|Home > Frank Herbert > Dune Series > Dune Messiah (Chapter Twenty-one)|
|Dune Messiah(Dune Series #2) by Frank Herbert|
"You are the instrument I was taught to play," Bijaz said. "I am playing you. Let me tell you the names of the other traitors among the Naibs. They are Bikouros and Cahueit. There is Djedida, who was secretary to Korba. There is Abumojandis, the aide to Bannerjee. Even now, one of them could be sinking a blade into your Muad'dib."
Hayt shook his head from side to side. He found it too difficult to talk.
"We are like brothers," Bijaz said, interrupting his monotonous hum once more. "We grew in the same tank: I first and then you."
Hayt's metal eyes inflicted him with a sudden burning pain. Flickering red haze surrounded everything he saw. He felt he had been cut away from every immediate sense except the pain, and he experienced his surroundings through a thin separation like windblown gauze. All had become accident, the chance involvement of inanimate matter. His own will was no more than a subtle, shifting thing. It lived without breath and was intelligible only as an inward illumination.
With a clarity born of desperation, he broke through the gauze curtain with the lonely sense of sight. His attention focused like a blazing light under Bijaz. Hayt felt that his eyes cut through layers of the dwarf, seeing the little man as a hired intellect, and beneath that, a creature imprisoned by hungers and cravings which lay huddled in the eyes - layer after layer, until finally, there was only an entity-aspect being manipulated by symbols.
"We are upon a battleground," Bijaz said. "You may speak of it."
His voice freed by the command, Hayt said: "You cannot force me to slay Muad'dib."
"I have heard the Bene Gesserit say," Bijaz said, "that there is nothing firm, nothing balanced, nothing durable in all the universe - that nothing remains in its state, that each day, sometimes each hour, brings change."
Hayt shook his head dumbly from side to side.
"You believed the silly Emperor was the prize we sought," Bijaz said. "How little you understand our masters, the Tleilaxu. The Guild and Bene Gesserit believe we produce artifacts. In reality, we produce tools and services. Anything can be a tool - poverty, war. War is useful because it is effective in so many areas. It stimulates the metabolism. It enforces government. It diffuses genetic strains. It possesses a vitality such as nothing else in the universe. Only those who recognize the value of war and exercise it have any degree of self-determination."
In an oddly placid voice, Hayt said: "Strange thoughts coming from you, almost enough to make me believe in a vengeful Providence. What restitution was exacted to create you? It would make a fascinating story, doubtless with an even more extraordinary epilogue."
"Magnificent!" Bijaz chortled. "You attack - therefore you have willpower and exercise self-determination."
"You're trying to awaken violence in me," Hayt said in a panting voice.
Bijaz denied this with a shake of the head. "Awaken, yes; violence, no. You are a disciple of awareness by training, so you have said. I have an awareness to awaken in you, Duncan Idaho."
"Duncan Idaho. Killer extraordinary. Lover of many women. Swordsman soldier. Atreides field hand on the field of battle. Duncan Idaho."
"The past cannot be awakened."
"It has never been done!"
"True, but our masters defy the idea that something cannot be done. Always, they seek the proper tool, the right application of effort, the services of the proper -"
"You hide your real purpose! You throw up a screen of words and they mean nothing!"
"There is a Duncan Idaho in you," Bijaz said. "It will submit to emotion or to dispassionate examination, but submit it will. This awareness will rise through a screen of suppression and selection out of the dark past which dogs your footsteps. It goads you even now while it holds you back. There exists that being within you upon which awareness must focus and which you will obey."
"The Tleilaxu think I'm still their slave, but I -"
"Quiet, slave!" Bijaz said in that whining voice.
Hayt found himself frozen in silence.
"Now we are down to bedrock," Bijaz said. "I know you feel it. And these are the power-words to manipulate you... I think they will have sufficient leverage."
Hayt felt the perspiration pouring down his cheeks, the trembling of his chest and arms, but he was powerless to move.
