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Table of Contents

Dune Saga

Dune Saga ……………………………………………… 3

Glossary ………………………………………………… 178

Language Translations. ………………………………… 182

Disclaimer. ……………………………………………… 182

It is my hypothesis that the Fremen were black.

Using the experience of Planet Earth – evolution has shown that

populations that reside in tropical settings as in Africa and South America were dark skinned as manifested by original peoples of these continents. On the other hand populations that found themselves closer to the Polar Regions as with the Nordic tribes tended to be white.

Hence, for this FF, the Fremen are black.

3

hapter 1

C

If;

You don’t like the Rules of the Game.

Play it.

Win it.

Change it.

Emperor Dax Atreides

It was late. It was hot. It was humid.

This was Dune – Desert Planet – Sole provider of the Spice Melange; thus the center of the Universe.

[V] A Reverend Mother in Commando Uniform walked into the compound, unchallenged.

She snorted in disgust, so much for security on a planet that housed House Corrino.

She headed for the desert exhibit and stared, it was a true attempt at reconstructing the desert of Arakkis.

She checked her pack and entered…[V]

Dax Atreides sat up suddenly and looked around wildly. As he settled his heart rate he realized that it had been a dream. This one, however, was different. It felt real. Almost like déjà vu. Of late things around him were changing. He corrected the thought. No, he was changing, which was why he had returned to the Sietch, he was searching for normalcy. Dax was a member of Mick’N Sietch, located near Arakkis City. Of course “near” was a relative term. It normally took a worm ride to get just to the edge of the city. Dune was a desert planet and pulsated to the laws of nature, intensely hot days and extremely cold nights.

Of late that seemed to be changing – like him, like tonight. It was hot and Dax couldn’t sleep and the dream now had him wide-awake. He finally got off his sleeping mat and removed the soaking wet shirt that he had been wearing and replaced it with a dry one. With the remnants of the dream lingering in his mind he left his sleeping quarters.

Dax loved his people, his home world and desert life but he was also Atreides, descended from Paul Maud’Dib. Every now and then, though some radical would remind him that he was not native. It was sad that after twenty two thousand years of living, breathing, loving and breeding on Arakkis that some people still didn’t accept his family. It really didn’t matter. He was Fremen and that was all Shai-Hulud had ordained.

Unprotected by a still-suit, [ Dad would have a fit] he thought; he stepped outside. It was silent as only the desert could be. Everyone was asleep, but for the camouflaged security and the night creatures of the wilderness. He walked through the Sietch, but for some concessions to 4

technology like communicators, AVU and computers an Ancient One could have walked the compound and felt right at home. The Sietch was a semi permanent sanctuary as the Fremen prided themselves on their ability to pick up, relocate and continue life as if nothing had interrupted their routine.

Drawn to the desert and fascinated by the Giant Worms that lived there – as was any Fremen worth his water; he headed for a lookout just outside of the perimeter of the Sietch and climbed the highest peak in the area. Offering a prayer he sat and watched the handiwork of God.

Suddenly a vision popped into his head – Amasso, his twin, was in UNIFORM!!! Where in the name of Maud'Dib had that come from? Amasso was no longer in the armed forces or so he claimed, but who knew with him? He was a bundle of energy with no outlet. At least none that Dax found constructive. The two were identical in physical appearance only. It would not be unlike Amasso to lie about his decommission or actually be decommissioned and be out on some black ops.

The vision persisted.

[V] A woman was with him, in full attack mode. She was grabbed from behind, and automatically knelt dragging her assailant over her shoulder, landing him on the ground; she positioned herself to plunge her knife into him.

Just as it quickly as it had cranked up, her adrenaline rush slowed down and the blood lust receded. She whipped round “M’ram! Oh God M’ram! I could have killed you!

What is the matter with you?!” She yelled. [V]

Dax didn’t like this. Not one bit. His brow furrowed as he concentrated on the vision, but the more he focused the fuzzier the image became. His thoughts were interrupted as a nighthawk swooped before him and soon emerged with a meal.

As he watched the hawk he observed worm sign. A worm! The Great Maker! Shai-Hulud! All names uttered in awe of the Leviathan that controlled the Planet. Humans depended on Spice but the Worm controlled the spice. The Spice existed because of the Worm. If the Worm were to cease to exist, then so would the spice. To Fremen Shai-Hulud controlled their world – It was God! It was a magnificent creature to behold. Only the small ones approximately twenty meters long could be found near civilization, but the deep desert – that is where the mammoths lived.

Fiercely territorial there was only one time that anyone could recall when they had come together; that was the night Paul Maud’Dib took the water of life. It was said that every worm carried a pearl of conscience of Leto Atreides II, son of Maud’Dib, also known as The Tyrant.

And there it was in the pale moonlight of the first moon – worm sign. This was not the first time. Recently, it seemed that each occasion he ventured out there was worm sign. This night proved to be different as one actually revealed itself. It was all at once terrifying and mystifying.

The Giant of the Desert reared up and roared, blasting him with the essence of the spice. It was 5

truly an awesome sight. In the grey of the night the moonlight danced on the rings of the Worm as it appeared to the young man.

At first panicked, worms were known to devour humans; Dax eventually calmed down and studied the magnificent creature before him.

He stood and paid homage to the desert being. “Your servant always, Shai-Hulud.” He said.

The worm nodded and left. That was it, the worm appeared – he bowed and the encounter was over. He settled back and breathed deeply the scent of the spice, which lingered in its wake.

There was more to this he was sure but he let it be – for now. He smiled, all was right in his world. Maud'Dib would reveal all in time.

Shai-Hulud -- Blessed be his name.

~*~*~*~*~

LANDSAARD FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The Convention and its Kaitian Protocol

This Convention was opened for signature at the Landsraad Conference on Environment and Development held in Kaitian, and has been ratified by over one hundred and seventy (170) Planets. The Convention's principal policy-making body is the Conference of the Parties, which is supported by a number of subsidiary bodies and working groups and which often calls on the Interplaneterial Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for scientific and technical advice. The Convention is supported by the Climate Change Secretariat, which is based on Salusa Secundus.

The Convention has the objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations at a safe level within an acceptable time frame. It contains a series of commitments; requiring all Parties to develop inventories of greenhouse gas emissions; to formulate programmes to mitigate climate change; and to promote technologies, practices and processes that control, reduce or prevent emissions in all relevant sectors, including transport. The Convention also requires that members, individually or jointly, return greenhouse gas emissions to their pre Butleran Jihad levels by the end of the next century, although this is expressed as a general aim rather than a binding commitment.

A solitary silhouette occupied the Official Business Chambers of the Empress. This latest report from the Conference of the Parties of the Landsraad would have far reaching repercussions IF

they proved correct. She placed the report down and wondered at the implications for Dune and its worms.

Duncan Idaho popped his head into the Office. “Arista! You cannot do all in one day! Come to bed!”

The Empress stood and did as her husband ordered.

6

~*~*~*~*~

Spice Wine was a potent intoxicant and Amasso Atreides liked it. With a goblet in one had and a woman in another he and his friends celebrated life.

Drunk and disorderly

Always in custody

Me friends and me family

All man fed up with me

‘Cause I’m drunk and disorderly

Every weekend I in de jail

Drunk and disorderly

Nobody to stand me bail.

His mother liked Dax and he liked wine, women and song.

~*~*~*~*~

It was late. It was hot. It was humid.

Arista Atreides: Mother, Wife, Empress, couldn’t sleep and she tossed and turned. Finally she got out of the bed and stood at the window to look out at the desert – just looked.

Duncan felt her move. He watched her for a moment at the window. “Arista, what’s wrong?”

She sighed and turned to answer him. “The naming of the Heir to the Throne is not a trivial matter … but somehow I sense the naming of my heir carries more importance than normal.”

“Having twins doesn’t help either.” He joined her at the window. “Listen. You are not going to pick one of them tonight… are you?”

She chuckled. “No.”

“Oh good.” He joked. “You have time. Let events unfold; the boys will tell you who it is to be.”

“Duncan.” She admonished, “Do you not think that they have already spoken?”

“May be. May be not.” He replied. “They are young. Let them become men before you choose.

Let them sow their wild oats.”

“You think that is all it is?” She clung to the hope “Wild oats?”

“Yes I do.” He insisted. “Now come back to bed.”

“It’s too hot to sleep.” She complained.

7

“Who said anything about sleep?” He retorted.

~*~*~*~*~

The Lady Alexi - Bene Gesserit had been bred for one purpose. She knew the purpose as did all around her. She was to be the Kwisatz Haderach the one who is supposed to be able to be

"everywhere at once". From the day of her birth this had been her destiny. She was at the stage where her tutors were preparing her to take 'the water of life' the toxic by product of a drowned Sand Worm of Dune. The 'agony' as it was unofficially referred to would awaken her to dull conscience.

Caladan was a beautiful Planet even if it was under the occupation of the Tleilaxu. She was usually given two days in every six months to herself, this time she headed south. Her contacts in the tropical zone had been well forged and she arrived on one of the tiny islands, jumped into the transport that was waiting for her and headed North-East towards a six hundred and five acre property located near the community of Aux Lyon: population one thousand two hundred. The estate had been part of a large sugar estate about one thousand years before, and the ruins of the sugar era still present were to provide a base camp for her.

She arrived, set up camp and then perched herself on a cliff and let the crashing waves hypnotize her. He thoughts drifted as it usually did to her future.

Alexi had never questioned her place in the Universe or her role in the plans of the GB. But every now and then the weight of the designation scared her. Kwisatz Haderach was no small destiny!

The closer the 'agony' got, the more the small voice inside was telling her that something was wrong. That she was not The One. She had no basis in fact and not having taken the water of life yet she had no inner voices to consult. But nevertheless she had that nagging feeling.

The setting was hypnotic and time passed in a gentle flow relaxing her. Her patience was rewarded with nature's evening ritual of sunset and it was spectacular as is everything in nature.

In the tropics twilight is none existent and the setting sun gave way to night abruptly.

Alexi just sat in the warn night listening to the sounds of the darkness. Eventually, remembering the warnings that this was snake country she got up and headed back to camp. Finally, falling asleep to the lullaby that nature sang.

She went exploring.

She found a number of natural attributes such as a waterfall she judged to be one hundred meters high, two rivers, a collapsed blowhole, a wetland area, a variety of geological formations and of course the beach she had seen on her way in. In her explorations she discovered that the beach was also a nesting site for birds, iguanas and the infamous Caladan Viper, which she spied once slithering along the under growth.

8

The two days went swiftly and finally the day came to leave - she closed down the camp, jumped into the transport and headed for civilization.

Rejuvenated and determined, she needed to review the records on the Kwisatz program. She had a suspicion that needed to be investigated.

9

hapter 2

C

"An eye for an eye will make us all blind."

Mohandas Gandhi – Ancient Peacemaker

Personal Journal: Arista Atreides, Empress of the known world.

[Caladan is the ancestral home of House Atreides, as Earth is the ancestral home of the human race. Yet our water has mingled with that of Fremen. Does this make me Fremen? Or a hybrid? Is Caladan even home? Is Caladan part of the Atreides jurisdiction by virtue of the fact that it is of our House? Or is the planet mine because I rule.

One may doubt that I am Atreides. Though I am; if not by birth, then certainly by the genetic manipulation of The Tyrant.

With a sign the most powerful female in the known universe shut the image ring and looked out the window. Dune – Desert Planet – Home.]

Her thoughts wandered.

[Now this! Yet another appeal.

When the migration had begun one thousand years after the death of the God Emperor not one thought it was possible. Zensunni and Zenshite live on the same planet? The Universe held it’s collective breath.

Amazingly peace had been the result.

First, because the then Emperor had let the ancestral home be annexed by the religious fanatics.

Second, because the Buddislamics had split the planet down the middle and for the first time since the human race had left Earth there was not a single planetary rule, but a primitive sharing of that power. Left to their own devices they had thrived.]

She turned before her aide could politely cough. Some things had become genetic and the ability to foretell aspects of the future was now ingrained into the DNA of the Atreides bloodlines.

“Yes, Annan.” Arista prompted, knowing full well the reason for the interruption but wanting the aide to vocalize it.

“Highness. The Ambassador is here.”

10

“Which one?”

“Both, Highness.”

[ Of course both. ] she thought. Stifling a sigh Arista swept past the young woman and headed for the Hall where she held Court.

~*~*~*~*~

The Reverend Mother assigned to the Court of Arista Atreides watched as the brown skinned woman entered the Throne Room.

Even as the Atreides had brought Dune from Desert Planet to Tropical Paradise and back to Desert Planet; the Planet itself had affected the family too. No longer were they blue in blue eyed blond and Arian but with the effects of both the Fremen gene pool and the hot desert sun the Atreides now were as brown skinned as any native.

The change had only served to enhance their mystic, beauty and power.

Arista was true to all three qualities.

The Reverend Mother listened bored by the latest appeal of the joint petition of the Ambassadors of the Planet Caladan. As they had done for the last five visits they appealed for assistance from the Throne to fight the strangle hold the Tleilaxu had on them.

Once again they presented their case: “For over twenty thousand years, Highness we have not only co-existed with each other but did so in peace. We are a threat to no one. We did not deserve this.”

The riddle that the Reverend Mother was focusing on was – why was the Throne entertaining the submissions? Like clockwork on every centennial anniversary of the invasion and subsequent occupation, the latest Ambassador would submit to the latest ruler and the result was the same; We are in negotiations.

It was obvious that House Atreides had cut the historic ties to the planet and its people, but if they had why the charade? It was a minor mystery, but one that entertained.

~*~*~*~*~

As with any Royal protégé worth their weight in water, Ammaso and Dax Atreides had observed the proceedings. Tall dark and handsome the twins were the most eligible bachelors not only on Dune, but through out the Empire. Though it was tradition that the elder become heir to the throne – many suspected that the younger Atreides would ascend.

11

Ammaso was the hot head of the two and today was no exception. “This is ridiculous!” He raged back in their quarters.

Dax watched. He was used to his brother’s ranting.

“The Tleilaxu cannot be allowed to continue to squat on Caladan!” He raged. “I can’t understand mother’s reluctance to intervene. After all it is our ancestral home.”

“And as the Prince of Caladan you cannot allow this to happen.” Dax teased. “What is your stake in this Amasso? I thought that you had stopped going there.”

His brother mumbled a response.

“Amasso.” Dax drawled. “Come on cough up.”

“I maintain a residence there.”

Dax was confused. “Residence?”

“A summer home.” Amasso snapped.

“… and that’s enough for you to go off like this?” He snorted. “For God’s sake. We have been Fremen longer that Caladanian.”

Amasso sighed. “Focus, Dax! It’s the principal of the matter. Caladan is the Ancestral Home of House Atreides. That alone should have been enough at the time of the invasion to get involved!”

“I never thought I’d hear about ‘the principal of the matter’ from you.” Dax got more comfortable in the chair. “Next you’ll be proposing that you should go over there and do something about it.” He teased.

Ammaso stopped pacing. “Now there little brother is an idea!” Older by one minute he usually teased his brother about being the younger.

Dax sat up straight at the comment. “Ammaso, don’t.”

“We’ll see.” The elder did not commit and poured himself a spice wine.

Dax in turn walked out.

~*~*~*~*~

The younger Atreides found himself outside. He tightened the abacus around himself, adjusted the still suit that he wore and headed out. He didn’t like it when Amasso got into this moods.

12

Reverend Mother Mo’Hadin had been at the window thinking when Dax crossed her line of vision. She watched him adjust his clothing and head out.

An inner perception told her to watch the young man, and her inner voices concurred. There was no reason to. He was a young man like any other, true he was royalty second in line to the throne but covered up this way he was winding his way and no one had noticed him – yet.

Using the network of CCAVUs she watched the young man. The palace was located on the edge of the metropolis and it did not take a long walk for one to find ones self on the edge of the desert.

Every step he took brought him closer to the desert and further away from the city. He was expecting something and there it was – worm sign.

[ Why was it every time I approach the wilderness that the Guardian of the Desert appears? ] He wondered. [ Do they not want me there?] He changed his direction. The worm sign matched him. The colossus did not break the sand line but there was no mistaking its bulk below the surface.

Dax finally gave up and returned to the palace.

[ Did the worms of Arakkis have a unique link to this youth?] Mo’Hadin contemplated what she had just witnessed. [ It had been the aim and claim of the Tyrant that there would be a gem of his consciousness in each worm – had he achieved this? ] The woman’s mind raced. [ She had been hearing murmurs that one of the Twins seemed to be manifesting powers with the worms, was it Dax? This bore investigation. ]

13

hapter 3

C

Memory never recaptures reality. Memory reconstructs.

