Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

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You will learn the integrated communication methods as you complete the next step in your mentat education. This is a gestalten function which will overlay data paths in your awareness, resolving complexities and masses of input from the mentat index-catalogue techniques which you already have mastered. Your initial problem will be the breaking tensions arising from the divergent assembly of minutiae/data on specialized subjects. Be warned. Without mentat overlay integration, you can be immersed in the Babel Problem, which is the label we give to the omnipresent dangers of achieving wrong combinations from accurate information. -The Mentat Handbook

The sound of fabrics rubbing together sent sparks of awareness through Leto. He was surprised that he had turned his sensitivity to the point where he automatically identified the fabrics from their sound: the combination came from a Fremen robe rubbing against the coarse hangings of a door curtain. He turned toward the sound. It came from the passage where Namri had gone minutes before. As Leto turned, he saw his captor enter. It was the same man who had taken him prisoner: the same dark strip of skin above the stillsuit mask, the identical searing eyes. The man lifted a hand to his mask, slipped the catchtube from his nostrils, lowered the mask and, in the same motion, flipped his hood back. Even before he focused on the scar of the inkvine whip along the man’s jaw, Leto recognized him. The recognition was a totality in his awareness with the search for confirming details coming afterward. No mistake about it, this rolling lump of humanity, this warrior-troubadour, was Gurney Halleck! Leto clenched his hands into fists, overcome momentarily by the shock of recognition. No Atreides retainer had ever been more loyal. None better at shield fighting. He’d been Paul’s trusted confidant and teacher. He was the Lady Jessica’s servant. These recognitions and more surged through Leto’s mind. Gurney was his captor. Gurney and Namri were in this conspiracy together. And Jessica’s hand was in it with them. “I understand you’ve met our Namri,” Halleck said. “Pray believe him, young sir. He has one function and one function only. He’s the one capable of killing you should the need arise.” Leto responded automatically with his father’s tones: “So you’ve joined my enemies, Gurney! I never thought the –” “Try none of your devil tricks on me, lad,” Halleck said. “I’m proof against them all. I follow your grandmother’s orders. Your education has been planned to the last detail. It was she who approved my selection of Namri. What comes next, painful as it may seem, is at her command.” “And what does she command?” Halleck lifted a hand from the folds of his robe, exposed a Fremen injector, primitive but efficient. Its transparent tube was charged with blue fluid. Leto squirmed backward on the cot, was stopped by the rock wall. As he moved, Namri entered, stood beside Halleck with hand on crysknife. Together they blocked the only exit. “I see you’ve recognized the spice essence,” Halleck said. “You’re to take the worm trip, lad. You must go through it. Otherwise, what your father dared and you dare not would hang over you for the rest of your days.” Leto shook his head wordlessly. This was the thing he and Ghanima knew could overwhelm them. Gurney was an ignorant fool! How could Jessica . . . Leto felt the father-presence in his memories. It surged into his mind, trying to strip away his defenses. Leto wanted to shriek outrage, could not move his lips. But this was the wordless thing which his pre-born awareness most feared. This was prescient trance, the reading of immutable future with all of its fixity and its terrors. Surely Jessica could not have ordered such an ordeal for her own grandson. But her presence loomed in his mind, filling him with acceptance arguments. Even the litany of fear was pressed upon him with a repetitive droning: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past . . .” With an oath already ancient when Chaldea was young, Leto tried to move, tried to leap at the two men standing over him, but his muscles refused to obey. As though he already existed in the trance, Leto saw Halleck’s hand move, the injector approach. The light of a glowglobe sparkled within the blue fluid. The injector touched Leto’s left arm. Pain lanced through him, shot upward to the muscles of his head. Abruptly Leto saw a young woman sitting outside a crude hut in dawnlight. She sat right there in front of him roasting coffee beans to a rose brown, adding cardamom and melange. The voice of a rebeck echoed from somewhere behind him. The music echoed and echoed until it entered his head, still echoing. It suffused his body and he felt himself to be large, very large, not a child at all. And his skin was not his own. He knew that sensation! His skin was not his own. Warmth spread through his body. As abruptly as his first vision, he found himself standing in darkness. It was night. Stars like a rain of embers fell in gusts from a brilliant cosmos. Part of him knew there was no escaping, but still he tried to fight it until the father-presence intruded. “I will protect you in the trance. The others within will not take you.” Wind tumbled Leto, rolled him, hissing, pouring dust and sand over him, cutting his arms, his face, abrading his clothes, whipping the loose-torn ends of now useless fabric. But he felt no pain and he saw the cuts heal as rapidly as they appeared. Still he rolled with the wind. And his skin was not his own. It will happen! he thought. But the thought was distant and came as though it were not his own, not really his own; no more than his skin. The vision absorbed him. It evolved into a stereologic memory which separated past and present, future and present, future and past. Each separation mingled into a trinocular focus which he sensed as the multidimensional relief map of his own future existence. He