Thursday, July 30, 2015

Revenant Dune



Revenant Dune
By Bill Gallagher
Hachita NM July 2015
7840 Words



     The human mind is a resonator.  It responds to resonance in its environment.  This is why mind enhancing techniques and technologies are always indelibly colored by the fallibilities of those who employ them.   There can be uniformity in training, but there is precious little uniformity among individual perceptions.
     Purposeful augmentation of the resonating mind always begins with an extension of memory.   Sufficiently extended memory allows an adept to instantaneously project their awareness across many parallel loops of causality, thereby creating long chains of possible consequences in calculated form.   Patterns emerge.  There is order.
     Projecting Forward with calculation, planning,  is a natural function of the resonating mind often honed to finer points of awareness too.  In its most rarefied human form, planning is an involuntary response to the macro-environment, occurring even as we sleep.  Sleep Projections are built-in mental enhancements of the resonating mind.  Sleep state projections seem to be plotting out the best possible survival path for an identity, an Id-Entity, once the days inputs have been reviewed and sorted, inputs being the events of our lives.
     When recalled during waking hours these pre-plotted survival pathways of the resonating mind are many times unbelievably real in their detail of certain moments before they happen.  Deja Vu, a shared racial attribute, is just a small glimmer of the power at work among us.
      A truly prescient seer is able to consciously harness the projection mechanism of the resonating mind which is normally relegated to the unconscious, and even mentats touch upon projection possibilites to arrive at their computations.
     When genetic memories become accessible,  prescience may possess truly awesome scope, encompassing actual Creation of the future for a period of time.

Jessica Nerus Harkonnen, Bene Gesserit, Mother of Muad'dib
Year 9 of the God Emperor Leto Atreides II



     The boys name was Leto.  He was 11 years old.   Silently, and with very little movement, he plied his muscles and nerves with the regimen of Prana Bindu exercises specially formulated to help this new body grow to its potential.  He’d created his personal PB regimen as soon as it became practical, when he was about 5 years old.   Modifications had already been made, upgrades;  those would be frequent and never ending,  he supposed.   He was exercising to clear his mind in preparation for a real test of his desert.  He would call a worm, and ride it on his own for the first time today.   His mother Sheeana, along with Duncan Idaho and some of their friends waited nearby, observing,  to provide useful commentary after the fact perhaps.

     His full name was Leto Atreides II.   The God Emperor of that same name was long dead.  This body belonged to a human boy who’d existed before that great sacrifice.   Born again he was not afraid.  In fact he was in love.  He loved his humanity, his life; he loved his mother, he loved the planet and everything about it.  The Golden Path indeed.  He had never seen any of this, in all his projecting forward during that ancient life as the God Emperor of Dune, and it was even sweeter because of that.  He was no longer consciously prescient, in the strictest sense.  That was something everyone had fairly well moved beyond.  He had seen to it.

      Leto stood on the crest of a large sand dune, first in a series of large dunes rippling their way like brown waves across a flattening rock outcrop.   He was listening with great care to the sounds of early evening descend upon his desert.   The wind spoke in words all its own, whistling through cracks and crevasses, chattering sand against strewn boulders.  Dust vortices fluttered nearby.  A desert  hawk screed shrill from way way out on the bled.

     Inhaling deeply through his nose produced muted smells of flint dust and cinammon, with an underlying tang of sweet creosote off a spindly greasewood growing from a crack in the rocks.  He opened his eyes.  The only bare skin that showed from beneath the robed stillsuit and sand boots he wore in his desert was the strip of face across his eyes.  He had goggles for situations of necessity, but preferred to leave his eyes uncovered.  Like most people of this time,  Letos eyes were opaque blue, evidence of his Melange Symbiosis, a symbiosis he had been born with.   A rare chemical in the worm spice Melange turns the tissue of eyeballs a dark opaque blue, the entire orbs, both of them.

     Thinking about that caused his fathers memories to stir in his mind: Paul Maud'dib Atreides found the terminology humorous.  Back in the Dune days, when the longevity drug worm spice Melange had been the scarcest consumable in the known universe, any use was called addiction.  Now, with plenitude everywhere, use was called by its real name: Symbiosis.  Lifespans of 500 to 1000 years were normal; just blips still, across the vastness of the realized cosm, but longer, more beautiful blips.

     Spice was in everything.  There were no shortages anywhere.  The Tleilaxu had developed artificial spice in their axlotl tanks too.  To top it off, The Guild and Ix had developed devices to navigate the multiverse, no longer needing stockpiled spice to insure their navigators performance in space.   These devices, the No-ships, were inherently invisible to prescient seers.  They were quite literally No Areas, totally masked space within the continuum.   They even possessed visual invisibility if necessary.

     Well, thought Leto, surprises are endlessly alive, and fortune passes everywhere.  He felt exhilirated.  This most assuredly was His desert.  The whole planet was his, really.  Like so many other human planets in this far away time, nearly all of it was one great  expanse of waterless sand.  Water was tightly managed on modern Desert Planets, used for human micro-climates only, because almost all known Desert Planets served as habitats for the giant sandworms called Shai-Hulud, who were, in a very real way, all directly descended from Leto Atreides II.

