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God Emperor of Dune dc-4, Page 2

Frank Herbert

  Delaying them to help me escape.

  Obeying Kwuteg's cry, she dashed to the river's edge and plunged headfirst into the water. The river was a freezing shock after the heat of the run. It stunned her for a moment and she floundered outward, struggling to swim and regain her breath. The precious kit floated and bumped against the back of her head.

  The Idaho River was not wide here, no more than fifty meters, a gently sweeping curve with sandy indentations fringed by roots and shelving banks of lush reeds and grass where the water refused to stay in the straight lines Leto's engineers had designed. Siona was strengthened by the knowledge that the D-wolves had been conditioned to stop at the water. Their territorial boundaries had been drawn, the river on this side and the desert wall on the other side. Still, she swam the last few meters underwater and surfaced in the shadows of a cutbank before turning and looking back.

  The wolf pack stood ranged along the bank, all except one which had come down to the river's edge. It leaned forward with its forefeet almost into the flow. She heard it whine.

  Siona knew the wolf saw her. No doubt of that. D-wolves were noted for their keen eyesight. There were Gaze Hounds

  in the ancestry of Leto's forest guardians and he bred the wolves for their eyesight. She wondered if this once the wolves might break through their conditioning. They were mostly sight-hunters. If that one wolf at the river's edge should enter the water, all might follow. Siona held her breath. She felt the dragging of exhaustion. They had come almost thirty kilometers, the last half of it with the D-wolves close behind.

  The wolf at the river's edge whined once more then leaped back up to its companions. At some silent signal, they turned and loped back into the forest.

  Siona knew where they would go. D-wolves were allowed to eat anything they brought down in the Forbidden Forest. Everyone knew this. It was why the wolves roamed the forest the guardians of the Sareer.

  "You'll pay for this, Leto," she whispered. It was a low sound, her voice, very close to the quiet rustling of the water against the reeds just behind her. "You'll pay for Ulot, for Kwuteg and for all the others. You'll pay."

  She pushed outward gently and drifted with the current until her feet met the first shelving of a narrow beach. Slowly, her body dragged down by fatigue, she climbed from the water and paused to check that the sealed contents of her kit had remained dry. The seal was unbroken. She stared at it a moment in the moonlight, then lifted her gaze to the forest wall across the river.

  The price we paid. Ten dear friends.

  Tears glimmered in her eyes, but she had the stuff of the ancient Fremen and her tears were few. The venture across the river, directly through the forest while the wolves patrolled the northern boundaries, then across the Last Desert of the Sareer and over the Citadel's ramparts-all of this already was assuming dream proportions in her mind... even the flight from the wolves which she had anticipated because it was a certainty that the guardian pack would cross the track of the invaders and be waiting... all a dream. It was the past.

  I escaped.

  She restored the kit with its sealed packet and fastened it once more against her back.

  I have broken through your defenses, Leto.

  Siona thought then about the cryptic volumes. She felt certain that something hidden in those lines of cipher would open the way for her revenge.

  l will destroy you, Leto!

  Not We will destroy you! That was not Siona's way. She would do it herself.

  She turned and strode toward the orchards beyond the river's mowed border. As she walked she repeated her oath, adding to it aloud the old Fremen formula which terminated in her full name:

  "Siona Ibn Fuad al-Seyefa Atreides it is who curses you, Leto. You will pay in full!"


  The following is from the Hadi Benotto translation of the volumes discovered at Dar-es-Balat:

  I WAS born Leto Atreides II more than three thousand standard years ago, measuring from the moment when I cause these words to be printed. My father was Paul Muad'Dib. My mother was his Fremen consort, Chani. My maternal grandmother was Faroula, a noted herbalist among the Fremen. My paternal grandmother was Jessica, a product of the Bene Gesserit breeding scheme in their search for a male who could share the powers of the Sisterhood's Reverend Mothers. My maternal grandfather was Liet-Kynes, the planetologist who organized the ecological transformation of Arrakis. My paternal grandfather was Leto Atreides, descendant of the House of Atreus and tracing his ancestry directly back to the Greek original.

