Sands of Time - Chapter 14 - CloudGirl26 (2024)

Chapter Text

This dream felt impermanent, like it wasn’t meant to last. They were circling each other, the fury choking the atmosphere between them like a cloud of spice. Her eyes flared with inner fire, and if Paul wasn’t so incensed, his blood would be filled with want and desire, not anger. Her stance was defensive, gearing up to fight. Well, if it’s a fight she wants, then it’s a fight she’ll get.

“No chasing you this time?” She did not respond, refusing to engage with him. His angry breaths escaped him with a scoff, his fury rising even further from her mistempered actions. He needed to poke her a little more. “Come now, little ghost, no talking?” She stilled, and Paul could visibly see the anger and resentment bunch about her form, coiling underneath her skin like the sandworms of their planet. But still she did not speak. She was content to ignore him. This would not stand, she doesn’t get to run away, not again. She doesn’t get to ignore what was between them any longer. His power bunched in his throat, the force of the Voice coming from his with an angry shout. “DO NOT IGNORE ME!”

“Am I supposed to thank you for what has happened? For the fact that after everything that has happened, everything I told you, everything we have ever talked about, and you…you used it against me. It is not Fremen to stab someone in the back, but you, Atreides, you have become quite proficient in the practice of it.” She stalked to Paul, getting into his face, not backing down. His pride and instinct railed against this show of defiance, and it was shown through the baring of his teeth, but even then she persisted. “And for all you say that you value me, how easily you use your most powerful tool of control against me. I will say this once and only once, Paul Atreides, so listen well. Use the Voice on me again, and I will be gone. You will know the meaning of my moniker.” His feet moved without approval, going on pure instinct at the thought of her leaving him. He grasped her by the shoulders, shoving her against the wall. The both of them were breathing harshly, the exertion of their fight and harsh words still marring the interaction. But even in his anger, he still wanted her.

His eyes traced her face, starting at the downy hairs of her crown and going down the slope of her forehead and the fine hairs of her eyebrows. He looked into her eyes, still alight with fire, glowing blue-on-blue. His eyes whispered over her nose, the upswept curve of her cheek…

…and settled on her lips. Soft and plush, they looked, flushed by anger and the intoxicating way she bites them.

It’s time to show her how serious he was. In this line of thought, his lips twitched in a smirk, eyes still locked on her lips. But his girl was smart and guessed at his line of thinking, and with sharp words started to protest.

“Don’t you f*cking dar—” He crushed his mouth to hers, stealing the breath from her. So unlike the native Fremen, she was shorter than him so he was forced to tilt her head high, and a trace of amusem*nt went through him as he realized that at this height, she was forced to be on the tips of her feet. He gripped her firmly, leaving no chance for her to escape his hold. His tongue snaked its way into her mouth, delving inside for the stars and suns in the sky, for she shined far brighter than all those combined. But even now, she still fights him. He covered her then, obscuring the world from her, and making himself the only thing in her presence and mind. He must be the only thing she thinks about.

But the need for air became persistent, and he felt the way she was gasping for a taste of oxygen. He slipped from her lips, letting his Alpha canines nip her bottom lip roughly, wanting to leave his indelible mark on her.

And she looked glorious. Chest heaving, bountiful breasts rising and falling with the intake of blessed air, her flushed cheeks, alight with anger, shame, and perhaps, he smiled to himself, a bit of desire. Her eyes were lidded, half shut, and her mind was abuzz, he could tell. His thumb stroked her lip, her mouth left open like she was waiting for another soul-stealing kiss. It was so tempting to oblige her. But it was time to make his will known. And though his words had a teasing lilt to them, his eyes left no trace of humour in them.

“There is no place, not one, where I could not find you. You could run to the edge of the Imperium, take whatever name suits you, hide as much as you want. It would not matter because when I found you? You would never be able to leave me again. I have seen your heart and it is mine, little ghost. So go on, test my patience.” Her eyes widened in surprise, then narrowed. She was angered but it only amused him. He set the trap and she stepped into it. His humour was still there when she kept silent, because she only stays quiet when she tries to defy him. “Pity, I quite liked the thrill of the chase.” He whispers those last words in her ear and felt her body shiver.

His eyes connected with her, emotions unnamed passing between them, from the entirety of their past together. Their antagonism turned friendship and then back to hostile allies. The way she challenged him to own up to his choices, and he challenged her to stay. She was always running, running away from him. Not now. Not anymore.

But she slipped through his fingers, disappearing into grey mist. And he despaired, his emotions leaking out of him with a growl filled with wrath and agony.

It was still on Paul’s mind as he was walking through the hanger, trailing after his father and Gurney, dressed in the stillsuits provided to them by Dr. Kynes. Those intense feelings of possessive want and desire, the ultimate need for control. It still haunts him in his waking hours, the way he yearns for control over everything. But Gurney started to speak, introducing the figure standing before them. She was dressed in an impeccable Fremen stillsuit with a tan shawl covering her shoulders. Her ebony skin hardly seemed aged, but her eyes betrayed her experience.