     The giant sandworms, the creators of the Spice Melange,  had initially been discovered on the lost Planet Dune, and were never successfully introduced to other planets.   The spice allowed the early Spacing Guild to operate, and it was a large part of Bene Gesserit existence too.  The Melange Spice prolonged human life in direct proportion to the amounts used.  A true longevity substance.  Spice was the coinage of the empire, it ran the economies of all the known worlds.  The native people of planet Dune, the Fremen, existed as desert specialists who used the giant sandworms for their main transportation.  The Fremen used the spice in great quantities for a large number of things in their daily lives, and as money to trade off-planet.

     Because of water forcibly added to their environment on Dune, the sandworms met extinction except for one surviving worm, the God Emperor Leto Atreides II.   When Leto went back into the sand at the end of his 3500 year sacrifice, at the end of his first life, the Sandworms which emerged each carried a pearl of his awareness inside, and they were hardier as a species, monstrously semi-sentient.   Those worms were being spread far and wide.  Where ever they were introduced they caused a  planetary metamorphosis to Desert with seeming relish, creating the environment they needed to live.   Creating Spice.   Energies of planetary scale were unleashed as the sandworms went about their purpose of sequestering all moisture in desert-creating dessication.    As this process matured the physical exhalations of the sandworm bodies contributed to the chain of events from whence the geriatric Spice Melange derived.

      The known origin of the giant sandworms, the planet Dune, also called Arrakis, and finally Rakis, was no more, annihilated in a pique of rage by people returned from The Scattering.  Prior to its destruction some planetologists, including Liet Kynes, Imperial Planetologist of Dune when the Atreides arrived,  believed that the worms did not evolve on Arrakis, but had been imported there sometime in the distant past,  long before humans discovered the planet.   Pan, graben, and sink had variously shown evidence of lakes, rivers, and oceans existing on the planet before introduction of the giant sandworms.

     The planet where Letos body lived now had been named Revenant, by Sheeana, his mother, and it had two moons as had their home planet of Rakis.  Revenant was the planet of his most recent birth then, his second human birth, into an age almost 5 millenia after the death of the God Emperor Leto Atreides II, his first self.  The God Emperor Leto Atreides II had been delivered from his 3500 year agony by being thrown off a large bridge into a river on Dune,  where his gigantic segmented pre-worm body discorporated violently in a paroxysm of pain and interspecies reproduction, becoming the new Sandworms.  The never ending and ever growing pearl of awareness, Letos dream, possessed all sand worms from then on.

     This new Leto had been grown from cells out of a worm introduced here on Revenant by his Mother and Duncan Idaho, after their flight in a truly giant No-ship from the Bene Gesserit Chapterhouse Planet.  They’d been escaping hyper violent Honored Matre Fighting Women returned from The Scattering.   It had taken Duncan Idaho a year just to pinpoint where they'd ended up in space after fleeing Chapterhouse Dune.  This gave them time to find a suitable planet to introduce their worms and begin a new desert world.  It was hoped that the location of Revenant Dune would remain a secret for a long time, but cosmic interaction was more prevalent than it had ever been before, because of The Scattering, and because modern No-ships ranged in size from very small individual craft, up to and including Heighliners.

     Letos human resurrection was accomplished with advanced Tleilaxu technology possessed by the captive Tleilaxu Master Scytale, an ancient Identity who had been at the forefront of Tleilaxu ghola restoration technology when it was initially discovered by Duncan Idaho that ghola memories could be restored.   After this, the restoration of memories in tank-grown bodies became a true form of immortality among a very small Tleilaxu elite.

     It was said Duncan Idaho had full memories of all his lives;  all the hundreds of lives he had served the Atreides, after his first death fighting Imperial Sardaukar troops to save Paul and his mother Jessica during their flight to the Fremen.  These memories were not ancestral, but of his actual lifetimes.  He even remembered the deaths.  The memories had been returned to his consciousness in an unexplained way during a situation of extreme stress precipitated by reproductive interaction with a returned Honored Matre from The Scattering named Murbella, member of the quasi-religious order of fighting women who use sexual amplifications to enslave men.  It was at this time when Duncan Idaho also began receiving intermittent mental transmissions involving rare knowledge, and “visits” with an older man and his wife who lived on their farm somewhere out in The Scattering. 

     The memories of the Tleilaxu Master Scytale were almost as old as Duncan Idaho, over 8000 years old;  Scytales body had been rebuilt as a ghola too, with full memories restored whenever needed.  There were times when Scytales body could not be retrieved with final memories intact though, after violence, say.  Then a new ghola body was built from the cells deposited just before the deadly event.  That happenstance made it necessary for him to study his own death in detail eventually, even recordings of it if possible, to bring himself up to speed about his own personal history.  As far as Scytales present body was concerned, it was young, less than a century old, and if allowed to accomplish his aims on Revenant, it would remain so.  Scytale was a physical recording, the repository of conscious memories spanning millenia.  He also had the entire knowledge of the Bene Tleilax deposited as implants and cellular code all over his body;  these technologic tools he used to bargain for his life.  An ongoing thing.  People still feared and disliked the dirty Tleilaxu.

