Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

= = = = = =

Above all else, the mentat must be a generalist, not a specialist. It is wise to have decisions of great moment monitored by generalists. Experts and specialists lead you quickly into chaos. They are a source of useless nit picking, the ferocious quibble over a comma. The mentat-generalist, on the other hand, should bring to decision-making a healthy common sense. He must not cut himself off from the broad sweep of what is happening in his universe. He must remain capable of saying: “There’s no real mystery about this at the moment. This is what we want now. It may prove wrong later, but we’ll correct that when we come to it.” The mentat-generalist must understand that anything which we can identify as our universe is merely part of larger phenomena. But the expert looks backward; he looks into the narrow standards of his own specialty. The generalist looks outward; he looks for living principles, knowing full well that such principles change, that they develop. It is to the characteristics of change itself that the mentat-generalist must look. There can be no permanent catalogue of such change, no handbook or manual. You must look at it with as few preconceptions as possible, asking yourself: “Now what is this thing doing?” -The Mentat Handbook

It was the day of the Kwisatz Haderach, the first Holy Day of those who followed Muad’Dib. It recognized the deified Paul Atreides as that person who was everywhere simultaneously, the male Bene Gesserit who mingled both male and female ancestry in an inseparable power to become the One-with-All. The faithful called this day Ayil, the Sacrifice, to commemorate the death which made his presence “real in all places.” The Preacher chose the early morning of this day to appear once more in the plaza of Alia’s temple, defying the order for his arrest which everyone knew had been issued. The delicate truce prevailed between Alia’s Priesthood and those desert tribes which had rebelled, but the presence of this truce could be felt as a tangible thing which moved everyone in Arrakeen with uneasiness. The Preacher did not dispel that mood. It was the twenty-eighth day of official mourning for Muad’Dib’s son, six days following the memorial rite at Old Pass which had been delayed by the rebellion. Even the fighting had not stopped the Hajj, though. The Preacher knew the plaza would be heavily thronged on this day. Most pilgrims tried to time their stay on Arrakis to cross Ayil, “to feel then the Holy Presence of the Kwisatz Haderach on His day.” The Preacher entered the plaza at first light, finding the place already thronging with the faithful. He kept a hand lightly on the shoulder of his young guide, sensing the cynical pride in the lad’s walk. Now, when the Preacher approached, people noticed every nuance of his behavior. Such attention was not entirely distasteful to the young guide. The Preacher merely accepted it as a necessity. Taking his stance on the third of the Temple’s steps. The Preacher waited for the hush to come. When silence had spread like a wave through the throng and the hurrying footsteps of others come to listen could be heard at the plaza’s limits, he cleared his throat. It was still morning-cold around him and lights had not yet come down into the plaza from the building tops. He felt the grey hush of the great square as he began to speak. “I have come to give homage and to preach in the memory of Leto Atreides II,” he said, calling out in that strong voice so reminiscent of a wormsman from the desert. “I do it in compassion for all who suffer. I say to you what the dead Leto has learned, that tomorrow has not yet happened and may never happen. This moment here is the only observable time and place for us in our universe. I tell you to savor this moment and understand what it teaches. I tell you to learn that a government’s growth and its death are apparent in the growth and death of its citizens.” A disturbed murmur passed through the plaza. Did he mock the death of Leto II? They wondered if Priest Guards would rush out now and arrest The Preacher. Alia knew there would be no such interruption of The Preacher. It was her order that he be left unmolested on this day. She had disguised herself in a good stillsuit with a moisture mask to conceal her nose and mouth, and a common hooded robe to hide her hair. She stood in the second row beneath The Preacher, watching him carefully. Was this Paul? The years might have changed him thus. And he had always been superb with Voice, a fact which made it difficult to identify him by his speech. Still, this Preacher made his voice do what he wanted. Paul could not have done it better. She felt that she had to know his identity before she could act against him. How his words dazzled her! She sensed no irony in The Preacher’s statement. He was using the seductive attraction of definite sentences uttered with a driving sincerity. People might stumble only momentarily at his meanings, realizing that he had meant them to stumble, teaching them in this fashion. Indeed, he picked up the crowd’s response, saying: “Irony often masks the inability to think beyond one’s