All reconstructions change the original,

becoming external frames of reference that inevitably fall short.

Mentat Handbook

The Kwisatz Mother Farrah swept down the hall of the Ancestral Home of House Atreides. She was on a mission. One would think that after eons of this jihad being in place on Caladan that the Sisterhood would have found a way to get her and the new Kwisatz Haderach project off the planet.

Since the emergence of the “new” sisterhood that had evolved from the merging of the Bene Gesserit and the Honoured Matres things just were not the same or so her memories kept telling her.

She entered the training room and watched silently. It never failed to amaze her though she kept the wonder to herself, at how this child seemed to be a clone of The Lady Jessica Atreides. At twenty years of age, this young woman carried the hope of the Bene Gesserit on her shoulders.

Could she be the one? Could Acolyte Alexi be the re-engineered Kwisatz Haderach?

Having lost complete control of the program by the one act of Lady Jessica, and the millennia and a half that followed under the control of the God Emperor, the Sisterhood decided to try again. This time with a fundamental difference – a female.

Men had proved to be unpredictable and uncontrollable. Hence – Alexi.

Farrah sensed the exact moment that the Acolyte stopped concentrating on the lesson. [ She’s watching me. ] She thought.

Alexi noticed the moment that the Reverend Mother had walked into the room, as had her tutors.

With the discipline instilled in all, they had ignored Farrah. She had come to observe not interrupt.

But Alexi was still in training and her mind wandered. They thought that she didn’t know, but she did. They thought that she was The One, but she was not. What they had yet to compute was that she was the Mother to the Kwisatz Haderach and not the Kwisatz Haderach.

In a way it was amusing – well amazing really that the Reverend Mothers had not come to the same conclusion. After all they been at this for Millennia and she a mere slip of a thing and yet she had managed to figured this out. Why not them?

14

[ I am not the Kwisatz Haderach! ] She thought. She wanted to stop there and then and do a jig.

It was a bit much to be considered to be the Kwisatz Haderach.

She dodged the hunter seeker, spun on the spot the neutralized it with lightening speed and accuracy. Her train of thought continued, [ Having seen what a super being could do. Kwisatz Haderach – the one who could be in more than one place why oh why are we doing this again? ]

The battle machine was next. The evil tower was a collection of swords, darts, needles and any other item of destruction that could be attached. She moved in. [ What we need is new Atreides DNA. They have always been the key to the program. ] Her attention sharpened when a dart hit her on her forearm.

The instructor clucked. “Focus, Alexi!”

She grimaced and continued both her line of thought and the exercise. [ We have plenty of samples of the Great Houses in stock – but the Atreides batch is no longer viable. Even I know that. Of course this is assuming that the genetics classes were accurate. ]

She moved in on the battle apparatus, her thoughts still elsewhere.

[ Do I tell them that I know? ] She sneaked a glance at Farrah. [ Naaaah! This one I keep to myself.

Let’s see how long it takes them to catch up with me. ] She sniggered.

[ Even as I carry a strong resemblance to the Lady Jessica I am just as capable; may be even more so of keeping to the mission this time – produce a girl! I can do that. I would give them the daughter that Lady Jessica did not. ]

She disarmed the device.

As she bowed in the ancient martial arts manner of respect she thought, enough waiting – the time had come for action.

Farrah watched the young woman and heard the giggle. Under their tutorlage she was mature for her age, but she still slipped now and then. The program was at a crucial juncture – they needed to get off this planet! Alexi needed to be on Dune, she needed to be exposed to Palace culture as well as Planet itself. She turned on her heel and glided out with one thought on her mind.

Enough waiting – the time had come for action.

~*~*~*~*~

Baron Vlad Harkonnen was the latest Baron in a long line of Barons, the fourth to be named Vladimir and like all before him, sadistic. Nicknamed Vlad by his mother as he reminded her of their ancestor Vlad the Impalor, he ruled his planet with absolute power and as any mentat could point out the inevitable happened. The absolute power corrupted absolutely.

15

Vlad was the perfect killing instrument. He was charming even seductive at times, abilities that soothed potential victims allowing him to strike with deadly accuracy. Now he sat facing the Prince Rammen Corrino, descendant of Shaddam IV former Emperor of the Universe, over an AVU.

Both men were tall but, Vlad out weighed Rammen by a minimum of twenty kilos. That was not the only area where he out matched the Prince. Rammen had one burning ambition, which gave him tunnel vision. The aspiration was not much different to all who had gone before: The re-ascension of House Corrino to the Throne. He would lie with the Devil to get it.

What Rammen did not realize was that he had done just that.

Vlad did not like communicating over scrambled channels. Anything that could be scrambled could be unscrambled, but in this he had no choice: the stakes were high. He was about to play the game of his life and he would need all his patience and savoir-faire to succeed.

“Then we are in agreement.” Rammen replied.

“Indeed. My liaison shall approach Ammaso and we shall fund his war effort…”

“Liberation.” Rammen chuckled the correction.

“Of course… Liberation.” Vlad grinned.

~*~*~*~*~

The resident representative of the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Mo’Hadin now found herself before the Empress of the Known Universe.

Arista Atreides had all senses on high alert; she had no need of Truthsayers; this she could handle. It was not often that the Bene Gesserit came forward with a request much less in the open like this.

“Highness.” Mo’Handin addressed the Throne. “The Bene Gesserit repeats its request for an evacuation of the Sisterhood from the Planet Caladan.”

Repeats? Arista gave a mental chuckle the last request was two thousand and twenty nine years ago. What had changed? She gave the standard reply. “We are in negotiations. Of course space may be found at the table for one more interested party.” She studied Mo’Hadin but perceived no change. “To ease the arrival of your negotiator – how many are involved?”

Mo’Hadin had expected the standard “negotiations” response but the question was not part of the rhythm. She in turn repeated Gesserit propaganda. “One Million, Highness.”

Arista did the math as the Hall gasped. The last count by Tleilaxu revealed a population of two hundred and thirty million inhabitants. Of course the numbers were wrong every census ever 16

taken of humanity had never been accurate. But using the official numbers Arista projected that the Sisterhood numbers were more like ten million. Again, why now?

Mo’Hadin watched as the Empress scratched an itch. To the untrained that is what it seemed like to her it read… You may evacuate the Ten Million of your Sisters but to Wallach IX and nowhere else.

Arista watched as the hand signaled message registered. Now with ten million Bene Gesserit on an attempted secret exodus, she would watch to see what secret floated to light Mo’Hadin’s bowed in reply to both the public statement and the private order.

~*~*~*~*~

The place was a dump and Amasso liked it like that. It was filled with people that society had no use for and they in turn didn’t care. It was the last place anyone would look for, for him and frankly he did not want to be found. Not just yet. He was still stinging over the lack of action regarding Caladan.

He was drinking alone. [ Not the thing to do. ] He admitted to himself but if he had to wait for company he’d never get a drink.

“I still say that Caladan has been occupied and not liberated!” He stated to the waiter who was attending to him.

“Yes, my Lord.” The man said and fled. So much for anonymity.

“Well it is!” Amasso insisted to the vacated space. “The Tleilaxu went in there saying that there was need to save the souls and … what a thousand? Two thousand years later they are still there?!” He downed the wine and signaled for more.

“I say liberate the homeland!… Barkeep!”

A stranger walked up to the table. “May I join you, M’Lord?”

Amasso squinted at the man. “I’m not Dax.” He stated.

“I know, Major.” The man sat next to him.

Now that he didn’t have to look up, Amasso studied the man. “You look familiar.” The second glass of Spice Wine arrived, but he didn’t touch it. He liked wine, but he knew the when and where of it.

The man smiled. “I have that kind of face.”

“You have me at a disadvantage.” Amasso said. “You know my name…”

17

“Oh how remiss of me! I’m Al Samoud.”

Amasso waited. “No last name?”

“No last name.”

“Huh.” Was the Atreides response, “What can I do for you?”

“No, no, no… It is what I can do for you.” Al Samoud replied. Then his voice dropped, “I am planning a mission to Caladan. As part of an assignment to assist the Caladan Army.”

Amasso was skeptical “The Army you say.”

“I do say... I am putting together a Special Operations Force to assist the embattled Military Forces there.” He monitored Amasso. “I’m looking for experienced Military Men.”

“Interesting.” Was all Amasso would say.

“Surely that outburst earlier was not only talk?” Al Samoud jeered.

The jibe hit home. “OK, I’m in… on one condition.”

“OK.”

“Your last name.”

“Rabban.” Al Samoud grinned using the name of his reviled ancestor.

18

hapter 4

C

For GOD so loved the world he didn’t send a committee.

Fremen Axiom

Alexi had taken the Water of Life. A poison extracted from the Sand Worms of Dune. It was a dangerous ritual that had claimed a number of lives. It was necessary that Alexi endure what was commonly called The Agony. The agony for that is what was endured.

Farrah was about to conclude that Alexi would die from the Water of Life ritual, when the young woman awoke from her coma like state. Taking the Water of Life was a draining experience and once she was assured that Alexi had come through she left the new Reverend Mother to recuperate.

~*~*~*~*~

High up in the Dellecian Mountains of Caladan a small band of Special Ops personnel moved up the towards a cave. There seemed to have been only three guards outside, but on the off chance there were more on the inside the team moved cautiously. First Ammaso, followed by Andresa, then Alex and bringing in the rear was A’Ran.

They were teased mercilessly as Team A. “Imagine…” The Commander had observed,

“…every member’s name begins with A”

The group was soon under attack. Ammaso in the lead was the first to be assaulted. A’Ran leaped in to aid in the struggle.

As the two dealt with the attacker, Andresa was grabbed from behind, she automatically knelt dragging her assailant over her shoulder, landing him on the ground and she positioned herself to plunge her knife into him.

“Andresa! No! It’s me M’ram!” He shouted and squirmed.

Her adrenaline was pumping, she was in battle mode and the kill action was in full motion. Her arm went up and the knife flashed as the descent motion began until Alex kicked the knife from her hand. Andresa looked at Alex with blood in her eyes.

Just as it quickly as it had cranked up, the adrenaline rush slowed down and the blood lust receded. She whipped round “M’ram! Oh God, M’ram! I could have killed you! What is the matter with you?!” She yelled.

They had come to rescue him and she’d nearly killed him.

19

~*~*~*~*~

Once the Water of Life had been taken the Sisterhood knew when another had joined. No mater where in the Universe it happened - it was one of the miracles of the transmutation of the water.

They all knew when Paul Atreides and gone through the agony, they had gone with him on that ride. He had occupied a place where none of them could look.

Once the faux pas of that program that had produced Paul Maud’Dib was over and the rule of his son the Tyrant concluded, they had reviewed the Kwisatz program and concluded that there were areas for improvement. So the Sisterhood had continued the program that had given them Alexi, but she was not the one. Now Farrah had to tell the young woman who had been raised to be the Kwisatz Haderach that she was not the one.

“I knew before I endured the agony.” Alexi comforted Farrah once she told her.

Farrah was shocked at the response and Bene Gesserit’s didn’t shock easily. “How?” Farrah asked.

“I just did.” The teen explained. “I am Bene Gesserit. I just knew.”

[ And there you have it. ] Farrah thought. “Now we must go one generation forward.”

“With an Atreides male.” Alexi volunteered.

“Yes.” Farrah confirmed. “I must assimilate the present data and make a projection.”

“Either way Reverend Mother we need to go to Dune.”

“Indeed we do.”

On that note the two parted. Farrah shivered, Alexi seemed to be more than a Jessica look alike.

The Kwisatz program seemed to be entering a key phase.

~*~*~*~*~

Valcyn was a forager and a hermit. He was middle aged as the spice extended life expectancy that made him about two hundred and fifty years old. To look at he was a typical Fremen: Tall, slim, fit: there was not water fat on this man, with the standard blue in blue eyes set against a smooth ebony skin.

He just happened to take Fremen independence to the logical conclusion and he had become a hermit. Fremen respected that and left Vaclyn to his own devices.

As evening turned into night he emerged to see what treasures the Desert had left for him.

Wrapped in his abacas and with still suit firmly in place he set out.

20

Even through the nosepiece he could smell it: Something was dead. He climbed the dune to find out what and the closer to the crest he got the worse the smell became.

Finally he reached the top. It was a Giant Sand Worm, and it was not dead - yet. Valcyn stood transfixed as the Worm groaned in agony.

What had caused this? A sick worm? Who had ever heard of such? The skin looked cancerous all puffed and oozing a thick sticky liquid. The puss is what stank up the surrounds. As Valcyn stood there helpless, the worm died.

Relieved that the creature’s agony was over he turned and headed the way he had come.

~*~*~*~*~

In the privacy of her chambers Mo’Hadin reviewed the data crystal.

"I have double checked the findings myself." Farrah reported. "There can be no doubt. Alexi is not The One and must now be mated to an Atreides.” She changed topic. "As all the Universe knows, the 'negotiations' will go no where. The time has come to relocate the breeding program."

Mo’Hadin had no doubt of the findings. Farrah was not only a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother; she was the Coordinator of the Kwisatz Program and a formidable Mentat. No, she had no doubt that the conclusions were accurate. What gave the Ambassador pause was the proposed strategy

- introduce the Atreides bloodline, again. A wild card at anytime.

She shut down the crystal, opened a new one and began her report to the Mother Superior. The mass movement of the Sisterhood would be a dangerous mission.

~*~*~*~*~

THE DELLECIAN MOUNTAIN RANGE

“Where is Zor?” Alex demanded.

“Here.” Ammaso picked up what looked like the remains of a rag doll.

“Zor?” Alex asked.

“Yeah, it’s me.”

“Why’d you attack us?!” Ammaso demanded.

“Why not!” M’ram demanded. “We didn’t know what was going on out there and it was a chance of maybe escaping!”

21

“So much for that thought.” Alex said.

“Before life gets complicated… I think we should leave.” Andresa said.

M’ram winked at her. “Oh, my goodness. The High Command sent Andresa.”

“You nervous already?” She countered.

“And why would I be nervous?”

“Cause I nearly killed you!”

“But you didn’t, you wouldn’t, you couldn’t.” He grinned at her as they moved out of the cave toward the point where they had hidden their vehicle.

Then the earthquake struck…

~*~*~*~*~

Mentat logic dictates that to successfully hide anything; it must be done in the open. Based on that premise Reverend Mothers Farrah and Alexi discuised as Budislamic Pilgrims boarded a Highliner. Their destination was New Mecca via Arakkis.

Five thousand years ago a planet that fitted the description of Earth had been discovered. Not caring if it really was the Historic Planet the Peoples of the Universe had embraced the concept that the Ancestral Home had been found. There had been a ground swell to call it Terra Firma and so it became. The places on the Planet carried the names of Ancient Earth but some how

“New” kept popping in. And so it was that Farrah and Alexi tickets indicated that they were headed for New Mecca on Terra Firma.

~*~*~*~*~

THE DELLECIAN MOUNTAIN RANGE

“Here’s another one!!” A man shouted in Dellecian, the dialect native to the Zensunni people of the mountains, to anyone who could hear.

“Praises be to Allah.” A woman replied. A group of people made their way through the rubble.

As the woman approached the spot she marveled. “Ahmed, does he live?”

“If it is the will of Allah.” Ahmed replied as he joined the chain of hands that began to move the rubble. “Many have died in this war and now with this earthquake many more may die, Sophia.

As for this one?” he left the thought hanging.

There was a gasp. “Tell me!” Sophia demanded.

22

“He is an infidel!” Someone announced. “He is not Zensunni - he has blue in blue eyes!” The crowd stood back as if burned.

“And that is reason enough to stop?” She asked, “Has THE ONE taught you nothing? Show mercy to the man; besides, being an Off Worlder does not automatically make him an infidel.

Many have seen the way and converted.”

They reverently placed the corpses of Team A to a side and continued the rescue.

~*~*~*~*~

The latest Baron Harkonnen, opened the encoded message. AMASSO ATREIDES OF DUNE

IS MISSING IN ACTION.

No sooner had he read the lines than the message burst into flames, self-destructing, almost burning his hands in the process.

“Damn it.” He cursed. The last time the Harkonnen’s and gotten mixed up with House Corrino there was a shift in the power base the likes of which was not seen until the God Emperor. Now here they were back at square one.

Conspiring!

This time with an Atreides, Vladimir must have rolled in his grave. What a trinity: Harkonnen –

Corrino – Atreides.

Now the damn fool had gone missing. He needed to be found and fast if their plan was to unfold on schedule.

~*~*~*~*~

Ahmed approached the tent that now acted as a hospital for the victims of the earthquake, they had buried the dead, including the ‘A’ Team. He spotted Sophia and approached her. “How is he?”