      When a full human matrix code had been discovered in worm tissue with something Duncan had invented, there was only one person it could possibly be.  Apparently the full human genetic code for Leto, up to and including the day of his first death, had been preserved in the worms he became.  That was all of them, of course.

       Reconstructed embryonically, Leto was carried as a human baby by Sheeana, his second mother.  During Letos second human gestation he gained self awareness at 7 months, in full possession of his ultra-extensive ancestral memories, and all the memories of his 3500 year Tyranny of Predation (His own words), The Golden Path,  a great whipping of the race into something that would be able to appreciate real wealth someday.   The wealth of being alive.

      Leto out of Sheeana had been born one month premature, but healthy none the less.   His ancestral memories were of a different tone now,  somehow he had gained total control of those memories, there was no fighting for ascendence, no constant inner clamor, as there had been when he was born fully aware the first time.   No Abomination.

     Letos first mother had been Chani,  the Fremen mate of his father the young Duke Paul Atreides of the Royal House Atreides.    The Atreides went native on Arrakis, and Paul became the long awaited Fremen Messiah, this after losing his father and the original Duncan Idaho to royal intrigue and connivance, machinated by the Emperor and his Sardaukar troops, alongwith Royal House Harkonnen of Geidi Prime.   The first child of Paul Maud'dib and Chani was killed during this upheaval, in a surprise Sardaukar raid on the sietch where the baby boy had been hidden.  More intrigue followed the second pregnancy of Chani, including clandestine administration of birth control drugs in her diet, which caused many complications in the pregnancy.
  
     With the Fremen as a hardened fighting force,  Duke Paul Atreides conquered his opponents, the Emperor Shaddam IV and the obscene Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, which put him in possession of Planet Dune,  only known source of the geriatric Spice Melange.   Wealth beyond measure.  Power.  Emperor of the known universe.   Paul Atreides was also the Fremen Mahdi,  with the gift of prescient vision, who created the universe for a period of time through a Jihad explosively ignited  by his Fremen legions.
 
     Maud'Dibs vision was carried on by his son Leto II as the Golden Path, the ultimate future vision incorporating full body symbiosis with the giant sandworm through its deep sand vectors the sand trout; to Leto the sandtrout became the skin which was not his own, giving him super physical powers, then eventually growing into the last sandworm over his human body, during a period exceeding 3500 years.

     According to the God Emperor himself, the Golden Path had been necessary to avert a perceived and real extinction threat, Arafel, from Ixian created thinking machines, weapons to be created as automatic hunters.  Those machines of that probable future would have been able to learn and would gain a true machine awareness once they self educated to a certain extent.  The vision of The Golden Path and what it entailed had terrified Maud'Dib, driving him blindly into the desert hoping for death after Chani died giving birth the second time.

     Overall, Letos vision of The Golden Path was a vision of Human Survival.   The death of his empire created The Scattering, and afterwards, it was as he had seen and built:  people everywhere and everywhen across space at such distances one could not traverse even a fraction of it in many life times. The Golden Path was most of all a vision of Racial Immortality.

      “It is done,”  Leto thought,  “Old History now.”

      Kralizec had come and gone.  They had escaped Arafel.   He was free.

      Leto slid down the dune face, and began to dance in the sand.  He had seen his mother do it, Sheeana had invented the Dancing of the Sandworms, and she’d taught her son since his rebirth.  The dance was not a form of anything, it was a calling,  a very distinct type of communication that no one really understood, not even him.  Propitiation.

     When he finished speaking with his dance, when he said to them what had to be said, and learned from them what there was to learn, in that transient vortex of movement, that field, he woke as if from a dream.  Looking around  the open sand he saw myriad worms had come to his dancing.  Many.  He walked to the closest one and grabbed the edge of one of its segments with his right hand.  It shuddered throughout its entire length,  then rolled quickly upward for a meter or two.  By holding onto the edge of the segment while jumping, Leto became airborn, landing in perfect balance on the back of the worm.  There was no more need to hold a ring open with maker hooks to keep the worm upright.  He sat and patted it lovingly.   This was some kind of telepathy.  Communion at last.   Waving to the assembled people in the rocks he and Shai-Hulud rode out into their desert.



                                                     ****************************


      The technologists of Ixian origin, along with Tleilaxu Masters, and some others,  many times shun the sleep state as unnecessary, developing all manner of things to artificially prolong waking time.   Sleep is important because it is a real human exchange; sleep state represents a large portion of normal consciousness, it is another realm of existence.  To deprive the mind of sleep is to deprive the mind of many things.