“The Judge of the Change, sire. Dr. Liet Kynes.” Her eyes were the tell-tale blue-on-blue associated with the Fremen people, it made Paul wonder if she was trusted by them. She seemed unaffected by the presence of Paul’s father, voice betraying no emotion as she spoke.

“My lord Duke.” She bowed her head as was protocol, but Paul got the feeling that she was simply going through the motions. “Welcome to Arrakis.”

“You’re the Imperial Ecologist.” Paul spoke, a welcoming grin on his face. “Thank you for the stillsuits.” When she next spoke, it was the tone of an instructor, like she was teaching a class.

“They are of Fremen make. The best.” She started to move forward, startling the soldiers around Paul and his father. “With your permission, sire, I must check the integrity of your suit…” The words were cut off as several swords were pointed at her, with Gurney’s positioned at her throat. She stilled, knowing that one wrong step would result in her death. But Leto only placed a hand on Gurney’s arm, voice calming the tension in the air.

“Whoa, it’s alright.” Paul’s eyes shifted as he looked between Gurney and his father, uneasy in the situation but trying hard not to let it show on his face. “It’s all right. Dr. Kynes, we’re in your hands.” Dr. Kynes stepped forward, checking his father’s shoulder straps, explaining the mechanism of the stillsuit as she went.

“A stillsuit is a high-efficiency filtration system. Even this early in the morning, you wouldn’t survive two hours without one of these.” She crouched to the floor, adjusting the straps on his father’s ankles. “It cools the body and recycles the water lost to sweat.” She moved to adjust Gurney’s suit, crouching at his ankles as well. “Your body’s movement provides the power.” She stood up, coming to stand before them again. “Inside the mask, you’ll find a tube to allow you to drink the recycled water.” His father seemed to make a hum of amazement, but Paul knew his father better. His father was part amazed and part disgusted. “In good working order, your suit won’t lose more than a thimbleful of water a day.”

“Most impressive.” Whether or not Dr. Kynes sensed his father’s mild disgust, she said nothing at his words, only gave an obliging nod. Then her eyes turned to Paul, scanning over his figure.

“Let’s have a look at you, lad.” She looked over his suit but made no adjustments to it. Her eyes trailed over him, astonished by what she saw. “You’ve…worn a stillsuit before?”

“No, this is my first time.” But he had seen it so many times in his dreams that he was somewhat familiar with the design of it. But Kynes only looked at him appraisingly before questioning him further.

“Your desert boots are fitted slip-fashion at the ankles. Who taught you to do that?” He had seen it in a dream, fitted that way around his girl’s slight ankles, cinched tight. But he feigned ignorance in front of Kynes.

“It seemed the right way.” But this seemed to unnerve the doctor even further, and she stepped away as if to collect herself. The muttering of Chakobsa was faint in his ear but he could still hear her.

“He shall know your ways as though born to them.” The words were whispered with a disbelieving tone, and he knew then that she had heard the Bene Gesserit propaganda. But what mattered in the moment was that she knew the Fremen language. She was a way into the Fremen people. A way to find her.

“Are you Fremen?” The doctor hesitated for a moment before answering.

“I am accepted in both sietch and village.” She offered no more than that, though Paul could sense his father wanting to know more. “Now, come and see the spice sands on which your livelihood depends.”

The group clamored into the thopter, with Paul’s father piloting it himself. Paul’s father could always fly their aircraft, but it wasn’t until his father told him about his desire to be a pilot that he started to notice that his father loved to fly. Paul took the seat to his father’s right, in the row behind him, while Dr. Kynes took the adjacent seat. Gurney, ever the watchful guard, took the seat directly behind Paul. Once everyone was on, the thopter hummed to life as his father started the flight process. Slowly lifting up, they exited the hanger flanked by two escorts on either side. It took only seconds as the group left Arrakeen behind them, the city glinting in the sunlight.

They crossed over the desert, the various sand dunes reminding Paul of the ocean on Caladan. As they flew, Paul noticed a carryall roaming the region, ready to respond to any call of help from the various harvesters. But his eyes were continuously drawn to the sand, and its ever-shifting ways. How this entire region seemed like a stretch of mountains made of pale rock, but instead it was only sand. He was drawn to the dark orange colouring that seemed to settle in some spots, looking like a painter had airbrushed over the dunes. The orange hue seemed to shine in the light, leading Paul to a question. Was this the spice that made Arrakis so coveted?

“Dr. Kynes.” Paul’s father spoke, breaking the silence that had encompassed the group. His voice crackled over the headsets as he continued to speak. “I have a question to ask.”

“Of course, my lord.” The doctor spoke kindly, and her tone was expectant, like she knew that his father had questions. “What about the spice do you want to know about?”

“Not about the spice, Dr. Kynes.” Paul looked at his father quizzically, even though his father could not see him. What would his father want to know about other than the spice? “Tell me, those years ago, did you ever speak to the Princess?” Paul’s eyes widened in surprise, and he wasn’t the only one by the stricken look on Dr. Kynes’ face. Her eyes turned then, filling with intense sadness…and regret?

