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Heretics of Dune dc-5, Page 2

Frank Herbert

  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.

  "Among others."

  "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.

  - Leto II

  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 th
at 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.