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Excerpt from “Dune” (1965) by Frank Herbert

The Duke Leto Atreides leaned against a parapet of the landing control tower outside Arrakeen. The night’s first moon, an oblate silver coin, hung well above the southern horizon. Beneath it, the jagged cliffs of the Shield Wall shone like parched icing through a dust haze. To his left, the lights of Arrakeen glowed in the haze – yellow . . . white . . . blue.

He thought of the notices posted now above his signature all through the populous places of the planet: “Our Sublime Padishah Emperor has charged me to take possession of this planet and end all dispute.”

The ritualistic formality of it touched him with a feeling of loneliness. Who was fooled by that fatuous legalism? Not the Fremen, certainly. Nor the Houses Minor who controlled the interior trade of Arrakis . . . and were Harkonnen creatures almost to a man .

They have tried to take the life of my son!

The rage was difficult to suppress.

He saw lights of a moving vehicle coming toward the landing field from Arrakeen. He hoped it was the guard and troop carrier bringing Paul. The delay was galling even though he knew it was prompted by caution on the part of Hawat’s lieutenant.

They have tried to take the life of my son!

He shook his head to drive out the angry thoughts, glanced back at the field where five of his own frigates were posted around the rim like monolithic sentries.

Better a cautious delay than . . .

The lieutenant was a good one, he reminded himself. A man marked for advancement, completely loyal.

“Our Sublime Padishah Emperor . . . ”

If the people of this decadent garrison city could only see the Emperor’s private note to his “Noble Duke” – the disdainful allusions to veiled men and women: ” – but what else is one to expect of barbarians whose dearest dream is to live outside the ordered security of the faufreluches?”

The Duke felt in this moment that his own dearest dream was to end all class distinctions and never again think of deadly order. He looked up and out of the dust at the unwinking stars, thought: Around one of those little lights circles Caladan . . . but I’ll never again see my home . The longing for Caladan was a sudden pain in his breast. He felt that it did not come from within himself, but that it reached out to him from Caladan. He could not bring himself to call this dry wasteland of Arrakis his home, and he doubted he ever would.

I must mask my feelings , he thought. For the boy’s sake. If ever he’s to have a home, this must be it. I may think of Arrakis as a hell I’ve reached before death, but he must find here that which will inspire him. There must be something .

A wave of self-pity, immediately despised and rejected, swept through him, and for some reason he found himself recalling two lines from a poem Gurney Halleck often repeated –

“My lungs taste the air of Time

Blown past falling sands . . . ”

Well, Gurney would find plenty of falling sands here, the Duke thought. The central wastelands beyond those moon-frosted cliffs were desert – barren rock, dunes, and blowing dust, an uncharted dry wilderness with here and there along its rim and perhaps scattered through it, knots of Fremen. If anything could buy a future for the Atreides line, the Fremen just might do it.

Provided the Harkonnens hadn’t managed to infect even the Fremen with their poisonous schemes.

They have tried to take the life of my son!

A scraping metal racket vibrated through the tower, shook the parapet beneath his arms. Blast shutters dropped in front of him, blocking the view.

Shuttle’s coming in , he thought. Time to go down and get to work . He turned to the stairs behind him, headed down to the big assembly room, trying to remain calm as he descended, to prepare his face for the coming encounter.

They have tried to take the life of my son!

The men were already boiling in from the field when he reached the yellow-domed room. They carried their spacebags over their shoulders, shouting and roistering like students returning from vacation.

“Hey! Feel that under your dogs? That’s gravity, man!” “How many G’s does this place pull? Feels heavy.” “Nine-tenths of a G by the book.”

The crossfire of thrown words filled the big room.

“Did you get a good look at this hole on the way down? Where’s all the loot this place’s supposed to have?” “The Harkonnens took it with ’em!” “Me for a hot shower and a soft bed!” “Haven’t you heard, stupid? No showers down here. You scrub your ass with sand!” “Hey! Can it! The Duke!”

The Duke stepped out of the stair entry into a suddenly silent room.

Gurney Halleck strode along at the point of the crowd, bag over one shoulder, the neck of his nine-string baliset clutched in the other hand. They were long-fingered hands with big thumbs, full of tiny movements that drew such delicate music from the baliset.

The Duke watched Halleck, admiring the ugly lump of a man, noting the glass-splinter eyes with their gleam of savage understanding. Here was a man who lived outside the faufreluches while obeying their every precept. What was it Paul had called him? “Gurney, the valorous .”

Halleck’s wispy blond hair trailed across barren spots on his head. His wide mouth was twisted into a pleasant sneer, and the scar of the inkvine whip slashed across his jawline seemed to move with a life of its own. His whole air was of casual, shoulder-set capability. He came up to the Duke, bowed.

“Gurney,” Leto said.

“My Lord.” He gestured with the baliset toward the men in the room. “This is the last of them. I’d have preferred coming in with the first wave, but . . . ”

“There are still some Harkonnens for you,” the Duke said. “Step aside with me, Gurney, where we may talk.”

“Yours to command, my Lord.”

They moved into an alcove beside a coil-slot water machine while the men stirred restlessly in the big room. Halleck dropped his bag into a corner, kept his grip on the baliset.

“How many men can you let Hawat have?” the Duke asked.

“Is Thufir in trouble Sire?”

“He’s lost only two agents, but his advance men gave us an excellent line on the entire Harkonnen setup here. If we move fast we may gain a measure of security, the breathing space we require. He wants as many men as you can spare – men who won’t balk at a little knife work.”

“I can let him have three hundred of my best,” Halleck said. “Where shall I send them?”

“To the main gate. Hawat has an agent there waiting to take them.”

“Shall I get about it at once, Sire?”

“In a moment. We have another problem. The field commandant will hold the shuttle here until dawn on a pretext. The Guild Heighliner that brought us is going on about its business, and the shuttle’s supposed to make contact with a cargo ship taking up a load of spice.”

“Our spice, m’Lord?”

“Our spice. But the shuttle also will carry some of the spice hunters from the old regime. They’ve opted to leave with the change of fief and the Judge of the Change is allowing it. These are valuable workers, Gurney, about eight hundred of them. Before the shuttle leaves, you must persuade some of those men to enlist with us.”