Paul could understand the sadness in her eyes. An Imperial Princess disappearing on the most dangerous planet in the Imperium, under the noses of House Harkonnen and the Emperor himself. No trace or trail to track, and the Princess still remained missing to this day. She would be sixteen, if she still lives. But Paul didn’t understand why Dr. Kynes had regret in her eyes…unless she knows something. Paul sat a little straighter, looking intently at her face to find any trace of hidden meanings. Dr. Kynes sighed heavily, looking burdened by the conversation.

“I did. It was one of the brightest moments of the Imperial visit, before it all went to sh*t.” Unseen by his father but not missed by Paul, she had a brittle smile on her face, small and almost unwilling.

“What was she like?” Paul’s father asked, voice soft because he knew how sensitive the topic was.

“Smart. She was so smart, even at eleven years old. And mischievous as well.”

“Really? I always heard that she was a timid child.”

“From the few minutes I spoke with her, Nashira never struck me as a timid or shy child.” Kynes chuckled bitterly, her distant eyes glassy as she was obviously remembering the conversation with the Princess. “She was brazen to the point of defiance, bucking underneath the strain of her Imperial Father. She was very interested in my work, as well as the effect that spice has had on the Imperium and society as a whole.” At this, Paul was intrigued. What stance could an eleven-year-old princess have on spice and how it effects society?

“How so?” Paul asked, wanting to know more. Kynes wryly smiled, the old amusem*nt rising in her as she remembered the Princess’s words.

“She argued that we as a society are entirely too dependent on spice and argued that it should be destroyed before it cripples society permanently.” All three members of House Atreides reeled back, causing Leto to look back at Kynes in disbelief. She laughed at their expressions, white teeth exposed from her grin. “I know, I was baffled when I first heard it as well. But she was adamant that if society continued the use of spice, that humanity would never evolve, only remain stagnant.”

“And the Emperor approved of this line of thinking?” At his father’s question, the smile dropped from Kynes’ face, closing off and becoming cold.

“The Emperor and Nashira did not seem to have a…warm relationship. Even when he searched for her, I never heard him speak kindly of her, only harshly.” This information settled heavily on Paul, his mind whirling. He could not fathom his father or mother treating him harshly, it was anathema. And though she was long gone, Paul felt a sliver of pity creep into his heart as he thought on the Princess. But Kynes continued to speak, voice void of any emotion. “In the end, he seemed glad to leave Arrakis.”

The co*ckpit of the thopter fell silent, its tone felt mournful as the heavy topic weighed on every person inside of the thopter. Paul looked out the side of the thopter, eyes rolling over the sand. It was often speculated that the Princess slipped into the desert and was lost amongst the sands. But as Paul looked out over the dunes, he wondered. Could a Princess survive out here? Absentmindedly, a similar question slipped out of him.

“What would you do if your ornithopter went down out here?” Kynes answered him, voice informative as she spoke.

“You wouldn’t want to go down out there. It’s worm territory.” So, an untrained Princess probably wouldn’t last a minute out there. But then Paul felt Gurney shift forward, seat drawing closer as he tapped Paul’s shoulder, motioning to something in the distance.

“Dust cloud.” Paul could only just see what Gurney was pointing to, but apparently his father had better eyes.

“I see it.” Paul’s father acknowledged Gurney, and then Kynes spoke up, realization evident in her voice.

“That’s one of your harvesters.” They came closer, the minutes passing by until they came over the edge of a dune and saw the harvester. It was a bulky square shape, a large tank plowing over the sand. The cloud of dust was so high, and it faintly sparkled in the light.

They passed close by the crawler, flanking it in the air. The dust they kicked up was so small compared to the crawler. As his father rose higher in the sky away from the crawler, Kynes began to inform them on the operations of spice mining.

“You can see the spice scattered over the surface. A rich spice bed, by the colour.” She addressed his father with her next words. “If you get a little higher, you’ll have a better view.” They rose higher, the thopter rocking with the wind. In the distance the crawler seemed tiny, but in reality, it was huge. It was then that Paul spotted two smaller aircraft circling the crawler, and Kynes began to point at them. “You see these spotter aircraft looking for wormsign.”

“Wormsign?” Paul asked, wondering how exactly they spotted a worm.

“A sand wave moving towards the crawler. Worms travel deep but get closer to the surface when they attack. If you are patient, we should see one.” Gurney spoke up at this, the first real sentence he spoke since they got on the thopter.

“A worm always comes?”

“Always. They’re drawn by rhythmic noises.” But Paul wasn’t satisfied at this information, wondering how they could protect the men and the mining efforts.

“Why don’t we just shield the crawlers?” When Kynes answered him, her tone was serious, conveying the certainty of her words.

“A shield’s a death sentence in the desert. It attracts the worms and drives them into a killing frenzy.” So even if one tries to protect themselves in the desert, they can’t use a shield because it draws the worms. It left a person vulnerable. Maybe that’s why the Fremen could escape any known skirmish with the Harkonnens. They had to learn to navigate the desert. But Leto’s voice broke Paul out of his thoughts as he looked in the direction that his father was pointing to.

