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Heretics of Dune dc-5, Page 3

Frank Herbert

  When the Reverend Mothers came, the foster mother had not fought the removal of her child. Two Reverend Mothers came with a contingent of male and female proctors. Afterward Odrade was a long time understanding the significance of that wrenching moment. The woman had known in her heart that the day of parting would come. Only a matter of time. Still, as the days became years - almost six standards of years - the woman had dared to hope.

  Then the Reverend Mothers came with their burly attendants. They had merely been waiting until it was safe, until they were sure no hunters knew this was a Bene Gesserit-planned Atreides scion.

  Odrade saw a great deal of money passed to the foster mother. The woman threw the money on the floor. But no voice was raised in objection. The adults in the scene knew where the power lay.

  Calling up those compressed emotions, Odrade could still see the woman take herself to a straight-backed chair beside the window onto the street, there to hug herself and rock back and forth, back and forth. Not a sound from her.

  The Reverend Mothers used Voice and their considerable wiles plus the smoke of drugging herbs and their overpowering presence to lure Odrade into their waiting groundcar.

  "It will be just for a little while. Your real mother sent us."

  Odrade sensed the lies but curiosity compelled. My real mother!

  Her last view of the woman who had been her only known female parent was of that figure at the window rocking back and forth, a look of misery on her face, arms wrapped around herself.

  Later, when Odrade spoke of returning to the woman, that memory-vision was incorporated into an essential Bene Gesserit lesson.

  "Love leads to misery. Love is a very ancient force, which served its purpose in its day but no longer is essential for the survival of the species. Remember that woman's mistake, the pain."

  Until well into her teens, Odrade adjusted by daydreaming. She would really return after she was a full Reverend Mother. She would go back and find that loving woman, find her even though she had no names except "mama" and "Sibia." Odrade recalled the laughter of adult friends who had called the woman "Sibia."

  Mama Sibia.

  The Sisters, however, detected the daydreams and searched out their source. That, too, was incorporated into a lesson.

  "Daydreaming is the first awakening of what we call simulflow. It is an essential tool of rational thought. With it you can clear the mind for better thinking."


  Odrade focused on Taraza at the morning room table. Childhood trauma must be placed carefully into a reconstructed memory-place. All of that had been far away on Gammu, the planet that the people of Dan had rebuilt after the Famine Times and the Scattering. The people of Dan - Caladan in those days. Odrade took a firm grip on rational thought, using the stance of the Other Memories that had flooded into her awareness during the spice agony when she had really become a full Reverend Mother.

  Simulflow... the filter of consciousness... Other Memories.

  What powerful tools the Sisterhood had given her. What dangerous tools. All of those other lives lay there just beyond the curtain of awareness, tools of survival, not a way to satisfy casual curiosity.

  Taraza spoke, translating from the material that scrolled past her eyes: "You dig too much in your Other Memories. That drains away energies better conserved."

  The Mother Superior's blue-in-blue eyes sent a piercing stare upward at Odrade. "You sometimes go right to the edge of fleshly tolerance. That can lead to your premature death."

  "I am careful with the spice, Mother."

  "And well you should be! A body can take only so much melange, only so much prowling in its past!"

  "Have you found my flaw?" Odrade asked.

  "Gammu!" One word but an entire harangue.

  Odrade knew. The unavoidable trauma of those lost years on Gammu. They were a distraction that had to be rooted out and made rationally acceptable.

  "But I am sent to Rakis," Odrade said.

  "And see that you remember the aphorisms of moderation. Remember who you are!"

  Once more, Taraza bent to her display.

  I am Odrade, Odrade thought.

  In the Bene Gesserit schools where first names tended to slip away, roll call was by last name. Friends and acquaintances picked up the habit of using the roll-call name. They learned early that sharing secret or private names was an ancient device for ensnaring a person in affections.

  Taraza, three classes ahead of Odrade, had been assigned to "bring the younger girl along," a deliberate association by watchful teachers.

