A serene ocean of sand stretched as far as the eye could see, silent and still, carrying 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.”