“Is that a worm?” Kynes looked through the binoculars, the silence tense as they waited for her to answer.

“Big one. You have good eyes.” She lowered the binoculars for a moment and pressed a button on the panel next to her. “Calling crawler Delta Ajax niner. Wormsign warning. Acknowledge.” The voice that proceeded to come out of the radio crackled with impunity.

“Who calls Delta Ajax niner? Over.” The workers seemed undisturbed, like they couldn’t care that there was another vessel nearby. Gurney remarked about their readiness.

“They seem pretty calm about it.” But Kynes said nothing in reply, staying on the same station as the crawler. She spoke again, curt and serious to the overseer of the crawler.

“Unlisted flight. Imperium business. Wormsign north and east of you. 3.7 kilometers.” At this point one of the spotter aircraft wizzed by, confirming the sighting.

“Delta Ajax niner, this is Spotter One. Wormsign confirmed. Stand by for contact fix.” The spotter was hovering over the worm in the distance, calculating the distance between the crawler and the worm. “Worm is on intercept course to your position. Contact in five minutes.”

“So what happens now?” Gurney asked Kynes, addressing her directly.

“They’ll call a carryall to lift the crawler. They’ll harvest right up to the last minute.” This was said in a judging tone, one that only Paul picked up on.

“Calling carryall Alpha Zero. Ready for docking sequence. Contact five minutes. Over.” Paul’s father turned the thopter slightly at the overseer’s call, eyes scanning the horizon. Paul heard the voice of the spotter next.

“Anybody got a visual on the carryall?” The next minute passed slowly, the air tense with the rising stakes. It wasn’t until Kynes spoke again that it lessened a bit.

“There it is.” In the distance, Paul spotted the carryall coming towards them. He heard the voice of the operator quietly speak from the radio.

“This is carryall Alpha Zero to Delta Ajax niner.” He saw his father push a few buttons, then the voice came out louder and clearer to the occupants of the co*ckpit. “Approaching from your east. Correcting altitude and preparing docking equipment.”

“Copy, Alpha Zero. Initiating docking sequence.” The carryall moved into position above the crawler, hovering slightly over it as the operator of the crawler spoke to its crew. “Prepare to be airborne in 30 seconds.”

“Docking sequence initiated. Brace yourselves.” The carryall descended closer to the crawler, before the locking mechanisms descended from their holds. They quickly latched on, one, two, then three. But as the fourth mechanism was deploying, a great bang echoed through the air as it proceeded to break while in mid-air. Scrambling, the operator of the carryall called out to the crawler. “Alpha Zero, we’re short one point of contact.”

“What is going on?” It was strange to hear all of this unfolding before Paul, but the panic in the overseer’s voice made him feel uneasy.

“It’s one of the anchors. It’s dead.” The carryall operator informed the overseer, urgency obvious at the present situation. Realizing what happened, Kynes spoke lowly, with fearful dismay.

“sh*t.” But the conversation over the radio wasn’t finished, and the panic from the men aboard those vessels was palpable.

“Carryall unable to proceed. Unable to lift without that anchor.” The overseer cried out at this information, calling out to anyone else.

“All call! All call! Any carryall in the sector, please respond! Spotter One, give us an update. Over.” But before the spotter could answer, the carryall called out of the radio.

“Hydraulics are dead. We won’t make it. You have to evacuate.” Spotter two called out, lessening the time that they had.

“Contact in four minutes.” The passage of words between the spotters, carryall, and crawler descended into veritable panic, their hurried messages flying through the air. It was so disconcerting to hear the men losing grasp of their emotions, and Paul was wondering about what to do next.

“How many men on that crawler?” His father asked Kynes, and a dreadful feeling came over Paul, but he could not panic. He quickly thought over the specs of the thopters, already anticipating what his father’s question would lead to.

“Crew of 21.” Kynes answered his father.

“Our ships can take six each.” His father’s voice was decisive, he had already made up his mind. Paul leaned forward, pointing out the obvious flaw.

“That’s still three short.” But his father looked back at him, assured in his tone.

“We’ll find a way.” Then he plunged his hands down, forcing the thopter into a steep dive. The force of the dive pushed Paul back into his chair, his body rattling around as the ground came ever closer. Just before they hit the surface, Leto pulled the controls closer, levelling out and speeding towards the crawler. He spoke into the headset, voice clear with the weight of command.

“This is Duke Leto Atreides. We’re coming down to extract the crew of Delta Ajax niner. We’ll set down on the west.” As they approached, Paul saw the crawler come to a slow stop before his father made the thopter rear back as they came in for a hard landing. Dust and sand swirled around the thopter, obscuring Paul’s vision as he began to unclip his safety belt. Making the calculations in his head, Paul spoke to his father.

“Shield generators weigh 100 kilos each.” Paul got up, heading to the back of the thopter as his father gave another order.

