Creative anarchy is the path to survival in this universe.'

'Thank you for this lesson, Mother Superior.'

Bless you, Suipol.

'After all of their experiences with us,' Suipol said, 'surely they no longer question our loyalty to one another.'

Fates preserve her! This one is ready for the Agony and may never see it.

Odrade could only agree with the acolyte's summation. Compliance with Bene Gesserit ways came from within, from those constantly monitored details that kept their own house in order. It was not philosophical but a pragmatic view of free will. Any claim the Sisterhood might have to making its own way in a hostile universe lay in scrupulous adherence to mutual loyalty, an agreement forged in the Agony. Chapterhouse and its few remaining subsidiaries were nurseries of an order founded in sharing and Sharing. Not based on innocence. That had been lost long ago. It was set firmly in political consciousness and a view of history independent of other laws and customs.

'We are not machines,' Odrade said, glancing at the automata around them. 'We always rely on personal relationships, never knowing where those may lead us.'

Tamalane stepped to Odrade's side. 'Don't you think they should be sending us a message at the very least?'

'They've already sent us a message, Tam, putting us up in a second-class hostelry. And I have responded.'

Ultimately, all things are known because you want to believe you know.

- Zensunni koan

Teg took a deep breath. Gammu lay directly ahead, precisely where his navigators had said it would be when they emerged from foldspace. He stood beside a watchful Streggi seeing this in displays of his flagship's command bay.

Streggi did not like it that he stood on his own feet instead of riding her shoulders. She felt superfluous amidst military hardware. Her gaze kept going to the multi-projection fields at command bay center. Aides moving efficiently in and out of pods and fields, bodies draped with esoteric hardware, knew what they were doing. She had only the vaguest idea of these functions.

The comboard to relay Teg's orders lay under his palms, riding there on suspensors. Its command field formed a faint blue glow around his hands. The silvery horseshoe linking him to the attack force rested lightly on his shoulders, feeling familiar there in spite of being much larger relative to his small body than comlinks of his previous lifetime.

None of those around him any longer questioned that this was their famous Bashar in a child's body. They took his orders with brisk acceptance.

The target system looked ordinary from this distance: a sun and its captive planets. But Gammu in center focus was not ordinary. Idaho had been born there, his ghola trained there, his original memories restored there.

And I was changed there.

Teg had no explanation for what he had found in himself under the stresses of survival on Gammu. Physical speed that drained his flesh and an ability to see no-ships, to locate them in an image field like a block of space reproduced in his mind.

He suspected a wild outcropping in Atreides genes. Marker cells had been identified in him but not their purpose. It was the heritage Bene Gesserit Breeding Mistresses had meddled with for eons. There was little doubt they would view this ability as something potentially dangerous to them. They might use it but he would certainly lose his freedom.

He put these reflections out of his mind.

'Send in the decoys.'


Teg felt himself assume a familiar stance. There was a sense of climbing onto a refreshing eminence when planning ended. Theories had been articulated, alternatives carefully worked out, and subordinates deployed, all thoroughly briefed. His key squad leaders had committed Gammu to memory - where partisan help might be available, every bolt hole, every known strongpoint and which access routes were most vulnerable. He had warned them especially about Futars. The possibility that humanoid beasts might be allies could not be overlooked. Rebels who had helped ghola-Idaho escape from Gammu had insisted Futars were created to hunt and kill Honored Matres. Knowing the accounts of Dortujla and others, you could almost pity Honored Matres if this were true, except that no pity could be spared for those who never showed it to others.

The attack was taking its designed shape - scout ships laying down a decoy barrage and heavy carriers moving into strike position. Teg became now what he thought of as 'the instrument of my instruments.' It was difficult to determine which commanded and which responded.

Now, the delicate part.

Unknowns were to be feared. A good commander kept that firmly in mind. There were always unknowns.

Decoys were nearing the defensive perimeter. He saw enemy no-ships and foldspace sensors - bright dots arrayed through his awareness. Teg superimposed this onto the positions of his force. Every order he gave must appear to originate from a battle-plot they all shared.

He felt thankful Murbella had not joined him. Any Reverend Mother might see through his deception. But no one had questioned Odrade's order that Murbella wait with her party at a safe distance.

'Potential Mother Superior. Guard this one well.'

Explosive demolition of decoys began with a random display of brilliant flashes around the planet. He leaned forward, staring at projections.

'There's the pattern!'

There was no such pattern but his words created belief and pulses quickened. No one questioned that the Bashar had seen vulnerability in the defenses. His hands flashed over the comboard, sending his ships forward in a blazing display that littered space behind them with enemy fragments.

'All right! Let's go!'

He fed the flagship's course directly into Navigation, then turned full attention to Fire Control. Silent explosions dotted space around them as the flagship mopped up surviving elements of Gammu's perimeter guardians.

'More decoys!' he ordered.

Globes of white light blinked in the projection fields.

Attention in the command bay concentrated on the fields, not on their Bashar. The unexpected! Teg, justly famous for that, was confirming his reputation.

'I find this oddly romantic,' Streggi said.

Romantic? No romance in this! The time for romance was past and yet to come. A certain aura might surround plans for violence. He accepted that. Historians created their own brand of drama-cum-romance. But now? This was adrenaline time! Romance distracted you from necessities. You had to be cold inside, a clear and unimpaired line between mind and body.

As his hands moved in the comboard's field, Teg realized what had driven Streggi to speak. Something primitive about the death and destruction being created here. This was a moment cut out of normal order. A disturbing return to ancient tribal patterns.

She sensed a tom-tom in her breast and voices chanting: 'Kill! Kill! Kill!'

His vision of guardian no-ships showed survivors fleeing in panic.

Good! Panic has a way of spreading and weakening your enemies.

'There's Barony.'

Idaho had converted him to the old Harkonnen name for the sprawling city with its giant black centerpiece of plasteel.

'We'll land on the Flat to the north.'

He spoke the words but his hands gave the orders.

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