other to study the exposed flesh.

"Arrakis is a one-crop planet," his father said. "One crop. It supports a ruling class that lives as ruling classes have lived in all times while, beneath them, a semihuman mass of semislaves exists on the leavings. It’s the masses and the leavings that occupy our attention. These are far more valuable than has ever been suspected."

"I’m ignoring you, Father," Kynes whispered. "Go away."

And he thought: Surely there must be some of my Fremen near. They cannot help but see the birds over me. They will investigate if only to see if there’s moisture available.

"The masses of Arrakis will know that we work to make the land flow with water," his father said.

"Most of them, of course, will have only a semimystical understanding of how we intend to do this. Many, not understanding the prohibitive mass-ratio problem, may even think we’ll bring water from some other planet rich in it. Let them think anything they wish as long as they believe in us."

In a minute I’ll get up and tell him what I think of him, Kynes thought. Standing there lecturing me when he should be helping me.

The bird took another hop closer to Kynes’ outstretched hand. Two more hawks drifted down to the sand behind it.

"Religion and law among our masses must be one and the same," his father said. "An act of disobedience must be a sin and require religious penalties. This will have the dual benefit of bringing both greater obedience and greater bravery. We must depend not so much on the bravery of individuals, you see, as upon the bravery of a whole population."

Where is my population now when I need it most? Kynes thought. He summoned all his strength, moved his hand a finger ’s width toward the nearest hawk. It hopped backward among its companions and all stood poised for flight.

"Our timetable, will achieve the stature of a natural phenomenon," his father said. "A planet’s life is a vast, tightly interwoven fabric. Vegetation and animal changes will be determined at first by the raw physical forces we manipulate. As they establish themselves, though, our changes will become controlling influences in their own right–and we will have to deal with them, too. Keep in mind, though, that we need control only three per cent of the energy surface–only three per cent–to tip the entire structure over into our self-sustaining system."

Why aren’t you helping we? Kynes wondered. Always the same: when I need you most, you fail me.

He wanted to turn his head, to stare in the direction of his father ’s voice, stare the old man down.

Muscles refused to answer his demand.

Kynes saw the hawk move. It approached his hand, a cautious step at a time while its companions waited in mock indifference. The hawk stopped only a hop away from his hand.

A profound clarity filled Kynes’ mind. He saw quite suddenly a potential for Arrakis that his father had never seen. The possibilities along that different path flooded through him.

"No more terrible disaster could befall your people than for them to fall into the hands of a Hero," his father said.

Reading my mind! Kynes thought. Well... let him.

The messages already have been sent to my sietch villages, he thought. Nothing can stop them. If the Duke’s son is alive they’ll find him and protect him as I have commanded. They may discard the woman, his mother, but they’ll save the boy.

The hawk took one hop that brought it within slashing distance of his hand. It tipped its head to examine the supine flesh. Abruptly, it straightened, stretched its head upward and with a single screech, leaped into the air and banked away overhead with its companions behind it.

They’ve come! Kynes thought. My Fremen have found me!