“Yes, Gurney, have our escorts throw out the shield generators.” Gurney quickly agreed, following behind Paul as Kynes rounded them out the back. But his father was done speaking, giving Paul a personal command. “And, Paul, I want you at the back of the thopter. Guide them in.” His father began to open the back of the thopter as Paul heard him speak to the workers on the crawler. “Delta Ajax niner, put seven men each in my ships now.” As the thopter landed, Gurney pushed Paul out of the way, descending first. As Paul followed him, he was struck by a wave of heat, the wind whipping his hair around his face. He padded down the ramp, before finally setting his feet on the sands.

A strange feeling overcame Paul as he took his first, true steps on this desert planet. Out in the deep desert, in the very essence of Arrakis, Paul felt like the planet was given a voice, calling out and welcoming him. He shakily moved forward, paces away from the thopter as he felt the need to feel the sands slipping through his fingers. He knelt down, digging into the sand a few times before grabbing a handful. He brought his hand up, palm open as he saw the sand slip through his fingers, the dark orange particles of spice glittering in the sunlight. He felt so strange…

A great clanking noise echoed in the air, causing Paul to turn and face the crawler. His eyes were drawn up towards the top as the carryall disengaged all of the locking mechanisms, drawing up and away. Time trickled by slowly, but Paul had to get moving. He started to make his way to the crawler, turning his head to see some workers running towards the other thopters. He gripped his mask, feeling the dust creeping into his eyes. He finally caught sight of the workers closest to him, and he cupped his hands around his mouth to make his voice echo as much as possible.

“HEY! HEY!” One of the workers turned as he heard Paul’s voice, but Paul continued on, motioning with his hands. “SEVEN OVER HERE, SEVEN OVER THERE.” They ran towards him, passing him by as he was shouting still. “GO! GO! GO—”

He was overwhelmed. He tried to bring his mask up in time, but he was completely encompassed by a cloud of spice-filled dust. And his senses went wild. His eyes watered at the stinging sensation of spice, eyelids drawing close together to keep out the worst of it. He smelled burnt cinnamon and could only attribute this as the scent of spice, so unfamiliar to him. But his ears…the things he was hearing…

The echo of a thousand voices, grandmothers and great-grandmothers of the past were screaming at him. First, they were discordant, but they soon became clearer to Paul’s understanding. He stood there, feeling naked and exposed, shivering in the wind.

Then came the vision.

So overwhelmed with the force of it, Paul fell to his knees, head almost touching the ground as if trying to get away from his vision. And the voices of the past echoed as if the noise of thunder and spoke to him.

Kwisatz Haderach awakes

He found himself on his knees before the ladder of the crawler, staring aimlessly into nothingness, lost in the sensations that consumed him. Staring distantly into his vision, his hearing picked up a familiar gait. The words slipped out of him absentmindedly, like he was reciting from a dream.

“I recognize your footsteps, old man.” A hand slammed on his shoulder, shocking his system from the grips of the vision. Gurney heaved him up, barking at him to get up and move, the sandworm having reached the crawler. He was so disoriented that those first few steps were stumbles instead before he found his feet. Gurney and him started to sprint, trying to make it back to the thopter in time. Closer and closer they came, having reached two-thirds of the way when the sand beneath their feet shook.

They were knocked to the ground, the sand vibrating around them. He could feel both his and Gurney’s body shaking as well, and then they began to sink. Lower and lower they went into the sand, tugging at their hands and feet, but to no avail.

They were stuck.

Paul kept on tugging, determined not to die here, determined to save Gurney as well. He couldn’t die here, not when he still hadn’t found her! He had to keep fighting, he had to find her!

But still he kept sinking…




When a hand gripped both him and Gurney, drawing them up and out of the quicksand. The mysterious person set them both on their feet before giving them a hard shove forward. A voice from behind screamed at them.

“MOVE!” The three of them broke into a run, Gurney leading them as he leapt up onto the thopter, turning back to give Paul a hand. Still overwhelmed by the spice exposure, Paul was kneeling on the ramp as he barely heard the steps of the person behind him. But when he did turn and look to see who saved him, he was in awe.

She, because it was a she, was clad in a gleaming cream stillsuit, and perched on the edge of the ramp, one hand on a handhold above her head and the other reaching out in his direction. He could not see her face as it was wrapped in a shawl, leaving only a sliver for her eyes to look out at him. As the thopter lifted from the sands, her feet slipped out from under her, flailing in the air as they rose above the giant sandworm. With the only grip she had being one hand, Paul surged forward, wrapping his free arm around her waist. He pulled her close, his head coming up to her hips as he stayed kneeling. The Fremen girl rested her free hand on his shoulder, gripping tightly after her near fall.

But then Paul’s eyes were drawn to the crawler being consumed by the sandworm, falling into the mouth of it. But just over the noise of the thopter and the roar of the sandworm, Paul heard the stranger say a blessing in the Fremen tongue. Her words washed over him, awe making its place known alongside all of his other sensations.