Fish Speaker Training Manual
Dar-es-Balat  III
Revenant



       “What do you think will happen?”  It was Sheeana who spoke, waving back to the small figure sitting atop the giant worm.    Little Leto going out to play.   Things slid into the bizarre more and more lately.   As if they had ever been normal, hah.  

     It was always hard for a mother to let go, she supposed, and Sheeana was, above all, Letos mother.  She had carried him as a baby in her body, that was a primary experience.  An immutable bond.  And having a mother was one of the things Leto had missed in his first life, because Chani had died giving birth to him and his twin, his beloved sister Ghanima.  Ghanima meant Spoil Of War in the old Fremen language.  Leto was named for Muad’dibs father Leto I.

     Duncan Idaho came up beside her.   Both of their stillsuit  hoods were pulled back,  their heads were exposed.   Loss of water was not an issue anywhere, anymore, except as it affected the worms, and exposed skin water loss did not.    The orange sun was fading away below the horizon, highlighting dust in the air, a darker miasma above the surface proper.

     He had never seen a worm do that before, hoist a rider willfully.  Duncan found her hand and squeezed it lightly.   They had been lovers since before their flight from Chapterhouse, and had remained dedicated lovers except for the period of Letos Human Gestation, which Duncan found rather creepy, overall.  Anything having to do with the Tleilaxu filled him with trepidation,  though for most of his lives he himself had been grown by the Tleilaxu and delivered to house Atreides as needed.

     Duncan and Sheeana had abstained from intercourse during Letos 8 months in the womb, making them quite happy in the idea they would probably never have to abstain again.  Their need was real and deep.  She looked sideways at his craggy features,  the karakul hair, shadow of a beard;  his eyes were dark and totally blue, too.  He still had not answered her question.  She kissed his cheek.  He smiled.  Duncan was quite charming when he smiled.

     Different world, Better world.

      “I really do not know what will happen,” he said, “But it is sure to be new, and maybe even surprising.   Who could ask for more?”  He pulled her close as they watched Leto and the worms disappear on the horizon.  The whole scenario was a good bit more than just passing odd.  He opened his eyes wide and took it all in, for playback later.  He kissed the top of her head, smoothing her blond streaked brown hair as it swirled about her oval face.   Yes, Jessica was in there, and Siona too.  He loved them all, though thoughts like these were some of what he forever hid within himself, for no other reason than his was an extremely unique situation, one that very few other people could even begin to perceive.

     “I  really do not know...” he continued, and let it run off into silence.  He thought back to their arrival here, Revenant she had said, and Revenant it became.  Of the many surprises that had since occurred, the rebirth of Leto Atreides II was the most surprising of all, so far.  Now was the next step, to see where it would go from here.  There was no doubt among any of them, having read what was left behind by the God Emperor, that Leto had mourned his lost humanity after accepting the skin which was not his own.  For the entirety of his symbiosis.  He did it because it empowered him to create the Golden Path, the vision his father Paul Muad’dib could not sanely commit himself to,  the vision of The Scattering, and then this.  The Golden Path.

       When they left Chapterhouse it was by blind jump in a No-Ship.  The plan had been to go somewhere very far away, without being traced.   This was not too hard to do.  When the No-Ship popped out of hyperspace even Duncan Idaho could not tell where they were.  It took quite a lot of time and some help to figure that out , actually.   After orienting the No-Ship in space came the process of locating a planet.  This planet Revenant not only had two moons (A prime requisite!) but large ready-made desert areas for the introduction of their sand worms. 

     Duncan Idaho then became immersed in many Other Functions, including but not limited to weapons master, farm animal husbandman, spice collector, orchardman, baker, general maintenance person, librarian archivist, and in there somewhere he’d acquired a beat up old baliset to play around with, too.

        As well, Duncan was learning a type of control over his reception of information from realms unknown, from the spatial net he had somehow accessed.   He felt it was some kind of communication device The Scattering Tleilaxu had developed, or learned about, something with no time lag, something in real time, a cosmic system.   That net was a huge information source based on what seemed to be perfect knowledge.  It was that information source which led him to find his way in space after their blind jump from Chapterhouse in the No-ship.  It was there he learned to develop the molecular viewing device leading to the discovery of  Letos cellular pattern in the Sandworms flesh.    Idaho seemed to have some influence on what kind of information was revealed to his consciousness now, and he was getting better at doing it.  At least it did not take him all unaware, as it had in the beginning.

      He fretted that his access of this net could be used to locate him.  He did not feel that was happening, though; instead he was just a point in some kind of grid, accessing total information flow as one of the old computers might have.  The information would reel out in his mind, upon his vision centers, in text he understood, with diagrams, and actual photographs a lot of times.  It was like being in an electronic network with his mind.  For the most part he kept this information to himself.  If something he knew pertained, it was shared. Otherwise he did not elaborate on what he was observing.

     He had not seen the man and his wife on their farm since leaving Chapterhouse in the No-Ship.  43 years ago.  He remembered the woman saying something about having a planet picked out for them.