"One day," Bijaz said, "the Emperor will come to you. He will say: 'She is gone.' The grief mask will occupy his face. He will give water to the dead, as they call their tears hereabouts. And you will say, using my voice: 'Master! Oh, Master!' "
Hayt's jaw and throat ached with the locking of his muscles. He could only twist his head in a brief arc from side to side.
"You will say, 'I carry a message from Bijaz.' " The dwarf grimaced. "Poor Bijaz, who has no mind... poor Bijaz, a drum stuffed with messages, an essence for others to use... pound on Bijaz and he produces a noise... "
Again, he grimaced. "You think me a hypocrite. Duncan Idaho! I am not! I can grieve, too. But the time has come to substitute swords for words."
A hiccup shook Hayt.
Bijaz giggled, then: "Ah, thank you, Duncan, thank you. The demands of the body save us. As the Emperor carries the blood of the Harkonnens in his veins, he will do as we demand. He will turn into a spitting machine, a biter of words that ring with a lovely noise to our masters."
Hayt blinked, thinking how the dwarf appeared like an alert little animal, a thing of spite and rare intelligence. Harkonnen blood in the Atreides?
"You think of Beast Rabban, the vile Harkonnen, and you glare," Bijaz said. "You are like the Fremen in this. When words fail, the sword is always at hand, eh? You think of the torture inflicted upon your family by the Harkonnens. And, through his mother, your precious Paul is a Harkonnen! You would not find it difficult to slay a Harkonnen, now would you?"
Bitter frustration coursed through the ghola. Was it anger? Why should this cause anger?
"Ohhh," Bijaz said, and: "Ahhhh, hah! Click-click. There is more to the message. It is a trade the Tleilaxu offer your precious Paul Atreides. Our masters will restore his beloved. A sister to yourself - another ghola."
Hayt felt suddenly that he existed in a universe occupied only by his own heartbeats.
"A ghola," Bijaz said. "It will be the flesh of his beloved. She will bear his children. She will love only him. We can even improve on the original if he so desires. Did ever a man have greater opportunity to regain what he'd lost? It is a bargain he will leap to strike."
Bijaz nodded, eyes drooping as though tiring. Then: "He will be tempted... and in his distraction, you will move close. In the instant, you will strike! Two gholas, not one! That is what our masters demand!" The dwarf cleared his throat, nodded once more, said: "Speak."
"I will not do it," Hayt said.
"But Duncan Idaho would," Bijaz said. "It will be the moment of supreme vulnerability for this descendant of the Harkonnens. Do not forget this. You will suggest improvements to his beloved - perhaps a deathless heart, gentler emotions. You will offer asylum as you move close to him - a planet of his choice somewhere beyond the Imperium. Think of it! His beloved restored. No more need for tears, and a place of idyls to live out his years."
"A costly package," Hayt said, probing. "He'll ask the price."
"Tell him he must renounce his godhead and discredit The Qizarate. He must discredit himself, his sister."
"Nothing more?" Hayt asked, sneering.
"He must relinquish his CHOAM holdings, naturally."
"And if you're not yet close enough to strike, speak of how much the Tleilaxu admire what he has taught them about the possibilities of religion. Tell him the Tleilaxu have a department of religious engineering, shaping religions to particular needs."
"How very clever," Hayt said.
"You think yourself free to sneer and disobey me," Bijaz said. He cocked his head slyly to one side. "Don't deny it..."
"They made you well, little animal," Hayt said.
"And you as well," the dwarf said. "You will tell him to hurry. Flesh decays and her flesh must be preserved in a cryological tank."
Hayt felt himself floundering, caught in a matrix of objects he could not recognize. The dwarf appeared so sure of himself! There had to be a flaw in the Tleilaxu logic. In making their ghola, they'd keyed him to the voice of Bijaz, but... But what? Logic/matrix/object... How easy it was to mistake clear reasoning for correct reasoning! Was Tleilaxu logic distorted?
Bijaz smiled, listened as though to a hidden voice. "Now, you will forget," he said. "When the moment comes, you will remember. He will say: 'She is gone.' Duncan Idaho will awaken then."
The dwarf clapped his hands together.
Hayt grunted, feeling that he had been interrupted in the middle of a thought... or perhaps in the middle of a sentence. What was it? Something about... targets?
"You think to confuse me and manipulate me," he said.
"How is that?" Bijaz asked.
"I am your target and you can't deny it," Hayt said.
"I would not think of denying it."
"What is it you'd try to do with me?"
"A kindness," Bijaz said. "A simple kindness."
= = = = = =
The sequential nature of actual events is not illuminated with lengthy precision by the powers of prescience except under the most extraordinary circumstances. The oracle grasps incidents cut out of the historic chain. Eternity moves. It inflicts itself upon the oracle and the supplicant alike. Let Muad'dib's subjects doubt his majesty and his oracular visions. Let them deny his powers. Let them never doubt Eternity. -The Dune Gospels
Hayt watched Alia emerge from her temple and cross the plaza. Her guard was bunched close, fierce expressions on their faces to mask the lines molded by good living and complacency.
A heliograph of 'thopter wings flashed in the bright afternoon sun above the temple, part of the Royal Guard with Muad'dib's fist-symbol on its fuselage.
Hayt returned his gaze to Alia. She looked out of place here in the city, he thought. Her proper setting was the desert - open, untrammeled space. An odd thing about her came back to him as he watched her approach: Alia appeared thoughtful only when she smiled. It was a trick of the eyes, he decided, recalling a cameo memory of her as she'd appeared at the reception for the Guild Ambassador: haughty against a background of music and brittle conversation among extravagant gowns and uniforms. And Alia had been wearing white, dazzling, a bright garment of chastity. He had looked down upon her from a window as she crossed an inner garden with its formal pond, its fluting fountains, fronds of pampas grass and a white belvedere.
Entirely wrong... all wrong. She belonged in the desert.
Hayt drew in a ragged breath. Alia had moved out of his view then as she did now. He waited, clenching and unclenching his fists. The interview with Bijaz had left him uneasy.
He heard Alia's entourage pass outside the room where he waited. She went into the Family quarters.
Now he tried to focus on the thing about her which troubled him. The way she'd walked across the plaza? Yes. She'd moved like a hunted creature fleeing some predator. He stepped out onto the connecting balcony, walked along it behind the plasmeld sunscreen, stopped while still in concealing shadows. Alia stood at the balustrade overlooking her temple.
He looked where she was looking - out over the city. He saw rectangles, blocks of color, creeping movements of life and sound. Structures gleamed, shimmered. Heat patterns spiraled off the rooftops. There was a boy across the way bouncing a ball in a cul-de-sac formed by a buttressed massif at a corner of the temple. Back and forth the ball went.
Alia, too, watched the ball. She felt a compelling identity with that ball - back and forth... back and forth. She sensed herself bouncing through corridors of Time.
The potion of melange she'd drained just before leaving the temple was the largest she'd ever attempted - a massive overdose. Even before beginning to take effect, it had terrified her.
Why did I do it? she asked herself.
"One made a choice between dangers." Was that it? This was the way to penetrate the fog spread over the future by that damnable Dune Tarot. A barrier existed. It must be breached. She had acted out of a necessity to see where it was her brother walked with his eyeless stride.
The familiar melange fugue state began creeping into her awareness. She took a deep breath, experienced a brittle form of calm, poised and selfless.
Possession of second sight has a tendency to make one a dangerous fatalist, she thought. Unfortunately, there existed no abstract leverage, no calculus of prescience. Visions of the future could not be manipulated as formulas. One had to enter them, risking life and sanity.
A figure moved from the harsh shadows of the adjoining balcony. The ghola! In her heightened awareness, Alia saw him with intense clarity - the dark, lively features dominated by those glistening metal eyes. He was a union of terrifying opposites, something put together in a shocking linear way. He was shadow and blazing light, a product of the process which had revived his dead flesh... and of something intensely pure... innocent.
He was innocence under siege!
"Have you been there all along, Duncan?" she asked.
"So I'm to be Duncan," he said. "Why?"
"Don't question me," she said.
And she thought, looking at him, that the Tleilaxu had left no corner of their ghola unfinished.
"Only gods can safely risk perfection," she said. "It's a dangerous thing for a man."
