2010 Dune Fan Fiction Contest: Entry #5
The Hawk of the Prescient Man
Flew over the Kingdom of Sand,
But when the moon sunk too low
He knew that time would not slow,
And child did amend what Father began.
~The Oral History
There were many nights when Leto would absorb every detail of the desert into his being, but this evening he would have no such luck on his run back toward Arrakeen, as he was filled with adab—the demanding memory.
Though he often sought out specific memories to aid in his reshaping of the empire he inherited from his father, there was also a sharp fear when the memories came unbidden to Leto. Memory was an enduring pattern that could be affixed onto oneself, but the danger of the preborn lay in the absolute perfection of the ancestor’s memories within the body. He could remain within these memories and leave the empire to rot. Such a temptation to lose oneself would mean death, and Leto still had much work to accomplish before he would be allowed to die.
If I were to have been born in a yurt today, would I be soothed of this melancholy? thought Leto II. Gurney would have— Leto had to catch himself.
Gurney Halleck would have chastised Paul Atreides—Muad’Dib—Leto’s father. The boy emperor knew the danger his aunt succumbed to, but he often found himself gravitating toward the voice of his father, though he would not dare allow his voice to assume control. Today, he did not know how long ago his father had died at the hands of a priest who had once extolled the name of Muad’Dib while ignoring the true meaning of his icon’s words. Tomorrow he would recall that it been nearly five years. Leto did not have time to sigh as he ran back home, toward Ghanima.
Sometimes the run across the desert repressed the foreverness of Time that conscripted him, a paradox that allowed Leto to appreciate his own grand-moteness and the ever-present Now. He longed to find himself lost within the currents rather than at the forefront of Time.
Mood? I’m all the men and women who make up my past. Love-making? I’ve seen more than Idaho! Although Leto allowed himself a dry chuckle as he remembered Gurney’s talk with Paul about mood, he was suddenly struck by a thought about Duncan Idaho: Could a Duncan Idaho ever find a life of his own or would he forever trap himself in his loyalty to the Atreides mystique?
Idaho and Atreides loyalty; it was a curious thought that Leto would have to pursue once back in Arrakeen.
It was not often that Leto could find humor in his remembering of his father, so he treasured those memories of a man trapped by Fate, by prescience. Leto had come to understand his father completely during his first prescient vision of the necessities of the Golden Path, a future that would lead humanity as a whole out of the death-desire, though much death would be had during Kralizec—the Typhoon Struggle—born out of death yet with neither beginning nor end, an is made real by a true evolution of the species. It was a future which presented its own kind of trap to a being such as Leto or Muad’Dib.
However, the first emotion Leto experienced towards his father was of hate and disgust, but that was due to the nature of his awakening while still in the womb. It was a memory he had put out of his mind but had come resurging back as he ran past Shuloch, the old sietch of the Jacurutu:
He was cradling an infant in arms that were not his own, feeling as though he was holding himself. In a husky, female voice he tried to soothe the young child:
“Be still, little Leto. Our Usul will return to us soon.” It was not his voice, and yet he thought that he could be this Fremen mother. She sang to her baby:
Be still, my love, for the desert wind has come.
Watch and listen to its howling.
You shall survive the Storm of Sands.
Reach out to your Ruh-Spirit
And we shall greet your gaze
With the water of the tribe.
The words moved him and became insinuated in his developing mind as he realized that he was his mother, Chani, singing to her firstborn son, a son long dead. Though he could replay it perfectly in his mind, it was a song she had only sung once to her child, in part because of a curious fear that her Usul had somehow placed those words in her mind. It was halting and unrhythmic, like the walking one makes across the desert to delay the coming of Shai-Hulud, the Old Man of the Desert. She was singing to his brother, killed by Sardaukar not long before Paul took control of Arrakis and became Emperor. During this awakening, Leto was caught by alternating memories that seemed to prove in his young mind that his father had allowed terrible things to occur.
Life and death became intermingled as he became inundated with the memories and violence of his ancestors. Muad’Dib is like all the rest, he had thought. As he grew in consciousness in the womb, this memory of his mother haunted him, as it appeared like a dim light against the dark Atreides and Fremen histories, like a blinking glowglobe whose illumination in sietch brought both warmth and danger.
And yet, when Leto was born, he allowed his father the use of his eyes so that Scytale’s blade and voice could be stilled.
And now, Leto was like the waif at Shuloch, except he did more than just imitate the motions of his father, though many people would perceive it as merely the extension of Muad’Dib’s divine will.
I have become a repository for all words and meanings, but that experience of awakening, that preborn difference, can never truly be distilled and translated into a language understood by anyone but the preborn, thought Leto. He understood the vast languages at work on Dune, that the Golden Path demanded his becoming the ultimate embodiment of the hidden meanings and substance of words. Leto often wondered if anyone other than he and Ghani could understand them all.
His mind beginning to tire, Leto wondered why his first memory of this life came to him. Mentat computation failed him here, a surprise amongst an Ocean of Knowns.
The Fremen-Within did not usually cry out against him during these desert runs, which soothed them, as Leto knew they would, but thoughts of his Golden Path brought out their voices within his mind. Leto was destroying the desert—their home—in the name of Fremen necessity. “Why?” “What gives you the right?” “Liet would not have destroyed us so!” Finally, Harum’s booming voice quelled their fear and anger.
Why am I so tired? thought Leto. The Golden Path, Leto’s enforced Tranquility, though few would understand it, would define Leto and place him in a pantheon he never desired.
Once more his thoughts went to Gurney Halleck, whose inkvine scar was a dangerous reminder of Harkonnen cruelty, and his renowned baliset skills. Leto longed to be able to play the baliset as well as this troubadour-warrior. There were many a time when he broke a string or even the instrument itself; the sandtrout skin did not always agree with his moods and often prevented the most delicate of gestures. If he did not feel overwhelmed by his memories when he returned home, he would play Ghani a song, a song Paul once pretended to not have overheard before the move to Arrakis:
The hawk flies o’er Caladanian waters,
Longing for stillness and
Growing mad with desert hunger!
The dames are bawdy
And may be quick to anger.
Be fearful for the life of your pecker!
We see a trap,
All conspirators known, while
The hawk flies o’er Caladanian waters!
This reminded him of simpler times, when Muad’Dib’s jihad had not yet ravaged the Imperium and his religion had not yet created greedy Fremen. Leto allowed himself this joy, knowing that without joy or surprise he would change and become a mirror of those ancestors whom denied themselves and became beasts that sought out death. Ever since his imprisonment at Shuloch and the taking on of the sandtrout skin, Leto feared that he would no longer feel the breath of life. I risk my sanity in this existence I now strive to achieve. There is no doubt Father risked his grasp on this reality he set in motion with his vision, now mine to carry through. One day I, too, will fall and all that will remain is the dust scattered by the Secher Nbwi—my Golden Path.
The hour had grown late with dawn approaching, and Leto was exhausted by the memory of his birth. Harq al-Ada will attempt to hold back anger when I return. He doesn’t like it when I worry his wife. I must not let Ghani worry any longer. Leto hurried back home to his sister.
>>This was my winning entry (submitted under the user name TLESZER) to the first annual HAIRY TICKS OF DUNE / JACURUTU sponsored Dune Fan Fiction Contest. It was a pleasure to read all the entries, and I’m looking forward to more writing contests in the science-fiction universe created by Frank Herbert.
-HERE- is a list of the winners and their entries as posted on the Jacurutu website.