“Bless the Maker and His Water. Bless the coming and going of Him. May His passage cleanse the world and keep the world for His people.” Higher and higher they went, and then the sandworm closed its mouth and sunk back into the sand, it and the crawler disappearing from sight. Paul felt a tug on his arm, turning to see Gurney motioning to him to get back inside the thopter. He shakily stood up, keeping his arm around the girl as he moved further back, taking her with him. They passed the threshold of the thopter intertwined, the door closing behind them.

He stumbled away from her, going back to sit in his seat behind his father, who glared at him with furious eyes before Paul saw them widening at the sight of the girl behind him. A shocked silence permeated the air, every person in the thopter staring at the Fremen girl, who was only glaring angrily at them, blue-on-blue eyes shifting from Paul to his father and then over to Kynes. When she finally spoke, it was ladened with sarcastic judgement, scathing in the aftermath of what had just happened.

“So, whose grand f*cking idea was that?”

In the past sixteen years of my life, I had never thought that Paul Atreides was a f*cking idiot. But this lanky boy proved me wrong.

Standing in the back of the Atreides thopter, everyone staring at me as my question rang in the air, I was amazed at how idiotic these people could act. The silence stretched as no one answered me, and I threw my hands up in the air in annoyance.

“Well?!” My sharp voice broke the composure of that coward Kynes, whose voice stuttered as she tried to admonish me.

“Shira, watch yourself. This is the Duke Leto Atreides.” My gazed traveled to the man in the pilot’s seat, and his eyes met mine. There was a strange interest in them, like I was a puzzle to figure out. This was the man that my Baba had met yesterday. And as I looked at the others in the co*ckpit, I saw the two figures who had accompanied Duncan to the market, who tried to sneak and listen to our conversation. My eyes narrowed as I finally laid eyes on Paul Atreides in the flesh.

Sharp cheekbones and pointed chin, sharp enough to cut glass. His dark hair inherited from his father, curly and falling across his cheeks. His green eyes searched over my figure, widening as he most likely recognized the colour of my stillsuit and the wrappings covering my face from the previous day. He was as beautiful as I remembered from my dream…but I could not let him distract me from the fact that he was a f*cking moron. The next words I spoke were cold and cutting, spoken in Chakobsa.

“What care have I when men made of water dared to step foot into the desert. Have they no sense about them?” The words I spoke puzzled most of the assembly, with the exception of Kynes, and the young dukeling. It seems that he knew the language of the Fremen but made no obvious note of it.

“They wished to see the spice fields, Shira, we could not have known what would happen!” I laughed in disbelief as the Duke turned back to direct the thopter away from the site of the disappeared crawler.

“Shai-Hulud always comes, Kynes, I thought you knew this. But apparently not enough if the lack of knowledge allows this inexperienced boy to become lost in a spice-haze! Tell me, Atreides, are you stupid, or just plain ignorant?” Paul reared away from me, stunned by my animosity. But it was quickly overcome by anger as he stumbled over a response, filled with anger at my words.

“How was I supposed to know that this would happen?! It’s not like I meant to cause harm—”

“And you did not prepare for the eventuality of encountering spice? So willful ignorance it is then, along with stupidity.” The emotions passing between us were fraught with wild tension, animosity and annoyance filling the both of us. In the midst of our argument, I ignored the looks passing between the others, some of it filled with relieved amusem*nt.

“How was I supposed to know that the spice would affect me that way?!”

“It is spice, you daft boy! It’s a psychoactive chemical, what did you expect?!”

“Maybe I expected a little more gratitude for the person who saved your life!” The audacity of this petulant man!

“And yet, when you and your man were stuck in the sand, food for Shai-Hulud, it was I who pulled you up! Your debt was paid when you returned the favour. I owe nothing to you!” Our eyes were locked in a heated gaze, the anger in mine and his eyes almost palpable as my caustic words echoed in the air. We stayed in that unspoken connection until a commanding voice broke our gazes apart as I looked towards the Duke as he spoke.

“Paul! Sit down!” Paul startled at his father’s harsh voice, but quickly started to protest.

“Father, she—”

“Sit down, I will not tell you again!” Paul sat in his seat, visibly scowling at his chastisem*nt. When the Duke next spoke, it was directed at me. “Forgive my son, please. He does not know when to act contrite in some instances. I thank you for saving him and Gurney, even when you did not have to. Is there any way to repay our debt to you?” At his words, the anger drifted away from me, the exhaustion of the recent brush of death coming over me. As I contemplated his words, my eyes drifted back to Paul’s face, and saw him glaring at me, eyes brimming with annoyance. I could admit to myself that riling up this boy was quite fun, but I had no desire to stay in their company any longer than needs be.

“As I said before, there is no debt to be repaid. However, there is a mountain not far from here. I would appreciate it if you would drop me off there.” But the Duke did not seem pleased by my answer.

“Will you not come back to Arrakeen? I know that I would prefer to hold a dinner in thanks for your kindness.” I smiled wryly even if they could not see my face, amused at the Duke’s insistence.