"Duncan died," he said, wishing she would not call him that. "I am Hayt."
She studied his artificial eyes, wondering what they saw. Observed closely, they betrayed tiny black pockmarks, little wells of darkness in the glittering metal. Facets! The universe shimmered around her and lurched. She steadied herself with a hand on the sun-warmed surface of the balustrade. Ahhh, the melange moved swiftly.
"Are you ill?" Hayt asked. He moved closer, the steely eyes opened wide, staring.
Who spoke? she wondered. Was it Duncan Idaho? Was it the mentat-ghola or the Zensunni philosopher? Or was it a Tleilaxu pawn more dangerous than any Guild Steersman? Her brother knew.
Again, she looked at the ghola. There was something inactive about him now, a latent something. He was saturated with waiting and with powers beyond their common life.
"Out of my mother, I am like the Bene Gesserit," she said. "Do you know that?"
"I know it."
"I use their powers, think as they think. Part of me knows the sacred urgency of the breeding program... and its products."
She blinked, feeling part of her awareness begin to move freely in Time.
"It's said that the Bene Gesserit never let go," he said. And he watched her closely, noting how white her knuckles were where she gripped the edge of the balcony.
"Have I stumbled?" she asked.
He marked how deeply she breathed, with tension in every movement, the glazed appearance of her eyes.
"When you stumble," he said, "you may regain your balance by jumping beyond the thing that tripped you."
"The Bene Gesserit stumbled," she said. "Now they wish to regain their balance by leaping beyond my brother. They want Chani's baby... or mine."
"Are you with child?"
She struggled to fix herself in a timespace relationship to this question. With child? When? Where?
"I see... my child," she whispered.
She moved away from the balcony's edge, turned her head to look at the ghola. He had a face of salt, bitter eyes - two circles of glistening lead... and, as he turned away from the light to follow her movement, blue shadows.
"What... do you see with such eyes?" she whispered.
"What other eyes see," he said.
His words rang in her ears, stretching her awareness. She felt that she reached across the universe - such a stretching... out... out. She lay intertwined with all Time.
"You've taken the spice, a large dose," he said.
"Why can't I see him?" she muttered. The womb of all creation held her captive. "Tell me, Duncan, why I cannot see him."
"Who can't you see?"
"I cannot see the father of my children. I'm lost in a Tarot fog. Help me."
Mentat logic offered its prime computation, and he said: "The Bene Gesserit want a mating between you and your brother. It would lock the genetic... "
A wail escaped her. "The egg in the flesh," she gasped. A sensation of chill swept over her, followed by intense heat. The unseen mate of her darkest dreams! Flesh of her flesh that the oracle could not reveal - would it come to that?
"Have you risked a dangerous dose of the spice?" he asked. Something within him fought to express the utmost terror at the thought that an Atreides woman might die, that Paul might face him with the knowledge that a female of the royal family had... gone.
"You don't know what it's like to hunt the future," she said. "Sometimes I glimpse myself... but I get in my own way. I cannot see through myself." She lowered her head, shook it from side to side.
"How much of the spice did you take?" he asked.
"Nature abhors prescience," she said, raising her head. "Did you know that, Duncan?"
He spoke softly, reasonably, as to a small child: "Tell me how much of the spice you took." He took hold of her shoulder with his left hand.
"Words are such gross machinery, so primitive and ambiguous," she said. She pulled away from his hand.
"You must tell me," he said.
"Look at the Shield Wall," she commanded, pointing. She sent her gaze along her own outstretched hand, trembled as the landscape crumbled in an overwhelming vision - a sandcastle destroyed by invisible waves. She averted her eyes, was transfixed by the appearance of the ghola's face. His features crawled, became aged, then young... aged... young. He was life itself, assertive, endless... She turned to flee, but he grabbed her left wrist.
"I am going to summon a doctor," he said.
"No! You must let me have the vision! I have to know!"
"You are going inside now," he said.
She stared down at his hand. Where their flesh touched, she felt an electric presence that both lured and frightened her. She jerked free, gasped: "You can't hold the whirlwind!"
"You must have medical help!" he snapped.