assumptions. I am not being ironic. Ghanima has said to you that the blood of her brother cannot be washed off. I concur. “It will be said that Leto has gone where his father went, has done what his father did. Muad’Dib’s Church says he chose in behalf of his own humanity a course which might appear absurd and foolhardy, but which history will validate. That history is being rewritten even now. “I say to you that there is another lesson to be learned from these lives and their endings.” Alia, alert to every nuance, asked herself why The Preacher said endings instead of deaths. Was he saying that one or both were not truly dead? How could that be? A Truthsayer had confirmed Ghanima’s story. What was this Preacher doing, then? Was he making a statement of myth or reality? “Note this other lesson well!” The Preacher thundered, lifting his arms. “If you would possess your humanity, let go of the universe!” He lowered his arms, pointed his empty sockets directly at Alia. He seemed to be speaking intimately to her, an action so obvious that several around her turned to peer inquiringly in her direction. Alia shivered at the power in him. This could be Paul. It could! “But I realize that humans cannot bear very much reality,” he said. “Most lives are a flight from selfhood. Most prefer the truths of the stable. You stick your heads into the stanchions and munch contentedly until you die. Others use you for their purposes. Not once do you live outside the stable to lift your head and be your own creature. Muad’Dib came to tell you about that. Without understanding his message, you cannot revere him!” Some in the throng, possibly a Priest in disguise, could stand no more. His hoarse male voice was lifted in a shout: “You don’t live the life of Muad’Dib! How dare you to tell others how they must revere him!” “Because he’s dead!” The Preacher bellowed. Alia turned to see who had challenged The Preacher. The man remained hidden from her, but his voice came over the intervening heads in another shout: “If you believe him truly dead, then you are alone from this time forward!” Surely it was a Priest, Alia thought. But she failed to recognize the voice. “I come only to ask a simple question,” The Preacher said. “Is Muad’Dib’s death to be followed by the moral suicide of all men? Is that the inevitable aftermath of a Messiah?” “Then you admit him Messiah!” the voice from the crowd shouted. “Why not, since I’m the prophet of his times?” The Preacher asked. There was such calm assurance in his tone and manner that even his challenger fell silent. The crowd responded with a disturbed murmur, a low animal sound. “Yes,” The Preacher repeated, “I am the prophet of these times.” Alia, concentrating on him, detected the subtle inflections of Voice. He’d certainly controlled the crowd. Was he Bene Gesserit trained? Was this another ploy of the Missionaria Protectiva? Not Paul at all, but just another part of the endless power game? “I articulate the myth and the dream!” The Preacher shouted. “I am the physician who delivers the child and announces that the child is born. Yet I come to you at a time of death. Does that not disturb you? It should shake your souls!” Even as she felt anger at his words, Alia understood the pointed way of his speech. With others, she found herself edging closer up the steps, crowding toward this tall man in desert garb. His young guide caught her attention: how bright-eyed and saucy the lad appeared! Would Muad’Dib employ such a cynical youth? “I mean to disturb you!” The Preacher shouted. “It is my intention! I come here to combat the fraud and illusion of your conventional, institutionalized religion. As with all such religions, your institution moves toward cowardice, it moves toward mediocrity, inertia, and self-satisfaction.” Angry murmurs began to arise in the center of the throng. Alia felt the tensions and gloatingly wondered if there might not be a riot. Could The Preacher handle these tensions? If not, he could die right here! “That Priest who challenged me!” The Preacher called, pointing into the crowd. He knows! Alia thought. A thrill ran through her, almost sexual in its undertones. This Preacher played a dangerous game, but he played it consummately. “You, Priest in your mufti,” The Preacher called, “you are a chaplain to the self-satisfied. I come not to challenge Muad’Dib but to challenge you! Is your religion real when it costs you nothing and carries no risk? Is your religion real when you fatten upon it? Is your religion real when you commit atrocities in its name? Whence comes your downward degeneration from the original revelation? Answer me, Priest!” But the challenger remained silent. And Alia noted that the crowd once more was listening with avid submission to The Preacher’s every word. By attacking the Priesthood, he had their sympathy! And if her spies were correct, most of the pilgrims and Fremen on Arrakis believed this man was Muad’Dib. “The son of Muad’Dib risked!” The Preacher shouted, and Alia heard tears in his voice. “Muad’Dib risked! They paid their price! And what did Muad’Dib achieve? A religion which is doing away with him!” How different those words if they come from Paul