  Enough of these begats!

  My paternal grandfather died as many good Greeks did, attempting to kill his mortal enemy, the old Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Both of them rest uncomfortably now in my ancestral memories. Even my father is not content. I have done what he feared to do and now his shade must share in the consequences.

  The Golden Path demands it. And what is the Golden Path? you ask. It is the survival of humankind, nothing more nor less. We who have prescience, we who know the pitfalls in our human futures, this has always been our responsibility.


  How you feel about this-your petty woes and joys, even your agonies and raptures-seldom concerns us. My father had this power. I have it stronger. We can peer now and again through the veils of Time.

  This planet of Arrakis from which I direct my multigalactic Empire is no longer what it was in the days when it was known as Dune. In those days, the entire planet was a desert. Now, there is just this little remnant, my Sareer. No longer does the giant sandworm roam free, producing the spice melange. The spice! Dune was noteworthy only as the source of melange, the only.source. What an extraordinary substance. No laboratory has ever been able to duplicate it. And it is the most valuable substance humankind has ever found.

  Without melange to ignite the linear prescience of Guild Navigators, people cross the parsecs of space only at a snail's crawl. Without melange, the Bene Gesserit cannot endow Truthsayers or Reverend Mothers. Without the geriatric properties of melange, people live and die according to the ancient measure-no more than a hundred years or so. Now, the only spice is held in Guild and Bene Gesserit storehouses, a few small hoards among the remnants of the Great Houses, and my gigantic hoard which they all covet. How they would like to raid me! But they don't dare. They know I would destroy it all before surrendering it.

  No They come hat in hand and petition me for melange. I dole it out as a reward and hold it back as punishment. How they hate that.

  It is my power, I tell them. It is my gift.

  With it, I create Peace. They have had more than three thousand years of Leto's Peace. It is an enforced tranquility which humankind knew only for the briefest periods before my ascendancy. Lest you have forgotten, study Leto's Peace once more in these, my journals.

  I began this account in the first year of my stewardship, in the first throes of my metamorphosis when I was still mostly human, even visibly so. The sandtrout skin which I accepted (and my father refused) and which gave me greatly amplified strength plus virtual immunity from conventional attack and aging-that skin still covered a form recognizably human: two legs, two arms, a human face framed in the scrolled folds of the sandtrout.

  Ahhh, that face! I still have it-the only human skin I expose to the universe. All the rest of my flesh has remained covered by the linked bodies of those tiny deep sand vectors which one day can become giant sandworms.

  As they will... someday.

  I often think about my final metamorphosis, that likeness of death. I know the way it must come but I do not know the moment or the other players. This is the one thing I cannot know. I only know whether the Golden Path continues or ends.

  As I cause these words to be recorded, the Golden Path continues and for that, at least, I am content.

  I no longer feel the sandtrout cilia probing my flesh, encapsulating the water of my body within their placental barriers. We are virtually one body now, they my skin and I the force which moves the whole...
most of the time.

  At this writing, the whole could be considered rather gross. I am what could be called a pre-worm. My body is about seven meters long and somewhat more than two meters in diameter, ribbed for most of its length, with my Atreides face positioned man-height at one end, the arms and hands (still quite recognizable as human) just below. My legs and feet? Well, they are mostly atrophied. Just flippers, really, and they have wandered back along my body. The whole of me weighs approximately five old tons. These items I append because I know they will have historical interest.

  How do I carry this weight around? Mostly on my Royal Cart, which is of Ixian manufacture. You are shocked? People invariably hated and feared the Ixians even more than they hated and feared me. Better the devil you know. And who knows what the Ixians might manufacture or invent? Who knows?

  I certainly don't. Not all of it.

