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The password was given to me by a man who died in the dungeons of Arrakeen. You see, that is where I got this ring in the shape of a tortoise. It was in the suk outside the city where I was hidden by the rebels. The password? Oh, that has been changed many times since then. It was “Persistence.” And the countersign was “Tortoise.” It got me out of there alive. That’s why I bought this ring: a reminder. -Tagir Mohandis: Conversations with a Friend
Leto was far out on the sand when he heard the worm behind him, coming to his thumper there and the dusting of spice he’d spread around the dead tigers. There was a good omen for this beginning of their plan: worms were scarce enough in these parts most times. The worm was not essential, but it helped. There would be no need for Ghanima to explain a missing body. By this time he knew that Ghanima had worked herself into the belief that he was dead. Only a tiny, isolated capsule of awareness would remain to her, a walled-off memory which could be recalled by words uttered in the ancient language shared only by the two of them in all of this universe. Secher Nbiw. If she heard those words: Golden Path . . . only then would she remember him. Until then, he was dead. Now Leto felt truly alone. He moved with the random walk which made only those sounds natural to the desert. Nothing in his passage would tell that worm back there that human flesh moved here. It was a way of walking so deeply conditioned in him that he didn’t need to think about it. The feet moved of themselves, no measurable rhythm to their pacing. Any sound his feet made could be ascribed to the wind, to gravity. No human passed here. When the worm had done its work behind him, Leto crouched behind a dune’s slipface and peered back toward The Attendant. Yes, he was far enough. He planted a thumper and summoned his transportation. The worm came swiftly, giving him barely enough time to position himself before it engulfed the thumper. As it passed, he went up its side on the Maker hooks, opened the sensitive leading edge of a ring, and turned the mindless beast southeastward. It was a small worm, but strong. He could sense the strength in its twisting as it hissed across the dunes. There was a following breeze and he felt the heat of their passage, the friction which the worm converted to the beginnings of spice within itself. As the worm moved, his mind moved. Stilgar had taken him up for his first worm journey. Leto had only to let his memory flow and he could hear Stilgar’s voice: calm and precise, full of politeness from another age. Not for Stilgar the threatening staggers of a Fremen drunk on spice-liquor. Not for Stilgar the loud voice and bluster of these times. No — Stilgar had his duties. He was an instructor of royalty: “In the olden times, the birds were named for their songs. Each wind had its name. A six-klick wind was called a Pastaza, a twenty-klick wind was Cueshma, and a hundred-klick wind was Heinali — Heinali, the man-pusher. Then there was the wind of the demon in the open desert: Hulasikali Wala, the wind that eats flesh.” And Leto, who’d already known these things, had nodded his gratitude at the wisdom of such instruction. But Stilgar’s voice could be filled with many valuable things. “There were in olden times certain tribes which were known to be water hunters. They were called Iduali, which meant ‘water insects,’ because those people wouldn’t hesitate to steal the water of another Fremen. If they caught you alone in the desert they would not even leave you the water of your flesh. There was this place where they lived: Sietch Jacurutu. That’s where the other tribes banded and wiped out the Iduali. That was a long time ago, before Kynes even — in my great-great-grandfather’s days. And from that day to this, no Fremen has gone to Jacurutu. It is tabu.” Thus had Leto been reminded of knowledge which lay in his memory. It had been an important lesson about the working of memory. A memory was not enough, even for one whose past was as multiform as his, unless its use was known and its value revealed to judgment. Jacurutu would have water, a wind trap, all of the attributes of a Fremen sietch, plus the value without compare that no Fremen would venture there. Many of the young would not even know such a place as Jacurutu had ever existed. Oh, they would know about Fondak, of course, but that was a smuggler place. It was a perfect place for the dead to hide — among the smugglers and the dead of another age. Thank you, Stilgar. The worm tired before dawn. Leto slid off its side and watched it dig itself into the dunes, moving slowly in the familiar pattern of the creatures. It would go deep and sulk. I must wait out the day, he thought. He stood atop a dune and scanned all around: emptiness, emptiness, emptiness. Only the wavering track of the vanished worm broke the pattern. The slow cry of a nightbird challenged the first green line of light along the eastern horizon. Leto dug himself into the sand’s concealment, inflated a stilltent around his body and sent the tip of a sandsnorkel questing for air. For a long time before sleep came, he lay in the enforced darkness thinking about the decision he and Ghanima had made. It had not been an easy decision, especially for Ghanima. He had not told her all of his vision, nor all of the reasoning derived from it. It was a vision, not a dream, in his thinking now. But the peculiarity of this thing was that he saw it as a vision of a vision. If any argument existed to convince him that his father still lived, it lay in that vision-vision. The life of the prophet locks us into his vision, Leto thought. And a prophet could only break out of the vision by creating his death at variance with that vision. That was how it appeared in Leto’s doubled vision, and he pondered this as it related to the choice he had made. Poor Baptist John, he thought. If he’d only had the courage to die some other way . . . But perhaps his choice had been the bravest one. How do I know what alternatives faced him? I know what alternatives faced my father, though. Leto sighed. To turn his back on his father was like betraying a god. But the Atreides Empire needed shaking up. It had fallen into the worst of Paul’s vision. How casually it obliterated men. It was done without a second thought. The mainspring of a religious insanity had been wound tight and left ticking. And we’re locked in my father’s vision. A way out of that insanity lay along the Golden Path, Leto knew. His father had seen it. But humanity might come out of that Golden Path and look back down it at Muad’Dib’s time, seeing that as a better age. Humankind had to experience the alternative to Muad’Dib, though, or never understand its own myths. Security . . . peace . . . prosperity . . . Given the choice, there was little doubt what most citizens of this Empire would select. Though they hate me, he thought. Though Ghani hate me. His right hand itched, and he thought of the terrible glove in his vision-vision. It will be, he thought. Yes, it will be. Arrakis, give me strength, he prayed. His planet remained strong and alive beneath him and around him. Its sand pressed close against the stilltent. Dune was a giant counting its massed riches. It was a beguiling entity, both beautiful and grossly ugly. The only coin its merchants really knew was the bloodpulse of their own power, no matter how that power had been amassed. They possessed this planet the way a man might possess a captive mistress, or the way the Bene Gesserits possessed their Sisters. No wonder Stilgar hated the merchant-priests. Thank you, Stilgar. Leto recalled then the beauties of the old sietch ways, the life lived before the coming of the Imperium’s technocracy, and his mind flowed as he knew Stilgar’s dreams flowed. Before the glow-globes and lasers, before the ornithopters and spice-crawlers, there’d been another kind of life: brown-skinned mothers with babies on their hips, lamps which burned spice-oil amidst a heavy fragrance of cinnamon, Naibs who persuaded their people while knowing none could be compelled. It had been a darkswarming of life in rocky burrows . . . A terrible glove will restore the balance, Leto thought. Presently, he slept.