himself, Alia thought. I must find out! She moved closer up the steps and others moved with her. She pressed through the throng until she could almost reach out and touch this mysterious prophet. She smelled the desert on him, a mixture of spice and flint. Both The Preacher and his young guide were dusty, as though they’d recently come from the bled. She could see where The Preacher’s hands were deeply veined along the skin protruding from the wrist seals of his stillsuit. She could see that one finger of his left hand had worn a ring; the indentation remained. Paul had worn a ring on that finger: the Atreides Hawk which now reposed in Sietch Tabr. Leto would have worn it had he lived . . . or had she permitted him to ascend the throne. Again The Preacher aimed his empty sockets at Alia, spoke intimately, but with a voice which carried across the throng. “Muad’Dib showed you two things: a certain future and an uncertain future. With full awareness, he confronted the ultimate uncertainty of the larger universe. He stepped off blindly from his position on this world. He showed us that men must do this always, choosing the uncertain instead of the certain.” His voice, Alia noted, took on a pleading tone at the end of this statement. Alia glanced around, slipped a hand onto the hilt of her crysknife. If I killed him right now, what would they do? Again, she felt a thrill rush through her. If I killed him and revealed myself, denouncing The Preacher as impostor and heretic! But what if they proved it was Paul? Someone pushed Alia even closer to him. She felt herself enthralled by his presence even as she fought to still her anger. Was this Paul? Gods below! What could she do? “Why has another Leto been taken from us?” The Preacher demanded. There was real pain in his voice. “Answer me if you can! Ahhhh, their message is clear: abandon certainty.” He repeated it in a rolling stentorian shout: “Abandon certainty! That’s life’s deepest command. That’s what life’s all about. We’re a probe into the unknown, into the uncertain. Why can’t you hear Muad’Dib? If certainty is knowing absolutely an absolute future, then that’s only death disguised! Such a future becomes now! He showed you this!” With a terrifying directness The Preacher reached out, grabbed Alia’s arm. It was done without any groping or hesitation. She tried to pull away, but he held her in a painful grip, speaking directly into her face as those around them edged back in confusion. “What did Paul Atreides tell you, woman?” he demanded. How does he know I’m a woman? she asked herself. She wanted to sink into her inner lives, ask their protection, but the world within remained frighteningly silent, mesmerized by this figure from their past. “He told you that completion equals death!” The Preacher shouted. “Absolute prediction is completion . . . is death!” She tried to pry his fingers away. She wanted to grab her knife and slash him away from her, but dared not. She had never felt this daunted in all of her life. The Preacher lifted his chin to speak over her to the crowd, shouted: “I give you Muad’Dib’s words! He said, ‘I’m going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid. I don’t find it strange that all you want to believe is only that which comforts you. How else do humans invent the traps which betray us into mediocrity? How else do we define cowardice?’ That’s what Muad’Dib told you!” Abruptly he released Alia’s arm, thrust her into the crowd. She would have fallen but for the press of people supporting her. “To exist is to stand out, away from the background,” The Preacher said. “You aren’t thinking or really existing unless you’re willing to risk even your own sanity in the judgment of your existence.” Stepping down. The Preacher once more took Alia’s arm — no faltering or hesitation. He was gentler this time, though. Leaning close, he pitched his voice for her ears alone, said: “Stop trying to pull me once more into the background, sister.” Then, hand on his young guide’s shoulder, he stepped into the throng. Way was made for the strange pair. Hands reached out to touch The Preacher, but people reached with an awesome tenderness, fearful of what they might find beneath that dusty Fremen robe. Alia stood alone in her shock as the throng moved out behind The Preacher. Certainty filled her. It was Paul. No doubt remained. It was her brother. She felt what the crowd felt. She had stood in the sacred presence and now her universe tumbled all about her. She wanted to run after him, pleading for him to save her from herself, but she could not move. While others pressed to follow The Preacher and his guide, she stood intoxicated with an absolute despair, a distress so deep that she could only tremble with it, unable to command her own muscles. What will I do? What will I do? she asked herself. Now she did not even have Duncan to lean upon, nor her mother. The inner lives remained silent. There was Ghanima, held securely under guard within the Keep, but Alia could not bring herself to take this distress to the surviving twin. Everyone has turned against me. What can I do?

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66

Categories: Herbert, Frank