She didn’t have to ask of whom he spoke. “Alive by the will of Allah.”

“Has he spoken?”

“All he will say is Dax. He has many injuries but they will heal.” She replied. “As to whether his heart and soul will do the same…”

“Dax? What is a Dax?”

She shrugged, she had no idea.

23

“All in the hands of Allah.” He said.

“All in the hands of Allah.” She echoed.

~*~*~*~*~

Alexi stood at the window to their quarters and idly watched the boarding of other passengers and the loading of cargo. Just standing there she could make out her reflection in the Plexiglas and her mind wondered.

[ I look like the Lady Jessica and I am Bene Gesserit who must mate with an Atreides male.

There is a pattern here. Will I do as she did? Will I love this man choose for me and disobey my orders to have a female? Do I have a say in this or is it all pre ordained? ]

She rested her head against the cool window. Her thoughts burned.

[ Great Mother I hope I’m not to be the Bound Concubine to some six year old that I must wait upon! Or worse a one hundred year old! Reverend Mother Farrah has not told me the details only that it must be and that I am to produce a girl child.]

She was beginning to become agitated at the thought of the unforeseen future. She recited the Literary Against Fear, when that didn’t seem to achieve the calm she sought she tried an even more Ancient entreaty.

[ Great Mother] She prayed…

…make me an instrument of Thy peace,

Where there is hatred, let me so love,

Where there is injury, pardon,

Where there is doubt, faith,

Where there is despair, hope,

Where there is darkness, light,

Where there is sadness, joy…

Farrah rejoined her and found a clam, cool and collected Reverend Mother.

24

hapter 5

C Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgment difficult.

Hippocrates (460-370 BC) Greek physician

He’d had another vivid dream. This time he remembered every detail in colour.

[V] The Baron Harkonnen had declared a holiday and all were expected to attend the unveiling, Noble and Slave alike. Positioned in an advantageous point, the statue of the Old Baron would keep an eye on all. Six hours of speeches later, all vaulting the Baron, the statue was exposed for the world to see. [V]

While he still remembered, he needed to record it. He reached for his PDA.

~*~*~*~*~

The planning of an Exodus of any scale is a daunting affair. The planning in secret borders on the impossible. As plans proceeded the first to have been plucked were The Kwisatz Mother Farrah and the New Reverend Mother Alexi.

They arrived on Arakkis despite the orders of the Empress and prepared to pay the price for the disobedience.

Leaving Alexi to another Reverend Mother, Farrah met with Mo’Hadin.

“You are sure of the reincarnation theory?” Farrah questioned and then answered her own question. “Of course you are sure.”

“How sure can one be of a theory that has not been tested?” Mo’Hadin responded. “A hypothesis that states one day the genetic reincarnation of Paul Atreides will be produced?”

“Sounds more like the ramblings of a religious zealot to me.” Farrah was skeptical.

“There are indications of out of the ordinary ability in the younger.” Mo’Hadin related what she had observed between Dax and the Sand Worm.

“We will need to investigate this more.” Farrah stated.

“Undoubtedly.” Mo’Hadin agreed. “You have the latest database on the Kwisatz program?”

Farrah handed over the data disc. “Mother Superior concurs. She must mate with an Atreides male.”

25

“Amasso?” Mo’Hadin inquired. “Who has not been seen in weeks?”

“Assuming that the theory proves to be proven, then Dax.” Farrah stated. “What do you mean –

not seen in week?”

“Just that. He’s gone on a pilgrimage into the desert to dry out.” Mo’Hadin explained. Seeing Farrah’s puzzlement she elaborated, “The Spice is not his only addiction. He likes the byproducts too – in particular the Wine.”

“Ah.”

~*~*~*~*~

Yousif approached his wife Sophia. “It has been two days; does he still says nothing?”

“Still only Dax.”

“Dax?” he echoed.

“Dax.” She repeated.

He took a deep breath and exhaled heavily. “What are we to do with him?”

“We keep him until Allah shows the way.”

“Then in the mean time he must learn Dellecian. This one word vocabulary will not work.” He pronounced. “What is this word again?”

“Dax.” She reminded her husband.

He snorted. “Dax indeed. What is a Dax?”

~*~*~*~*~

Finally, Alexi was left to her own devises and she used to opportunity to explore her new world.

The Palace was huge and it would take more than one occasion to fully explore. So she focused this time on the Throne Room and the attendant offices.

[ So this is where THE power in the Universe is whiled from. ] She thought. Suddenly she whistled no particular tune. She just made a noise and as she expected there was an echo. She didn’t know the style of the hall, except that it was ancient.

She moved towards one of the portraits on the wall. “Duke Leto I” she read. Then she moved to the next and the next and the next. The walls were lined with the Rulers of the Empire. She could see the family resemblance from one to the next. She could even spot the darkening of the 26

skin. It was difficult to spot as you went down the line, but looking at Leto I and then comparing him to Arista II, there was a definite change; the family had certainly gone from pale to dark.

[ So you are the latest in the long line. ] Alexi addressed the portrait. [ You are indeed beautiful. ]

She heard a noise and she pressed herself against the wall.

There was no need; Dax was not interested in anything going on in the hall below. [ Not bad. Not bad. ] Alexi observed the passing of young man. [ I don’t suppose that my luck would allow you to be the Atreides I must mate with. ]

She watched him disappear round the corner and she went back to studying the hall of portraits.

~*~*~*~*~

Baron Vlad Harkonnen met with is two sons; Al Samoud and Samir

“You mission is a simple one.” Vlad explained. “Go to Caladan, find Amasso Atreides …”

“… and kill him.” Samir finished.

“Lord no.” Vlad chuckled. “We need him for other things.”

“We’ll need a cover.” Al Samoud stated.

“YOU will need a cover.” His brother said. “You are the one who approached him at the bar.”

“Speaking of cover. What of Thalmas?” Al Samoud asked.

“Your brother is on schedule and his cover is intact, he is a trusted member of House Atreides.

The next phase is due to take place soon at the Mojave Power Station.” Vlad replied.

“Will these people never learn?” Samir said.

“Apparently not, but that is not your concern.” Vlad said. “Your concern is to maintain the charade that you are just keeping in touch with your people.”

Al Samoud gave his brother a smug look. “I suggest that we use the story of The Great Flood.”

“The Great Flood.” Samir jeered.

“You have a better idea?”

Vlad stopped the sibling rivalry before it got too far. “You are going into a community that contains religious fanatics.”

“You can not be serious!” Samir told his father.

27

“I am.” Vlad’s tone stopped the debate. “Go in as researchers for the Great Flood. The communities of Caladan even with generations of Budislamics are Anglo with clear eyes.

Amasso is black with blue in blue eyes. He will stand out.”

The statement ended the debate.

~*~*~*~*~

Dax was distracted; he was obsessing over his dreams. They alone were bad enough but the verification of his latest was un-nerving. He’d had a vision showing him a message from Amasso saying that he had gone to Caladan. He’d just about forgotten the dream when, lo and behold, a message from Amasso had arrived telling him that he had gone off to Calandan. Which unnerved him more he did not know: The dream or the message. The fact remained though he was distracted.

Farrah watched him go by. One did not have to be a Reverend Mother to realize that the Prince was preoccupied. She nodded at Alexi, who was across from her, the young woman nodded back in acknowledgement.

Dax was functioning on autopilot, his mind moving from one topic to another. He knew the corridors and as such he let his mind wander. Just how long was he going to cover for Amasso?

The official story was that Amasso had gone into the Desert on a pilgrimage. But the reality was that he had gone to Caladan. Somehow he’d got secret sponsorship and now he Dax was left to deal with the fall out when it came, not if.

Functioning on autopilot was not the way of Fremen – such actions got one killed. It was no different in the Palace. Except that today Shai-Hulud spared his with a mere collision.

Alexi was sent sprawling as the two collided round the corner.

Dax returned to reality immediately “Are you alright?”

“Yes, my Lord.” She replied.

“You know who I am?” He held out his hand to assist her.

“All know who you are, Lord Dax.” She took it and stood.

He stared at the beauty before him and was smitten. “And your name?”

“Alexi, My Lord.” She stared him straight in the eye.

“Where are you off to?” He inquired.

“The hour of Lud is upon us and I was on my way to the Chapel.” She explained.

28

“You are correct.” He realized and thought to himself [ …and the longer I stay here the more water fat and slack I become. ]

She continued to observe him. “Most Courtiers women do not look at people so directly.” He observed, a unique experience for him.

“I venture to say, My Lord that I am not like most women.”

Farrah watched the interplay as Dax escorted Alexi to the Chapel. Even with Mo’Hadin investigating strange theories the time had come to test the young Atreides. They would get to the older soon enough.

~*~*~*~*~

In the end the cover story concocted by the Harknonnens was not needed.

The leaders of the village were gathered. For the first time since they had settled on this Mountain modern man was walking into their village. A group of infidels had arrived with all the trappings of their world in search of rest. They were military and had been on the move for weeks.

They were part of the Caladan Army 10th Mountain Division under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Serena Reltub. They had lost a Team in the Mountains and now that the rehabilitation was well underway from the earthquake, they were out searching.

Ahmed told the translator of the man they had found after the earthquake and baptized as Ossama, for he had amnesia and they had to call him something, but he wasn’t there at the moment. They were granted rest until he returned.

Of course the village was a buzz. The women tightened their robes about them; the children despite warnings followed the men everywhere.

~*~*~*~*~

FROM: HOUSE HARKONNEN, GIEDI PRIME

TO: INTERPLANETERIAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE, CLIMATE CHANGE

SECRETARIAT, SALUSA SECUNDUS.

THIS IS TO INFORM YOU THAT AFTER REVIEWING THE DATA, HOUSE

HARKONNEN HAS CONCLUDED THAT WE SHALL NOT RATIFY THE TREATY FOR

THE FOLLOWING: THE ECONOMY OF GIEDI PRIME WOULD BE DAMAGED BY THE

PROPOSED CUTS IN THE EMISSIONS AS RATIFICATION OF THE PROTOCOL WOULD

COST US JOBS AND DAMAGE OUR INDUSTRY.

29

MAY WE ALSO POINT OUT THAT IT IS UNFAIR THAT NONE WERE BEING MADE BY

THE MINOR HOUSES SUCH AS HOUSE RICH'ARD.

XAVIER MEHDA'IN - MENTAT

HOUSE HARKONNEN

~*~*~*~*~

When Amasso had finally spoken, it had been in the Standard English Language of the Imperial Court, while the Mountain People spoke Dellecian. The frustration did not last long as the call to prayer revealed that the Villagers also spoke the Ancient Arabic Language, as did Amasso.

After that communication was not a problem. If only his memory would return.

He’d made friends with the villagers but with nowhere to go or a remembered place to go, he just stayed put. And so it was that day, that unaware that the Caladan Army 10th Mountain Division was camped in the village, Amasso had gone off with his newfound friend, Said, who had been called to deliver a baby. It was a chance for Amasso to see the sights.

Amasso watched the drama unfold. The husband jumped to his feet as Said approached the group of men.

“YES!” He was eager, his wife had gone into labour that morning and he was excited about staring a family. Then he noticed his demeanor. “WHAT!” He demanded.

Said hated this, but the only way to say it is to say it. So he did. “Your wife and your son did not survive.” He gulped, “There is nothing that we could do... I am so sorry.”

“Nooooo!” The man wailed and sank to his knees as the other men of the village crowded around him. Amasso had never felt so helpless in his life.

The two men left soon after and made their way back. As the walked away, Amasso said:

“Shar’Leem and I had wanted children.”

“Yes?” Said was still distraught over the loss. “… and who is Shar’Leem? Your wife?”

Amasso thought for a moment. “I don’t know!” Now it was his turn to become distressed.

Said soothed him, “It’s a sign. Be patient all will return.”

The two lapsed into silence all the way back. They entered their village as the third call to prayer was in progress and into the custody of the Lt. Colonel.

Al Samoud and Samir who had used forged papers to be assigned to the command watched as the Colonel spoke with the Atreides.

30

hapter 6

C

Be sincere; be brief; be seated.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Politician

Dax Atreides stood silently as he watched his mother.

Arista stopped pacing and turned to her Chief of Staff. “Find him.”

The man bowed and left.

She turned on her son. “Is it not enough that I have given you life?! That your brother goes off on his own personal Jihad?” Arista demanded of him. “And the Royal Court wonders as why I do not name my heir!”

“Mother…”

“SILENCE!” She threw the voice at him and despite his training the fury with which she whiled the tool shut him up completely. “You were raised in Desert and Palace and yet you and your brother do not know the ways of survival of either World!”

He broke the command. “I am not my brother and never make that mistake mother. We may look alike but we are not.”

The tone in his voice gave her a moment of pause. “May be.” She conceded. “Maybe.”

~*~*~*~*~

Rammen ensured that the message was completely brunt. The statement from Vlad had been simple.

AMMASO FOUND. PHASE TWO MUST START: CHARGE HIM WITH DERELICTION

OF DUTY, ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE AND ANYTHING ELSE THAT THE JUDGE

ADVOCATE GENERAL CAN COME UP WITH. JUST KEEP THE PRESSURE ON

ARISTA.

~*~*~*~*~

Amasso hugged Sophia and then Yousif there were no words to express his emotional state. He tried.

Yousif stopped him. “Go. It is the will of Allah. You came to us and now you must go.”

31

“Even if it is to find Dax.” Sophia grinned.

“Even if it is to find Dax.” Yousif echoed his wife. “Allah be with you, my brother.”

“Think of us.” Sophia requested.

“I will NEVER forget you.” He promised yet still he hesitated.

“You do not wish to go?” Sophia probed.

“I had planned to go to New Mecca.” He explained. “It is time.”

Yousif nodded his understanding “Patience brother. It is not time yet. If it were then these men would not have found you. Now it is time for you to reclaim your life. It is the will of Allah. Go.

You will see New Mecca when it is time.”

“And when you do bring this Dax to see us.” Sophia suggested suddenly.

Amasso’s face lit up. “Yes!” He nodded “Yes!”

~*~*~*~*~

Reverend Mother Mo’Hadin stared at the data disc. She had the advantage of past lives to guide her even if there was the risk of insanity. What she held in her hand was new even to them.

The message from Chapter House was indisputable. There was reason to believe that Salusa Secundus may have Sand Worms. A Sister was being sent to verify.

In the mean time the sisterhood was informing her in the event that the information may be of use to her. One thing was clear – the monopoly of Spice production on Dune had to be broken.

As far as Mo’Hadin was concerned someone/anyone breaking the spice monopoly would weaken the Atreides Empire and strengthen the Bene Gesserit position and that could only be a good thing.

~*~*~*~*~

The Lady Alexi stood before the Reverend Mother Farrah. Farrah was not happy. “Alexi there has been no progress with The Prince Dax Atreides?!”

“Reverend Mother, The Prince has been keeping his distance and since our initial encounter we have met once or twice. Neither occasion lent itself to the furtherance of the mission.” Alexi explained.

Farrah stood to look out the window. Alexi continued. “What is required is a situation that requires our constant contact. I understand that The Empress is in need of a Cabinet Secretary.”

32

Farrah turned and faced the young Reverend Mother. “… and the sons attend the Cabinet Meetings…”

“The situation remains less than ideal but it will provide an opportunity for constant contact.”

Alexi forwarded her case.

“Agreed. I shall have Ambassador Mo’Hadin speak with the Empress.” She said and then added. “It may not be an easy assignment to have allocated or to execute for you are young.”

“But able.” Alexi assured the Reverend Mother.

~*~*~*~*~

The Tleilaxu had seen the Team head up the mountain and had had the patience to await their return.

On the trip back to the Command Post they struck. There were explosions everywhere. Amasso Atreides together with a number of others was thrown from the transport. Once again he survived, where many did not.

His memory returned.

~*~*~*~*~

FROM: TERRAN GROWTH INC

TO: PRINCE RAMMEN CORRINO

MESSAGE:

ALL IS ON SCHEDULE.

WE RESPECTFULLY REQUEST THE SECOND INSTALLMENT OF PAYMENT.

J’TU

CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD.

~*~*~*~*~

The rag tag team from the Mountains finally entered the Command Post.

The JAG Officer scrutinized them as they walked by. “That him?”

“Yes, sir.” The Sergeant replied.

The Lt. Colonel impeded the passage of Amasso. “Major Amasso Atreides?”

33

Amasso glanced at the man before him, “…and who wants to know?”

The man ignored the statement and continued. “Major Amasso Atreides, the Judge Advocate General hereby charges you with the following under the UCMJ.” He proceeded to rattle off the list to a stunned Major,

Article 97. - Unlawful detention.

Article 86. - Absence without leave.