  "Bringing along" meant a certain amount of lording it over the younger but also incorporated essentials better taught by someone closer to peer relationship. Taraza, with access to the private records of her trainee, started calling the younger girl "Dar." Odrade responded by calling Taraza "Tar." The two names acquired a certain glue - Dar and Tar. Even after Reverend Mothers overheard and reprimanded them, they occasionally lapsed into error if only for the amusement.

  Odrade, looking down at Taraza now, said: "Dar and Tar."

  A smile twitched the edges of Taraza's mouth.

  "What is it in my records that you don't already know several times over?" Odrade asked.

  Taraza sat back and waited for the chairdog to adjust itself to the new position. She rested her clasped hands on the tabletop and looked up at the younger woman.

  Not much younger, really, Taraza thought.

  Since school, though, Taraza had thought of Odrade as completely removed into a younger age group, creating a gap no passage of years could close.

  "Care at the beginning, Dar," Taraza said.

  "This project is well past its beginning," Odrade said.

  "But your part in it starts now. And we are launching ourselves into such a beginning as has never before been attempted."

  "Am I now to learn the entire design for this ghola?"


  That was it. All the evidence of high-level dispute and the "need to know" cast away with a single word. But Odrade understood. There was an organizational rubric laid down by the original Bene Gesserit Chapter House, which had endured with only minor changes for millennia. Bene Gesserit divisions were cut by hard vertical and horizontal barriers, divided into isolated groups that converged to a single command only here at the top. Duties (for which read "assigned roles") were conducted within separated cells. Active participants within a cell did not know their contemporaries within other parallel cells.

  But I know that the Reverend Mother Lucilla is in a parallel cell, Odrade thought. It's the logical answer.

  She recognized the necessity. It was an ancient design copied from secret revolutionary societies. The Bene Gesserit had always seen themselves as permanent revolutionaries. It was a revolution that had been dampened only in the time of the Tyrant, Leto II.

  Dampened, but not diverted or stopped, Odrade reminded herself.

  "In what you're about to do," Taraza said, "tell me if you sense any immediate threat to the Sisterhood."

  It was one of Taraza's peculiar demands, which Odrade had learned to answer out of wordless instinct, which then could be formed into words. Quickly, she said: "If we fail to act, that is worse."

  "We reasoned that there would be danger," Taraza said. She spoke in a dry, remote voice. Taraza did not like calling up this talent in Odrade. The younger woman possessed a prescient instinct for detecting threats to the Sisterhood. It came from the wild influence in her genetic line, of course - the Atreides with their dangerous talents. There was a special mark on Odrade's breeding file: "Careful examination of all offspring." Two of those offspring had been quietly put to death.

  I should not have awakened Odrade's talent now, not even for a moment, Taraza thought. But sometimes temptation was very great.

  Taraza sealed the projector into her tabletop and looked at the blank surface while speaking. "Even if you find a perfect sire, you are not to breed without our permission while you are away from us."<
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  "The mistake of my natural mother," Odrade said.

  "The mistake of your natural mother was to be recognized while she was breeding!"

  Odrade had heard this before. There was that thing about the Atreides line that required the most careful monitoring by the breeding mistresses. The wild talent, of course. She knew about the wild talent, that genetic force which had produced the Kwisatz Haderach and the Tyrant. What did the breeding mistresses seek now, though? Was their approach mostly negative? No more dangerous births! She had never seen any of her babies after they were born, not necessarily a curious thing for the Sisterhood. And she never saw any of the records in her own genetic file. Here, too, the Sisterhood operated with careful separation of powers.

  And those earlier prohibitions on my Other Memories!

  She had found the blank spaces in her memories and opened them. It was probable that only Taraza and perhaps two other councillors (Bellonda, most likely, and one other older Reverend Mother) shared the more sensitive access to such breeding information.

