Covered with pale dust, he scrambled up to more stable sand, where he saw the depression that hid the buried pod. When they'd crashed, the vessel had slammed a crater into the wind-stirred desert surface, just before the passing storm dumped a blanket of sand on top of them.
With Fremen instincts and an inborn sense of direction, Liet was able to determine their approximate position, not far from the South False Wall. He recognized the rock forms, the cliff bands, the peaks and rilles. If the winds had blown them a kilometer farther, the pod would have crashed into the blistering mountains.., an ignominious end for the great Planetologist, whom the Fremen revered as their Umma, their prophet.
Liet called down into the hole that marked the buried vessel. "Father, I believe there's a sietch in the nearby cliffs. If we go there, the Fremen can help us dig out the pod."
"Good idea," Kynes answered, his voice muffled. "Go check to make sure. I'll stay here and work. I've... got an idea."
With a sigh, the young man walked across the sand toward the jutting elbows of ocher rock. His steps were without rhythm, so as not to attract one of the great worms: step, drag, pause . . . drag, pause, step-step... drag, step, pause, step....
Liet's comrades at Red Wall Sietch, especially his blood brother Warrick, envied him for all the time he spent with the Planetologist. Umma Kynes had brought a vision of paradise to the desert people-- they believed his dream of reawakening Dune, and followed the man.
Without the knowledge of the Harkonnen overlords--who were only on Arrakis to mine the spice, and viewed people only as a resource to be squeezed--Kynes oversaw armies of secret, devoted workers who planted grasses to anchor the mobile dunes; they established groves of cacti and hardy scrub bushes in sheltered canyons, watered by dew-precipitators. In the unexplored south polar regions, Fremen had planted palmaries, which had gained a foothold and now flourished. He had built a lush demonstration project at Plaster Basin that produced flowers, fresh fruit, and dwarf trees.
But though the Planetologist could orchestrate grandiose, world-spanning plans, Liet did not trust his father's common sense enough to leave him alone for long.
The young man went along the ridge until he found subtle blaze marks on the rocks, a jumbled path no outsider would notice, messages in the placement of off-colored stones that promised food and shelter, under the respected al'amyah Travelers' Benediction rules.
With the aid of strong Fremen in the sietch, they could excavate the weather pod and drag it to a hiding place where it would be salvaged or repaired; within an hour, the Fremen would remove all traces and let the desert fall back into brooding silence.
But when he looked back at the crash site, Liet was alarmed to see the battered vessel moving and lurching, already protruding a third of the way out of the sand. With a deep-throated hum, the pod heaved and strained, like a beast of burden caught in a Bela Tegeusan quag-mire. But the pulsing suspensors had only enough strength to wrench the vessel upward a few centimeters at a time.
Liet froze when he realized what his father was doing. Suspensors. Out in the open desert!
He ran, tripping and stumbling, an avalanche of powder sand following his footsteps. "Father, stop. Turn them off!" He shouted so loudly that his throat grew raw. With dread in the pit of his stomach, he gazed across the golden ocean of dunes, toward the hellish pit of the faraway Cielago Depression. He scanned for a telltale ripple, the disturbance indicating deep movement....
"Father, come out of there." He skidded to a stop in front of the open hatch as the pod continued to shift back and forth, straining. The suspensor fields thrummed. Grabbing the edge of the doorframe, Liet swung himself through the hatch and dropped inside the weather pod, startling Kynes.
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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