Article 87. - Missing movement.

Article 88. - Contempt toward officials.

Article 89. - Disrespect toward superior commissioned officer.

Article 90. - Assaulting or willfully disobeying superior commissioned officer.

Article 92. - Failure to obey order or regulation.

Article 98. - Noncompliance with procedural rules.

Article 108. - Military property of Fedaykin -- Loss, damage, destruction, or wrongful disposition.

Article 111. - Drunken or reckless driving.

Article 112. - Drunk on duty.

Article 112a. - Wrongful use, possession, etc., of controlled substances.

Article 116. - Breach of peace.

Article 117. - Provoking speeches or gestures. (Contemptuous words) Article 123a. - Making, drawing, or uttering check, draft, or order without sufficient funds.

Article 133. - Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.

“… and any other charge that the Judge Advocate may wish to add.” The Colonel finally ended the litany. “Sergeant!”

“Aye, Sir!”

“Place this man in custody till he can be transported.”

“Aye, Sir!”

“Should have stayed in the damned mountains.” Amasso grumbled as he was taken away.

34

hapter 7

C

All that is gold, does not glitter

All those who wonder, are not lost

Magician Gandalf of Middle Earth

Despite the agreement that there would be no talk of work in the Chambers of the Empress and her Consort there were times that it could not be helped. This was such a time.

As they lay in bed arms and legs entangled in each other the topic was broached. “Amasso has been accused of a laundry list of crimes including working for the enemy.” Arista replied in an unemotional tone to Duncan, who wasn’t fooled in the slightest.

He took a deep breath and sighed. “They look like two peas in a pod and yet are so different.”

He said in description of his sons.

“So Dax informs me. Did you even know he was off world?” She asked.

“Not a clue! You?”

“None. But in typical twin manner Dax knew.”

“Now what?” Duncan was worried as a soldier he knew what such accusations meant.

She snorted, adjusted her body to look at him. “Now, my love, I must decide. Follow Alia, of The Knife and do as I please? Or follow Leto Atreides the First and do the just thing.”

He swallowed hard. “Do the right thing. If only for the reason that it is right.”

“And lose a son?” She wailed.

“And lose a son.” He echoed and drew close to comfort her.

In the safety of his arms she confessed. “My concern is – how can I control an Empire when I can’t even control my sons?”

“An Empire is simpler, my love.” Idaho assured her. “Believe me I know.”

~*~*~*~*~

Tho’Ma Kynes loved presenting to children. They were such sponges. They are curious about everything and not afraid to ask any question that happened to pop into their heads.

35

Kynes was the latest in a long line of Planetologists first started by Pardot Kynes and later by his son Liet and like his forefathers he was passionately protective of the Planet Arakkis. Like House Atreides he too had gone native to the point of being as brown skinned and blue in blue eyed as any Fremen.

Today he would get his usual satisfaction plus a lesson to set him down a new path.

Having been introduced he set about establishing the parameters on Climate Change. "There is a layer of gas around most planets that acts like a blanket. These gases called greenhouse gasses keep the temperature underneath stable."

He got his first interruption, when a little hand flew up. "Yes?" He encouraged.

"Does Arakkis have this gas?" A little boy asked.

"Indeed we do. In fact in recent decades the chemical balance has changed and temperatures have risen."

Second interruption. This was going to be an interactive class - the kind he liked. "My mommy says it's called global warming."

"... and she is very correct." Kynes was almost joyous. "Global Warming is not a good thing and as such action by all is needed to reduce the risk of climate change caused by global warming."

"Not a good thing?" One asked.

"No!" A voice from a corner replied, "It's hot!... Isn't it Dr. Kynes?... Isn't it hot?"

Thirty trusting faces looked up to him for the reply. "Yes it is hot... and it could get hotter?"

"Why?" A little girl asked.

"Didn't you listen?" Her friend poked her in the ribs. "Its Global Warming."

Kynes watched the little girl deflate at the reprimand he came to her rescue. "I know what you mean. Global Warming is caused because of the increasing use of coal, oil and natural gas for heating and energy, especially for transport, and clearing of forests around worlds, which has caused a large increase in greenhouse gas emissions."

Frowns appeared on some faces. A hand flew up. "Sir?"

Kynes nodded for her to speak. "But we don't have forests to cut."

"No but Giedie Prime does and so does Kaitian and a number of other planets." He continued,

"But we do have the vehicle emissions of off-worlders that create carbon dioxide, which is a 36

major greenhouse gas, and remember on agricultural planets there too is an important source of our greenhouse gas emissions as Methane is produced in the stomachs of grass-eating animals such as sheep and cattle, then belched into the atmosphere."

He added one last point. “Also the seat of the Empire is here on Arrakis. We have a large city population here that use a lot of imported fuels, etc., to keep us going.”

“Like the Mojave Power plant.” The teacher added. “Remember? We visited it.”

“Exactly” He agreed.

"Are we going to die?" They were getting scared, time to change strategy.

"Not today." He chuckled, "One of the ways to fight Climate Change is to plant trees. Can you think of any others?"

"Stop burning!"

"Don't use ground transport!"

"Ride a worm!"

"Don't have animals!"

“Kick the foreigners out!”

The list was lusty and endless.

Finally the teacher calmed them down.

Then the break through as a bright spark asked. "Is that why we use everything?"

"Well spotted!" Kynes enthused "All good Fremen know that burning isn't a solution - it pollutes the air and may release toxic substances. That is why for generations we compost and recycle. It is a healthier option for you, our neighbours and the environment. And remember that Shai-Hulud shares the environment with us too!"

Keynes lesson for the day was now turned on him. "Sir..." The child hesitated. It took some coaxing but he finally got the story out.

"We... that is my sister and I...” Horror flashed across his sister's face. "We were out in the open desert." He got rapid "I know we weren't supposed to but there was this smell..."

"Smell?" Kynes wondered where this was going.

"YES!" The sister took up the story. "It was awful! Like rotting spice!"

37

"Only worse!" The brother expanded.

"It was worse." The sister confirmed. "It was Shai-Hulud." There - revelation. The class gasped. So did Kynes.

"Go on." He encouraged.

"It was sick... very sick." The boy said.

"It cried a lot...” The girl continued sadly "... and then it died."

Under his dark skin Kyens turned pale.

The teacher interjected "Why did you not say something before!"

Tears threatened as the girl replied, "Because we thought we'd get in trouble we were not supposed to be out there." She sniffed.

"Can you show me? Is it still there?"

They came to life "Yes! But we don't know if it is still there." Left to Kyens alone he the teacher together with thirty Fremen children would have headed out into the desert.

But the teacher intervened. The lesson was allowed to end and a few hours later, two chastened children an impatient Paleontologist along with a group of worried Fremen authorities headed out into the desert.

~*~*~*~*~

FROM: TERRAN GROWTH INC

TO: PRINCE RAMMEN CORRINO

MESSAGE:

WE ARE IN RECEIPT OF THE SECOND INSTALLMENT AS PER OUR AGREEMENT.

ATTACHED HEREIN IS THE MONTHLY REPORT. AS YOU WILL SEE ALL IS IN

ORDER AND ON SCHEDULE.

AS AGREED WE AWAIT YOUR ENVOY FOR THE LATEST SCHEDULED INSPECTION.

J’TU

CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD

38

~*~*~*~*~

Security was on the verge of total collapse as the Fedaykin struggled to execute their duties in the face of the wave after wave of people who camped daily outside the Court House compound, awaiting the trail of the Millennium.

Eventually Arista opened the proceedings to the press and the images were beamed to large screens located throughout the Empire. This indulgence of hers to allow Amasso to be tried may prove to be her undoing yet. She watched from the privacy of her Chambers, as did most of the Landsraad.

“Commander For’resten are you ready to call your first witness of the day?” The Judge asked.

“Yes, Sir, we call Lieutenant Colonel Serena Reltub.”

She was sworn in and instructed, “State your name rank and duty station.”

“Lieutenant Colonel Serena Reltub, stationed with the Caladan Army 10th Mountain Division, Special Operations Forces/Marine Expeditionary Units, Delleician Mountains Caladan.”

For’resten stood. “Colonel, what is the mission of your Marine Expeditionary Units in the Delleician Mountains?”

“To provide the Commander-In-Chief an operational maneuver capability from the Air.” She replied.

“Were your stationed in Delleician Mountains when Major Ammaso Atreides was caught?”

“Yes.”

And so it went.

~*~*~*~*~

Such was the obsession with the trial that the arrival of Reverent Mother Shakira was one that passed with no special notice.

~*~*~*~*~

Arista had had no choice. The CHOAM reception had been planed for months and court-martial or no – the function had to go on.

~*~*~*~*~

39

The meeting was convened and the hall was packed with members of the Sietch. Mick’N spoke.

“Fremen, Har’man has grave news for us. News that must be verified and then taken to Arista!

Speak Har’man!”

The Fremen stood, tall dark skinned with the trademark blue in blue eyes. “I have returned from Salusa Secundus. Where a new Museum was opened. ‘Rakis World it is called, an imitation of the Desert Planet Arakkis. It is said to be home to a Maker.”

Sand Worm? Off Dune? Impossible! The three thousand attending the meeting were too stunned to speak.

“As we contemplate this there is more. Mick’N added. Tho’Ma has heard rumours that the worms of Arakkis are dying.” He held up his had for silence and got it. “As yet there is no proof, but if it is true then Tho’Ma will find it and then we will have greater problems on our hands!”

The future of the Fremen had just become unsure. Where was Maud’Dib when needed?

~*~*~*~*~

Alexi was bored. This CHOAM reception had gone on for hours and as sophisticated as she was, being a Reverend Mother and all – she was bored. She must have interacted with every male here, not that she had a choice. She was new to the Court, tall and beautiful, with clear blue eyes yet to show the spice addiction that was sure to come.

The young Reverend Mother began to wind her way towards an exit. It took her an our of taking two steps, holding a conversation and taking another two steps only to be stopped again.

Eventually she got to the door and slipped out.

She wound her way up the stairs that let to the mezzanine that over looked the grand hall.

Relieved at her eventual escape Alexi too in her surrounds. The mezzanine was a library. The shelves lined the walls with a scattering of lounge chairs and sofas.

Alexi sauntered past the shelves and was able to read each as she went… The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, La géométrie par René Descartes, El señor de los anillos por JRR

Tolkin, Империализм и мировая экономика мимо Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Düne durch Frank Herbert and Catholici Naranchies Antiquum et Novum Testamenti!

All in their original language! These books were priceless antiques! So engrossed was she that she failed to notices that she was not alone.

“It has been a long time since those books got such attention.” The man said.

She whirled around. “My Lord… I didn’t realize…”

Dax remained sprawled on a chaise lounge and raised a hand to silence her. “It’s all right.”

40

“She nodded with relief.

“Fed up with the reception?” He asked.

“I’m new, My Lord, and not used to such.”

He grinned widely “Now there is a diplomatic answer if ever there was one!”

She chucked.

“Come… sit… talk with me.” Dax invited. Alexi took a comfortable chair opposite him. “So!

Which one if us are you here for?” The smile never left his face.

“Sire?”

He chuckled and leaned forward. “Oh don’t ‘Sire’ me. It is obvious that you are here to be with either Amasso or me. Now which of us is it?”

“I don’t know.” She confessed.

He leaned back. “Ah the truth – so refreshing.”

“You are a truth sayer?”

“I am.” He confirmed.

[ He can discern the truth! ] She thought. [ Is he the one I am to mate with? If he is a truth sayer what else is he?! ] “Sorry. Sire, my mind wandered.” She blushed with embarrassment.

“I said… I like you.” He announced, [ But I wonder are you worthy of House Atreides or a snake that'll end up biting us in the butt? ]

She accepted the compliment, “Thank you.”

“I think the whole Court likes you!” He snorted.

“I’m new that’s all. It’s the novelty of new blood.” She explained.

“May be… May be not.”

“Now what?’ She asked.

“Now” He contemplated the question. “Now… I Prince Dax Atreides, Major in the Fedaykin, Sultan of Arakkis…” he digressed, “My brother is Prince of Caladan” then he continued, “Grand Duke Las Carris, Sheik Qabus ibn Sa'id and Lord of all I survey…” Alexi giggled. “Now!

Now… I intend to escape this everlasting reception and leave. You interested?”

41

“Oh Yes!” She replied with no hesitation.

As they left Alexi contemplated [ I wonder what the point of the Title Listing of his and his brother's was all about? Was it for me to decide which brother is worthy? Which one I want?

One problem there - It’s not up to me. ]

“That listing of titles thing?” Dax answered, “It’s a thing my Grand Dame liked to do when she wanted to stress a point. I kind of picked up the habit – there was no intent there.”

Alexi missed a step [ Great Mother! He had read her mind! HE HAD HEARD HER! ]

Dax caught her. “You Ok?’

She could only nod. He righted her and continued to lead.

Farrah watched as the two made their great escape unaware that they had been observed.

42

hapter 8

C

Resistance is futile – The Borg Collective.

Regular rhythms attracted sand worms. All Fremen knew this and so the team slipped, dragged, crawled and walked up to the crest of the sand dune. Finally they got to the top... Kynes stepped forward from the rest of the entourage and found nothing. His disappointment was almost tangible. The desert had been efficient in reclaiming any remains, which might have been.

"It was there!" The boy protested the truth of his story.

"It was!" His sister backed him up.

"You bring us out here on some pretense!" N'Gia the Naib was annoyed.

"It's true!" The children looked around wildly for a trace of belief from anyone. They got it from Kynes. "I believe them." He said calmly. He targeted the boy, Mo'hal "Can you draw what you saw?"

Mo'Hal nodded. Kynes continued "The carcass may not be here, but it is only a matter of time before the evidence becomes commonplace."

"What evidence!" N'Gia demanded.

"The dead bodies of sand worms killed by the increased warming of the planet." He replied.

"Global Warming!" The girl announced.

"Global Warming." Keynes echoed and on that note they all turned and went back the way they had come.

Unknown to them, they had been observed. Valcyn placed his binoculars down and continued on his own business. If they had come to see the carcass of Shai-Hulud there was none to be seen and he had no intention of interacting with anyone.

~*~*~*~*~

Reverened Mothers Shakira who had arrived to test Dax, Farrah the Kwisatz Mother and Mo’Hadin the Ambassador to the Court of Atreides met in chambers.

“The Bio sample you sent is confirmed” Shakira reported.

Farrah’s eyes bored through her sister.

43

“He is the genetic reincarnation of Paul Atreides?” Mo’Hadin felt the need to say it out loud.

“The rumour was true?”

“What of Amasso?” Farrah demanded.

“He is not.” Shakira stated. “Where is Dax. I must test him.”

“At the trial of Amasso.” Farrah replied.

“Summon him.” Shakira ordered.

~*~*~*~*~

It was another sweltering night. A shadowy figure of a man dressed in black made its way towards the nerve centre of the electric power grid. His intension was simple – to see if it could be done. The Mojave Power Station as a massive metropolis of a system, it provided power to a third of Arakkis. This was a practice run, later he’d tackle the Command and Control Room.

As he approached, two things happened: first he spotted. Mar’Cel the courier sent by Mick’N to inform Arista of the news of Worms on Salusa Secundus came round the corner. The shadowy figure ducked for cover.

There are times when shortcuts are longer than they seem. It was the fate of Mar’Cel that he took the shortcut to the Place via the PowerStation. Mick’N had said that the message was urgent and such a command from a Naib was to be executed in the most efficient manner possible: hence, the shortcut.

The Spy watched as a gang of seven thugs accosted the Fremen. He hadn’t noticed them before and now he just watched and waited for an opportunity to leave. There were too many people out this night.

Mar’Cel saw the men saw they were Fremen, he grinned in acknowledgment. “As salaam waleikum.” He gave the traditional greeting.

“Wa aleikum as-salaam.” They responded.

“Aren’t you far from your usual haunts?” the leader demanded as the rest surrounded Mar’Cel.

Mar’Cel assessed his situation – The men were dressed in black, all were armed – he did not like this. His wyes narrowed, “Really? I thought Dune was every Freman haunt as you put it.”

They had had enough of talk. The longer they stayed the more likely that a Patrol would spot them. One man simply pulled out a knife and sliced his throat. Mar’Cel fell dead.

44

They stripped the lifeless body. The Leader of the Pack ordered, “Take him into the desert. Let the elements deal with him, no one will know what had really happened.”

The Spy watched as they did just that. Once gone he stepped out and returned the way he had come.

~*~*~*~*~

Over the weeks of the unusually intense heat everything was either melting, had melted or was at boiling point. It was no different at the Power Plant and the insulation for the various components had reached the limits of their endurance. Added to this was the increased demand on the system for power to operate the coolants. The strain on the system was severe. On this hot night all the elements finally came to a head: melted insulation and an overloaded grid.