  Had Taraza and the other really sworn to die before revealing privileged information to an outsider? There was, after all, a precise ritual of succession should a key Reverend Mother die while away from her Sisters and with no chance to pass along her encapsulated lives. The ritual had been called into play many times during the reign of the Tyrant. A terrible period! Knowing that the revolutionary cells of the Sisterhood were transparent to him! Monster! She knew that her sisters had never deluded themselves that Leto II refrained from destroying the Bene Gesserit out of some deep-seated loyalty to his grandmother, the Lady Jessica.

  Are you there, Jessica?

  Odrade felt the stirring far within. The failure of one Reverend Mother: "She allowed herself to fall in love!" Such a small thing but how great the consequences. Thirty-five hundred years of tyranny!

  The Golden Path. Infinite? What of the lost megatrillions gone into the Scattering? What threat was posed by those Lost Ones returning now?

  As though she read Odrade's mind, which sometimes she appeared to do, Taraza said: "The Scattered ones are out there... just waiting to pounce."

  Odrade had heard the arguments: Danger on the one hand and on the other, something magnetically attractive. So many magnificent unknowns. The Sisterhood with its talents honed by melange over the millennia - what might they not do with such untapped resources of humanity? Think of the uncounted genes out there! Think of the potential talents floating free in universes where they might be lost forever!

  "It's the not knowing that conjures up the greatest terrors," Odrade said.

  "And the greatest ambitions," Taraza said.

  "Then do I go to Rakis?"

  "In due course. I find you adequate to the task."

  "Or you would not have assigned me."

  It was an old exchange between them, going right back to their school days. Taraza realized, though, that she had not entered it consciously. Too many memories tangled the two of them: Dar and Tar. Have to watch that!

  "Remember where your loyalties are," Taraza said.


  The existence of no-ships raises the possibility of destroying entire planets without retaliation. A large object, asteroid or equivalent, may be sent against the planet. Or the people can be set against each other by sexual subversion, and then can be armed to destroy themselves. These Honored Matres appear to favor this latter technique.

  - Bene Gesserit Analysis

  From his position in the courtyard and even when not appearing to do so, Duncan Idaho kept his attention on the observers above him. There was Patrin, of course, but Patrin did not count. It was the Reverend Mothers across from Patrin who bore watching. Seeing Lucilla, he thought: That's the new one. This thought filled him with a surge of excitement, which he took out in renewed exercise.

  He completed the first three patterns of the training-play Miles Teg had ordered, vaguely aware that Patrin would report on how well he did. Duncan liked Teg and old Patrin and sensed that the feeling was reciprocated. This new Reverend Mother, though - her presence suggested interesting changes. For one thing, she was younger than the others. Also, this new one did not try to hide the eyes that were a first clue to her membership in the Bene Gesserit. His first glimpse of Schwangyu had confronted him with eyes concealed behind contact lenses that simulated non-addict pupils and slightly bloodshot whites. He had heard one of the Keep's acolytes say Schwangyu's lenses also corrected for "an astigmatic weakness that has been accepted in her genetic line as a reasonable exchange for the other qualities she transmits to her offspring."

  At the time, most of this remark was unintelligible to Duncan but he had looked up the references in the Keep's library, references both scarce and severely limited in content. Schwangyu herself parried all of his questions on the subject, but the subsequent behavior of his teachers told him she had been angry. Typically, she had taken out her anger on others.

  What really upset her, he suspected, was his demand to know whether she was his mother.

  For a long time now Duncan had known he was something special. There were places in the elaborate compound of this Bene Gesserit Keep where he was not permitted. He had found private ways to evade such prohibitions and had stared out often through thick plaz and open windows at guards and wide reaches of cleared ground that could be enfiladed from strategically positioned pillboxes. Miles Teg himself had taught the significance of enfilade positioning.