“You honour me with the request, my lord, but the honour and loyalty I owe to my own father requires me to return home. I was on my way when I came across your party in the desert, and I could not resist the urge to help.” The Duke turned away at my words before sighing in dismay.

“Is there no way to tempt you to stay with us?” Paul turned to stare at his father, and even from here I could sense the way he was glaring in bewilderment at his father. I chuckled lightly, but that only caused Paul to whirl back around and resume glaring at me.

“My apologies, my lord, but I cannot.”

“Very well. Adjusting course.” The thopter angled to the side as the Duke directed it towards the mountain in the distance. Paul turned away from me after a few moments, content on ignoring me. Jokes on him, I couldn’t give a f*ck what he thinks. But Kynes was still staring at me, trying to convey something with her eyes. But I did not acknowledge her, refusing to entertain her platitudes. But she had to press forward, speaking to me in Chakobsa.

“Shira, are you sure—"

“I have nothing to say to you, Kynes.” As I say this, I notice Paul’s head tilt back to listen to our words, clearly wanting to know more from our conversation. But Kynes did not say anything further, taking the hint as I did not talk with her further. The minutes passed by in a tense silence, only broken by the harsh breaths of the rescued workers in the back. As we came closer to the mountain, the Duke swung the thopter around the edge and set it down feet away from the rocky outcropping. I tightened the shawl around my body as the Duke lowered the ramp, the wings of the thopter making the dust swirl in the air. I turned back to the Duke, my voice rising as I shouted over the sound of the wings.

“Thank you for the lift!”

“Thanks for the save! Safe travels…Shira.” I paused for a moment, trying to parse out the meaning behind the way he said my name. Like he was sure of something. But I did not dwell on it long as I started to move back towards the door to the thopter. But I, in my pettiness, could not deny myself one last parting blow. My voice rang out as I called back to the sulking dukeling seated behind his father.

“Try not to get yourself killed, Paul Atreides. I would hate to have to save you again.” I stepped down the ramp quickly, the sound of Paul’s snarl and his father’s chuckle ringing in my ears as the door closed behind me. I quickly scaled the mountain face in front of me, before stepping to the edge of the drop. I saw the thopter rise from the sands, lifting into the air and coming in my direction. I saw the Duke wave in departure, and I returned the gesture. The brief conversation I shared with the man only confirmed the stories I had heard of him. Honourable and just, indeed. Too bad it’s going to get him killed.

I watched the thopter drift away, becoming a glimmer in the air as travelled back to Arrakeen. But my mind was consumed by the thought of the fact that I had just met the infamous Paul Atreides. Whatever my expectations were, it was not what just happened. He was a just a boy, sulky and almost petulant in his avoidance of responsibility. No, he was not at all like I expected.

I thought back on what I knew of Paul and his story, the little details I now tried to remember. The attack on the Atreides will happen soon, I know this. I wouldn’t be able to change the battle, there were too many overwhelming odds. But as I thought on the coming days, I realized there was one thing I might be able to change. Maybe it would be for the better, maybe it would be for the worse. But I knew that if I did manage to change it, my friend would be happy in the end.

The decision was easy in the end, and I turned to walk into the desert, my new destination firmly in mind.

Paul was confounded. And annoyed. He was feeling a lot of things in these passing moments. That…that…girl made an anger rise in him that Paul had never felt before, made the itch to prove himself ever more prevalent in his countenance. The way she pointed out his flaws, humiliating him in front of Gurney and his father. She lit a burning fire in him, this girl who was younger than him, calling him out in front of his mentors like that! Just who does she think she is, addressing him like that?! Paul clenched his fists, jaw tense with frustration as they approached the hanger in Arrakeen.

And yet…his father, his father, took her side and even thanked her! That ill-mannered, audacious, slip of a girl, was thanked for saving his and Gurney’s life! It made him give a forceful sigh, the anger leaking out of him and leaving only exhaustion and disappointment in his mind. The exposure to spice made his body ache from the exertion, while the words of that girl created the disappointment. Because, in a way, she was partly right, and it was clear that Paul’s father agreed with her. He felt like he let down his father, getting lost like that in the spice. Hell, he almost lost Gurney his life along with his own! So yes, Paul was disappointed, but only at himself. But still, that girl had no right to speak to him like that.

The thopter landed in the hanger as the door in the back opened to let the workers out. Paul and Gurney followed them, but Paul needed to go. He had to get to his room to collect himself. He still felt strange after the contact with the spice. Keeping his head down, he tried to go past his father, hoping to avoid a lecture. But luck was not on Paul’s side as he heard his father speak sharply at him.

“Hey!” His father moved in front of him, leaving no chance to avoid his harsh words. Paul kept his head bowed low, not wanting to look his father in the eyes but Leto did not let him avoid eye contact. “You cannot take such risks.”

“Yes, sir.” Paul bowed his head in assent by his father was not satisfied, striking his fist against Paul’s chest to direct his attention back to his father’s face.

“You have responsibilities.”

“I…I’m sorry, sir. It won’t happen again.” Paul stuttered a bit as he tried to force the words out, trying to regain some semblance of composure in front of his father. His father smacked him sharply on the shoulder, dismissing him from the hanger and his presence.