“How strong a persuasion, Sire?”

“I want their willing cooperation, Gurney. Those men have experience and skills we need. The fact that they’re leaving suggests they’re not part of the Harkonnen machine. Hawat believes there could be some bad ones planted in the group, but he sees assassins in every shadow.”

“Thufir has found some very productive shadows in his time, m’Lord.”

“And there are some he hasn’t found. But I think planting sleepers in this outgoing crowd would show too much imagination for the Harkonnens.”

“Possibly, Sire. Where are these men?”

“Down on the lower level, in a waiting room. I suggest you go down and play a tune or two to soften their minds, then turn on the pressure. You may offer positions of authority to those who qualify. Offer twenty per cent higher wages than they received under the Harkonnens.”

“No more than that, Sire? I know the Harkonnen pay scales. And to men with their termination pay in their pockets and the wanderlust on them . . . well Sire, twenty per cent would hardly seem proper inducement to stay.”

Leto spoke impatiently: “Then use your own discretion in particular cases. Just remember that the treasury isn’t bottomless. Hold it to twenty per cent whenever you can. We particularly need spice drivers, weather scanners, dune men – any with open sand experience.”

“I understand, Sire. ‘They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity of the sand.’ ”

“A very moving quotation,” the Duke said. “Turn your crew over to a lieutenant. Have him give a short drill on water discipline, then bed the men down for the night in the barracks adjoining the field. Field personnel will direct them. And don’t forget the men for Hawat.”

“Three hundred of the best, Sire.” He took up his spacebag. “Where shall I report to you when I’ve completed my chores?”

“I’ve taken over a council room topside here. We’ll hold staff there. I want to arrange a new planetary dispersal order with armored squads going out first.”

Halleck stopped in the act of turning away, caught Leto’s eye. “Are you anticipating that kind of trouble, Sire? I thought there was a Judge of the Change here.”

“Both open battle and secret,” the Duke said. “There’ll be blood aplenty spilled here before we’re through.”

” ‘And the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land,’ ” Halleck quoted.

The Duke sighed. “Hurry back, Gurney.”

“Very good, m’Lord.” The whipscar rippled to his grin. ” ‘Behold, as a wild ass in the desert, go I forth to my work.’ ” He turned, strode to the center of the room, paused to relay his orders, hurried on through the men.

Leto shook his head at the retreating back. Halleck was a continual amazement – a head full of songs, quotations, and flowery phrases . . . and the heart of an assassin when it came to dealing with the Harkonnens.

Presently, Leto took a leisurely diagonal course across to the lift, acknowledging salutes with a casual hand wave. He recognized a propaganda corpsman, stopped to give him a message that could be relayed to the men through channels: those who had brought their women would want to know the women were safe and where they could be found. The others would wish to know that the population here appeared to boast more women than men.

The Duke slapped the propaganda man on the arm, a signal that the message had top priority to be put out immediately, then continued across the room. He nodded to the men, smiled, traded pleasantries with a subaltern.

Command must always look confident , he thought. All that faith riding on your shoulders while you sit in the critical seat and never show it .

He breathed a sigh of relief when the lift swallowed him and he could turn and face the impersonal doors.

They have tried to take the life of my son!

Over the exit of the Arrakeen landing field, crudely carved as though with a poor instrument, there was an inscription that Muad’Dib was to repeat many times. He saw it that first night on Arrakis, having been brought to the ducal command post to participate in his father’s first full staff conference. The words of the inscription were a plea to those leaving Arrakis, but they fell with dark import on the eyes of a boy who had just escaped a close brush with death. They said: “O you who know what we suffer here, do not forget us in your prayers. ”

– from “Manual of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan

“The whole theory of warfare is calculated risk,” the Duke said, “but when it comes to risking your own family, the element of calculation gets submerged in – other things.”

He knew he wasn’t holding in his anger as well as he should, and he turned, strode down the length of the long table and back.

The Duke and Paul were alone in the conference room at the landing field. It was an empty-sounding room, furnished only with the long table, old-fashioned three-legged chairs around it, and a map board and projector at one end. Paul sat at the table near the map board. He had told his father the experience with the hunter-seeker and given the reports that a traitor threatened him.

The Duke stopped across from Paul, pounded the table: “Hawat told me that house was secure!”

Paul spoke hesitantly: “I was angry, too – at first. And I blamed Hawat. But the threat came from outside the house. It was simple, clever, and direct. And it would’ve succeeded were it not for the training given me by you and many others – including Hawat.”

“Are you defending him?” the Duke demanded.


“He’s getting old. That’s it. He should be – ”

“He’s wise with much experience,” Paul said. “How many of Hawat’s mistakes can you recall?”

“I should be the one defending him,” the Duke said. “Not you.”

Paul smiled.

Leto sat down at the head of the table, put a hand over his son’s. “You’ve . . . matured lately, Son.” He lifted his hand. “It gladdens me.” He matched his son’s smile. “Hawat will punish himself. He’ll direct more anger against himself over this than both of us together could pour on him.”

Paul glanced toward the darkened windows beyond the map board, looked at the night’s blackness. Room lights reflected from a balcony railing out there. He saw movement and recognized the shape of a guard in Atreides uniform. Paul looked back at the white wall behind his father, then down to the shiny surface of the table, seeing his own hands clenched into fists there.

The door opposite the Duke banged open. Thufir Hawat strode through it looking older and more leathery than ever. He paced down the length of the table, stopped at attention facing Leto.

“My Lord,” he said, speaking to a point over Leto’s head, “I have just learned how I failed you. It becomes necessary that I tender my resig – ”

“Oh, sit down and stop acting the fool,” the Duke said. He waved to the chair across from Paul. “If you made a mistake, it was in over estimating the Harkonnens. Their simple minds came up with a simple trick. We didn’t count on simple tricks. And my son has been at great pains to point out to me that he came through this largely because of your training. You didn’t fail there!” He tapped the back of the empty chair. “Sit down, I say!”

Hawat sank into the chair. “But – ”

“I’ll hear no more of it,” the Duke said. “The incident is past. We have more pressing business. Where are the others?”

“I asked them to wait outside while I – ”

“Call them in.”