Two elements touched and one third of the planet was plunged into darkness.

~*~*~*~*~

The Fremen called it ‘phantom moons’ which was a way of describing the rare moment when Dune’s moons did not ascend. This was such a night thus making the black out total.

With the mission a complete failure, the man in black fished out his night vision goggles and continued on his return trip.

~*~*~*~*~

The Atreides who walked into Mo’Hadin’s Chambers was not the expected one.

“Normally the conniving of the Royal Court is just that. Conniving. “ Arista stated and sat. “The workings of the Bene Gesserit, however, have never been ‘just’ anything.”

The four women watched each other. “My sons are not for your scheming.” Arista finally declared.

“The sisterhood feels that Alexi shall make the perfect Consort.” Farrah said.

“Indeed?” Alexi replied.

“We were to present her at the next sitting of the Landsraad.” Mo’Hadin imparted.

“And for that you need the presence of a Truthsayer?” Arista indicated Shakira.

Shakira took control. “It is time.”

Arista knew what she meant. “You imply that my sons are animals?”

45

“We embrace the premise that they may be human.” Shakira replied.

Farrah expounded. “We are the custodians of the heritage of the Great Houses. It is only fit that there be measures for quality control in place.” Mo’Hadin nodded her agreement.

“You are reviving the Breeding Program?” Arista demanded.

“No Highness.” Farrah replied accurately. One could not revive what had not died. Shakira and Arista sensed the truth of the answer.

Arista eyes narrowed to slits. She was familiar with the ways of the order. “Ammaso is not available.”

“Then Dax?” Shakira suggested.

Arista pondered for a moment. These three were up to something. It was the nature of the Sisterhood. It thrived and survived on being manipulative. Apparently the Breeding Program though not revived had metamorphosed into something else – but what? Surely they were not after yet another Kwisatz Haderach!

They were all Bene Gesserit, which meant they would get the DNA they needed by any means necessary. The rape of Mohiam by The Baron Harkonnen still haunted all with her memories.

The question that faced House Atreides was how to maneuver this to their advantage. Tricky --

difficult even but not impossible.

As the wheels in her brain continued to churn she realized that she needed to bring Dax closer into her Cabinet. For Naib Mick'N was correct Ammaso would not be heir, to the Throne, he had shown no interest or potential. The decision now thrust upon her she needed to find out exactly what the twenty year old was made of.

She stood. “Summon him.”

Suddenly the room went black – they had lost power. All four women froze in place, closed their eyes adjusted their bodies and when they opened their eyes, they looked from one to another.

Arista repeated, “Summon him.” And left to find out what was wrong now.

~*~*~*~*~

It was late but life in Metropolitan Arakkis never stopped even for a power failure. Traffic lights were out throughout downtown, creating havoc but civilians stepped in to direct traffic. They stood at intersections with flasks of burning spice oil until the Fedaykin could arrive The University Hospital was on back up generators and had power. So patients were safe.

46

Those not caught in elevators had to walk down thousands of steps in downtown office buildings.

Despite the outage bars were filled with stranded travelers who desperately ordered drinks, water was too expensive.

~*~*~*~*~

With the techs working non-stop power was restored within four hours and the incident became a story to tell ones children and grandchildren.

~*~*~*~*~

The power failure had no impact on the case.

The trial was a stressful one. It seemed to go on forever. Ammaso’s advocate Victrin was performing very well, even against the Neutral Guild Advocate, but there was no way to tell which case had the edge.

Besides the stress of the case itself, the Empress and Mother of the accused in an effort to bring the trial to a quick and satisfactory close was pressuring Victrin. A constant request of “When will this be over!?” Was the incessant inquiry from the Throne.

What helped Ammaso keep his sanity was being able to look out in the gallery and seeing Dax there to support him. But who was that fine female next to him?

~*~*~*~*~

Ma'a lot, Mentat to House Atreides, reached for the latest report on his desk. After reading it he would summaries and to forward to the Empress. This one however seemed to have been summarized already.

AN EXPLANATORY OVERVIEW OF THE AGREEMENT ESTABLISHING THE

INTERPLANETARY COURT OF JUSTICE

Executive Summary

Challenges of Capacity Development: Towards Sustainable Reforms of Landsraad Justice Sectors, Volume I: Policy Document has been prepared at the request of representatives of the Landsraad. Its goal is to provide a framework to guide efforts aimed at making the justice sector more effective, efficient and reliable. It presents a summary of the main issues, dilemmas and policy options. This document seeks to stimulate and support the debate about justice sector reforms within the region and with external development partners.

Two other documents provide background information. Consultants prepared the documents and they are published in two volumes for wider dissemination. Both documents assess justice sectors in the Landsraad. Volume II, A Diagnostic Assessment of Interplanetary Justice Sectors, 47

provides an assessment of Interplanetary justice sectors and includes reform activities at planetary. Volume III, A Preliminary Report on a Survey of Users and Providers of Justice Sector Service, contains the results of a survey of households, domestic and off-world businesses, private law practitioners, and judges, who offer their opinions and perceptions based on their experience of their country's justice sector.

This document required none of his attention it could go straight through.

~*~*~*~*~

It had been too dark to see anything so the sense of hearing had gone into over drive. Valcyn heard when the man had gone up the hill. By his walk he was not Fremen but he knew enough of Desert way not to walk with a rhythmic beat. That would surely call a Worm.

It was a man Valcyn was sure and he carried a load, a heavy one at that. He didn’t challenge the Phantom. Why should he? His one aim as a hermit was to avoid people and anyone out on a night like this was up to no good on that he would bet his water.

It was now hours later and the sun was out and so was Valcyn.

He ventured out to see what had occurred. He may not want to be among people but that didn’t mean he wasn’t curious. He stood and watched the body of a dead Fremen. The body was already giving up its water to the intense sun.

His curiosity satisfied, the hermit turned and left the corpse to the scavengers that were sure to come.

48

hapter 9

C

“… you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Genesis Chpt. 1 Vs 19 Revised Orange Catholic Bible

Stealth Mission Expert Sister Dwanna arrived on Salusa Secundus and headed for the Chambers of the resident Bene Gesserit representative.

If worms are to be found on this Planet then there was much that they had to discuss.

~*~*~*~*~

Arista was tired. She entered her bedchamber and saw her consort lying there. Just lying.

Suddenly she didn’t feel all that tired. “Had a good day?” She sat on the bed next to him, leaned over and kissed him. He reached up and slid his hand around her neck to bring her closer. She adjusted her body and the kiss deepened.

Finally they came up for air. “I go into the deep desert on a routine inspection and return to find my first born on trial and the numbers of Bene Gesserit has increased four fold.” He replied. “I think I’ll return to the Desert. It’s safer; even with wild sand worm foraging about.”

“I think I’ll join you.” She curled up next to him.

“Oh no you don’t.” he poked her in the ribs.

“Whaaat?” She had been about to get comfortable next to him.

“Don’t get too relaxed.” He said.

She got serious. “You dare speak to me in that way?”

She had misunderstood his motivations but he was man enough for that. He chuckled, “Arista, my darling, do not try the attitude, or the voice on me. More Atreides than you have tried and failed.” He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. “We agreed that out there I am Commander In Chief to the Empress Arista Atreides – Ruler of All She Surveys.”

He paused for dramatic effect. “In here we are man and woman.”

She sighed. He was right and that is what she loved about him. He was man to her woman. She stood, “What can I say, Duncan. When you are right, you are right.”

49

“Good.” He grinned. “Now listen up, young woman.” She raised an eyebrow at the description.

“You are going to have a bath…”

“In water!” She cut across him.

“In water.” He confirmed. “My mate not to mention the mother of my children works hard and deserves a treat now and then. So to the bath with you. When you return I have some Oil Of Melange from Mick’N, I will massage you from head to toe. When you awake from the sleep this is bound to induce then you will have the strength to welcome your mate home in the manner I deserve.”

“Yes, sire.” She replied sarcastically.

As she prepared to follow his instructions she posed a question to him. “Duncan, do you ever wish that we Atreides would let you and your Gholas rest in peace?”

He stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. Planting a kiss on her exposed neck he replied, “Some revivals are better than others. I never know what an Atreides calls me up for. There was one incarnation where the Tleilaxu did imprint me with their whistling language, so that they could control me. Then there was the sexual imprint; with a command to kill the first Bene Gesserit who would try to mark me via seduction a talent I may I have embraced completely up to this incarnation. Let us not forget that there is also my improved prana-bindu reflexes that has been an asset to my military career. But I must confess that my time with you has been one I have most enjoyed.”

“Truly?”

“I promise to show you later.” Was his answer, “If having made love to you at Dawn tomorrow you are not assured of either my love, my loyalty or my total enjoyment of this incarnation –

then feed me to a sand worm for the night of a thousand deaths.”

He survived the self-imposed challenge.

She on the other hand needed time to recuperate. All morning appointments were postponed.

Among the inconvenienced was the Representative of the Spacing Guild.

~*~*~*~*~

The Reverend Mothers had sent Alexi to get Dax. They were determined that she should hover in his orbit until he became used to her. The only problem was that Alexi’s timing had been bad, Dax had had a waking dream…

[V]The Reverend Mother was fast “Hold!” She ordered. “If you know all that then you know I hold the Gom Jabbar at your throat. You will also know that you are to place your 50

hand in that little black box there. So indulge an old woman.” The purr hardened. “Put your hand in.”[V]

Alexi’s voice brought him back “Please, My Lord.” She had had to put all her training to use as she asked Dax to meet with the Reverend Mother Shakira.

For himself Dax had inherited the Fremen suspicion of the Bene Gesserit. The irony that he was trained in their ways made no difference and the vision didn’t help.

His fascination with Alexi was morphing into something deeper but yet he resisted. He stood.

“Enough! Leave me!” He ordered.

She bowed. “As you wish, my Lord.” And with that she was gone.

51

hapter 10

C

Never fear the event.

Horatio, Lord Nelson – Warrior (1801)

Arista had received the report of Alexi’s failure to bring her son to Shakira. There would be no repeat with her. She sent for her son and together they headed for the Chambers of the tester.

There would be no resistance to this summons.

~*~*~*~*~

Dax followed.

As he followed he thought to himself, [ Which carries the greater weight in my life? Arista my Mother? Or Arista the Empress? ] He gave a mental shrug. Which ever it was it really didn’t matter for he obeyed – to the best of his ability. Even to leaving his brother behind. [ Amasso’s trail was nearing the end and yet mother has summoned me. ]

Still he followed.

They entered the Chamber of a Reverend Mother.

“Dax.” Arista said. He turned to face his mother. “This is the Reverend Mother Shakira… Do as she asks.” On that note she turned walked out, but paused at the door. “Dax…” he turned to look at her, “It’s important.” Then she left.

Dax refocused on the woman and waited.

She in turned eyed him from head to toe. “Come.”

He remained where he was. She used the voice on him. “Come here.”

Eventually he moved. [ I really needed to work on my resistance to the Voice. ] He thought as he moved forward and found himself before the woman.

“You are about to test me?” He asked calmly.

“What do you know of it?” She covered her surprise.

“That you use it to separate humans from animals; that you tested Paul Atreides. That then as now you hardly ever test males.”

52

“You know much.” She replied.

“I know much.” He echoed. “I know that you will not test me today.” He turned to leave.

But she was swift. “Hold!” She ordered. “If you know all that then you know I hold the Gom Jabbar at your throat. You will also know that you are to place your hand in that little black box there. So indulge an old woman.” The purr hardened. “Put your hand in.”

There was no choice now. He reluctantly put his hand in the box, and simultaneously he recited the litany against fear…

I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will allow my fear to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone I will turn my inner eye to see its path.

And where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

As had happened in the beginning so it unfolded now. The nerve-induced pain began as a twitch; it grew to an itch then a burning and finally a peeling of the shin.

The Reverend Mother held onto him as a praying mantis did to her prey. Through him she felt every phase of the test. It was easy to endure the itch at the start, then the burning, the sensation of skin peeling then falling off by the end of the trial Dax screamed from the effort. Drenched with sweat from the effort, he almost collapsed taking Sharika with him.

~*~*~*~*~

When Commander For’resten stood to deliver his closing argument, the atmosphere of the courtroom changed. He cleared his throat and walked to a position in front of the jury box. His major points were recounted, and then he said something that surprised Alexi and the other observers in the room.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Major Amasso Leto Atredies is an Officer and a Gentleman of the Fedaykin. We do not dispute that once upon a time he had a drinking problem. A problem addressed with the assistance of his family in particular his father Swords Master Duncan Idaho."

"He holds the horary title of Prince of Caladan. He is a young man trained for action with a strong sense of what is right and wrong. Planet Caladan is the Ancestral home of his Royal House - He perceived a call from his Home and responded. Would any of us have done different?"

The crowd murmured.

53

"The prosecution has failed to bring forth a case for any of the counts. Much of the testimony was hearsay and you were instructed to ignore this. A difficult instruction to follow... but follow it you must. This is a Court Martial not a fish market where all innuendo becomes truth. You yourselves are Officers and Gentlemen of the Fedaykin and as such you are under oath to be impartial."

He had the entire room straining to hear his every word.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the Planet Caladan is in a turmoil the likes we've not seen in recent history. We all need to be hyper-vigilant against the possibility of tyranny in our midst, and understandably so. But there is a difference between being aware of that possibility and being paranoid. Major Atreides is being singled out because of his zeal and need to come to the rescue of his fellow man and historic brothers.”

"I charge you to keep yourself from being paranoid. Don't let another witch hunt begin. You must acquit Major Atreides; he's done nothing wrong. He is not a terrorist and he certainly has committed no crime and certainly not this laundry list that has been paraded here."

Amasso was acquitted and as abruptly as the case had started it was over.

~*~*~*~*~

Kynes was sequestered up in his lab. He had not been out in days. Once he entered such a phase his assistants usually left him alone. So there he was with an emerging beard over his usually clean-shaven face, plates of untouched food and an array of reports for company.

Global Outgoing Longwave Heat Radiation: KERES instrument team

Global Reflected Shortwave Solar Radiation: KERES instrument team Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Records from Giedi Prime (39,124 – 39,164): Global Average Near-Surface Temperature Anomalies, Arakkis Met Office 39,101 – 39,163

Global Stratospheric and Tropospheric Temperature Anomalies: Global Hydrology and Climate Center - Salusa Secundus

The evidence was there before him. The ozone was eroding at a faster rate than thought; there was nothing unique in that. It had happened before and undoubtedly it would happen again.

What was unique… he grabbed a paper and scanned it.

What was unique was that it seemed to be happening on different planets at the same time! This had to be un-presedented. He needed to speak with other scientists to discuss his theory, multi planetary degradation did not happen every day.

~*~*~*~*~

Dax was fearful of the state of his hand maybe it was a stub. [ I’ll be turned out for the desert to judge me! ]

54

Shakira instructed him, “Look at it.” He hesitated. She repeated the instruction. He eventually pulled out his hand and looked at it. There it was intact. He heaved a mental sigh of relief.

“Nerve-induced.” She explained as she removed the Gom Jabbar from her finger and boxed it.

“Can’t go round maiming all and sundry.”

“I sense the truth of it.” He was regaining control of his rampaging pulse.

She looked up sharply. “You can sense truth?”

“I can.” Was all he would say on the topic, just how developed his abilities were no one had a clue … yet. “Now what?” Dax changed the topic.

She let the change pass. “Now, young human.” She placed the box with the Gom Jabbar into a fold of her robe. “Now you go fulfill your destiny. Whatever it may be.”

~*~*~*~*~

Amasso walked out of the courtroom with the assistance of Fedaykin. He had been famous before as the default heir to the Atreides Throne, but now he was also infamous and the combination of the two meant that there was nowhere to go where he was not known for one or the other.

But he needed to celebrate. He was free!

Again with Fedaykin assistance he eventually got away from the madding crowd. He headed for Burdel’s there he was able to do justice to his freedom with the usual flair of Wine, Women and Song.

Not having learnt a single lesson from the trial, he eventually fell asleep in the arms of a prostitute.

~*~*~*~*~

All over the Planet 'thopters hovered low and moved across Cities, Towns and Villages. Gently as a mid summer drizzle that brings out the smell of the daffodils the aircraft showered the population with a one-page flyer. But unlike the gentle rains of Caladan what the Tleilaxu delivered that day was fire and brimstone.

It read simply...

The Tleilaxu Government finds it necessary at this juncture to remind citizens that six years ago the Tleilaxu Parlamento overwhelmingly passed The Marriage Separatist Act.