     Some of the others in their party wandered over.  More than a few carried drinks.  Planetside there was a fairly large contingent of Reverand Mothers and others of entourage who’d opted to leave Chapterhouse.  A  good number of male soldiers and other males in the service of the Bene Gesserit were part of the escape too;  there were perhaps 12 thousand people on the planet.  The No-Ship was very large indeed.  Carefully, carefully, some necessary contacts had been made off planet, and Revenant also had become sanctuary for known Bene Gesserit refugees of Chapterhouse Dune.  Some of the people had left Revenant as well.  Miles Teg had departed long before Leto II had been born, as well as the Rabbi and his group.  Secrecy had become even more entrenched among all involved, now that Honored Matres occupied the Bene Gesserit Chapterhouse Planet. 

     Chapterhouse Dune was far along in its transformation though, over 100 years along.  It had been an ocean world, and was quite a feat for the Sandworms, taking them longer to convert into desert than on a world with well established deserts already in place, such as this planet Revenant .  The process was inexorable though, and once started it moved along at ever increasing pace.  Chapterhouse had become Chapterhouse Dune, and the Honored Matre hordes which had invaded most certainly had their hands full, s they underwent the slow but unrelenting process which would convert them to Bene Gesserit sisters before they even realized that was happening.

                                **************************************


Our minds and bodies are resonators and recorders.  Our spines are antenna within planetary fields!   Biological organisms of higher order are really just wet leather sacks of conducting jelly,  formed with stones for bones and elastic musculature;  forever awakening.  Everything alive on a planet is one with everything else alive there, always.   There are connections. The purposeful amplification of planetary fields by Giant sandworm activity was never considered to be an engineered affect.  To what purpose?  people would ask.   Well, people found out.

Dangr Troths, Master Stone Mason
Chapter House Dune
143 years ASI (After Sandworm Introduction)




     The course of the worms wound outward for a good many kilometers.   There was obviously a certain destination in mind.   Night had fallen, and first moon was nearly set, a thin crescent of paleness going away.   The dark night sky was strewn through with thousands of tiny lights, white holes, far away suns, like pinpricks in a giant black velvet drape.  And on the other side of the cloth....on the other side was light.

      Just as night fell Leto noticed a great mother of a spiceblow to the west of himself, and made a mental note of it.  They had traversed 12 Kilometers outward according to his estimates.    These worms were fast, and the chemical exhalations of their movement across the sand, caused by high power friction, was a true marvel of energy dissipation, energy redirection.    There was always oxygen being expelled by the worms, but especially during faster movement, where literal tons of pure Oxygen was produced.

     In the Dune days it was the one thing no one wanted to see, the flames inside a worm, because it could mean only one thing, death was nigh.  In latter times, since the worms had become descended from the God Emperor Leto Atreides II,  many people have seen the fires inside a worms body, and lived to talk about it.   Leto had felt that very real fire inside himself once, for a long long time.    Shaitan.

     The troop of worms began to slow, and he saw rising cliffs ahead, maybe volcanic buttes jutting off the floor of the desert.  He stretched his body with perfect balance as his worm made for the buttes, or whatever the formations were.  Second moon was rising behind the promontory,  its early light momentarily casting the low eastern sky in a false silver dawn.   Farther out to the right a giant dust storm drew upper level swirls and curlicues within the moonlit atmosphere.  So perfect yet transient, thought Leto; a great flowing of concentrated energy exists as matter, with potential for conversion to all other forms of energy, anywhere, all along the way.

      He would rest ahead, perhaps sleep, it was one of the things he enjoyed most at this time in his life, sleep.  During his previous life, during that physical symbiosis with the sandworms, he never really slept at all, and it was there where he had truly learned about sleep, through the absence of it.  There were things accomplished during sleep that could be accomplished in no other way, at no other time;  mind things, health things, human things, he knew all this now, and he reveled in it, he celebrated.  He felt wealthy beyond measure.

     Presently the worms stopped.  Leto jumped down,  patting the worm as he walked to its front,  then he climbed up into the rocks for a little way.   A large boulder was still radiating the heat of the day and he leaned against its warmth.  The worms were ranged out below him, some feeding, most resting, quiescent.  Content, as was he.  He sat down in the sand at the base of the rock, and leaned back into a dunelet, using it as his pillow, so he could look upward at the night sky.  It was not long before he slept.

     Leto dreamed of a cavern in rock, but not really a cavern, a giant building, something that had been built long long ago...built by...he could not see who built it, but they were not human. 

      So long ago.

     There were shelves and rooms where bright lights lived, too bright, and things large and small appeared and disappeared in the lights.  Food, and all kinds of other products.   Even living things.  Large windows were everywhere, alive with strangeness,  patterns and colors that seemed somewhat familiar to him, but still defied understanding.   He found himself in front of one of the windows and he recognized the symbols there, and the diagrams.   Something about matter transference he thought.  How odd.   It was like reading a book, but the information scrolled so quickly he could not consciously register any of it.  When it was done the panel switched to a scene where some sort of fractal art was being displayed;  he looked across the brightly lighted room of his dream, and saw a photograph of Duncan Idaho flash across another screen, but only for an instant.