Leto heard his son’s footsteps fading away as he came closer to Kynes, Gurney turning away from the scene between father and son, going back to check on the workers. Leto calls out, frustration laden in his voice at his current circ*mstances.

“Dr. Kynes. You saw it. With your own eyes. It’s plain to see. Everything they’ve left us is in shambles.” Leto hated the situation he was in, hated the fact that he had to endanger his family when he brought them to this wretched place. His eyes were hard as he looked at Kynes, trying to get his point across. “We’ve been set up to fail.” But Kynes looked so dispassionate as she spoke in a blank voice, dismissing his worries as conjecture.

“That carryall was just old. The desert isn’t kind to equipment.” Leto sighed angrily as he realized she wasn’t taking him seriously.

“You know what will happen if I don’t get spice production back on track.” But Kynes scoffed at him, face filled with curious amusem*nt.

“I’m not here to take your part. Arrakis has seen men like you come and go.” Her demeanor changed then, face and voice laden with a hidden warning, meant for Leto alone. “Take good care of your family. The desert’s not kind to humans either.” Kynes left him then, leaving Leto alone to try and ponder on the meaning held behind her message.

Paul was in his room, clad in linen as his mother and Dr. Yueh was in the room with him. His mother was at his side, quiet worry lining her face as Dr. Yueh examined Paul. Paul felt the doctor’s hands trace along the back of his neck, looking at the inner workings of Paul’s body. Moments passed as Paul thought about the vision he witnessed in the desert by the crawler, not paying attention to his mother and Dr. Yueh until the doctor spoke.

“Spice is a psychoactive chemical. You seem to be sensitive.” The implication of an allergy was there, but that was not what had happened. Yueh stepped away, looking down at Paul. “You’ll be fine.” Paul felt his mother look up and nod to the doctor in thanks.

“Thank you, Dr. Yueh.” As the doctor exited Paul’s room, his mother sat on the floor, petting Paul’s legs in comfort from his position on the bed. He could feel her looking up at him, silently imploring him to speak. When he did, his voice, though soft, was adamant in assurance.

“That wasn’t an allergic reaction. I had a vision. My eyes were wide open.” This last sentence was spoken in an almost wistful tone, prompting his mother to ask further.

“What did you see?” Astonishment filled her voice as Paul looked and made eye contact with her.

And then he thought back to the sands.

Paul was standing on the sands near the crawler, spice filling his senses, lighting his nerves on fire and he looked up and saw.

She was shrouded by a glare of light, his girl. Clad in white clothing, she was stepping away from him.

Then she was peering back at him, wearing her stillsuit as they walked through a narrow canyon. She stopped to wait for him, a gentle smile gracing her lips as she looked up towards the opening to the canyon.

He was back near the crawler, hearing the voices of a thousand grandmothers begin to speak.

Kwisatz Haderach

You can see…

His body was shaking as he continued to look and see.

His girl was close to him now, their faces only inches apart. Paul felt like an ethereal being as she drifted closer, her hand on his cheek. After seconds of tension, their lips finally met…only for his girl to grip him tightly as he felt a blade being thrusted into his gut. She ripped it out, blood coating the blade as he fell back.

Paul fell to his knees before the crawler, picking up sand from the desert floor.

Paul fell to his knees in the canyon, hand shaking as he placed it on his wound before drawing it back, seeing the blood dripping from his fingers. He looked up at his girl through the curtain of his hair, body shaking in pain.

Paul was by the crawler, on his hands and knees, squinting trying to piece together his visions.

“It’s confusing. I thought I saw my death, only it wasn’t.”

He saw her knife covered in his blood, dripping onto the sands by her side.

“I know a knife is important, somehow.”

He saw his mother sitting in an alcove, a crysknife laid before her on the ground. He saw her look at him, so strange looking with tattoos covering her face and her now blue-on-blue eyes staring at him.

“Someone will hand me a blade, but I don’t know who, or when, or where.”

Paul was before the crawler, a small smile on his face as he saw what was in his vision.

“Some things, though, are crystal clear. I can feel it.”

He saw his mother, cradling a baby in her arms, smiling down at the child. He saw that baby swaddled in cloth, the babe’s blue-on-blue eyes twinkling as the child gazed up at their mother.

“I know your pregnant.” Paul came back to himself in the room, his mother still sitting before him on her knees. At his words, she stared up at him, shocked. Paul felt himself smile sheepishly, because he knew that this was not yet known to his father. But his mother was shaken, the words tumbling out of her as she tried to deny his veracity.

“You can’t know that.” She paused, disbelief strong in her voice as she gazed at him in shocked panic. “I barely know that. It’s only been a few weeks.”

And as the silence stretched between the two, the realization of what Paul was, or more importantly, what Paul could be, hung between them. Jessica had many thoughts whirling in her head, but only one was the loudest.

Paul was The One.

Sands of Time - Chapter 14 - CloudGirl26 (2024)


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