The law forbids Budislamics who marry Caladanians from obtaining Caladan citizenship or permits them to live with their spouses and children. Those who have married are in 55

contravention of this law and will have to live apart. The Act also states that from the age of twelve, your children will be denied citizenship and may be forced to move out off Caladan.

All "family reunification," applications have been frozen with immediate effect.

This law only applies to Budislamics. Citizens of the Empire who marry Caladanians are entitled to become citizens.

This law is to take immediate effect.

Signed

Ali Ben Knesset

Tleilaxu Governor of Caladan

56

hapter 11

C

A man in love has no logic.

Fremen saying

Amasso woke up with a hangover and alone in the bed, the woman he’d picked up had not dared not rob him – well not completely, she’d left him some Solaris. He took the currency and ordered a concoction to clear his head something called Hangover Stew – it was awful, but he downed it and soon headed out to Mick'N Sietch. God alone knew where Dax and the other had got to, he’d call later to find out.

Once there the namesake of the Sietch, Mick'N approached him. “You cannot hide here forever.

The trial is over. Face your mother.”

“I know. I know. But Arista is a formidable woman and I need to fortify myself.” He grinned.

“I’d rather ride Shai-Hulud than face my own mother. What kind of man am I?”

“One like any other. We all answer to a higher authority.” Mick'N philosophized. “… and there is none higher than mother. Even Naibs must answer to them.”

Amasso grinned. “You are right, my friend, but not yet. Soon.”

“Then you are summoned as are all to a meeting seven days hence after the Hour of Lud.” The Leader ordered. “Your mother is expected.”

“For?”

“A matter of great import.” Was all the answer he received.

“Are not all Fremen meetings of great import?”

All he got for an answer was an arched eyebrow.

So Amasso had took the hard advice and prepared to return to Arakkis City.

~*~*~*~*~

The two Reverend Mothers took a walk in the garden. “I like it here.” Kardon said. “Salusa Secundus has managed to finally capture the glory of its past… In some aspects.”

“I can see why.” Dwanna admired the surroundings “It is soothing.”

“Yes, and in these times a calm surrounding can assist in many an endeavor.”

57

“By their very nature some breed more discontent than calm.” Dwanna replied.

“I hear that deserts are like that. They pose as areas of calm yet beneath … ah beneath.” Kardon sighed.

“There are deserts here on Salusa Secundus?” Dwanna acted surprised.

“Historically, no.” Kardon replied, “But with all the craze of Museums you would be surprised what can be conjured up.”

“I’d be grateful if you’d recommend one such to visit while on my short stay here.” Dwanna continued the dance.

“Then that would be ‘Rakis World, an imitation of the Desert Planet Arrakis. Very detailed, I’m told.”

"Sounds delightful. I must make sure to take a look at it before my vacation ends."

“Oh, yes!” Kardon encouraged. “If you visit only one place while you are here then ‘Rakis World is definitely the place.” The two proceeded to walk the garden trails discussing various aspects of horticulture.

~*~*~*~*~

Rumour had it that when Duke Leto I had first arrived on Arakkis, there came with him a member of the house hold who had lived near the sea. Missing it so, he had opened a bar and called it "The Captain's Cellar" as a way to remind him of home. It was a respectable place -

even Arista in her youth had been known to frequent the establishment. This night her sons did the frequenting.

Amasso had returned and gone in search of Dax first. His mother he’d face in the morning. He was trying out the roulette table. Having been unlucky with women logic dictated that he should be lucky with gambling. Somehow it didn’t seem to be working out that way.

“Any luck?” Major T'Sao asked over the noise in the bar.

He shook his head. “Lady Luck is playing hard to get tonight."

“Come and join us you can try again later.” She encouraged. T'Sao had met the twins at boot camp and had taken a liking to Amasso. He was a swinger - unlike Dax.

“You go ahead. I’ll join you in a minute.” He turned his back on her to try the table again.

She looked at his back for a few seconds and left to join Savan and Dax. “What is it with him and this roulette?!” She demanded.

58

Savan chuckled, he rounded off the quartet that had started at boot camp, though he knew the siblings from the Sietch – they had grown up together. “I don’t understand it and I’ve known them all my life; one serious and one not. I'm not calling names - mind you, I’m just saying. So roll with it or get out of the way.”

“I choose to ignore that statement on the grounds that my mother can’t afford to have another son on trail.” Dax replied and downed a beer.

Savan changed the subject. "I see the Royal House hold has a new addition in the shape of the

‘oh so shapely’ Lady Alexi."

Dax was about to reply when Amasso joined them. “Oh, for God’s sake! Get a grip. You can't win every night!" Dax teased.

“I know.” Amasso replied but still looked glum. “But I was hoping to catch a break. Ah well” he dropped onto the seat next to his brother.

“Can we please change the subject?!” T'Sao snapped.

“With pleasure.” Savan replied. “Suggestions?”

“Fedaykin game tomorrow!” Dax started. “I tell you solemnly. There shall be much wailing and gnashing of teeth and I don’t mean the players!”

“Tell them!” Savanr shouted but made no difference over the din.

“The son of the preacher man predicts!” Amasso chuckled.

“You doubt?” Savan challenged.

“With you on the team NEVER! Go Fedaykin!” Amasso held up his Spice beer in a bottle.

“GO FEDAYKIN!” The rest joined and clinked their drinks.

“GO FEDAYKIN!” The bar echoed the chorus.

Amasso grinned. He loved this life. "Mad at me for the Caladan Affair?" He winked at Dax.

"Never for long." Dax replied and clinked his drink to that of his twin. “Still mad at me for being named Heir?” His brother had taken the announcement badly and had ranted and raved in his usual manner for days.

"Never for long." Amasso echoed. They both drank deeply all was well in the world.

~*~*~*~*~

59

Dax was running behind schedule... that would teach him to go carousing. He was late for a Cabinet Meeting no less. His mother had finally --- FINALLY named an heir to the Throne. She had picked him and here he was late! She’d have his water scattered to the desert.

He just managed to slide into the elevator as the doors closed. He jammed the button repeatedly for the Cabinet Room and leaned back against the wall. The elevator began its climb when suddenly it lurched, shook then stopped.

“Damn it!” he swore, he grabbed the communicator only to be informed that it would take at least thirty minutes for a tech to arrive.

“Damn it!” he repeated. This was not turning out to be a good day. He groaned. Murphy’s Law was in full effect today. He’d forgotten his personal communicator in his Chambers where he had placed it to charge.

He took a deep breath. Control yourself Atreides getting a coronary is not going to help. He wondered which floors he was stuck between and if Alexi would figure out what had happened.

After all she was the Cabinet Secretary and usually had her finger on the pulse of the Palace.

He sat to await a rescue.

60

hapter 12

C

Lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from Evil

Jesus Christ – Founder of the First Golden Path

It was obvious that the Empress was not in a mood to be played with. Alexi took a chance.

“M’Lady, with your permission, I go in search of Lord Dax.”

“You do that.” Arista growled.

Alexi left the rest of the Cabinet and went to find out what had happened to Dax.

~*~*~*~*~

The plaza was packed to capacity and then some. There was not room enough for an extra sand trout; much less more people. Still they came.

All were invited - this was not an event the natives of Giedi Prime could miss. They HAD to be there. The day had been declared a holiday and all were expected to attend the unveiling, Noble and Slave alike. No excuse was acceptable save that of death – your own. The invitation had been a mere formality.

Vlad sat above the crowd, resplendent in the robes of his rank; the Baron Harkonen was a proud man. After eight years of unceasing work finally the statue of his ancestor and namesake Vladimir Harkonnen would be unveiled.

The labour of love on Vlad’s part had become a burden to his sons. Al Samoud and Samir were not enamored of their ancestry as their farther was. They secretly referred to the “The Tower of Strength” as “Give Me Strength.” The secret title had been too artful to remain the province of the two brothers. Somehow by the time of the unveiling the population had adopted the unofficial title. Strangely, Vlad didn’t know about the “new” designation. This was the only occasion that the Harkonnen sons and their subjects agreed on anything – Vlad was never to know of the new name.

Positioned in an advantageous point, the statue of the Baron could keep an eye on all, and so the plaza was packed with humans all waiting the unveiling of the colossus. Six hours of speeches later, all vaulting the Baron, the statue was exposed for the world to see.

There it stood…

Made from bonded white carrara marble with a black marble base, imported from the family mines at Hagal. The master sculptor D'Auvergne had created a masterful depiction of a biblical Vladimir Harkonnen contemplating his battle with House Atreides. Stoic against impossible odds 61

and faithful to his beliefs it was a masterful representation of the essence of civic virtue. He had molded the hard stone as though it were putty; creating a combination of smooth adoration combined with openly active and dynamic contours. The muscles and the tendons were developed only to the point where they could be interpreted, as the perfect instrument for the strong Harkonnen will. The portrait was youthful with an outstretched foot that led the eye in a perfect line all the way up to his disheveled hair.

Truly romantic.

Noble women sighed and the crowd clapped, but the true reaction came from the usual source.

“Dad… I thought that the old Baron was fat?” The child demanded. His father clamped his hand over the curious mouth, quickly looked around to see if the comment had been heard and then.

“Are you insane?!” The father demanded as he bundled the child away from the throng.

“Sorry.” The child apologized. The man made no comment but just dragged the child away through a crowd that screamed its approval. Then they all went home thinking: “Give Me Strength.”

Vlad was happy. The population had made sure of that.

~*~*~*~*~

Alexi was still searching for the missing heir. Amasso spied her.

“Finished already?” He was surprised, having decided not to return to the desert untill the meeting, he was still debating if to attend Cabinet and here it was over already?

“Dax never arrived and The Empress is furious.” She was worried. “When did you return? Does Lord Dax know that you are back, Sir?”

Amasso grimaced. Arista on the warpath was an event to avoid. “Got back this morning. No one knows – but I remembered the meeting.”

“Well as I said there is no meeting today.” She responded to his scowl. “... and I see that the elevators are stuck again.”

“One more time.” Amasso replied.

~*~*~*~*~

It was late.

Dwanna walked into the compound, unchallenged, as there was no one to confront her. She snorted in disgust, so much for security on a planet that housed House Corrino.

62

She headed for the desert exhibit and stared. Impressive, she thought, massive too, a true attempt at reconstructing the desert of Arakkis.

She stopped for a moment to read the plaque.

Prince Rammen Corrino officially unveiled this plaque, declaring

‘Rakkis World open.

On a miniature scale ‘Rakkis World is an accurate representation of the desert planet Arakkis, also known as Dune

The museum replicates the flora, fauna and environmental conditions of Dune

and is the largest artificial desert in the known Universe

occupying approximately ten percent of Salusa Secundus.

WELCOME!

Dwanna contemplated the desert. A thought occurred, [ This exhibit is huge shouldn't there be at least some barrier to prevent the public wandering in on their own and dying? ]

She approached the edge of the desert. She spotted the shimmer – there was a force field. It made sense, or else all and sundry would be wandering in and getting lost not to mention that no gate fees would be possible.

She studied the pulse of the shield. Every shield had a frequency and a cycle rate, add to that the law of physics that allowed a slow moving projectile to penetrate she would have no problem in gaining entrance – it was all in the timing.

The problem of entry solved she turned to the mission. She checked her pack. Once in she needed to get in deep and set up a search pattern. She hadn’t realized that the desert was so large, that meant the hunt would take a little longer than anticipated, but it could not be helped she needed to confirm her findings no matter what they were.

63

hapter 13

C

Exodus! Movement of Jah people.

Send us another Brother Moses!

Robert Marley – Fremen Minstrel

Dax had resigned himself to a crucifixion by his mother. It was just a matter of who got to him first the Tech or the Empress. He sat on the floor, pulled out the data crystal and decided to review the agenda for the meeting.

As he pulled out the crystal and an item fell out. He looked at it. How did that get in there? It was a holo-image carrier an image had popped up of a christening at Mike’N Steitch that the Royal House Hold had attended. Then it occurred to him – he’d placed it in the case intedning to place it in his office. He obviously had not got round to executing that intent.

The image showed his mother holding the baby of the hour. At the four second mark the image changed, this time it was an image of Amasso and himself... then the image changed and this time it was Alexi, the latest Bene Gesserit to arrive on Arakkis. For some reason his mother had allowed her to stay. He didn't remember her at the christening though.

He hit the pause button and studied the image. He turned it left then right. There was something familiar about her; he just couldn't put his finger on it. "... and why should you?"

Dax's head whipped round. Still sitting he completed a circle. He confirmed - he was alone.

"...are you?" The voice said again.

He groaned now his visions were eroding his sanity. "Please, Dax control yourself." The voice snorted. "You are as sane as any man. Now focus."

"On what?" He asked. [ Now, I'm speaking to images. ]

"The image before you." Came the reply.

Instantly he looked at Alexi. The image waved at him. "Oh, God!" He shut his eyes and rubbed them. When he reopened them a woman sat before him.

"Fear not." The apparition comforted. "I am not here to harm you... Do you not recognize me?"

He gulped and stared hard. Slowly a thought germinated in his mind. "The Lady Jessica?"

[ There he'd said it; now take me to the mad house now! ] He thought.

"You are not mad, Dax." She assured him. "Just... gifted. Yes, I am the Lady Jessica. It seems that Lady Alexi has more of me than the physical."

64

He frowned. "Why..."

"... am I here?" he nodded. She got serious. "House Atreides is heading full tilt towards an abyss. The members - your ancestors can feel it. We needed to warn you."

He got alert. "What abyss!"

"We cannot see. We do not know." She confessed. "We do know this, you are part of the puzzle.

The House will fall and you must ensure that like the Phoenix we rise again."

"But I am the younger of two... why me?"

"By a mere minute." She reminded him. "One's fate is set before one is even born. Amasso's destiny lies elsewhere. Yours is to ensure the survival of this Great House."

He got curious. "... and Lady Alexi?"

"She too will have her role... but not yet. As you will be father to the epoch to come - so she will be mother."

He absorbed the information, "You are telling me that she..."

"... is to be your wife."

"WIFE!" he squealed.

"Wife... life partner... bound concubine... label it what you will." Jessica replied. "But know this... your fate and hers are intertwined." Dax just looked at her, "The Bene Gesserit is a society dedicated to the preservation of the genetics that will continue the human race. The irony being that every now and then a human is expended to achieve the goal. You are right to be suspicious of the order."

"Are you not Bene Gesserit?"

"I was. But I am Atreides." She explained.

"Not Harkonnen?" He needed to know.

"The blood flowed in my veins and so it is in yours. Are you Harkonnen?" She saw his reaction.

"I thought so. Even as you look the Bene Gesserit gift horse in the mouth - accept it. Alexi will be your foundation in the times to come... and like you she is Bene Gesserit trained. As all Atreides are."

"The threat..." He prompted.

65

"...Will be upon you soon enough." Jessica warned. "Take this time to be with your family and to know Alexi. We are all products of our time and so will be this threat. This is all can tell you young Atreides." On that note the vision disappeared and Dax was left with the image of Alexi that changed after four seconds even though he had not released the pause.

The next image was that of his father and Mick'N sharing a joke.

~*~*~*~*~

INTERNAL MEMO

FROM: KWISATZ MOTHER

TO: MOTHER SUPERIOR

AS PER THE LAST REPORT THE LADY ALEXI HAS BEEN MADE CABINET

SECRETARY. AS ANTICIPATED THE INITIAL OVERTURE WAS NOT APPRECIATED

BECAUSE OF HER YOUTH, THE EMPRESS WAS FINALLY CONVINCED, HOWEVER

AND THE LADY ALEXI IS UNIQUELY POSITIONED TO EXPLOIT HER CONSTANT

ENCOUNTERS WITH THE LORD DAX.

I MUST EXPRESS MY IMPATIENCE AT THE APPARENT SLOW PROGRESS WITH

WHICH THE TWO HAVE PROGRESSED. THE FUTURE OF THE BREEDING PROGRAM

NOW RESTS ON THE SHOULDERS OF A TWENTY YEAR OLD AND A TWENTY FOUR

YEAR OLD.

EVEN AS I CHANT THE PATIENCE KOMBULI I AM AWARE OF THE NEED TO BREAK

THE STALEMATE THAT SEEMS TO BE SETTLING.

KWISATZ MOTHER

~*~*~*~*~

The doors finally slid open and Dax looked up and saw Alexi looking down at him. His heart skipped a beat. He heard Jessica's voice echo in his mind. [ Your fate and hers are intertwined. As you will be father to the epoch to come - so she will be mother. ]

Alexi looked down at Dax sitting cross-legged on the floor head in hand. Then he looked up and their eyes locked. She sensed that something had changed. She didn't need to be Bene Gesserit trained to sense it, any woman would know. And she did.