Hawat looked into Leto’s eyes. “Sire, I – ”

“I know who my true friends are, Thufir,” the Duke said. “Call in the men.”

Hawat swallowed. “At once, my Lord.” He swiveled in the chair, called to the open door: “Gurney, bring them in.”

Halleck led the file of men into the room, the staff officers looking grimly serious followed by the younger aides and specialists, an air of eagerness among them. Brief scuffing sounds echoed around the room as the men took seats. A faint smell of rachag stimulant wafted down the table.

“There’s coffee for those who want it,” the Duke said.

He looked over his men, thinking: They’re a good crew. A man could do far worse for this kind of war . He waited while coffee was brought in from the adjoining room and served, noting the tiredness in some of the faces.

Presently, he put on his mask of quiet efficiency, stood up and commanded their attention with a knuckle rap against the table.

“Well, gentlemen,” he said, “our civilization appears to’ve fallen so deeply into the habit of invasion that we cannot even obey a simple order of the Imperium without the old ways cropping up.”

Dry chuckles sounded around the table, and Paul realized that his father had said the precisely correct thing in precisely the correct tone to lift the mood here. Even the hint of fatigue in his voice was right.

“I think first we’d better learn if Thufir has anything to add to his report on the Fremen,” the Duke said. “Thufir?”

Hawat glanced up. “I’ve some economic matters to go into after my general report, Sire, but I can say now that the Fremen appear more and more to be the allies we need. They’re waiting now to see if they can trust us, but they appear to be dealing openly. They’ve sent us a gift – stillsuits of their own manufacture . . . maps of certain desert areas surrounding strongpoints the Harkonnens left behind – ” He glanced down at the table. “Their intelligence reports have proved completely reliable and have helped us considerably in our dealings with the Judge of the Change. They’ve also sent some incidental things – jewelry for the Lady Jessica, spice liquor, candy, medicinals. My men are processing the lot right now. There appears to be no trickery.”

“You like these people, Thufir?” asked a man down the table.

Hawat turned to face his questioner. “Duncan Idaho says they’re to be admired.”

Paul glanced at his father, back to Hawat, ventured a question: “Have you any new information on how many Fremen there are?”

Hawat looked at Paul. “From food processing and other evidence, Idaho estimates the cave complex he visited consisted of some ten thousand people, all told. Their leader said he ruled a sietch of two thousand hearths. We’ve reason to believe there are a great many such sietch communities. All seem to give their allegiance to someone called Liet.”

“That’s something new,” Leto said.

“It could be an error on my part, Sire. There are things to suggest this Liet may be a local deity.”

Another man down the table cleared his throat, asked: “Is it certain they deal with the smugglers?”

“A smuggler caravan left this sietch while Idaho was there, carrying a heavy load of spice. They used pack beasts and indicated they faced an eighteen-day journey.”

“It appears,” the Duke said, “that the smugglers have redoubled their operations during this period of unrest. This deserves some careful thought. We shouldn’t worry too much about unlicensed frigates working off our planet – it’s always done. But to have them completely outside our observation – that’s not good.”

“You have a plan. Sire,” Hawat asked.

The Duke looked at Halleck. “Gurney, I want you to head a delegation, an embassy if you will, to contact these romantic businessmen. Tell them I’ll ignore their operations as long as they give me a ducal tithe. Hawat here estimates that graft and extra fighting men heretofore required in their operations have been costing them four times that amount.”

“What if the Emperor gets wind of this?” Halleck asked. “He’s very jealous of his CHOAM profits, m’Lord.”

Leto smiled. “We’ll bank the entire tithe openly in the name of Shaddam IV and deduct it legally from our levy support costs. Let the Harkonnens fight that! And we’ll be ruining a few more of the locals who grew fat under the Harkonnen system. No more graft!”

A grin twisted Halleck’s face. “Ahh, m’Lord, a beautiful low blow. Would that I could see the Baron’s face when he learns of this.”

The Duke turned to Hawat. “Thufir, did you get those account books you said you could buy?”

“Yes, my Lord. They’re being examined in detail even now. I’ve skimmed them, though, and can give a first approximation.”

“Give it, then.”

“The Harkonnens took ten billion Solaris out of here every three hundred and thirty Standard days.”

A muted gasp ran around the table. Even the younger aides, who had been betraying some boredom, sat up straighter and exchanged wide-eyed looks.

Halleck murmured: ” ‘For they shall suck of the abundance of the seas and of the treasure hid in the sand.’ ”

“You see, gentlemen,” Leto said. “Is there anyone here so naive he believes the Harkonnens have quietly packed up and walked away from all this merely because the Emperor ordered it?”

There was a general shaking of heads, murmurous agreement.

“We will have to take it at the point of the sword,” Leto said. He turned to Hawat. “This’d be a good point to report on equipment. How many sandcrawlers, harvesters, spice factories, and supporting equipment have they left us?”

“A full complement, as it says in the Imperial inventory audited by the Judge of the Change, my Lord,” Hawat said. He gestured for an aide to pass him a folder, opened the folder on the table in front of him. “They neglect to mention that less than half the crawlers are operable, that only about a third have carryalls to fly them to spice sands – that everything the Harkonnens left us is ready to break down and fall apart. We’ll be lucky to get half the equipment into operation and luckier yet if a fourth of it’s still working six months from now.”

“Pretty much as we expected,” Leto said. “What’s the firm estimate on basic equipment?”

Hawat glanced at his folder. “About nine hundred and thirty harvester-factories that can be sent out in a few days. About sixty-two hundred and fifty ornithopters for survey, scouting, and weather observation . . . carryalls, a little under a thousand.”

Halleck said: “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to reopen negotiations with the Guild for permission to orbit a frigate as a weather satellite?”

The Duke looked at Hawat. “Nothing new there, eh, Thufir?”

“We must pursue other avenues for now,” Hawat said. “The Guild agent wasn’t really negotiating with us. He was merely making it plain – one Mentat to another – that the price was out of our reach and would remain so no matter how long a reach we develop. Our task is to find out why before we approach him again.”

One of Halleck’s aides down the table swiveled in his chair, snapped: “There’s no justice in this!”

“Justice?” The Duke looked at the man. “Who asks for justice? We make our own justice. We make it here on Arrakis – win or die. Do you regret casting your lot with us, sir?”