     Leto woke from his sleep and felt totally refreshed.  He wanted to explore the area.  The worms had brought him here for some reason, and perhaps he could discern it.  As he made his way up into the rocks he came upon what looked like large steps, but if they were steps they were for giants, and older than most minds could conceive.  He took out his light and flashed it around.  There was not much life out here in this part of the desert except for the sandworms,  because there was very little water anywhere on Revenant Dune now, except in the human areas, and of course that encapsulated below by the little makers, the sandtrout.

     He followed the giant steps upward, and came upon a cave open at both ends, but it was too angular for a cave.  It was huge, large enough even for their No-ship, and that was saying much.    Something caught his eye then, it was a window in the wall, but not a window, some sort of panel, obviously artificial, but old, so so old.  It reminded him of his dream, and he wondered if he had been seeing ahead, and if so, why?  What was this place?  His flashlight picked out some symbols carved into a wall, though they were symbols neither he nor any of his ancestors had ever seen before.  Then, he recognized one of the symbols.  It sent a chill bolt right through him,  a surprise of surprises, because there, artfully carved into the wall,  was a perfect rendition of a giant sandworm.

       “Gods Below, these cliffs are ruins!” he thought.  And the worms had directed him here!  They’d  brought their human part here, right away.  He had a fleeting glimpse of some possible other direction processes happening across reality, and felt alarmed by that thought.  He would have to talk to Idaho about this immediately, bring him here.  Leto continued to explore.

     There were many rooms and shelves, and more window type panels too, like he had dreamed of.  Dreams were one of the reasons he enjoyed sleeping:  he could sense things and learn things and go places he had not been able to access through the stark and brutal vision at the birth of this Golden Path.  Certainly dreaming was many times prescience, or even extrasensory perception,  but without all the disruption and strife of Terrible Purpose among the Ancestral Memories.  The control he had been able to garner over his ancestral memories since his rebirth as a human was a boon of fantastic  value, he thought.   A very old saying came to his mind then, a favorite of his Ghanima:

     “Every day, every hour, sometimes every moment, brings change.”

     This cliff/butte ruin complex was extensive.  There were areas where huge mass was accumulated, for what reason Leto did not know.  Greater than anything he had ever seen.  Gigantic blocks of the material they built with lay strewn about, but some remained in place and these indicated edifice of gargantuan measure;  he sensed high purpose too.  He was still wondering about the carving of the Sandworm in the wall below when he saw the first blushes of sunrise to the east.  He had spent a night alone in his desert for the first time in a long time, and what a night it was.   He made his way down to the area where the worms had stopped,  they were still there.   A few stirred at his approach, and he walked to the closest one.   Again he grabbed a segment edge and again he was hoisted up.    He made it back to the No-ship in about an hour, just as the sun began to rise over the far horizon.


                         *****************************************


“Staying up all night adds a day to your life.”
The Naib Stilgar, of Seitch Tabr, Dune;
To Duncan Idaho at his second death.


“Never doubt that there is Direction in your life.  Most of it is unbeknownst, undetectable.  Immediate direction comes from many outside places but originates within;  people are directed by their needs, and their wants; sometimes they are even directed by transient forces in their environment representing versions of God, or the Monster.   For the most part though, the direction of Us originates on the other side of the velvet curtain, at the light source manifest through the billions of pinprick holes in the sky of night.  Hard lessons teach thoroughly and are never forgotton, because they are remembered by the flesh.”
The God Emperor Of Dune
Leto Atreides II
Conversations With Hwi Noree


     Sheeana gauged the size of the tower from where she stood, and thought it may have exceeded 5000 meters in height when it was new, before it had been eroded by this planet over a nearly unspeakable amount of time.  Duncan had landed the 'thopter near the tower,  and the airplane looked like a tiny insect against the immensity of the stonework.

     The material these ancients built with had withstood every destructive mechanism in Duncan Idahos laboratory.  Yet the etching and erosion of it here in these Cliff Butte Ruins by the wind and sand was monstrous, truly monstrous.   Magnetic artifacts at the microscopic level indicated these ruins were abandoned back when this desert was very near the north pole of the planet.    Huge crustal displacements must have taken place since then, but still these buildings survived.  Duncan estimated they were over 100,000 years old, but qualified that by saying they could even be ten times that age.

     Unspeakable time.

     Duncan and Leto were off with their measuring instruments while she and some of her Bene Gesserit sisters detected the area in the ways they were trained, in search of minutiae.  The minute things could add up to a better general picture someday, or even produce windfall realizations.  The carvings on these walls had already been recorded for deciphering later, if that proved possible.  It should.  There, she thought, was where they would find an answer to this place, what it was, what purpose or purposes it served.  

     Who built it.