Dax reached up and the rescuers pulled him out.

"Nice of you to join us, Dax!" Amasso said.

"Nice to be back." Dax replied and kept staring at Alexi.

66

"I shall inform the Empress that you are safe." Alexi turned to leave. Just before she rounded the corner she looked back - Dax was still watching her. She resumed her route and smiled to herself.

Amasso finally poked his brother in the ribs. "Hey!" Dax faced him.

"Something I should know?" Amasso indicated the way that Alexi had gone.

"Oh... I'm THAT stupid!" Dax grinned.

"Yeah, you are!" Amasso replied.

"I need a drink." Dax walked off leaving an amazed twin behind. Amasso snapped out of the shock and called "Hey! Wait for me!"

~*~*~*~*~

Disaster Manager Reverend Mother Zelron had been handed the assignment of the undetected movement of ten million Bene Gesserit Sisters off the war ripped Caladan. When she had been given the duty of the Exodus, it had seemed a daunting one. Having studied the requirements she now KNEW it was nigh impossible.

The continued war would prove an asset as they could move under the cover of that. Also to be factored into the equation were recruits and reproduction after all the work of the Sisterhood never stopped, even under the Tyrant. The corollary of this also had to be factored: defection and death.

Even then she estimated that if she were able to move a minimum of one hundred and twenty five thousand sisters per annum it would take at least forty years if all went well; a more realistic estimate would be fifty years.

The decision was made, however, and the Exodus was a go. So she activated the standing committee on Disaster Management. They were all there – Logistics, Finance, Operations, and Planning.

~*~*~*~*~

Amasso and Dax returned to the Sietch in time for the meeting.

Fremen were a people molded by the elements. Living the desert life meant hard decisions were taken quickly. Debate was for the Imperium.

So it was at the assembly.

The problem was simple. Were there or were there not sand worms on Salusa Secundus?

67

The Hall of Maud'Dib held too many to count yet there was not a mummer of conversation.

Finally Naib Mike’N spoke. “We go to Salusa Secundus. It is the only way. The spice is of Dune and Dune alone. We must know what grows below the surface of Salusa Secundus.”

“All I can say is ‘You ought never to take anything that don't belong to you -- if you cannot carry it off.” Lee announced, “… and I’m quoting some one I forget who.”

“I know I didn’t just hear that.” A voice sailed out.

“Hey. If the cap fits…” before he could turn the peaceful meeting into a riot his friends quickly escorted him out to prevent him continuing to embarrass himself and them. Not before the Naibs had committed Lee’s face to memory.

“Is Dune some garden where Shai-Hulud can be plucked at will?” Savan demanded.

Now there was a rumble from the multitude. With one voice it said “Salusa Secundus. Salusa Secundus. Salusa Secundus.”

Amasso closed his eyes and smiled inwardly. He was going to war again!

68

hapter 14

C

Until the philosophy, which holds one race superior and another inferior Is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned…

…There will be WAR.

Excerpt from Address to the Landsraad

By the representative of the people of Caladan

H. I. M. Haile Selassie I, The Conquering Lion of Judah

-- Bene Gesserit Archives --

Having just finished their early morning run, Amasso and Dax were walking back and chatting about the upcoming mission to Salusa Secundus when they saw the Onithopeter land and a Regal looking Arista disembark.

"Figures" They said in unison. Too far to call out or even join their mother the two continued the saunter back.

"Ever looked at Mum as a woman?" Amasso asked.

"Yeah." Dax drawled and blushed slightly. "She's gorgeous. I can see why Dad fell for her."

"Yeah." was all Amasso added. As they walked Dax said, “Listen… about before.”

“What do you mean?” Amasso asked.

Dax explained “This thing with Alexi and I… we’re just friends. So don’t let it bother you all right?”

“OK” Amasso replied. He was confused, why did Dax suddenly out of the blue start this discussion? Something was up.

“It’s bothering you.” Dax insisted.

“I don’t even know what you’re talking about.” Amasso lied.

“Well you were sensing something”

Amasso, admitted “Well yes.”

“There you go.” Dax was triumphant.

69

Amasso informed his twin “I don’t think about your relationships - any of them they don’t mean anything to me. Never have.”

Dax sobered up “Right just don't assume anything all right.”

”Like what!” This was getting maddening.

”Like nothing.” Dax replied, “Whatever you're thinking you're probably wrong.”

Amasso sighed in resignation “If you say so.” But thought [ But I know better! ]

“...Cause Alexi and I are just friends.”

Amasso defended himself “Now I didn't say you weren't.”

“I know.”

“Is there some reason to believe otherwise?” Amasso was burning with curiosity. [ Dax, you don't have a clue! ]

”No”

He continued “Cause you seem to be suggesting.”

“I’m not suggesting anything.” Dax defended.

They continued walking. Then Amasso asked, “… Dax are you involved with her?”

”I'm not.” Came the instant reply.

But Amasso knew Dax and pressed, “You sure?”

Dax didn’t reply. Amasso stopped and Dax automatically stopped too. “This woman intimidates you! Since when do women scare you, Dax? I don’t know this Dax Atredies - what have you done with my brother?!” He teased.

“We work together… “ Dax stammered.

“Please.” Amasso turned and walked away, then changed his mind and returned “Damn it if you're interested in her do something! It’s obvious that she likes you.”

Dax snorted. Amasso continued. “Hey... I was there when you climbed out of that elevator.”

Dax stared at him.

70

Amasso chuckled “Dax the lady killer… felled by a Bene Gesserit. Savan said she looked formidable but he tends to exaggerate so I dismissed him. I was wrong.”

“Savan told you what?!”

“Hey! Any time that Dax gets intimidated by a beautiful woman is news buddy!”

“I’m not intimidated!” Dax protested.

“Please, lie to me but not to yourself.” Amasso said and walked off, leaving Dax to once again consider Alexi in a different light. He still had not completely accepted the verasity of the encounter in the elevator. Alexi was beautiful – true, smart – true but Bene Gesserit! He shrugged his shoulers and increased his pace to catch up to Amasso.

~*~*~*~*~

Unannounced Arista arrived at the Sietch and was welcomed by the Naib.

“Highness.” Mick’N greeted her. “I would have come to you!”

“One does not summon one’s Naib.” She replied.

“Empress.” He continued.

“Naib.” She teased.

He sighed. “Sit.” He waived at the seating area. “You call me Naib, Arista?”

“Well you started it!” She teased. “Mick’N you have known me all my life. You knew my mother before me and my sons after me and I will bet a litre of water that you will know their children too.”

“If it is the will of Shai-Hulud.” He offered her coffee. She accepted.

She closed her eyes in pure pleasure as she sipped the potent concoction and sank deeper into the cushions that were scattered on the floor. “Mick’N…” She said.

“Ah we get to it.”

“Indeed.” She agreed. “There is unrest in the wind.” She opened her eyes and looked at the man.

“Why was I not informed of the gathering?”

The eyes of the Older Fremen flashed. “Slackness the like of which is unacceptable and paid for.

In his hurry to reach you with the message the courier forgot the ways of the desert. We found his bones yesterday.”

71

“A waste of water.” Arista complained.

“A damn waste of water!” Mick’N was still enraged.

Shrugging off the loss that could not be corrected Arista continued. “What required the gathering not to mention my presence?”

“We have received word of a worm bed on Salusa Secundus.”

The congenial atmosphere in the room changed and static electricity crackled around the two.

She spoke quietly and deadly. “Worm bed – on Salusa Secundus.”

“Yes.” He was just as grim.

“Since the days of Maud'Dib; House Corrino has been trying to break the spice production of Dune.” She growled.

“And before.” Mick’N stated.

Arista placed the empty coffee cup on the floor. “How many Fedaykin Cohorts are you taking?”

“One.”

“You will take five.” She ordered. She saw Mick’N’s eyes open wider. “This is not just a hunt for worm bed my old friend. This is a sign to the entire Landsraad that the spice monopoly of Dune will not be broken!”

“Atomics?” There he had said it.

She pondered. “One planet killer. If you find worm sign - not worm bed – worm sign. Give the Planet one week to evacuate and melt the Planet. The first atomic attack on the Planet did not seem to have imparted much of a lesson. Alright then we will give a lesson that will not soon be forgotten.”

“What of the Great Convention?” Mick’N reminded her. “No house may use atomics against another, or else all other houses will retaliate against the aggressor.” He quoted.

Arista agreed. “You are so correct.” Her demeanor didn’t change nor did her decision. She just watched him and waited.

“I am too old for this.” He announced. She snorted in disagreement. “Send Amasso.”

“Amasso?” she had not expected the suggestion. “He has no control of himself and he has a drinking problem.” She was skeptical.

72

“He is not the Heir to the throne. Yet as first-born he needs to find his place in this world. He has grown much since the trial. Send him.”

She hesitated but the Naib held her gaze and would not waiver in his recommendation. “You have yet to steer me wrong. All right, assign Amasso the mission.” She stood.

“You leave already?” He was disappointed, but he understood the demands of leadership.

“Me? I just got here old man. I’m off to see your wife and mother!”

He just grinned like a five year old at her reply. “Who you calling old?!”

~*~*~*~*~

[V] He stirred. "What happened?"

"Traffic jam from hell." She informed him, reached over and switched on the radio for an insight into what was happening. They soon found out. Two forty-foot spice haulers had jack knifed. There was a twenty-vehicular pile up behind that and they were stuck. She switched off the engine. There was bound to be worm sign and soon.

"Well looks like it's you and me, Highness." Alexi teased. [V]

Dax snapped out of the dream in a cold sweat. It had been a while since he had had his last vision and he had convinced himself that it over. As he considered the lastest vision, calmed his racing heart, it was the Hour of Lud – he’d fallen asleep in the dusty archives.

He headed for the chapel. As he traversed the hall to the place of prayer his mind’s eye he thought about the young Bene Gesserit. Tall, well toned undoubtedly deadly and beautiful.

What had him curious was – Assuming that this vision was prophetic: what were they doing together in the desert?

Again the forewarning of Jessica came to him. “As you will be father to the epoch to come - so she will be mother."

Fate or no he needed to deal with this.

~*~*~*~*~

Amasso was ecstatic he was off to war again!

He drank another beer in one gulp flung the empty bottle at the wall, and shouted for another.

As the woman placed the potent spice beer before him, he reached for her. Used to the attempts at groping from patrons she expertly dodged him.

73

“Hey!” He protested, “I’m off to war will no one kiss me!” Then fell flat on his face out cold.

He awoke next day at barracks with no idea how he got there.

74

hapter 15

C

"The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws"

Cornelius Tacitus Roman historian

Humans tended to obsess about the Planet of their origin – Earth. There tended to be romanticism about anything Terrestrial, among them was a plethora of legends. One such Legend was about the Marabunta.

The Marabunta was a Soldier Ant said to inhabit the jungles of the Southern Continent of Earth.

When their war-like instincts were triggered they would go on a rampage. Once the ants were on the march, man and beast faced only two options: Get out of the way or die. Seen approaching for kilometers the insects would consume and destroy everything in its path, leaving a desert in their wake.

Marabunta did not make social visits. Once the war impulse is triggered, neither did Fremen.

The Highliners of the Spacing Guild arrived and blackened the sky to the point that the sun was eclipsed. They delivered the deadly cargo and were gone. They would return when called upon as per the agreement of the contract.

Five cohorts of Battle Hardned, Desert Tempered, Shai-Hulud Fanatical Fedaykin prepared for deployment. If there were Worm Bed on Salusa Secundus, they the faithful would find it and eliminate the abomination.

Alerted to the situation by the eclipse the planetary government declared their innocence, called for negotiations and begged for mercy. The Fremen had one reply “We are Fedaykin. We have come to stop the incarceration of Shai-Hulud.” There was no other announcement and no negotiations.

Looking like a spatial tornado linking Salusa Secundus to the space transport, the Arakeen transports hovered over the planet to disgorge their deadly cargo. The troops swarmed out. As with the Legend of the Marabunta the Fedaykin could be seen approaching for kilometers across the sky and as with the insects they would consume and destroy everything in its path.

The leading edge of the invasion was already two days on the ground and conducting searches when the last of the soldiers landed.

Salusa Secundus faced only two options - get out of the way or die. The planetary government called upon the Landsraad for assistance.

~*~*~*~*~

75

Dwanna watched impassively as the Fremen ground troops had taken control of the Planet. She had emerged from the Tourist Attraction just the week before and was still conferencing with Reverend Mother Kardon when the swarm had arrived; apparently they too had heard the rumour of worms on Salusa Secundus and had come to find out for themselves.

The arrival had been impressive. In no time the Planet had been shut down. No transport – no communications. That meant she was marooned here.

Teams had finally gone into the mock Dune and were due back soon. She knew what they would find.

~*~*~*~*~

In an effort to intervene at the risk of the wrath of the Empress, the Landsraad sent a negotiator be broker a peace between Salusa Secundus and the Fremen.

The negotiator had had his skills tested to limit of his training, experience and patience, but finally; FINALLY! An agreement had been hammered out.

The Fremen would be allowed to search for worm sign on Salusa Secundus with an observer from the Planetary Government. Once satisfied that there were no worms, they would leave within two solar days.

In the privacy of his quarters he sent a message to the Landsraad Liaison. That done he collapsed onto his bunk and instructed all that he was to be called only when the Fremen had returned and were ready to report.

He fell into an exhausted sleep.

~*~*~*~*~

“TERRAN GROWTH INC.” The plaque declared its existence to all as far as the eye could see.

That day it was declaring to the latest version of Xavier Mehda'in, Mentat Ghola of the Prince Corinno. He was conducting the latest inspection of the facilities.

He and the cloning scientist; Doctor Chanson watched the latest batch being ‘cooked’.

“Since our last report.” She droned, “We have reached capacity with the first order. We now have the first batch of one million Sardaukar ready.”

Mehda'in grunted his approval.

The Doctor sensed the Ghola’s doubt; it was the age-old competition of Ghola vs Clone. “As we have stated in our bid documents. Cloning is more efficient and lends itself to mass production 76

as well as genetic engineering.” Chanson continued. “These new Sardaukar will make their ancestors though formidable seem tame.”

The troops continued to go through their various military training paces.

“Will you be able to meet the delivery date?” Mehda’in asked, though he knew the answer.

“Of course.” She bowed slightly.

“Can the growth rate be increased?”

“At the moment no. It still will take ten years to grow an adult… but our scientists are working on the prob… challenge every day.”

Mehda'in continued to watch the army that his Prince had built in secret. “And the schedule for the balance?”

“This way.” The scientist led him to the lab section.

Every visit was the same. Samples at different stages of growth; from test tube to baby, to toddler, teenager and adult -- the assembly line was in full production.

“Satisfactory.” He pronounced as he did every quarter. “I shall inform the Prince.”

~*~*~*~*~

Rammen Corinno read the coded message. When he came to the part where the first batch of Sardaukar was ready for delivery he stretched back and declared the work “Satisfactory.”

Then the Fremen had struck.

~*~*~*~*~

The team of Fremen had presented their findings and reported that there was no worm bed on the planet. They had found ‘Rakis World and gone in amass. What they had detected was human sign – nothing of import. It had taken the experienced Fremen a fortnight to cross the exhibit, more than enough time to investigate. The whole planetwide searchhad taken eight weeks in total.

Amasso pronounced the report as “Satisfactory.” The ‘war’ on the other hand had left much to be desired. His emotions raged [ Such a tame little military exercise, no wonder mother had sent me and not Dax. This is not a campaign that one received promotions on. I suppose this is her statement on my trial. ]

“Pack – we leave this Maud'Dib forsaken place and go home.” Amasso ordered barely hiding his scorn.

77

The junior officer left to execute the order. Now alone Amasso vented his frustration in a more extroverted manner. He trashed the room.

~*~*~*~*~

Mehda’in who had been stuck on the Planet too, let out the breath he had been holding. So intent had been the Fremen to find worm sign on Salusa that they focused on that to the exclusion of all else. As such the Prince’s project remained secret.

“Satisfactory.” He whispered to himself.

~*~*~*~*~

Amasso had sent a preliminary statement to his mother, the Empress. “Impressive achievement.”

Duncan stated. Amasso’s full report would follow later.

“Satisfactory.” Arista replied and kissed him. He didn’t complain or resist.

~*~*~*~*~

Amasso continued to seethe. It was an unrealistic reaction he knew, but the thought that his mother had purposefully sent him on this deadened assignment had sent him seething like a volcano ready to erupt.

He managed to control his boiling rage as he ensured that his troops boarded safely. The process entailed his driving between the shuttle craft, the route he took this time required a quick detour as he had promised himself a case of Secundus Ale before he left.