The man stared at the Duke, then: “No, Sire. You couldn’t turn and I could do nought but follow you. Forgive the outburst, but . . .” He shrugged. ” . . . we must all feel bitter at times.”

“Bitterness I understand,” the Duke said. “But let us not rail about justice as long as we have arms and the freedom to use them. Do any of the rest of you harbor bitterness? If so, let it out. This is friendly council where any man may speak his mind.”

Halleck stirred, said: “I think what rankles, Sire, is that we’ve had no volunteers from the other Great Houses. They address you as ‘Leto the Just’ and promise eternal friendship, but only as long as it doesn’t cost them anything.”

“They don’t know yet who’s going to win this exchange,” the Duke said. “Most of the Houses have grown fat by taking few risks. One cannot truly blame them for this; one can only despise them.” He looked at Hawat. “We were discussing equipment. Would you care to project a few examples to familiarize the men with this machinery?”

Hawat nodded, gestured to an aide at the projector.

A solido tri-D projection appeared on the table surface about a third of the way down from the Duke. Some of the men farther along the table stood up to get a better look at it.

Paul leaned forward, staring at the machine.

Scaled against the tiny projected human figures around it, the thing was about one hundred and twenty meters long and about forty meters wide. It was basically a long, bug-like body moving on independent sets of wide tracks.

“This is a harvester factory,” Hawat said. “We chose one in good repair for this projection. There’s one dragline outfit that came in with the first team of Imperial ecologists, though, and it’s still running . . . although I don’t know how . . . or why.”

“If that’s the one they call ‘Old Maria,’ it belongs in a museum,” an aide said. “I think the Harkonnens kept it as a punishment job, a threat hanging over their workers’ heads. Be good or you’ll be assigned to ‘Old Maria.’ ”

Chuckles sounded around the table.

Paul held himself apart from the humor, his attention focused on the projection and the question that filled his mind. He pointed to the image on the table, said: “Thufir, are there sandworms big enough to swallow that whole?”

Quick silence settled on the table. The Duke cursed under his breath, then thought: No – they have to face the realities here .

“There’re worms in the deep desert could take this entire factory in one gulp,” Hawat said. “Up here closer to the Shield Wall where most of the spicing’s done there are plenty of worms that could cripple this factory and devour it at their leisure.”

“Why don’t we shield them?” Paul asked.

“According to Idaho ‘s report,” Hawat said, “shields are dangerous in the desert. A body-size shield will call every worm for hundreds of meters around. It appears to drive them into a killing frenzy. We’ve the Fremen word on this and no reason to doubt it. Idaho saw no evidence of shield equipment at the sietch.”

“None at all?” Paul asked.

“It’d be pretty hard to conceal that kind of thing among several thousand people,” Hawat said. ” Idaho had free access to every part of the sietch. He saw no shields or any indication of their use.”

“It’s a puzzle,” the Duke said.

“The Harkonnens certainly used plenty of shields here,” Hawat said. “They had repair depots in every garrison village, and their accounts show a heavy expenditure for shield replacements and parts.”

“Could the Fremen have a way of nullifying shields?” Paul asked.

“It doesn’t seem likely,” Hawat said. “It’s theoretically possible, of course – a shire-sized static counter charge is supposed to do the trick, but no one’s ever been able to put it to the test.”

“We’d have heard about it before now,” Halleck said. “The smugglers have close contact with the Fremen and would’ve acquired such a device if it were available. And they’d have had no inhibitions against marketing it off planet.”

“I don’t like an unanswered question of this importance,” Leto said. “Thufir, I want you to give top priority to solution of this problem.”

“We’re already working on it, my Lord.” He cleared his throat. ” Ah-h , Idaho did say one thing: he said you couldn’t mistake the Fremen attitude toward shields. He said they were mostly amused by them.”

The Duke frowned, then: “The subject under discussion is spicing equipment.”

Hawat gestured to his aide at the projector.

The solido-image of the harvester-factory was replaced by a projection of a winged device that dwarfed the images of human figures around it. “This is a carryall,” Hawat said. “It’s essentially a large ‘thopter, whose sole function is to deliver a factory to spice-rich sands, then to rescue the factory when a sandworm appears. They always appear. Harvesting the spice is a process of getting in and getting out with as much as possible.”

“Admirably suited to Harkonnen morality,” the Duke said.

Laughter was abrupt and too loud.

An ornithopter replaced the carryall in the projection focus.

“These ‘thopters are fairly conventional,” Hawat said. “Major modifications give them extended range. Extra care has been used in sealing essential areas against sand and dust. Only about one in thirty is shielded – possibly discarding the shield generator’s weight for greater range.”

“I don’t like this de-emphasis on shields,” the Duke muttered. And he thought: Is this the Harkonnen secret? Does it mean we won’t even be able to escape on shielded frigates if all goes against us? He shook his head sharply to drive out such thoughts, said: “Let’s get to the working estimate. What’ll our profit figure be?”

Hawat turned two pages in his notebook. “After assessing the repairs and operable equipment, we’ve worked out a first estimate on operating costs. It’s based naturally on a depreciated figure for a clear safety margin.” He closed his eyes in Mentat semitrance, said: “Under the Harkonnens, maintenance and salaries were held to fourteen per cent. We’ll be lucky to make it at thirty per cent at first. With reinvestment and growth factors accounted for, including the CHOAM percentage and military costs, our profit margin will be reduced to a very narrow six or seven per cent until we can replace worn-out equipment. We then should be able to boost it up to twelve or fifteen per cent where it belongs.” He opened his eyes. “Unless my Lord wishes to adopt Harkonnen methods.”

“We’re working for a solid and permanent planetary base,” the Duke said. “We have to keep a large percentage of the people happy – especially the Fremen.”

“Most especially the Fremen,” Hawat agreed.

“Our supremacy on Caladan,” the Duke said, “depended on sea and air power. Here, we must develop something I choose to call desert power. This may include air power, but it’s possible it may not. I call your attention to the lack of ‘thopter shields.” He shook his head. “The Harkonnens relied on turnover from off planet for some of their key personnel. We don’t dare. Each new lot would have its quota of provocateurs.”

