Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

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Either we abandon the long-honored Theory of Relativity, or we cease to believe that we can engage in continued accurate prediction of the future. Indeed, knowing the future raises a host of questions which cannot be answered under conventional assumptions unless one first projects an Observer outside of Time and, second, nullifies all movement. If you accept the Theory of Relativity, it can be shown that Time and the Observer must stand still in relationship to each or inaccuracies will intervene. This would seem to say that it is impossible to engage in accurate prediction of the future. How, then, do we explain the continued seeking after this visionary goal by respected scientists? How, then, do we explain Muad’Dib? -Lectures on Prescience by Harq al-Ada

“I must tell you something,” Jessica said, “even though I know my telling will remind you of many experiences from our mutual past, and that this will place you in jeopardy.” She paused to see how Ghanima was taking this. They sat alone, just the two of them, occupying low cushions in a chamber of Sietch Tabr. It had required considerable skill to maneuver this meeting, and Jessica was not at all certain that she had been alone in the maneuvering. Ghanima had seemed to anticipate and augment every step. It was almost two hours after daylight, and the excitements of greeting and all of the recognitions were past. Jessica forced her pulse back to a steady pace and focused her attention into this rock-walled room with its dark hangings and yellow cushions. To meet the accumulated tensions, she found herself for the first time in years recalling the Litany Against Fear from the Bene Gesserit rite. “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 I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. ” She did this silently and took a deep, calming breath. “It helps at times,” Ghanima said. “The Litany, I mean.” Jessica closed her eyes to hide the shock of this insight. It had been a long time since anyone had been able to read her that intimately. The realization was disconcerting, especially when it was ignited by an intellect which hid behind a mask of childhood. Having faced her fear, though, Jessica opened her eyes and knew the source of turmoil: I fear for my grandchildren. Neither of these children betrayed the stigmata of Abomination which Alia flaunted, although Leto showed every sign of some terrifying concealment. It was for that reason he’d been deftly excluded from this meeting. On impulse, Jessica put aside her ingrained emotional masks, knowing them to be of little use here, barriers to communication. Not since those loving moments with her Duke had she lowered these barriers, and she found the action both relief and pain. There remained facts which no curse or prayer or litany could wash from existence. Flight would not leave such facts behind. They could not be ignored. Elements of Paul’s vision had been rearranged and the times had caught up with his children. They were a magnet in the void; evil and all the sad misuses of power collected around them. Ghanima, watching the play of emotions across her grandmother’s face, marveled that Jessica had let down her controls. With catching movements of their heads remarkably synchronized, both turned, eyes met, and they stared deeply, probingly at each other. Thoughts without spoken words passed between them. Jessica: I wish you to see my fear. Ghanima: Now I know you love me. It was a swift moment of utter trust. Jessica said: “When your father was but a boy, I brought a Reverend Mother to Caladan to test him.” Ghanima nodded. The memory of it was extremely vivid. “We Bene Gesserits were already cautious to make sure that the children we raised were human and not animal. One cannot always tell by exterior appearances.” “It’s the way you were trained,” Ghanima said, and the memory flooded into her mind: that old Bene Gesserit, Gaius Helen Mohiam. She’d come to Castle Caladan with her poisoned gom jabbar and her box of burning pain. Paul’s hand (Ghanima’s own hand in the shared memory) screamed with the agony of that box while the old woman talked calmly of immediate death if the hand were withdrawn from the pain. And there had been no doubt of the death in that needle held ready against the child’s neck while the aged voice droned its rationale: “You’ve heard of animals chewing off a leg to escape a trap. There’s an animal kind of trick. A human would remain in the trap, endure the pain, feigning death that he might kill the trapper and remove a threat to his kind.” Ghanima shook her head against the remembered pain. The burning! The burning! Paul had imagined his skin curling black on that agonized hand within the box, flesh crisping and dropping away until only charred bones remained. And it had been a trick — the hand unharmed. But sweat stood out on Ghanima’s forehead at the memory. “Of course you remember this in a way that I cannot,” Jessica said. For a moment, memory-driven, Ghanima saw her grandmother in a different light: what this woman might do out of the driving necessities of that early conditioning in the Bene Gesserit schools! It raised new questions about Jessica’s return to Arrakis. “It would be stupid to repeat such a test on you or your brother,” Jessica said. “You already know the way it went. I must assume you are human, that you will not misuse your inherited powers.” “But you don’t make that assumption at all,” Ghanima said. Jessica blinked, realized that the barriers had been creeping back in place, dropped them once more. She asked: “Will you believe my love for you?” “Yes.” Ghanima raised a hand as Jessica started to speak. “But that love wouldn’t stop you from destroying us. Oh, I know the reasoning: ‘Better the animal-human die than it re-create itself.’ And that’s especially true if the animal-human bears the name Atreides.” “You at least are human,” Jessica blurted. “I trust my instinct on this.” Ghanima saw the truth in this, said: “But you’re not sure of Leto.” “I’m not.” “Abomination?” Jessica could only nod. Ghanima said: “Not yet, at least. We both know the danger of it, though. We can see the way of it in Alia.” Jessica cupped her hands over her eyes, thought: Even love can’t protect us from unwanted facts. And she knew then that she still loved her daughter, crying out silently against fate: Alia! Oh, Alia! I am sorry for my part in your destruction. Ghanima cleared her throat loudly. Jessica lowered her hands, thought: I may mourn my poor daughter, but there are other necessities now. She said: “So you’ve recognized what happened to Alia.” “Leto and I watched it happen. We were powerless to prevent it, although we discussed many possibilities.” “You’re sure that your brother is free of this curse?” “I’m sure.” The quiet assurance in that statement could not be denied. Jessica found herself accepting it. Then: “How is it you’ve escaped?” Ghanima explained the theory upon which she and Leto had settled, that their avoiding of the spice trance while Alia entered it often made the difference. She went on to reveal his dreams and the plans they’d discussed — even Jacurutu. Jessica nodded. “Alia is an Atreides, though, and that poses enormous problems.” Ghanima fell silent before the sudden realization that Jessica still mourned her Duke as though his death had been but yesterday, that she would guard his name and memory against all threats. Personal memories from the Duke’s own lifetime fled through Ghanima’s awareness to reinforce this assessment, to soften it with understanding. “Now,” Jessica said, voice brisk, “what about this Preacher? I heard some disquieting reports yesterday after that damnable Lustration.” Ghanima shrugged. “He could be –” “Paul?” “Yes, but we haven’t seen him to examine.” “Javid laughs at the rumors,” Jessica said. Ghanima hesitated. Then: “Do you trust this Javid?” A grim smile touched Jessica’s lips. “No more than you do.” “Leto says Javid laughs at the wrong things,” Ghanima said. “So much for Javid’s laughter,” Jessica said. “But do you actually entertain the notion that my son is still alive, that he has returned in this guise?” “We say it’s possible. And Leto . . .” Ghanima found her mouth suddenly dry, remembered fears clutching her breast. She forced herself to overcome them, recounted Leto’s other revelations of prescient dreams. Jessica moved her head from side to side as though wounded. Ghanima said: “Leto says he must find this Preacher and make sure.” “Yes . . . Of course. I should never have left here. It was cowardly of me.” “Why do you blame yourself? You had reached a limit. I know that. Leto knows it. Even Alia may know it.” Jessica put a hand to her own throat, rubbed it briefly. Then: “Yes, the problem of Alia.” “She works a strange attraction on Leto,” Ghanima said. “That’s why I helped you meet alone with me. He agrees that she is beyond hope, but still he finds ways to be with her and . . . study her. And . . . it’s very disturbing. When I try to talk against this, he falls asleep. He –” “Is she drugging him?” “No-o-o.” Ghanima shook her head. “But he has this odd empathy for her. And . . . in his sleep, he often mutters Jacurutu.” “That again!” And Jessica found herself recounting Gurney’s report about the conspirators exposed at the landing field. “I sometimes fear Alia wants Leto to seek out Jacurutu,” Ghanima said. “And I always thought it only a legend. You know it, of course.” Jessica shuddered. “Terrible story. Terrible.” “What must we do?” Ghanima asked. “I fear to search all of my memories, all of my lives . . .” “Ghani! I warn you against that. You mustn’t risk –” “It may happen even if I don’t risk it. How do we know what really happened to Alia?” “No! You could be spared that . . . that possession.” She ground the word out. “Well . . . Jacurutu, is it? I’ve sent Gurney to find the place — if it exists.” “But how can he . . . Oh! Of course: the smugglers.” Jessica found herself silenced by this further example of how Ghanima’s mind worked in concert with what must be an inner awareness of others. Of me! How truly strange it was, Jessica thought, that this young flesh could carry all of Paul’s memories, at least until the moment of Paul’s spermal separation from his own past. It was an invasion of privacy against which something primal in Jessica rebelled. Momentarily she felt herself sinking into the absolute and unswerving Bene Gesserit judgment: Abomination! But there was a sweetness about this child, a willingness to sacrifice for her brother, which could not be denied. We are one life reaching out into a dark future, Jessica thought. We are one blood. And she girded herself to accept the events which she and Gurney Halleck had set in motion. Leto must be separated from his sister, must be trained as the Sisterhood insisted.

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Categories: Herbert, Frank