Great Honored Matre leaned back in a heavy chair set high on a dais. Her withered breast shook with silent chuckles. She knows what will happen when I get her in my web! Suck her dry, that's what I'll do.

A small woman with unremarkable features and muscles that twitched nervously, she looked down on the skylighted yellow-tile floor of her audience room. A Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother sprawled there in shigawire bindings. The captive made no attempt to struggle. Shigawire was excellent for this purpose. Cut her arms off, it would!

The chamber where she sat suited Great Honored Matre as much for its dimensions as for the fact that it had been taken from others. Three hundred meters square, it had been designed for convocations of Guild Navigators here on Junction, each Navigator in a monstrous tank. The captive on that yellow floor was a mote in immensity.

This weakling took too much joy in revealing what her so-called Superior named me!

But it still was a lovely morning, Great Honored Matre thought. Except that no tortures or mental probes worked on these witches. How could you torture someone who might choose to die at any moment? And did! They had ways of suppressing pain, too. Very wily, these primitives.

She's loaded with shere, too! A body infused with that damnable drug deteriorated beyond the reach of probes before it could be examined adequately.

Great Honored Matre signaled an aide. That one nudged the sprawled Reverend Mother with a foot and, at a further signal, eased the shigawire bindings to allow minimal movement.

'What is your name, child?' Great Honored Matre asked. Her voice rasped hoarsely with age and false bonhomie.

'I am called Sabanda.' Clear young voice, still untouched by the pain of probings.

'Would you like to watch us capture a weak male and enslave him?' Great Honored Matre asked.

Sabanda knew the proper response to this. They had been warned. 'I will die first.' She said it calmly, staring up at that ancient face the color of a dried root left too long in the sun. Those odd orange flecks in the crone's eyes. A sign of anger, Proctors had told her.

A loosely hung red-gold robe with black dragon figures down its open face and red leotards beneath it only emphasized the scrawny figure they covered.

Great Honored Matre did not change expression even with a recurrent thought about these witches: Damn them! 'What was your task on that dirty little planet where we took you?'

'A teacher of the young.'

'I'm afraid we didn't leave any of your young alive.' Now why does she smile? To offend me! That's why!

'Did you teach your young ones to worship the witch, Sheeana?' Great Honored Matre asked.

'Why should I teach them to worship a Sister? Sheeana would not like that.'

'Would not... Are you saying she has come back to life and you know her?'

'Is it only the living we know?'

How clear and fearless the voice of this young witch. They had remarkable self-control, but even that could not save them. Odd, though, how this cult of Sheeana persisted. It would have to be rooted out, of course, destroyed the way the witches themselves were being destroyed.

Great Honored Matre lifted the little finger of her right hand. A waiting aide approached the captive with an injection. Perhaps this new drug would free a witch's tongue, perhaps not. No matter.

Sabanda grimaced when the injector touched her neck. In seconds she was dead. Servants carried the body away. It would be fed to captive Futars. Not that Futars were much use. Wouldn't breed in captivity, wouldn't obey the most ordinary commands. Sullen, waiting.

'Where Handlers?' one might ask. Or other useless words would spill from their humanoid mouths. Still, Futars provided some pleasures. Captivity also demonstrated they were vulnerable. Just as these primitive witches were. We'll find the witches' hiding place. It's only a matter of time.

The person who takes the banal and ordinary and illuminates it in a new way can terrify. We do not want our ideas changed. We feel threatened by such demands. 'I already know the important things!' we say. Then Changer comes and throws our old ideas away.

- The Zensufi Master

Miles Teg enjoyed playing in the orchards around Central. Odrade had first taken him here when he could just toddle. One of his earliest active memories: hardly more than two years old and already aware he was a ghola, though he did not understand the word's full meaning.

'You are a special child,' Odrade said. 'We made you from cells taken from a very old man.'

Although he was a precocious child and her words had a vaguely disturbing sound, he was more interested then in running through tall summer grass beneath the trees.

Later, he added other orchard days to that first one, accumulating as well impressions about Odrade and the others who taught him. He recognized quite early that Odrade enjoyed the excursions as much as he did.

One afternoon in his fourth year, he told her: 'Spring is my favorite time.'

'Mine, too.'

When he was seven and already showing the mental brilliance coupled to holographic memory that had caused the Sisterhood to place such heavy responsibilities on his previous incarnation, he suddenly saw the orchards as a place touching something deep inside him.

This was his first real awareness that he carried memories he could not recall. Deeply disturbed, he turned to Odrade, who stood outlined in light against the afternoon sun, and said: 'There are things I can't remember!'

'One day you will remember,' she said.

He could not see her face against the bright light and her words came from a great shadow place, as much within him as from Odrade.

That year he began studying the life of the Bashar Miles Teg, whose cells had started his new life. Odrade had explained some of this to him, holding up her fingernails. 'I took tiny scrapings from his neck-cells of his skin and they held all we needed to bring you to life. '

There was something intense about the orchards that year, fruit larger and heavier, bees almost frenetic.

'It's because of the desert growing larger down there in the south,' Odrade said. She held his hand as they walked through a dew-fresh morning beneath burgeoning apple trees.

Teg stared southward through the trees, momentarily mesmerized by leaf-dappled sunlight. He had studied about the desert, and he thought he could feel the weight of it on this place.

'Trees can sense their end approaching,' Odrade said. 'Life breeds more intensely when threatened.'

'The air is very dry,' he said. 'That must be the desert.'

'Notice how some of the leaves have gone brown and curled at the edges? We've had to irrigate heavily this year.'

He liked it that she seldom talked down to him. It was mostly one person to another. He saw curled brown on leaves. The desert did that.

Deep in the orchard, they listened quietly for a time to birds and insects. Bees working the clover of a nearby pasture came to investigate but he was pheromone-marked, as were all who walked freely on Chapterhouse. They buzzed past him, sensed identifiers and went away about their business with blossoms.

Apples. Odrade pointed westward. Peaches. His attention went where she directed. And yes, there were the cherries east of them beyond the pasture. He saw resin ribbing on the limbs.

Seeds and young shoots had been brought here on the original no-ships some fifteen hundred years ago, she said, and had been planted with loving care.

Teg visualized hands grubbing in dirt, gently patting earth around young shoots, careful irrigation, the fencing to confine the cattle to wild pastures around the first Chapterhouse plantations and buildings.

By this time he already had begun learning about the giant sandworm the Sisterhood had spirited from Rakis. Death of that worm had produced creatures called sandtrout. Sandtrout were why the desert grew. Some of this history touched accounts of his previous incarnation - a man they called 'The Bashar.' A great soldier who had died when terrible women called Honored Matres destroyed Rakis.

Teg found such studies both fascinating and troubling. He sensed gaps in himself, places where memories

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