"That's what your mother would say," the Planetologist said with-out looking up from the skeins of information pouring through the recording apparatus into an old datapack. "Look, a gust clocked at eight hundred kilometers per hour!" His voice carried no fear, only excitement. "What a monster storm!"
Liet looked up from the stone-hard sealant he had slathered over the thin crack. The squealing sound of leaking air faded, replaced by a muffled hurricane din.
"If we were outside, this wind would scour the flesh off our bones."
Kynes pursed his lips. "Quite likely true, but you must learn to express yourself objectively and quantitatively. 'Scour the flesh off our bones' is not a phrasing one would include in a report to the Emperor."
The battering wind, the scraping sand, and the roar of the storm reached a crescendo; then, with a burst of pressure inside the survey pod, it all broke into a bubble of silence. Liet blinked, swallowing hard to clear his ears and throat. Intense quiet throbbed in his skull. Through the hull of the creaking vessel, he could still hear Coriolis winds like whispered voices in a nightmare.
"We're in the eye." Glowing with delight, Pardot Kynes stepped away from his instruments. "A sietch at the center of the storm, a refuge where you would least expect it."
Blue static discharges crackled around them, sand and dust rubbing together to generate electromagnetic fields. "I would prefer to be back in the sietch right now," Liet admitted.
The meteorological pod drifted along in the eye, safe and silent after the intense battering of the storm wall. Confined together in the small vessel, the two had a chance to talk, as father and son.
But they didn't....
Ten minutes later they struck the opposite sandstorm wall, thrown back into the insane flow with a glancing blow of the dust-thick winds. Liet stumbled and held on; his father managed to maintain his footing. The vessel's hull vibrated and rattled.
Kynes looked at his controls, at the floor, and then at his son. "I'm not sure what to do about this. The suspensors are"--with a lurch, they began to plunge, as if their safety rope had been severed--"failing."
Liet held himself against an eerie weightlessness as the crippled pod dropped toward the ground, which lay obscured by dusty murk. As they tumbled in the air, the Planetologist continued to work the controls.
The haphazard suspensors sputtered and caught again just before impact. The force from the Holtzman field generator cushioned them enough to absorb the worst of the crash. Then the storm pod slammed into the churned sand, and the Coriolis winds roared overhead like a spice harvester trampling a kangaroo mouse under its treads. A deluge of dust poured down, released from the sky.
Bruised but otherwise unharmed, Pardot and Liet Kynes picked themselves up and stared at each other in the afterglow of adrenaline. The storm headed up and over them, leaving the pod behind....
AFTER WORKING A SANDSNORK out through the clogged vent opening, Liet pumped fresh air into the stale confinement. When he pried open the heavy hatch, a stream of sand fell into the interior, but Liet used a static-foam binder to pack the walls. Using a scoop from his fremkit as well as his bare hands, Liet set to work digging them out.
Pardot Kynes had complete confidence in his son's abilities to rescue them, so he worked in dimness to collate his new weather readings into a single old-style datapack.
Blinking as he pushed himself into the open air like an infant emerging from a womb, Liet stared at the storm-scoured landscape. The desert landscape was reborn: Dunes moved along like a marching herd; familiar landmarks changed; footprints, tents, even small villages erased. The entire basin looked fresh and clean and new.
Excerpted from Dune: House Harkonnen by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson Copyright© 2000 by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Excerpted by permission of Spectra, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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