  But I have a certain sympathy for the Ixians. They believe so strongly in their technology, their science, their machines. Because we believe (no matter the content) we understand each other, the Ixians and I. They make many devices for me and think they earn my gratitude thus. These very words you are reading were printed by an Ixian device, a dictatel it is called. If I cast my thoughts in a particular mode, the dictatel is activated. I merely think in this mode and the words are printed for me on ridulian crystal sheets only one molecule thick. Sometimes I order copies printed on material of lesser permanence. It was two of these latter types that were stolen from me by Siona.

  Isn't she fascinating, my Siona? As you come to understand her importance to me, you may even question whether I really would have let her die there in the forest. Have no doubt about it. Death is a very personal thing. I will seldom interfere with it. Never in the case of someone who must be tested as Siona requires. I could let her die at any stage. After all, I could bring up a new candidate in very little time as I measure time.

  She fascinates even me, though. I watched her there in the forest. Through my Wan devices I watched her, wondering why I had not anticipated this venture. But Siona is... Siona. That is why I made no move to stop the wolves. It would have been wrong to do that. The D-wolves are but an extension of my purpose and my purpose is to be the greatest predator ever known.

  - The Journals of Leto


  The following brief dialogue is credited to a manuscript source called "The Welbeck Fragment." The reputed author is Siona Atreides. The participants are Siona herself and her father, Moneo, who was (as all the histories tell us) a majordomo and chief aide to Leto II. It is dated at a time when Siona was still in her teens and was being visited by her father at her quarters in the Fish Speakers' School at the Festival City of Onn, a major population center on the planet now known as Rakis. According to the manuscript identification papers, Moneo had visited his daughter secretly to warn her that she risked destruction.

  SIONA: How have you survived with him for so long a time, father? He kills those who are close to him. Everyone knows that.

  MONEO: No! You are wrong. He kills no one.

  SIONA: You needn't lie about him.

  MONEO: I mean it. He kills no one.

  SIONA: Then how do you account for the known deaths?

  MONEO: It is the Worm that kills. The Worm is God. Leto lives in the bosom of God, but he kills no one.

  SIONA: Then how do you survive?

  MONEO: I can recognize the Worm. I can see it in his face and in his movements. I know when Shai-Hulud approaches.

  SIONA: He is not Shai-Hulud!

  MONEO: Well, that's what they called the Worm in the Fremen days.

  SIONA: I've read about that. But he is not the God of the desert.

  MONEO: Be quiet, you foolish girl! You know nothing of such things.

  SIONA: I know that you are a coward.

  MONEO: How little you know, You have-never stood where I have stood and seen it in his eyes, in the movements of his hands.

  SIONA: What do you do when the Worm approaches?

  MONEO: I leave.

  SIONA: That's prudent. He has killed nine Duncan Idahos that we know about for sure.

  MONEO: I tell you he kills no one!

  SIONA: What's the difference? Leto or Worm, they are one body now.

  MONEO: But they are two separate beings-Leto the Emperor and The Worm Who Is God.

  SIONA: You're mad!

  MONEO: Perhaps. But I do serve God.


  I am the most ardent people-watcher who ever lived. I watch them inside me and outside. Past and present can mingle with odd impositions in me. And as the metamorphosis continues in my flesh wonderful things happen to my senses. It's as though I sensed everything in close-up. I have extremely acute hearing and vision, plus a sense of smell extraordinarily discriminating. I can detect and identify pheromones at three parts per million. I know. I have tested it. You cannot hide very much from my senses. I think it would horrify you what I can detect by smell alone. Your pheromones tell me what you are doing or are prepared to do. And gesture and posture! I stared for half a day once at an old man sitting on a bench in Arrakeen. He was a fifth-generation descendant of Stilgar the Naib and did not even know it. I studied the angle of his neck, the skin flaps below his chin, the cracked lips and moistness about his nostrils, the pores behind his ears, the wisps of gray hair which crept from beneath the hood of his antique stillsuit. Not once did he detect that he was being watched. Hah! Stilgar would have known it in a second or two. But this old man was just waiting for someone who never came. He got up finally and tottered off. He was very stiff after all of that sitting. I knew I would never see him in the flesh again. He was that near death and his water was sure to be wasted. Well, that no longer mattered.

