Chapter 2

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The Duncans sometimes ask if I understand the exotic ideas of our past? And if I understand them, why can't I explain them? Knowledge, the Duncans believe, resides only in particulars. I try to tell them that all words are plastic. Word images begin to distort in the instant of utterance. Ideas imbedded in a language require that particular language for expression. This is the very essence of the meaning within the word exotic. See how it begins to distort? Translation squirms in the presence of the exotic. The Galach which I speak here imposes itself. It is an outside frame of reference, a particular system. Dangers lurk in all systems. Systems incorporate the unexamined beliefs of their creators. Adopt a system, accept its beliefs, and you help strengthen the resistance to change. Does it serve any purpose for me to tell the Duncans that there are no languages for some things? Ahhh! But the Duncans believe that all languages are mine.

- The Stolen Journals

Ofni leaned over the terminal's green lit screen. Carefully, he steadied his breathing. He lay hidden between the robust mechanical respirators, their din concealing Ofni's frantic typing. SIFASA178233, SIFASA178232, SIFASA178231..., Ofni continued listing in his head. Behind him, a viscous rumble emanated from one of the many axlotl tanks.

They were stacked row upon row upon row. It has to be here. It has to be here. Ofni felt the sweat dripping down his sides, his nervous face felt as if it was steaming. Ofni's eyes followed the lines of text scrolling down the terminal until he found what he had been searching for. Ofni released an audible gasp, There!

SIFASA 177135 blinked on the terminal while Ofni stared at the screen. He inhaled deeply before standing up to check his surroundings. He viewed the tanks down the aisles, each with it's fidgeting, internal silhouette. He could make out human shapes in some. Ofni felt the heat being emitted by the tank next to him. He turned his head to look down. The taut, veiny skin throbbed against a bone frame. This is it. Ofni sat down, pressing enter.

The terminal crackled on, "SIFASA 177135 transgenic incubation 98% complete. Neural restoration:incomplete. Initiate Ghola stimulation protocol?". Ofni quickly selected yes, activating the Ghola birthing pit. The tank to Ofni's right released its clamps and began to be lifted by the Tleilaxu umbilical module. The mechanical stem placed the hulking mass of tubes and flesh into a pink crevice 30 meters above. The crevice began to seal itself and the umbilical discharged a burst of compressed gas as it disconnected from the now secure pod. Its metal body shined as its joints released lubricating mucus.

Ofni watched the machine rise to the column's highest container; it attached itself, pulling the beating pod down. The tank anchored and started to tremble. The artificial sphincter opened, releasing amniotic sludge along with a ghola still clutching his knees in fetal position. The ghola gasped for air and pressed his fingers into his thighs. His goat black hair clung to his head while he blinked the fluid from his eyes. Ofni squatted to whisper, " You must come with me. We have very little time".

The ghola attempted to stand but fell to one knee. Ofni threw a brown cloak across his shoulders. The ghola clenched his jaw and pushed himself up. Ofni offered a hand which the ghola quickly grabbed. "This way", Ofni said.

They made their way passed the countless tanks, with terminals placed sporadically between them. The room was dimly lit by the pinkish glow of the combined pods. The ghola looked around and felt a deep sense of disconnect. The questions began to creep into the ghola's mind. Where am I? Who am I? What am I doing here? I...I can't remember anything.

The ghola and Ofni exited the compound into the cool, Tleilaxu night. A landcar was waiting for them. Ofni opened the door for the ghola saying, "We are returning you home, Duncan". The pair began its way to the guild liner bound for Arrakis.

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