Paul of Dune

Dune (Volume 6)

Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Tor Science Fiction

Part One
 
Emperor Muad'Dib
 
10,194 AG
 
One Year After the Fall of Shaddam IV

Much more remains of my father than these few fragments. His
bloodline, his character, and his teachings have made me who I am.
As long as the universe remembers me as Paul- Muad’Dib, so too
will Duke Leto Atreides be remembered. The son is always shaped
by the father.
—inscription on the Harg Pass Shrine

A serene ocean of sand stretched as far as the eye could see, silent and still, carry ing the potential for terrible storms. Arrakis—the sacred world Dune—was becoming the eye of a galactic hurricane, a bloody Jihad that would rage across the planets of the crumbling Imperium. Paul Atreides had foreseen this, and now he had set it in motion.

Since the overthrow of Shaddam IV a year ago, millions of converts had joined Paul’s armies in addition to his own Fremen warriors, all of whom had pledged their lives to him. Led by his fanatical Fedaykin and other trusted officers, his holy warriors had already begun to fan out from staging areas, bound for specific star systems and targets. Just that morning, Paul had sent Stilgar and his legion off with a rousing speech that included the words, “ ‘I bestow strength on you, my warriors. Go now and perform my holy bidding.’ ” It was one of his favorite passages from the Orange Catholic Bible.

Afterward, in the heat of the afternoon, he had taken himself far from the bedlam of the city of Arrakeen, from the agitated troops and the fawning clamor of worshippers. Here in the isolated mountains, Paul required no Fremen guide. The high desert was silent and pure, giving him an illusion of peace. His beloved Chani accompanied him, along with his mother, Jessica, and his little sister. Not quite four years old, Alia was vastly more than a child, pre-born with all the memories and knowledge of a Reverend Mother.

As Paul and his companions ascended the stark brown mountains to Harg Pass, he tried to cling to a feeling of serene inevitability. The desert made him feel small and humble, in sharp contrast to being cheered as a messiah. He prized each quiet moment away from the devoted followers who chanted, “Muad’Dib! Muad’Dib!” whenever they glimpsed him. Before long, when news of the military victories started streaming in, it would get even worse. But that could not be avoided. Eventually, he would be swept along by the Jihad. He had already charted its course, like a great navigator of humanity.

War was one of the tools at his disposal. Now that he had exiled the Padishah Emperor to Salusa Secundus, Paul had to consolidate his power among the members of the Landsraad. He had sent his diplomats to negotiate with some of the noble Houses, while dispatching his most fanatical fighters against the defiant families. A number of lords would not lay down their arms and vowed to put up fierce resistance, claiming either that they would not follow a rebel or that they’d had enough of emperors altogether. Regardless, the armies of Muad’Dib would sweep over them and continue onward. Though Paul sought to reduce and even eliminate the violence, he suspected that the bloody reality would prove far worse than any prescient vision.

And his visions had been frightening.

Centuries of decadence and mismanagement had filled the Imperium with deadwood—tinder that would allow his firestorm to spread with startling speed. In a more civilized time, problems between Houses had been settled with an old-fashioned War of Assassins, but that solution seemed quaint and gentlemanly now, no longer plausible. Faced with the tide of religious fervor approaching their worlds, some leaders would simply surrender, rather than try to stand against the invincible onslaught.

But not all of them would be that sensible. . . .

On their trek, Paul and his three companions wore new stillsuits covered by mottled cloaks to camouflage them in the desert. Though the garments looked well worn, they were actually finer than any Paul had used when he’d lived as a fugitive among the Fremen. Their makers claimed that these durable offworld imports were superior to the simpler versions that had traditionally been made in hidden sietches.

The manufacturers mean well, he thought. They do it to show their support for me, without realizing the implied criticism in their “improvements.”

After selecting the perfect position high on the ridge, a small natural amphitheater guarded by tall rocks, Paul set down his pack. He uncinched the straps and pulled aside the cushioning folds of velvatin cloth with a reverence comparable to what he saw in the faces of his most devout followers.

In respectful silence he removed the clean, ivory-colored skull and several broken bone fragments—two ribs, an ulna, and a femur that had been brutally snapped in two, all of which the Fremen had preserved for years after the fall of Arrakeen to the Harkonnens. These were the remains of Duke Leto Atreides.

He saw nothing of his warm and wise father in the bones, yet they constituted an important symbol. Paul understood the value and necessity of symbols. “This shrine is long overdue.”

“I have already built a shrine to Leto in my mind,” Jessica said, “but it will be good to lay him to rest.”

Kneeling beside Paul, Chani helped him clear a spot among the large boulders, some of which had just begun to show a mottling of lichen. “We should keep this place a secret, Usul. Leave no marker, give no directions. We must protect your father’s resting place.”

“The mobs will not be kept at a distance,” Jessica said in a resentful tone. She shook her head. “No matter what we do, tourists will find their way here. It will be a circus, with guides wearing false Fremen clothing. Souvenir vendors will chip off flakes of rock, and countless charlatans will sell splinters of bone fragments, claiming that the objects come from Leto’s body.”

Chani looked both disturbed and awed. “Usul, have you foreseen this?” Here, away from the crowds, she used his private sietch name.

“History has foretold it,” Jessica answered for him, “time and time again.”

“And it must be done, to build the appropriate legend.” Alia spoke sternly to her mother. “The Bene Gesserit planned to use my brother in this way for their own purposes. Now he creates the legends himself, for his own purposes.”

Paul had already weighed the options. Some pilgrims would come here out of sincere devotion, while others would make the journey simply to boast that they had done it. Either way, they would come. He knew it would be folly to stop them, so he had to find another solution. “I will have my Fedaykin mount a round-the-clock vigil. No one will desecrate this shrine.”

He arranged the bones and carefully set the skull atop them, tilting it upward a little so that the hollow, empty sockets could look toward the cloudless blue sky.

“Alia is right, Mother,” Paul said, not looking at either his sister or Jessica. “While we manage the business of war, we are also in the business of creating a myth. It is the only way we can accomplish what is necessary. Mere appeals to logic and common sense are not enough to sway the vast population of humankind. Irulan is uniquely talented in that area, as she has already demonstrated by the popularity of her history of my ascension to power.”

“You are cynical, Usul.” Chani sounded disturbed at the reminder that Paul’s wife, in name only, served any useful function at all.

“My brother is pragmatic,” Alia countered.

Paul stared for a long moment at the skull, imagining the face of his father: the aquiline nose, gray eyes, and an expression that could shift from anger toward his enemies to unmatched love for his son or Jessica. I learned so much from you, Father. You taught me honor and leadership. I only hope you taught me enough. What he knew he must face in the coming years would go far beyond the greatest crises Duke Leto had ever confronted. Would the lessons apply on such a grand scale?

Paul picked up a large rock and placed it in front of the skull, beginning the cairn. Then he gestured for his mother to set the second stone, which she did. In turn, Alia contributed to the pile, sounding wistful. “I miss my father. He loved us enough to die for us.”

“It’s too bad you never actually knew him,” Chani said quietly, placing her first rock on the cairn.

“Oh, but I did,” Alia said. “My pre- born memories encompass a trip my mother and father took to the Caladan wilderness after little Victor was killed. That was where Paul was conceived.” Alia often made eerie, unsettling comments. The lives crammed into her mind stretched far. She looked up at her mother. “You even caught a glimpse of the Caladan primitives then.”

“I remember,” Jessica said.

Paul continued piling stones. As soon as the cairn completely covered his father’s bones, he stepped back to share a poignant, solitary moment with those who had loved Leto best.

Finally, Paul touched the communicator stud on the collar of his stillsuit. “Korba, we are ready for you now.”

Almost immediately, loud engines shattered the searing calm of the desert. Two ’thopters bearing the green-and-white Imperial crest of Emperor Muad’Dib rose from behind the sheer ridge and dipped their wings. The lead ’thopter was flown by the leader of Paul’s Fedaykin, Korba, a man who displayed his allegiance with religious fervor. Yet he was more than a mere sycophant—Korba was much too smart for that. All of his actions had carefully calculated consequences.

Behind the small fliers came a train of heavy-lift vehicles, with polished stone blocks dangling by suspensors beneath their bellies. The stone blocks, carved by artisans in Arrakeen, were embellished with intricate images that, when assembled, would make a continuous frieze of great events in the life of Duke Leto Atreides. Now that the respectful communication silence had been broken, squad commanders barked orders to their teams of laborers, calling them to begin their work at the new sacred site.

Silent and stoic, Jessica stared at the small cairn of rocks as if burning Leto’s shrine into her memory, rather than the monstrosity that was about to take shape.

The echoing noise of machinery reflected back upon the amphitheater of rocks. Korba landed his ’thopter and emerged, reveling in the grandiose production and proud of what he had arranged. He looked at the handmade pile of rocks and seemed to think it quaint. “Muad’Dib, we will create a proper monument here, worthy of your father. All must stand in awe of our Emperor and everyone who has been close to you.”

“Yes, they must,” Paul said, doubting that his Fedaykin commander would notice the wryness in his tone. Korba had become quite a student of what he called “religious momentum.”

The work teams threw themselves into the job like gaze hounds attacking prey. Since the haulers had no room to land in the small natural bowl at the top of the pass, the pilots disengaged their suspensor tethers and deposited the carved blocks on a flat, stony area, then retreated into the air. Paul’s advisers had designed the shrine memorial by committee and distributed the blueprints to all crew chiefs. The substantial pyramid would symbolize the foundation that Duke Leto had been in the life of Muad’Dib.

At the moment, though, as Paul considered this ostentatious memorial, he could think only of the dichotomy between his private feelings and his public image. Although he could not abdicate his role in the ever-growing machinery of government and religion around him, only a very few loved ones saw the real Paul. And even with this select group, he could not share everything.

Jessica stepped back and looked at him. Clearly, she had made up her mind about something. “I feel I am done here on Arrakis, Paul. It is time for me to depart.”

“Where will you go?” Chani asked, as if she could not imagine a more preferable place to be.

“Caladan. I have been too long away from home.”

Paul felt a yearning in his own heart. Caladan had already accepted his rule, but he had not returned there since House Atreides had come to Arrakis. He looked at his mother, the stately, green-eyed beauty who had so captivated his gallant father. Though Paul was Emperor of the Known Universe, he should have realized the simple fact himself. “You are right, Mother. Caladan is part of my empire as well. I shall accompany you.”
 
Excerpted from PAUL OF DUNE by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
Copyright © 2008 by Herbert Properties LLC.
Published in September 2008 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.