  - The Stolen Journals

  LETO THOUGHT it the most interesting place in the universe, this place where he awaited the arrival of his current Duncan Idaho. By most human standards, it was a gigantic space, the core of an elaborate series of catacombs beneath his Citadel. Radiating chambers thirty meters high and twenty meters wide ran like spokes from the hub where he waited. His cart had been positioned at the center of the hub in a domed and circular chamber four hundred meters in diameter and one hundred meters high at its tallest point above him.

  He found these dimensions reassuring.

  It was early afternoon at the Citadel, but the only light in his chamber came from the random drifting of a few suspensorborne glowglobes tuned into low orange. The light did not penetrate far into the spokes, but Leto's memories told him the exact position of everything there the water, the bones, the dust of his ancestors and of the Atreides who had lived and died since the Dune times. All of them were here, plus a few containers of melange to create the illusion that this was all of his hoard should it ever come to such an extreme.

  Leto knew why the Duncan was coming. Idaho had learned that the Tleilaxu were making another Duncan, another ghola created to the specifications demanded by the God Emperor. This Duncan feared that he was being replaced after almost sixty years of service. It was always something of that nature which began the subversion of the Duncans. A Guild envoy had waited upon Leto earlier to warn that the Ixians had delivered a lasgun to this Duncan.

  Leto chuckled. The Guild remained extremely sensitive to anything which might threaten their slender supply of spice. They were terrified at the thought that Leto was the last link with the sandworms which had produced the original stockpiles of melange.

  If II die away from water, there will be no more spice-not ever.

  That was the Guild's fear. And their historian-accountants assured them Leto sat on the largest store of melange in the universe. This knowledge made the Guild almost reliable as allies.

  While he waited, Leto did the hand and finger exercises of his Bene Gesserit inheritance. The hands were his pride. Beneath a gray membrane of sandtrout skin, their long digits and opposable thumbs could be used much as any human hands. The almost useless flippers which once had been his feet and
legs were more inconvenience than shame. He could crawl, roll and toss his body with astonishing speed, but he sometimes fell on the flippers and there was pain.

  What was delaying the Duncan?

  Leto imagined the man vacillating, staring out a window across the fluid horizon of the Sareer. The air was alive with heat today. Before descending to the crypt, Leto had seen a mirage in the southwest. The heat-mirror tipped and flashed an image across the sand, showing him a band of Museum Fremen trudging past a Display Sietch for the edification of tourists.

  It was cool in the crypt, always cool, the illumination always low. Tunnel spokes were dark holes sloping upward and downward in gentle gradients to accommodate the Royal Cart. Some tunnels extended beyond false walls for many kilometers, passages Leto had created for himself with lxian tools-feeding tunnels and secret ways.

  As he contemplated the coming interview, a sense of nervousness began to grow in Leto. He found this an interesting emotion, one he had been known to enjoy. Leto knew that he had grown reasonably fond of the current Duncan. There was a reservoir of hope in Leto that the man would survive the coming interview. Sometimes they did. There was little likelihood the Duncan posed a mortal threat, although this had to be left to such chance as existed. Leto had tried to explain this to one of the earlier Duncans... right here in this room.

  "You will think it strange that, with my powers, can speak of luck and chance," Leto had said.

  The Duncan had been angry. "You leave nothing to chance! I know you!"

  "How naive. Chance is the nature of our universe."

  "Not chance! Mischief. And you're the author of mischief!"

  "Excellent, Duncan! Mischief is a most profound pleasure. It's in the ways we deal with mischief that we sharpen creativity."

  "You're not even human anymore!" Oh, how angry the Duncan had been.