“Then we’ll have to be content with far less profit and a reduced harvest,” Hawat said. “Our output the first two seasons should be down a third from the Harkonnen average.”

“There it is,” the Duke said, “exactly as we expected. We’ll have to move fast with the Fremen. I’d like five full battalions of Fremen troops before the first CHOAM audit.”

“That’s not much time, Sire,” Hawat said.

“We don’t have much time, as you well know. They’ll be here with Sardaukar disguised as Harkonnens at the first opportunity. How many do you think they’ll ship in, Thufir?”

“Four or five battalions all told, Sire. No more. Guild troop-transport costs being what they are.”

“Then five battalions of Fremen plus our own forces ought to do it. Let us have a few captive Sardaukar to parade in front of the Landsraad Council and matters will be much different – profits or no profits.”

“We’ll do our best, Sire.”

Paul looked at his father, back to Hawat, suddenly conscious of the Mentat’s great age, aware that the old man had served three generations of Atreides. Aged . It showed in the rheumy shine of the brown eyes, in the cheeks cracked and burned by exotic weathers, in the rounded curve of the shoulders and the thin set of his lips with the cranberry-colored stain of sapho juice.

So much depends on one aged man , Paul thought.

“We’re presently in a war of assassins,” the Duke said, “but it has not achieved full scale. Thufir, what’s the condition of the Harkonnen machine here?”

“We’ve eliminated two hundred and fifty-nine of their key people, my Lord. No more than three Harkonnen cells remain – perhaps a hundred people in all.”

“These Harkonnen creatures you eliminated,” the Duke said, “were they propertied?”

“Most were well situated, my Lord – in the entrepreneur class.”

“I want you to forge certificates of allegiance over the signatures of each of them,” the Duke said. “File copies with the Judge of the Change. We’ll take the legal position that they stayed under false allegiance. Confiscate their property, take everything, turn out their families, strip them. And make sure the Crown gets its ten per cent. It must be entirely legal.”

Thufir smiled, revealing red-stained teeth beneath the carmine lips. “A move worthy of your grandsire, my Lord. It shames me I didn’t think of it first.”

Halleck frowned across the table, surprised a deep scowl on Paul’s face. The others were smiling and nodding.

It’s wrong , Paul thought. This’ll only make the others fight all the harder. They’ve nothing to gain by surrendering .

He knew the actual no-holds-barred convention that ruled in kanly, but this was the sort of move that could destroy them even as it gave them victory.

” ‘I have been a stranger in a strange land,’ ” Halleck quoted.

Paul stared at him, recognizing the quotation from the O.C. Bible, wondering: Does Gurney, too, wish an end to devious plots?

The Duke glanced at the darkness out the windows, looked back at Halleck. “Gurney, how many of those sandworkers did you persuade to stay with us?”

“Two hundred eighty-six in all, Sire. I think we should take them and consider ourselves lucky. They’re all in useful categories.”

“No more?” The Duke pursed his lips, then: “Well, pass the word along to – ”

A disturbance at the door interrupted him. Duncan Idaho came through the guard there, hurried down the length of the table and bent over the Duke’s ear.

Leto waved him back, said: “Speak out, Duncan . You can see this is strategy staff.”

Paul studied Idaho , marking the feline movements, the swiftness of reflex that made him such a difficult weapons teacher to emulate. Idaho ‘s dark round face turned toward Paul, the cave-sitter eyes giving no hint of recognition, but Paul recognized the mask of serenity over excitement.

Idaho looked down the length of the table, said: “We’ve taken a force of Harkonnen mercenaries disguised as Fremen. The Fremen themselves sent us a courier to warn of the false band. In the attack, however, we found the Harkonnens had waylaid the Fremen courier – badly wounded him. We were bringing him here for treatment by our medics when he died. I’d seen how badly off the man was and stopped to do what I could. I surprised him in the attempt to throw something away.” Idaho glanced down at Leto. “A knife, m’Lord, a knife the like of which you’ve never seen.”

“Crysknife?” someone asked.

“No doubt of it,” Idaho said. “Milky white and glowing with a light of its own like.” He reached into his tunic, brought out a sheath with a black-ridged handle protruding from it.

“Keep that blade in its sheath!”

The voice came from the open door at the end of the room, a vibrant and penetrating voice that brought them all up, staring.

A tall, robed figure stood in the door, barred by the crossed swords of the guard. A light tan robe completely enveloped the man except for a gap in the hood and black veil that exposed eyes of total blue – no white in them at all.

“Let him enter,” Idaho whispered.

“Pass that man,” the Duke said.

The guards hesitated, then lowered their swords.

The man swept into the room, stood across from the Duke.

“This is Stilgar, chief of the sietch I visited, leader of those who warned us of the false band,” Idaho said.

“Welcome, sir,” Leto said. “And why shouldn’t we unsheath this blade?”

Stilgar glanced at Idaho , said: “You observed the customs of cleanliness and honor among us. I would permit you to see the blade of the man you befriended.” His gaze swept the others in the room. “But I do not know these others. Would you have them defile an honorable weapon?”

“I am the Duke Leto,” the Duke said. “Would you permit me to see this blade?”

“I’ll permit you to earn the right to unsheath it,” Stilgar said, and, as a mutter of protest sounded around the table, he raised a thin, darkly veined hand. “I remind you this is the blade of one who befriended you.”

In the waiting silence, Paul studied the man, sensing the aura of power that radiated from him. He was a leader – a Fremen leader.

A man near the center of the table across from Paul muttered: “Who’s he to tell us what rights we have on Arrakis?”

“It is said that the Duke Leto Atreides rules with the consent of the governed,” the Fremen said. “Thus I must tell you the way it is with us: a certain responsibility falls on those who have seen a crysknife.” He passed a dark glance across Idaho . “They are ours. They may never leave Arrakis without our consent.”

Halleck and several of the others started to rise, angry expressions on their faces. Halleck said: “The Duke Leto determines whether – ”

“One moment, please,” Leto said, and the very mildness of his voice held them. This must not get out of hand , he thought. He addressed himself to the Fremen: “Sir, I honor and respect the personal dignity of any man who respects my dignity. I am indeed indebted to you. And I always pay my debts. If it is your custom that this knife remain sheathed here, then it is so ordered – by me . And if there is any other way we may honor the man who died in our service, you have but to name it.”

