Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

= = = = = =

Limits of survival are set by climate, those long drifts of change which a generation may fail to notice. And it is the extremes of climate which set the pattern. Lonely, finite humans may observe climatic provinces, fluctuations of annual weather and, occasionally may observe such things as “This is a colder year than I’ve ever known. ” Such things are sensible. But humans are seldom alerted to the shifting average through a great span of years. And it is precisely in this alerting that humans learn how to survive on any planet. They must learn climate. -Arrakis, the Transformation, After Harq al-Ada

Alia sat cross-legged on her bed, trying to compose herself by reciting the Litany Against Fear, but chuckling derision echoed in her skull to block every effort. She could hear the voice; it controlled her ears, her mind. “What nonsense is this? What have you to fear?” The muscles of her calves twitched as her feet tried to make running motions. There was nowhere to run. She wore only a golden gown of the sheerest Palian silk and it revealed the plumpness which had begun to bulge her body. The Hour of Assassins had just passed; dawn was near. Reports covering the past three months lay before her on the red coverlet. She could hear the humming of the air conditioner and a small breeze stirred the labels on the shigawire spools. Aides had awakened her fearfully two hours earlier, bringing news of the latest outrage, and Alia had called for the report spools, seeking an intelligible pattern. She gave up on the Litany. These attacks had to be the work of rebels. Obviously. More and more of them turned against Muad’Dib’s religion. “And what’s wrong with that?” the derisive voice asked within her. Alia shook her head savagely. Namri had failed her. She’d been a fool to trust such a dangerous double instrument. Her aides whispered that Stilgar was to blame, that he was a secret rebel. And what had become of Halleck? Gone to ground among his smuggler friends? Possibly. She picked up one of the report spools. And Muriz! The man was hysterical. That was the only possible explanation. Otherwise she’d have to believe in miracles. No human, let alone a child (even a child such as Leto) could leap from the butte at Shuloch and survive to flee across the desert in leaps that took him from dunecrest to dunecrest. Alia felt the coldness of the shigawire under her hand. Where was Leto, then? Ghanima refused to believe him other than dead. A Truthsayer had confirmed her story: Leto slain by a Laza tiger. Then who was the child reported by Namri and Muriz? She shuddered. Forty qanats had been breached, their waters loosed into the sand. The loyal Fremen and even the rebels, superstitious louts, all! Her reports were flooded with stories of mysterious occurrences. Sandtrout leaped into qanats and shattered to become hosts of small replicas. Worms deliberately drowned themselves. Blood dripped from Second Moon and fell to Arrakis, where it stirred up great storms. And the storm frequency was increasing! She thought of Duncan incommunicado at Tabr, fretting under the restraints she’d exacted from Stilgar. He and Irulan talked of little else than the real meaning behind these omens. Fools! Even her spies betrayed the influence of these outrageous stories! Why did Ghanima insist on her story of the Laza tiger? Alia sighed. Only one of the reports on the shigawire spools reassured her. Farad’n had sent a contingent of his household guard “to help you in troubles and to prepare the way for the Official Rite of Betrothal.” Alia smiled to herself and shared the chuckle which rumbled in her skull. That plan, at least, remained intact. Logical explanations would be found to dispel all of this other superstitious nonsense. Meanwhile she’d use Farad’n’s men to help close down Shuloch and to arrest the known dissidents, especially among the Naibs. She debated moving against Stilgar, but the inner voice cautioned against this. “Not yet.” “My mother and the Sisterhood still have some plan of their own,” Alia whispered. “Why is she training Farad’n?” “Perhaps he excites her,” the Old Baron said. “Not that cold one.” “You’re not thinking of asking Farad’n to return her?” “I know the dangers in that!” “Good. Meanwhile, that young aide Zia recently brought in. I believe his name’s Agarves — Buer Agarves. If you’d invite him here tonight . . .” “No!” “Alia . . .” “It’s almost dawn, you insatiable old fool! There’s a Military Council meeting this morning, the Priests will have –” “Don’t trust them, darling Alia.” “Of course not!” “Very well. Now, this Buer Agarves . . .” “I said no!” The Old Baron remained silent within her, but she began to feel a headache. A slow pain crept upward from her left cheek into her skull. Once he’d sent her raging down the corridors with this trick. Now, she resolved to resist him. “If you persist, I’ll take a sedative,” she said. He could see she meant it. The headache began to recede. “Very well.” Petulant. “Another time, then.” “Another time,” she agreed.

Pages: 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

Leave a Reply 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *