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obligation in abeyance. When I wish to receive a boon from you, I will ask --
as will Warrick. For now, we will instruct your men in how to make your hideout
invisible." Liet smiled. "Even to Fremen."
BUNDLED UP, the smugglers followed as the two young men indicated the
imperfectly covered tracks, the discoloration in the glacial cliffside wall, the
too-obvious paths that led up the rock slope. Even when the Fremen pointed out
these things, some of the smugglers still couldn't see what should have been
plain to them. Still, Johdam scowled and promised to make the suggested
changes.
Dominic Vernius stood breathing cold air and shaking his head in amazement. "No
matter how much security one adds to a home, there are always ways to breach
it." His lips drew downward in a frown. "Generations of planners tried to
develop perfect isolation on Ix. Only our royal family understood the whole
system. What a monumental waste of effort and solaris! Our underground cities
were supposed to be impregnable, and we grew lax in our security. Just like
these men here."
He clapped Johdam on the back. The pock-faced veteran frowned and went back to
his work.
The big bald man sighed once more. "At least my children got away." His face
screwed up in an expression of disgust. "Damn the filthy Tleilaxu and damn
House Corrino!" He spat on the ground, startling Liet. Among the Fremen,
spitting -- offering the body's water -- was a gesture of respect given only to
an honored few. But Dominic Vernius had used it as a curse.
Strange ways, Liet thought.
The bald man looked at the two young Fremen. "My main base off-planet probably
suffers from similar flaws, too." He leaned closer. "Should either of you ever
wish to come with me, you could inspect our other facilities. We make regular
runs to Salusa Secundus."
Liet perked up. "Salusa?" He recalled his father's stories of growing up
there. "I've heard it is a fascinating world."
From where he worked off to one side, Johdam let out a disbelieving laugh. He
rubbed a sweat-itch at his scarred eyebrow. "It sure doesn't look like the
capital of the Imperium anymore." Asuyo shook his head in agreement.
Dominic shrugged. "I am the leader of a renegade House, and I vowed to strike
against the Imperium. Salusa Secundus seemed a good place to hide. Who would
think to look for me on a prison planet, under the Emperor's closest security?"
Pardot Kynes had spoken of the terrible Salusan disaster caused by the rebellion
of an unnamed noble family. They had gone renegade and unleashed forbidden
atomics on the capital planet. A few members of House Corrino survived,
including Hassik III, who had rebuilt the dynasty and restored Imperial
government on a new world, Kaitain.
Pardot Kynes had been less interested in history or politics than in the natural
order of things, how the world had been changed from paradise to hell by the
holocaust. The Planetologist claimed that with sufficient investment and hard
work, Salusa Secundus could be restored to its former climate and glory.
"Someday, perhaps, I would like to behold such an . . . interesting place." A
world that so affected my father.
With a loud, booming laugh, Dominic pounded Liet on the back. It was a gesture
of camaraderie, though Fremen rarely touched each other except during knife
fights. "Pray you never have to, boy," the smuggler leader said. "Pray you
never have to."
Water is the image of life. We came from water, adapted from its all-
encompassing presence . . . and we continue to adapt.
-IMPERIAL PLANETOLOGIST PARDOT KYNES
OUT HERE, we Fremen have none of your comforts, Lady Fenring," the Shadout Mapes
said as she scurried ahead on short legs. Her steps were so precise and careful
that she did not even kick up dust on the moonlit hardpan. In contrast with the
humid conservatory, the bone-dry night retained very little of the day's heat.
"You are cold?"
She glanced back at willowy, blonde-haired Margot, who walked proudly in front
of the Rutii priest. Mapes wore her jubba hood. Stillsuit filters dangled
beside her face, and her dark eyes reflected the light of Second Moon.
"I am not cold," Margot said, simply. Wearing only her glitterslick housedress,
she adjusted her metabolism to compensate.
"And those thin-soled slippers you wear," the priest scolded from behind her.
"Unsuited for desert travel."
"You did not give me time to dress for our journey." Like all Reverend Mothers,
she maintained thick calluses on her feet from the fighting exercises they were
required to perform each day. "If the shoes wear out, I will go barefoot."
Both Fremen smiled at her calm audacity. "She does maintain a good pace," Mapes
admitted. "Not like other water-fat Imperials."
"I can go faster," Margot offered, "if you like."
Taking this as a challenge, the Shadout Mapes trotted along at a military
cadence, not breathing hard at all. Margot followed every footstep, barely
perspiring. A nightbird streaked overhead with a piercing cry.
The unpaved road led out of Arrakeen toward the village of Rutii in the
distance, nestled within knuckled foothills of the Shield Wall. Avoiding the
town lights, Mapes turned onto a faint path that climbed into the rocky
elevations.
Rimwall West loomed before them, a craggy megalith that marked this boundary of
the Shield Wall. The small party began to climb, at first over a gentle slope
of rock, then up a steep, narrow path that skirted an immense slide area.
The Fremen moved with speed and surefootedness in the shadows. Despite her
training in balance and endurance, Margot tripped twice on the unfamiliar
terrain and had to be steadied by the others. This seemed to please the guides.
More than two hours had passed since leaving the comfort and safety of the
Residency at Arrakeen. Margot began to tap her bodily reserves, but still
showed no sign of weakness. Did our lost Sisters travel this way?
Mapes and the priest spoke strange words in a language that Margot's deep
memories told her was Chakobsa, a tongue spoken by Fremen for dozens of
centuries, since their arrival on Arrakis. As she recognized one of the [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]