thought: Time is a measure of space, just as a range finder is a measure of space, but measuring locks us into the place we measure. He sensed the trance deepening. It came as an amplification of internal consciousness which his self-identity soaked up and through which he felt himself changing. It was living Time and he could not arrest an instant of it. Memory fragments, future and past, deluged him. But they existed as montage-in-motion. Their relationships underwent a constant dance. His memory was a lens, an illuminating searchlight which picked out fragments, isolating them, but forever failing to stop the ceaseless motion and modification which surged into his view. That which he and Ghanima had planned came through the searchlight, dominating everything, but now it terrified him. Vision reality ached in him. The uncritical inevitability made his ego cringe. And his skin was not his own! Past and present tumbled through him, surging across the barriers of his terror. He could not separate them. One moment he felt himself setting forth on the Butlerian Jihad, eager to destroy any machine which simulated human awareness. That had to be the past — over and done with. Yet his senses hurtled through the experience, absorbing the most minute details. He heard a minister-companion speaking from a pulpit: “We must negate the machines-that-think. Humans must set their own guidelines. This is not something machines can do. Reasoning depends upon programming, not on hardware, and we are the ultimate program!” He heard the voice clearly, knew his surroundings — a vast wooden hall with dark windows. Light came from sputtering flames. And his minister-companion said: “Our Jihad is a ‘dump program.’ We dump the things which destroy us as humans!” And it was in Leto’s mind that the speaker had been a servant of computers, one who knew them and serviced them. But the scene vanished and Ghanima stood in front of him, saying: “Gurney knows. He told me. They’re Duncan’s words and Duncan was speaking as a mentat. ‘In doing good, avoid notoriety; in doing evil, avoid self-awareness.’ That had to be future — far future. But he felt the reality. It was as intense as any past from his multitude of lives. And he whispered: “Isn’t that true, father?” But the father-presence within spoke warningly: “Don’t invite disaster! You’re learning stroboscopic awareness now. Without it you could overrun yourself, lose your place-mark in Time.” And the bas-relief imagery persisted. Intrusions hammered at him. Past-present-now. There was no true separation. He knew he had to flow with this thing, but the flowing terrified him. How could he return to any recognizable place? Yet he felt himself being forced to cease every effort of resistance. He could not grasp his new universe in motionless, labeled bits. No bit would stand still. Things could not be forever ordered and formulated. He had to find the rhythm of change and see between the changes to the changing itself. Without knowing where it began he found himself moving within a gigantic moment bienheureux, able to see the past in the future, present in past, the now in both past and future. It was the accumulation of centuries experienced between one heartbeat and the next. Leto’s awareness floated free, no objective psyche to compensate for consciousness, no barriers. Namri’s “provisional future” remained lightly in his memory, but it shared awareness with many futures. And in this shattering awareness, all of his past, every inner life became his own. With the help of the greatest within him, he dominated. They were his. He thought: When you study an object from a distance, only its principle may be seen. He had achieved the distance and he could see his own life now: the multi-past and its memories were his burden, his joy, and his necessity. But the worm trip had added another dimension and his father no longer stood guard within him because the need no longer existed. Leto saw through the distances clearly — past and present. And the past presented him with an ultimate ancestor — one who was called Harum and without whom the distant future would not be. These clear distances provided new principles, new dimensions of sharing. Whichever life he now chose, he’d live it out in an autonomous sphere of mass experience, a trail of lives so convoluted that no single lifetime could count the generations of it. Aroused, this mass experience held the power to subdue his selfdom. It could make itself felt upon an individual, a nation, a society or an entire civilization. That, of course, was why Gurney had been taught to fear him; why Namri’s knife waited. They could not be allowed to see this power within him. No one could ever see it in its fullness — not even Ghanima. Presently Leto sat up, saw that only Namri remained, watching. In an old voice, Leto said: “There’s no single set of limits for all men. Universal prescience is an empty myth. Only the most powerful local currents of Time may be foretold. But in an infinite universe, local can be so gigantic that your mind shrinks from it.” Namri shook his head, not understanding. “Where’s Gurney?” Leto asked. “He left lest he have to watch me slay you.” “Will you slay me, Namri?” It was almost a plea to have the man do it. Namri took his hand from his knife. “Since you ask me to do it, I will not. If you were indifferent, though . . .” “The malady of indifference is what destroys many things,” Leto said. He nodded to himself. “Yes . . . even civilizations die of it. It’s as though that were the price demanded for achieving new levels of complexity or consciousness.” He looked up at Namri. “So they told you to look for indifference in me?” And he saw Namri was more than a killer — Namri was devious. “As a sign of unbridled power,” Namri said, but it was a lie. “Indifferent power, yes.” Leto sat up, sighed deeply. “There was no moral grandeur to my father’s life, Namri; only a local trap which he built for himself.”

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Categories: Herbert, Frank