  Gammu, the planet was called now. Once, it had been known as Giedi Prime but someone named Gurney Halleck had changed that. It was all ancient history. Dull stuff. There still remained a faint smell of bitter oil in the planet's dirt from its pre-Danian days. Millennia of special plantations were changing that, his teachers explained. He could see part of this from the Keep. Forests of conifers and other trees surrounded them here.

  Still covertly watching the two Reverend Mothers, Duncan did a series of cartwheels. He flexed his striking muscles as he moved, just the way Teg had taught him.

  Teg also instructed in planetary defenses. Gammu was ringed by orbiting monitors whose crews could not have their families aboard. The families remained down here on Gammu, hostage to the vigilance of those guardian orbiters. Somewhere among the ships in space, there were undetectable no-ships whose crews were composed entirely of the Bashar's people and Bene Gesserit Sisters.

  "I would not have taken this assignment without full charge of all defensive arrangements," Teg explained.

  Duncan realized that he was "this assignment." The Keep was here to protect him. Teg's orbiting monitors, including the no-ships, protected the Keep.

  It was all part of a military education whose elements Duncan found somehow familiar. Learning how to defend a seemingly vulnerable planet from attacks originating in space, he knew when those defenses were correctly placed. It was extremely complicated as a whole but the elements were identifiable and could be understood. There was, for instance, the constant monitoring of atmosphere and the blood serum of Gammu's inhabitants. Suk doctors in the pay of the Bene Gesserit were everywhere.

  "Diseases are weapons," Teg said. "Our defense against diseases must be finely tuned."

  Frequently, Teg railed against passive defenses. He called them "the product of a siege mentality long known to create deadly weaknesses."

  When it came to military instructions from Teg, Duncan listened carefully. Patrin and the library records confirmed that the Mentat Bashar Miles Teg had been a famous military leader for the Bene Gesserit. Patrin often referred to their service together and always Teg was the hero.

  "Mobility is the key to military success," Teg said. "If you're tied down in forts, even whole-planet forts, you are ultimately vulnerable."

  Teg did not much care for Gammu.

  "I see that you already know this place was called Giedi Prime once. The Harkonnens who ruled here taught us a few things. We have a better idea, thanks to them, of how terrifyingly brutal humans can become."

  As he recalled this, Duncan observed that the two Reverend Mothers watching from the parapet obviously were discussing him.

  Am I the new one's assignment?

  Duncan did not like being watched and he hoped the new one would allow him some time to himself. She did not look like a tough one. Not like Schwangyu.

  As he continued his exercises, Duncan timed them to a private litany: Damn Schwangyu! Damn Schwangyu!

  He had hated Schwangyu from the age of nine - four years now. She did not know his hate, he thought. She had probably forgotten all about the incident where his hate had been ignited.

  Barely nine and he had managed to slip through the inner guards out into a tunnel that led to one of the pillboxes. Smell of fungus in the tunnel. Dim lights. Dampness. He peered out through the box's weapons slits before being caught and hustled back into the core of the Keep.

  This escapade occasioned a stern lecture from Schwangyu, a remote and threatening figure whose orders must be obeyed. That was how he still thought of her, although he had since learned about the Bene Gesserit Voice-of-Command, that vocal subtlety which could bend the will of an untrained listener.

  She must be obeyed.

  "You have occasioned the disciplining of an entire guard unit," Schwangyu said. "They will be severely punished."

  That had been the most terrible part of her lecture. Duncan liked some of the guards and occasionally lured some of them into real play with laughter and tumbling. His prank, sneaking out to the pillbox, had hurt his friends.

  Duncan knew what it was to be punished.

  Damn Schwangyu! Damn Schwangyu!...

  After Schwangyu's lecture, Duncan ran to his chief instructor of the moment, Reverend Mother Tamalane, another of the wizened old ones with a cool and aloof manner, snowy hair above a narrow face and a leather skin. He demanded of Tamalane to know about the punishment of his guards. Tamalane fell into a surprising pensive mood, her voice like sand rasping against wood.