The Fremen stared at the Duke, then slowly pulled aside his veil, revealing a thin nose and full-lipped mouth in a glistening black beard. Deliberately he bent over the end of the table, spat on its polished surface.

As the men around the table started to surge to their feet, Idaho ‘s voice boomed across the room: “Hold!”

Into the sudden charged stillness, Idaho said: “We thank you, Stilgar, for the gift of your body’s moisture. We accept it in the spirit with which it is given.” And Idaho spat on the table in front of the Duke.

Aside to the Duke, he said; “Remember how precious water is here, Sire. That was a token of respect.”

Leto sank back into his own chair, caught Paul’s eye, a rueful grin on his son’s face, sensed the slow relaxation of tension around the table as understanding came to his men.

The Fremen looked at Idaho , said: “You measured well in my sietch, Duncan Idaho. Is there a bond on your allegiance to your Duke?”

“He’s asking me to enlist with him. Sire,” Idaho said.

“Would he accept a dual allegiance?” Leto asked.

“You wish me to go with him, Sire?”

“I wish you to make your own decision in the matter,” Leto said, and he could not keep the urgency out of his voice.

Idaho studied the Fremen. “Would you have me under these conditions, Stilgar? There’d be times when I’d have to return to serve my Duke.”

“You fight well and you did your best for our friend,” Stilgar said. He looked at Leto. “Let it be thus: the man Idaho keeps the crysknife he holds as a mark of his allegiance to us. He must be cleansed, of course, and the rites observed, but this can be done. He will be Fremen and soldier of the Atreides. There is precedent for this: Liet serves two masters.”

” Duncan ?” Leto asked.

“I understand, Sire,” Idaho said.

“It is agreed, then,” Leto said.

“Your water is ours, Duncan Idaho.” Stilgar said. “The body of our friend remains with your Duke. His water is Atreides water. It is a bond between us.”

Leto sighed, glanced at Hawat, catching the old Mentat’s eye. Hawat nodded, his expression pleased.

“I will await below,” Stilgar said, “while Idaho makes farewell with his friends. Turok was the name of our dead friend. Remember that when it comes time to release his spirit. You are friends of Turok.”

Stilgar started to turn away.

“Will you not stay a while?” Leto asked.

The Fremen turned back, whipping his veil into place with a casual gesture, adjusting something beneath it. Paul glimpsed what looked like a thin tube before the veil settled into place.

“Is there reason to stay?” the Fremen asked.

“We would honor you,” the Duke said.

“Honor requires that I be elsewhere soon,” the Fremen said. He shot another glance at Idaho , whirled, and strode out past the door guards.

“If the other Fremen match him, we’ll serve each other well,” Leto said.

Idaho spoke in a dry voice: “He’s a fair sample, Sire.”

“You understand what you’re to do, Duncan ?”

“I’m your ambassador to the Fremen, Sire.”

“Much depends on you, Duncan. We’re going to need at least five battalions of those people before the Sardaukar descend on us.”

“This is going to take some doing, Sire. The Fremen are a pretty independent bunch.” Idaho hesitated, then: “And, Sire, there’s one other thing. One of the mercenaries we knocked over was trying to get this blade from our dead Fremen friend. The mercenary says there’s a Harkonnen reward of a million Solaris for anyone who’ll bring in a single crysknife.”

Leto’s chin came up in a movement of obvious surprise. “Why do they want one of those blades so badly?”

“The knife is ground from a sandworm’s tooth; it’s the mark of the Fremen, Sire. With it, a blue-eyed man could penetrate any sietch in the land. They’d question me unless I were known. I don’t look Fremen. But . . . ”

“Piter de Vries,” the Duke said.

“A man of devilish cunning, my Lord,” Hawat said.

Idaho slipped the sheathed knife beneath his tunic.

“Guard that knife,” the Duke said.

“I understand, m’Lord.” He patted the transceiver on his belt kit. “I’ll report soon as possible. Thufir has my call code. Use battle language.” He saluted, spun about, and hurried after the Fremen.

They heard his footsteps drumming down the corridor.

A look of understanding passed between Leto and Hawat. They smiled.

“We’ve much to do, Sire,” Halleck said.

“And I keep you from your work,” Leto said.

“I have the report on the advance bases,” Hawat said. “Shall I give it another time, Sire?”

“Will it take long?”

“Not for a briefing. It’s said among the Fremen that there were more than two hundred of these advance bases built here on Arrakis during the Desert Botanical Testing Station period. All supposedly have been abandoned, but there are reports they were sealed off before being abandoned.”

“Equipment in them?” the Duke asked.

“According to the reports I have from Duncan .”

“Where are they located?” Halleck asked.

“The answer to that question,” Hawat said, “is invariably: ‘Liet knows.’ ”

“God knows,” Leto muttered.

“Perhaps not. Sire,” Hawat said. “You heard this Stilgar use the name. Could he have been referring to a real person?”

“Serving two masters,” Halleck said. “It sounds like a religious quotation.”

“And you should know,” the Duke said.

Halleck smiled.

“This Judge of the Change,” Leto said, “the Imperial ecologist – Kynes . . . Wouldn’t he know where those bases are?”

“Sire,” Hawat cautioned, “this Kynes is an Imperial servant.”

“And he’s a long way from the Emperor,” Leto said. “I want those bases. They’d be loaded with materials we could salvage and use for repair of our working equipment.”

“Sire!” Hawat said. “Those bases are still legally His Majesty’s fief.”

“The weather here’s savage enough to destroy anything,” the Duke said. “We can always blame the weather. Get this Kynes and at least find out if the bases exist.”

” ‘Twere dangerous to commandeer them,” Hawat said. ” Duncan was clear on one thing: those bases or the idea of them hold some deep significance for the Fremen. We might alienate the Fremen if we took those bases.”

Paul looked at the faces of the men around them, saw the intensity of the way they followed every word. They appeared deeply disturbed by his father’s attitude.

“Listen to him, Father,” Paul said in a low voice. “He speaks truth.”