    Leto had marched them all to the Giant Sandworm picture right away.  It was truly beautiful and showed the creature with its front arched up,  as if it was getting ready to dive deep into sand.  The picture seemed laser cut into the wall, but could have been formed there in some other way.  Unbelievably, their lasguns did not even warm this stone-like material, say nothing about etching it, so whatever was able to cut a picture here was a formidable thing indeed.

     She continued to wander.  In some ways she was reminded of the crypt where Leto II the God Emperor had secreted his gigantic hoard of spice, found on Rakis by Reverand Mother Darwi Odrade, after she was taken there by a worm just prior to the planets destruction.  The God Emperor had used a lasgun on the inside of that crypt to leave his message to The Sisterhood.  Cut into the wall in a flowing script, so that it would be seen first, had been this:

     “A Reverand Mother will read my words”. 

     Now the planet where those words and so many more had been written in stone by the God Emperor himself was nothing but a dissipating dust cloud in space;  some larger chunks of it would become asteroids and even comets for awhile, circling mindlessly to expend errant energies, eventually becoming entrained to new positions among the stars.  For awhile, the planet Dune would exist only as an ethereal ring of debris in its old orbital track, before making its way downhill to the deeper well, into the white hole of the sun.  Would pieces of the old Arrakeen shield wall be recognizable within that cloud of debris?  Or pieces of Sietch Tabr?  She doubted it.   If the same fate overtook this planet,  Sheeana was quite sure the blocks of these huge buildings would float through space in their same basic shape forever. 

     Sheeana looked over to the east again, where the giant tower still stood, most of it anyway, and saw her men making their way around an outcrop, heading her way.  Leto spoke with great animation, Idahos look was of intense, even disturbed concentration.  Duncan often looked like that, she thought.  He was always thinking.

     Idaho made a gesture with his free hand, a short chopping motion.   He carried a piece of something that looked like a shard from one of the wall panel windows.   Leto nodded, continued talking.  Sheeana heard Leto say something about “Matter Transference” as they came closer.  She walked over to them and listened openly.  She wanted to know more about this “Matter Transference”.   They stopped talking and looked her way.  Smiling she walked to them across the rocks, stopping next to Leto.  She put her arm around his shoulders and pulled him tight.  He threw his arms around her waist and hugged back.  Because he could.  Because it felt good and right.  This time was human time;  he loved these people for what they were, for what their actions made them, for this chance they had given him.

     Golden.

     Path.

     Duncan was in a high state of agitation from what they had discovered.  He said: “Tell Sheeana about the dream”.    A stray lock of black goat hair fell across his forehead, and he palmed it  back without thinking,  an Idaho mannerism spanning millenia!   Leto smiled,  and told his Mother about the dream:  The shelves, the rooms, the bright bright lights and the panels on the walls.
    
      “ What was this I heard about “Matter Transference?”

      Leto and Duncan shared a look.  It was the look between them  that said “No matter how much you love her, never think for an instant you can Ever get anything by her, because she sees and hears it all.  She is a modern Reverand Mother, and she is the embodiment of a Goddess.”

      “In my dream I found myself before one of the wall panels.  I was able to recognize some of the symbols and diagrams, though it scrolled so fast I had not the time to consciously grasp anything.  One term I saw and was able to register was that:   Matter Transference.  I am sure its all up here somewhere...” he tapped his head, unconscious imitation of another Idaho gesture, “but I have not been able to access it.  Yet.”  Again he and Idaho shared a glance.

     Duncan said that it all smelled to high heaven of planetary field manipulation, and he also let go the bothersome idea that had been lodged in his mind like a shard of glass all morning.  What if the worms were a tool of something?  Created to condition an atmosphere,  to create a certain environment?  The spice just a by product of that process?  And to what end?  Were the giant sandworms here to create The Coriolis Storm?    Were they here to dessicate, and to pump up the energy within the environment through direct transmission of high level chemical power at a very local level?  Were the worms introduced to turn the whole crust of the planet into a more ordered layer of electricity within the immensity of the planets electronic field?  Duncan stopped speaking .

     It became an inward staring.  More than a mentat trance, this was communication.  From somewhere he could see Leto and Sheeana, they looked at him strangely, they were frozen and he realized that what he was experiencing now was occurring in hypertime, where literal hours could pass for him, in less than an eyeblink of time outside.   If anyone knew about things like this it was Leto and Sheeana.  They did not interfere while he marshalled it all together, it was a secondary computation close to prime.    His mind calculated the amount of energy involved, factoring in the known figures about sandworms and their heat outputs.  Truly huge amounts.

     Pages played across his vision centers then, he was in the web!   It might be this place, he thought, these ruins.   This was a physical nexus, mass enough to house the powers necessary to utilize the planets field, and its molten core, as nearly infinite energy sources.  And close at hand.  Pictures of massive pyramids from thousands of different worlds flashed and scrolled across his awareness, and he began to understand.

