The horizon is brushed with the creeping pale shadow of approaching dawn as he stands at the open window, careless of water discipline. These days, Duncan no longer wonders if his past life will slip away one night, leaving him the ghola Hayt once more, only without the compulsion whispering murder in his id as he tries, knife in hand, to connect the wide-eyed boy in his cellular memory with the man grown hard and old, his eyes hollow, burnt-out sockets. He is past any hope that he might open his metal eyes -- Tleilaxu eyes -- once more in the innocence of merely animated flesh, rather than as the ghost of one who would -- did die for the Atreides.
He bears the Tleilaxu no emnity -- not for the compulsion, at least. If Hayt has slain Paul a thousand times over in every breath and dream, anticipating the moment of his utmost weakness and grief -- she is gone -- Duncan has slain him again a thousand times more, each time he closes his eyes in the night and lets Paul walk into the desert alone.
Moons fading into the light on the edge of an endless expanse of sand smudged here and there with plants growing in the open. Alia comes up behind him as he watches the dawn, and twines her arms around his waist. "You rise early today, Duncan," she says, her voice soft with sleep as she turns him about and leans in, pressing her body against his.
"I am always early," he says. He touches her cheek, runs his fingers carefully through her tangled hair. "Did you sleep well?" For answer, Alia kisses him.
Alia's kisses are slow and sensual, ripe with knowing assurance far beyond her years. Paul's sister, he thinks, born after the original Duncan's death. She tilts her head slightly to nip his lips and lick at the corner of his mouth so that he shivers and opens his lips to her as she pushes him against the wall. "You seem troubled, my love."
"I think of you," he says, and forgets to continue. He had seen her first as a girl caught in the pangs of adolescence, uncertain of herself and her changing body, yet knowing too much already, determined to be her own person and angry at Paul's constant reminders that she did not nearly possess the experience she thought she did.
Now grown to full womanhood... Gone are the hesitations of their first days, her touches tentative as she shuddered with the new sensations flooding through her body, as she paused to feel the differences between the touches in her ancestral memories and the heat of his skin against hers. They are past the fierce passion of her youth already, with the joining of memory to experience. And...
"I think of you," of how they no longer lie together in the darkness with no object but to kiss and breathe in each other, in mutual forgetfulness, clutching at each other with bruising fear that their very identities might be threatened by lack of his presence, in the quiet darkness of approaching dawn, and he kisses her again.
"What, Duncan," asks Alia, warm and panting against him, momentarily awkward in her sinewy grace, she too, filled with too many lives and memories to leave behind. He holds her still, and wishes things could be that simple, or that he had Gurney's capacity for hate. Even without Paul's confession, he thinks he might have seen the Harkonnen bloodline in the angles of her face and her Bene Gesserit wiles, the look in her eyes as she studies him and plots the destruction of the Atreides.
Now gone too, the Lady Jessica, and brave, loyal Gurney Halleck, obedient to a fault in a way Duncan no longer can be; he wonders where. And the Preacher...
Take your horns and do what you know best how to do.He has heard the whispers, and seen the proof in the looks they exchanged -- Javid, and who else does he not know of? What does he know best now? He was once a swordmaster, and were that all his mastery, and if he could be certain of the one who spoke these words, he could have taken it for command.
Mentat, compute...Harkonnen. Atreides. Abomination. and ghola, never forget that.
Hayt mourns for Paul's children, heirs to his religion and Alia's Regency. Leto is dead, and he cannot see how Ghanima might escape Alia's fate. Yet she has not fallen. Yet. If possession by the ghosts of memory is Abomination, then he is nothing less, and it is only fitting that he stand with the last of the Atreides and share their doom.
"I always think of you," he says, crushing Alia to him, closing his eyes as she laughs low and triumphant against his skin, her fingers going tap-tap-tap-taptaptap-tap-tap-tap on his shoulder.
Yes, he too must be destroyed, and perhaps Ghanima can yet be saved. The sun rises fully, and burns away the remaining shadows on the land.