“Sire,” Hawat said, “those bases could give us material to repair every piece of equipment left us, yet be beyond reach for strategic reasons. It’d be rash to move without greater knowledge. This Kynes has arbiter authority from the Imperium. We mustn’t forget that. And the Fremen defer to him.”

“Do it gently, then,” the Duke said. “I wish to know only if those bases exist.”

“As you will, Sire.” Hawat sat back, lowered his eyes.

“All right, then,” the Duke said. “We know what we have ahead of us – work. We’ve been trained for it. We’ve some experience in it. We know what the rewards are and the alternatives are clear enough. You all have your assignments.” He looked at Halleck. “Gurney, take care of that smuggler situation first.”

” ‘I shall go unto the rebellious that dwell in the dry land,’ ” Halleck intoned.

“Someday I’ll catch that man without a quotation and he’ll look undressed,” the Duke said.

Chuckles echoed around the table, but Paul heard the effort in them.

The Duke turned to Hawat. “Set up another command post for intelligence and communications on this floor, Thufir. When you have them ready, I’ll want to see you.”

Hawat arose, glanced around the room as though seeking support. He turned away, led the procession out of the room. The others moved hurriedly, scraping their chairs on the floor, balling up in little knots of confusion.

It ended up in confusion , Paul thought, staring at the backs of the last men to leave. Always before, Staff had ended on an incisive air. This meeting had just seemed to trickle out, worn down by its own inadequacies, and with an argument to top it off.

For the first time, Paul allowed himself to think about the real possibility of defeat – not thinking about it out of fear or because of warnings such as that of the old Reverend Mother, but facing up to it because of his own assessment of the situation.

My father is desperate , he thought. Things aren’t going well for us at all .

And Hawat – Paul recalled how the old Mentat had acted during the conference – subtle hesitations, signs of unrest.

Hawat was deeply troubled by something.

“Best you remain here the rest of the night, Son,” the Duke said. “It’ll be dawn soon, anyway. I’ll inform your mother.” He got to his feet, slowly, stiffly. “Why don’t you pull a few of these chairs together and stretch out on them for some rest.”

“I’m not very tired, sir.”

“As you will.”

The Duke folded his hands behind him, began pacing up and down the length of the table.

Like a caged animal , Paul thought.

“Are you going to discuss the traitor possibility with Hawat?” Paul asked.

The Duke stopped across from his son, spoke to the dark windows. “We’ve discussed the possibility many times.”

“The old woman seemed so sure of herself,” Paul said. “And the message Mother – ”

“Precautions have been taken,” the Duke said. He looked around the room, and Paul marked the hunted wildness in his father’s eyes. “Remain here. There are some things about the command posts I want to discuss with Thufir.” He turned, strode out of the room, nodding shortly to the door guards.

Paul stared at the place where his father had stood. The space had been empty even before the Duke left the room. And he recalled the old woman’s warning: ” – for the father, nothing.”

On that first day when Muad’Dib rode through the streets of Arrakeen with his family, some of the people along the way recalled the legends and the prophecy and they ventured to shout: “Mahdi!” But their shout was more a question than a statement, for as yet they could only hope he was the one foretold as the Lisan al-Gaib, the Voice from the Outer World. Their attention was focused, too, on the mother, because they had heard she was a Bene Gesserit and it was obvious to them that she was like the other Lisan al-Gaib.

– from “Manual of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan

The Duke found Thufir Hawat alone in the corner room to which a guard directed him. There was the sound of men setting up communications equipment in an adjoining room, but this place was fairly quiet. The Duke glanced around as Hawat arose from a paper-cluttered table. It was a green-walled enclosure with, in addition to the table, three suspensor chairs from which the Harkonnen “H ” had been hastily removed, leaving an imperfect color patch.

“The chairs are liberated but quite safe,” Hawat said. “Where is Paul, Sire?”

“I left him in the conference room. I’m hoping he’ll get some rest without me there to distract him.”

Hawat nodded, crossed to the door to the adjoining room, closed it, shutting off the noise of static and electronic sparking.

“Thufir,” Leto said, “the Imperial and Harkonnen stockpiles of spice attract my attention.”


The Duke pursed his lips. “Storehouses are susceptible to destruction.” He raised a hand as Hawat started to speak. “Ignore the Emperor’s hoard. He’d secretly enjoy it if the Harkonnens were embarrassed. And can the Baron object if something is destroyed which he cannot openly admit that he has?”

Hawat shook his head. “We’ve few men to spare. Sire.”

“Use some of Idaho ‘s men. And perhaps some of the Fremen would enjoy a trip off planet. A raid on Giedi Prime – there are tactical advantages to such a diversion, Thufir.”

“As you say, my Lord.” Hawat turned away, and the Duke saw evidence of nervousness in the old man, thought: Perhaps he suspects I distrust him. He must know I’ve private reports of traitors. Well – best quiet his fears immediately .

“Thufir,” he said, “since you’re one of the few I can trust completely, there’s another matter bears discussion. We both know how constant a watch we must keep to prevent traitors from infiltrating our forces . . . but I have two new reports.”

Hawat turned, stared at him.

And Leto repeated the stories Paul had brought.

Instead of bringing on the intense Mentat concentration, the reports only increased Hawat’s agitation.

Leto studied the old man and, presently, said: “You’ve been holding something back, old friend. I should’ve suspected when you were so nervous during Staff. What is it that was too hot to dump in front of the full conference?”

Hawat’s sapho-stained lips were pulled into a prim, straight line with tiny wrinkles radiating into them. They maintained their wrinkled stiffness as he said: “My Lord, I don’t quite know how to broach this.”

“We’ve suffered many a scar for each other, Thufir,” the Duke said. “You know you can broach any subject with me.”

Hawat continued to stare at him, thinking: This is how I like him best. This is the man of honor who deserves every bit of my loyalty and service. Why must I hurt him?

“Well?” Leto demanded.

Hawat shrugged. “It’s a scrap of a note. We took it from a Harkonnen courier. The note was intended for an agent named Pardee. We’ve good reason to believe Pardee was top man in the Harkonnen underground here. The note – it’s a thing that could have great consequence or no consequence. It’s susceptible to various interpretations.”

“What’s the delicate content of this note?”