     Something disrupted the vision,  it was like electronic static, white noise in his mind.  Then he saw the old couple.  The man was looking out a window of the large house.  He addressed his wife who was weeding among the flowers in the front yard, “My my Marty, look who made it back!”

    The old woman looked right at Duncan, piercingly, it seemed to him, then the man came out onto the front porch.  “Do you see where he is Marty?”

       “Yes, and how did he get there, I wonder?”

      The man chuckled and came out onto the lawn.  He looked up and spoke directly to Idaho:  “This web is a web of suns, each star is capable of being an instantaneous communication device and matter transference engine.  There are obvious engineering drawbacks being too close to a sun though.  If a planets electrical field can be conditioned correctly it can be used as an energy source for this activity as well, a branch office of the sun, kind of.   We Tleilaxu of The Scattering discovered this because we did the work.  Your appearance in the web lets me know things are reaching a certain point of development, wouldn’t you say so Marty?”

     His wife turned from her weeding, and her features seemed to drag behind her, blurring, snapping into place once her movement ceased.   Her reply sounded like “He has something of ours” but it faded, unintelligible.   Idaho knew this meant his connection time was just about up.   The man came across the lawn, right at him, and said “Listen carefully my friend, the depot you have happened upon once belonged to the most powerful race in the cosmos, oxygen breathers too, but very different from ourselves; they are extinct.   Only a few of their works have survived, like the ruins you are standing in right now, and the sandworms.  Tell me, how many planets do the worms occupy in your universe at this time?  Idaho could not speak but he found by thinking an answer they received it.  Hundreds of Thousands, maybe millions.  “And each one a depot in the making”  the man said, though he too was fading fast.  His last words sounded like “Build Quickly” and then they were gone again.  Duncan was off the web.
   
     Sheeana and Leto still peered at him owlishly as he came forward to real time.   He shook his head to clear it and the stray lock of hair fell again.  He ignored it this time.  Looking at both of them Duncan moved up to the other side of Sheeana.  Taking her hand he said “Come, it is time to return to the Ship.  We have work to do.


                              **************************************



          "Life Requires Dispute. Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty!  You've been made to know -- by ME -- that your reality differs from all others;  thus, you know you're alive." 

Leto Atreides II
God Emperor Of Dune
To his last Major Domo, Moneo Atreides



       They showered and changed from their desert robes and stillsuits into ships clothing;  loose trousers and shirts, sandals.  The first thing Duncan wanted to do was comparison readings on the planetary field.  Right away he saw that certain aspects of the planetary fields power had increased dramatically since the introduction of the worms.    Dramatically!   Sheeana and Leto were present with overtly questioning attitudes. 

     Duncan Idaho felt the need to unburden himself.   He began by describing the web he had been accessing.  Sheeana possessed a rudimentary knowledge of it,  Leto very little, if anything.  Leto was immediately struck by the similarites to his dream about the ruins.   He remembered the flash photo of Duncan Idaho appearing on one of the screens.

     Idaho continued.   He explained seeing the old couple again, and where they seemed to fit in.   He brought forth their words and replayed them aloud in his own voice.  Twice in fact.  There was no deviation between the versions.  Mentat Verbatim.

     Leto wondered what the woman had meant by something of theirs.  Was it the captive Tleilaxu Scytale?  If not, what could people of The Scattering possibly know about anything here on this world?  But the man had spoken with familiarity.

     Do you see where he is Marty?

      And his wife had answered in the affirmative, she knew the planet, or maybe they were just familiar with the types of buildings  around a “Depot”.    Was there manipulation happening?  A feint within a feint within a feint?    Was everyone being led somewhere?

     Sheeana was struck by the implications of an undiscovered and relatively unexploited technology of super proportion and means.   She reconsidered The Melange Symbiosis.  The Bene Gesserit.

     The God Emperor.

     She peered over at Leto and he smiled broadly.    With his black wavy hair,  and the classic Atreides profile,  Leto was becoming a very handsome healthy male,  she thought with some pride.  He was getting more muscular by the day and it would not be long before he was taller than Duncan or herself.  Puberty had begun in him;  the deepening of his voice just one of the more observable aspects.    More than a few of the younger Reverand Mother acolytes already had him marked for education service in a few years time, she knew.   She was sure he would cooperate with the women whole heartedly.

     Interesting times, even though nothing was as it seemed anymore;  there had been a major shift.  Was it evolution?  More frightening, was it Direction?  Was It Both?

     A young Reverand Mother knocked lightly, entered, handed Sheeana a notebook with a slight bow of her head, and left.  The translations of the symbols carved into the walls at the Cliff Butte Ruins.  Decipherment that fast meant they were made to be solved, they were mathematically based.  What had the old man in Duncans recitation called it, a Depot?

     The symbols were commands and directions for use of the equipment.  Things like the worms picture were as they seemed; decoration, adornment, art.  Idaho considered the last words of the old man during  their meeting in hypertime:  Build Quickly.   The words filled him with foreboding.




Continued...


I am thankful I have lived long enough to get this done.
My Personal Tribute To Frank Herbert .