“Scrap of a note, my Lord. Incomplete. It was on minimic film with the usual destruction capsule attached. We stopped the acid action just short of full erasure, leaving only a fragment. The fragment, however, is extremely suggestive.”


Hawat rubbed at his lips. “It says: ‘. . . eto will never suspect, and when the blow falls on him from a beloved hand, its source alone should be enough to destroy him.’ The note was under the Baron’s own seal and I’ve authenticated the seal.”

“Your suspicion is obvious,” the Duke said and his voice was suddenly cold.

“I’d sooner cut off my arms than hurt you,” Hawat said. “My Lord, what if . . .”

“The Lady Jessica,” Leto said, and he felt anger consuming him. “Couldn’t you wring the facts out of this Pardee?”

“Unfortunately, Pardee no longer was among the living when we intercepted the courier. The courier, I’m certain, did not know what he carried.”

“I see.”

Leto shook his head, thinking: What a slimy piece of business. There can’t be anything in it. I know my woman.

“My Lord, if – ”

“No!” the Duke barked. “There’s a mistake here that – ”

“We cannot ignore it, my Lord.”

“She’s been with me for sixteen years! There’ve been countless opportunities for – You yourself investigated the school and the woman!”

Hawat spoke bitterly: “Things have been known to escape me.”

“It’s impossible, I tell you! The Harkonnens want to destroy the Atreides line – meaning Paul, too. They’ve already tried once. Could a woman conspire against her own son?”

“Perhaps she doesn’t conspire against her son. And yesterday’s attempt could’ve been a clever sham.”

“It couldn’t have been a sham.”

“Sire, she isn’t supposed to know her parentage, but what if she does know? What if she were an orphan, say, orphaned by an Atreides?”

“She’d have moved long before now. Poison in my drink . . . a stiletto at night. Who has had better opportunity?”

“The Harkonnens mean to destroy you, my Lord. Their intent is not just to kill. There’s a range of fine distinctions in kanly. This could be a work of art among vendettas.”

The Duke’s shoulders slumped. He closed his eyes, looking old and tired. It cannot be , he thought. The woman has opened her heart to me .

“What better way to destroy me than to sow suspicion of the woman I love?” he asked.

“An interpretation I’ve considered,” Hawat said. “Still. . . . ”

The Duke opened his eyes, stared at Hawat, thinking: Let him be suspicious. Suspicion is his trade, not mine. Perhaps if I appear to believe this, that will make another man careless.

“What do you suggest?” the Duke whispered.

“For now, constant surveillance, my Lord. She should be watched at all times. I will see it’s done unobtrusively. Idaho would be the ideal choice for the job. Perhaps in a week or so we can bring him back. There’s a young man we’ve been training in Idaho ‘s troop who might be ideal to send to the Fremen as a replacement. He’s gifted in diplomacy.”

“Don’t jeopardize our foothold with the Fremen.”

“Of course not, Sire.”

“And what about Paul?”

“Perhaps we could alert Dr. Yueh.”

Leto turned his back on Hawat. “I leave it in your hands.”

“I shall use discretion, my Lord.”

At least I can count on that , Leto thought. And he said: “I will take a walk. If you need me, I’ll be within the perimeter. The guard can – ”

“My Lord, before you go, I’ve a filmclip you should read. It’s a first-approximation analysis on the Fremen religion. You’ll recall you asked me to report on it.”

The Duke paused, spoke without turning. “Will it not wait?”

“Of course, my Lord. You asked what they were shouting, though. It was ‘Mahdi!’ They directed the term at the young master. When they – ”

“At Paul?”

“Yes, my Lord. They’ve a legend here, a prophecy, that a leader will come to them, child of a Bene Gesserit, to lead them to true freedom. It follows the familiar messiah pattern.”

“They think Paul is this . . . this . . . ”

“They only hope, my Lord.” Hawat extended a filmclip capsule.

The Duke accepted it, thrust it into a pocket. “I’ll look at it later.”

“Certainly, my Lord.”

“Right now, I need time to . . . think.”

“Yes, my Lord.”

The Duke took a deep sighing breath, strode out the door. He turned to his right down the hall, began walking, hands behind his back, paying little attention to where he was. There were corridors and stairs and balconies and halls . . . people who saluted and stood aside for him.

In time he came back to the conference room, found it dark and Paul asleep on the table with a guard’s robe thrown over him and a ditty pack for a pillow. The Duke walked softly down the length of the room and onto the balcony overlooking the landing field. A guard at the corner of the balcony, recognizing the Duke by the dim reflection of lights from the field, snapped to attention.

“At ease,” the Duke murmured. He leaned against the cold metal of the balcony rail.

A predawn hush had come over the desert basin. He looked up. Straight overhead, the stars were a sequin shawl flung over blue-black. Low on the southern horizon, the night’s second moon peered through a thin dust haze – an unbelieving moon that looked at him with a cynical light.

As the Duke watched, the moon dipped beneath the Shield Wall cliffs, frosting them, and in the sudden intensity of darkness, he experienced a chill. He shivered.

Anger shot through him.

The Harkonnens have hindered and hounded and hunted me for the last time , he thought. They are dung heaps with village provost minds! Here I make my stand! And he thought with a touch of sadness: I must rule with eye and claw – as the hawk among lesser birds . Unconsciously, his hand brushed the hawk emblem on his tunic.

To the east, the night grew a faggot of luminous gray, then seashell opalescence that dimmed the stars. There came the long, bell-tolling movement of dawn striking across a broken horizon.

It was a scene of such beauty it caught all his attention.

Some things beggar likeness , he thought.

He had never imagined anything here could be as beautiful as that shattered red horizon and the purple and ochre cliffs. Beyond the landing field where the night’s faint dew had touched life into the hurried seeds of Arrakis, he saw great puddles of red blooms and, running through them, an articulate tread of violet . . . like giant footsteps.

“It’s a beautiful morning. Sire,” the guard said.

“Yes, it is.”

The Duke nodded, thinking: Perhaps this planet could grow on one. Perhaps it could become a good home for my son .

Then he saw the human figures moving into the flower fields, sweeping them with strange scythe-like devices – dew gatherers. Water so precious here that even the dew must be collected.

And it could be a hideous place , the Duke thought.