As he approached the Central Business District, he spotted a child - a little girl - waiting to cross the road.

He stopped.

The child began to cross.

It happened all so fast. The vehicle behind Amasso with a driver too impatient to wait, pulled passed him and ploughed head on into the child.

Amasso's blood curdling shout shattered the sleepy atmosphere of the community. Both drivers were out of their transports in a flash. A crowd soon gathered.

"Oh, God!" The man moaned. Amasso ignored him and went straight to the child and cradled her in his lap. There was blood everywhere and soon he too was covered in the sticky liquid.

She was dead.

78

"Someone get a Doctor!" Some one shouted.

"Is she..." The culprit couldn't say the words.

Amasso stood. His pent up frustrations had found an outlet. "WHAT - THE - HELL - IS -

WRONG - WITH - YOU!" He raged. He grabbed the man and shook him. "Did you think I stopped for the fun of it?" Still he shook. "You couldn't wait?" Inevitability he swung and his right fist made a solid connection with the man's jaw, sending him flying.

The crowd watched and didn't interfere as the man landed, rolled and came back fighting. Just what Amasso needed. He didn't waste his para-bindu training on the weasel. He wanted to feel every contact. Using the man as his personal punching bag he swung with a series of right hooks then a left upper cut and a combination flurry that ended with a satisfactory crunch of bones.

No one could tell if the blood on Amasso was his or the child's. He took a menacing step forward. "I should break every bone in you God forsaken body." He returned to the lifeless body of the child, picked her up tenderly and said in a drained voice, "Where do I take her?"

He was shown where. Amasso left the beaten driver on the ground... no one approached him.

The authorities would deal with him soon enough.

Amasso's didn't feel angry anymore, just beaten and sad. There was nothing satisfactory about this.

79

hapter 16

C The Fremen attitude of the knife required the chopping off what's incomplete and saying:

“Now, it's complete because it's ended here.”

Xavier Mehda'in

Mentat Doctoral Thesis

The Examination of the Influence of the Environment on the Decision Making Process: The Fremen Model

A Cabinet Meeting had been convened as soon as Amasso had returned from the mission on Salusa Secundus. As they had waited for the arrival of the members Arista observed coolness in her son. It didn’t take much probing to find out the root of his sulking. She soon assured him that there was no ulterior motive to the assignment and that both Mick’N and she had had full faith in him. That taken care of they got down to work.

The meeting was one to craft a reply to the latest challenge to Atreides authority. In attendance were: Arista, Dax, Amasso, Duncan, Mick’N, Dr. Thalmas Sanchez – Suk Doctor to the Royal Household, Ma'a lot, Mentat to the House Atreides and the Cabinet Secretary The Lady Alexi.

The threat itself was of little significance the act and the motivation however was something else.

“It is the principle of the matter.” Dax pointed out.

“Indeed.” Duncan concurred. He read the communiqué again. “The Landsraad is in no position to declare or enforce an embargo.”

“Then why announce it?” Dax wondered. “They will suffer for it if spice production is stopped.”

Arista stood at the window looking at the soothing desert while she listened to the debate. Alexi diligently recorded the discussion.

“An impotent gesture led by the Spacing Guild no doubt.” Amasso suggested.

“Is it possible that there are worms on Salusa Secundus? That would explain this move.”

Mick’N concluded.

Amasso shook his head firmly. “No. I was there. Not on Salusa Secundus.” He stood to refill his wine glass. Arista tracked him from her vantage point, but said nothing.

“Elsewhere?” Duncan prompted.

“That brother is the question.” Mick’N replied.

80

~*~*~*~*~

FROM: SPACING GUILD

TO: BARON VLAD HARKONNEN

MESSAGE:

WE ARE WORRIED ABOUT REPERCUSSIONS OF YOUR PRESENT PATH.

BE WARNED - THE SPICE MUST FLOW!

SPACING GUILD

~*~*~*~*~

Dax tossed and turned as yet another dream gripped him.

[V] “I’m going to call a worm.” Dax explained.

“You have no thumper.” Alexi pointed out.

“I don’t need one.” [V]

~*~*~*~*~

FROM: TERRAN GROWTH INC.

TO: PRINCE RAMMEN CORRINO

MESSAGE:

WE ARE IN RECEIPT OF YOUR REQUEST FOR URBAN WARFARE AND GUERRILLA TACTICS TO BE ADDED TO THE CURRICULUM.

WE AT TERRAN GROWTH INC. WISH TO KNOW IF YOU WISH FOR THIS MODULE

TO BE INCORPORATED FOR ALL COHORTS OR IS THIS A ONE TIME REQUEST?

AS YOU CAN APPRECIATE YOUR NEW INSTRUCTIONS WILL HAVE IMPLICATIONS

FOR COSTING, AS THIS WAS NOT PART OF THE ORIGINAL PROJECT BRIEF.

REFERENCE YOUR REQUEST FOR US TO HOST THE COHORTS UNTIL REQUIRED.

PLEASE FIND ATTACHED A BUDGET FOR COMPLIANCE.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR RESPONSE.

81

J’TU

CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD

82

hapter 17

C

Progress is a slow process.

Destruction on the other hand…

Piter Vitres - Mentant

Repercussions had come both the expected and unexpected.

First, House Atreides had retaliated with an embargo of its own. While Spice production on Dune would continue, the trade in Spice would halt with immediate effect.

That brought on the second repercussion. The price of Melange on the open market and the stock exchange increased by one hundred fold on the day of the announcement and by two hundred fold on the black market. Spice hoards were broken open and panic threatened to engulf the Empire.

The third was the arrival of a Guild Navigator on Giedi Prime, complete with entourage.

Vlad was uncomfortable. The Guild was known for its ability to “see” and now here was a Navigator sent to meet with him.

“Baron Harkonnen.” The translator breathed. “We repeat our concern for the repercussions of your present path. Be warned - the spice must flow!”

Vlad chuckled nervously. “I have no idea of what you speak of.”

The Navigator would not play the game. “ARE YOU STUPID?!! The spice must flow... the spice has given Navigators accelerated evolution for twenty thousand years... it has enabled you to live four hundred years, maybe more... the spice helps make the sapho juice, which gives the red-lipped mentats the ability to be living computers... the secret side of spice... the water of life!” The Navigator was incensed.

“We see patterns. We see a building of a repetition. The Atreides heir…”

“Dax?” Vlad was confused. “What of him?”

“The Atreides Heir is the genetic reincarnation of Paul Maud'Dib. If he is to take the water of life… You have been warned.” With that the hulking tank that carried him and his melange saturated environment left.

Vlad hated any encounter with the Guild; they could never have a simple conversation. He pondered the latest meeting. [ As usual the Guild was its usual ambiguous self. Does the Navigator want Dax left alone or killed? Warned about what? My plans? ] He shrugged and did 83

what he always did: Ignored the Guild until they stopped speaking in riddles. He was a busy man he didn’t have time for this.

~*~*~*~*~

There was no disputing the fact that the Lady Alexi was a stunning beauty enhanced by the slow but sure change of her eyes to the blue in blue of the spice addiction. She was no ones fool either with an intelligence tapered with a sense of humour. Even the old curmudgeons who frequented the Court were under her spell.

Forewarned by the vision in the elevator, driven by curiosity and eventually simply caught in the trap of Alexi’s persona Dax had submitted to her charm, as had others in the Court. Increasingly they were to found in each other’s company.

It was his turn to check the shields, a simple task that required only time. The Reverend Mother Farrah knew this and so when she proposed that Dax take the opportunity to show Alexi the sights along the way he had agreed, knowing full well what the true intension was.

As anticipated the tour was a boring one, the check done they were on the return trip home. The journey there had been interesting to Alex who had not ventured into this area – yet. They had first past through the markets, seeing and smelling the exotic produce on sale with every last one laced with spice. Then they had traversed some seedy brush and finally desert. Not deep desert but an indication of what lay beyond.

As had the Lady Jessica before her, Alexi had fallen in love with her assignment, she hadn’t planned it; it just happened. It was so easy! As such she had been thinking of him and not focusing on the road ahead.

She relaxed as she sensed that he had fallen asleep and her thoughts rambled, [ Does he really think he’s fooling me? His attentions to me have changed, yet he does nothing. ] She snorted mentally, [ In fact the whole of the Imperial Court had noticed, his transformation. I must change this stalemate. ]

Dax in turn dreamt of Alexi as the vehicle bounded along… but not for long. He was awakened from the dream by a jolt and a curse.

He shuddered as he recognized his dream. Yet even as he was faced with the reality of the dream unfolding before him; another revealed itself.

[V]“Dax?” Vlad was confused. “What of him?”

“If he is to take the water of life… You have been warned.” With that the hulking tank that carried him and his melange saturated environment left. [V]

84

The Baron! His head hurt. Would the clash of the Great Houses never end? The water of life?

The thought triggered the memory of a conversation, but how could that be? He’d never had that conversation!

[V] A Reverend Mother was speaking with a young Paul Atreides. Every Fremen knew what Maud’Dib looked like at any stage of his life. She asked him, “Do you know of the Water of Life?... the Truthsayer drug?”

Paul replied, “I have heard of it.”

The crone had warned, It is very dangerous... very painful. The Bene Gesserit sisterhood drink it to see within.... There is a place terrifying to us... to women. It is said a man will come... the Kwisatz Haderach... he will go where we cannot... Many men have tried...”

“Did they try and fail?” Paul asked.

The reply was chilling. “They tried and died...” [V]

His headache didn’t get any better, now he was seeing history replay itself. His visions were exerting themselves with increasing frequency and force. They had him in more than one place: Past, Present and Future - and confused was a mild description of what he was feeling.

[ Oh for a normal life. ] He prayed and retreated into himself to ponder the latest piece in the mystery. This was how he perceived the events that had been happening to him as a puzzle to be solved. He admitted to himself that at times he was a bit too preoccupied with the challenge hence the crashed ‘Thopters. But he’d solve the conundrum yet.

~*~*~*~*~

Having settled himself in a chamber where he was assured of privacy Piter Vitres, Ghola Mentat to every Baron Harkonnen since 10,049 was preparing to project the outcome of the present situation.

He chanted the mantra.

It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

It is by the juice of Sapho that thoughts acquire speed -

The lips acquire stains -

The stains become a warning -

It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

He commenced his calculations.

Four hours later his projections gelled. Evidence to date pointed at a continuation of the present cycle of climatic events. There was not enough data to conclusively state that it was as a result of Climate Change. The data, however, did indicate unusual weather patterns, the threat of 85

famine due to droughts, and an increase in Cancers on planets with powerful suns, such as Arakkis.

The data output flowed unabated.

Assuming that data was not flawed but was indeed correct. Then there was a link between The Ozone Erosion and Climate Change. With an increase Utlra Violet rays in the equation there could be an expected increase in the mortality of the Giant Worms of Arakkis meaning an interruption if not the eventual loss of the Spice.

Piter emerged from the Calculation Trance and concluded that this was not information he was about to share too soon with the Baron. Like all Harkonnens, Vlad did not take bad news well.

To survive to tell the tail Piter would have to time the delivery just right.

Of course he could always just keep silent and take the projection to his grave.

86

hapter 18

C

"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

Newton's Third Law of Motion

A Child’s Book on Physicss

The communicator buzzed. Amasso snapped it up.

"Amasso!" A voice came through the line. "Turn on your AVU! Any channel will do!"

"Who is this?" He slurred even as he did as instructed. His head hurt. He’d been out the night before – in fact the entertainment had come back with him.

"Savan, now just do it!" He hung up.

The AVU was already on and Amasso stood transfixed. The Sardaukar Headquarters on Kaitian was on fire! What the hell had happened? Even as he tried to absorb the picture for his brain refused to accept the commentary, he watched as another bomb exploded or was it an after shock. It didn’t matter the resulting chaos was the same, he collapsed on the bed, nearly squashing the body on the bed. She rolled out of the way in time.

Over the next hour and a half Amasso and the Known Universe watched their AVUs transfixed as first the Sardaukar Headquarters on Kaitian and then the Tower of Strength on Giedi Prime were annihilated. What the hell was going on?!

He did a quick calculation ... that had to be at least four thousand persons guaranteed dead. That section of the Headquarters was under renovation thank Maud'Dib, but that was still a possible one million casualties. Then there was The Tower of Strength – he snorted so much for the strength of that. It was located in the center of Giedi City for maximum view by the populace; the potential death count boggled the mind.

After scanning all the Channels he switched off the AVU and headed for his Mother’s Quarters.

Leaving the entertainment to find her way home.

~*~*~*~*~

Protected by the shield the worms didn’t come close but they were out there – they always were when Dax was near.

It may not have been ‘true desert’ in the Fremen sense, but it was hot, humid and dusty. Desert enough for Alexi. They had taken turns at driving and as the vehicle bumped along Dax was lulled to sleep - until the sudden stop jarred him awake and he heard Alexi mutter the expletive.

87

"What happened?" He demanded.

"Traffic jam from hell." Alexi informed him, reached over and switched on the radio for an insight into what was happening. They soon found out. Two forty-foot spice haulers had jack knifed. There was a twenty-vehicular pile up behind that and they were stuck. She switched off the engine.

With such a shudder from the crash, there was bound to be worm sign.

“Are you allright, highness?” An Officer from the entourage came running. Dax waived him away, “Yes – yes.”

“I’ll go forward to try to expedite matters.” The Office announced.

“You do that.” Dax agreed.

"Well looks like it's you and me, Highness." Alexi teased.

Silence descended, as Dax continued to try to mull over the various anomalies in his life the most potent sitting next to him. He finally decided that he’d just let fate lead him – to a point, but he’d stop analyzing and let life unfold.

The silence was more than Alexi could bear. She couldn't take it anymore, "Sir, excuse my forwardness but I consider myself your friend. There are times when a friend has to know when to talk and when to shut up. I've tried keeping quiet. It did not work so now I speak up. What's wrong?"

"Wrong?" He echoed.

"Yes… wrong. You have not been yourself for weeks! Talk to me maybe I can help."

Dax hadn't expected her to tackle him. After all he was Dax, Heir to the Imperial Throne, but then as she had warned him on day one that they met she was not like other women.

Before he could reply his communicator crackled to life.

"Yes?" he responded

Amasso's voice came through "Dax, you ok?"

"Yes, I'm fine, why?"

"You are not aware of the situation?"

“What situation?!"

88

Amasso informed him. "Where ever you are I want you on the first transport back here. Got that?"

"Aye, sir!" Dax replied sarcastically. Turning to Alexi he said, “I need a worm.”

“Sorry?” she was confused.

“I need to get to the Palace and we are stuck here in this.”

“Well with the amount of vibrations around one is bound to come soon.” She replied, hiding her trepidation at the possibility of coming face to face with the legendary Giant of the Desert.

“No the shields keep them at bay.” He explained. He adjusted his still suit. “You coming?”

“Where!” She demanded.

“I’m going to call a worm.” He explained.

“You have no thumper.” She pointed out.

“I don’t need one.” He had a hunch and was about to test it.

~*~*~*~*~

The Budislamics Minority Rights Association and the Fellowship of the ZenChriatians issued a joint message.

“We extend our heart felt sympathies to the families of the victims of this terrible attack. Nothing can justify the murder of the victims in these terrorist attacks, and nothing justifies the slaughter of innocent people in the name of retribution. We urge the Landsraad to look into its collective heart and not start a spiral of violence that can lead to genocide.”

~*~*~*~*~

Arista lay on the sofa in her office. There was no incentive to return to her private quarters; Duncan was out with the Fedaykin and the work of the Empire never ended so she just stayed in her office.

Today and the weeks and days leading up to this day had been a stressful time. The attacks today just seemed to be the climax.

The Butleran Jihad and subsequent regimes were born in the hope that survived wars — the hope of a race moving toward justice, escaping old patterns of conflict and fear and now this -- The Dawn of a new age. What will this bring?

89

hapter 19

C

War.

What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing.

Standard Lecture to First Year Sword Master Students

FROM: PRINCE RAMMEN CORRINO

TO: TERRAN GROWTH INC.

MESSAGE:

BOTH BUDGETS HAVE PROVED ACCEPTABLE.

COMMENCE WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT.

HEAD

HOUSE CORRINO

~*~*~*~*~

The door swung open and Piter entered. "Apologies, Baron, but I think you may want to see this." He strode over to the AVU, and switched it on.

Vlad was not Baron by mere inheritance he was an experienced soldier and crafty politician, but nothing he had done had prepared him for what he saw that morning on his AVU screen.

Had he been told he that this would happen he would have said that so early in the morning that the person had been drinking. He himself was stone cold sober and yet he could not believe what he had witnessed.

Two Guild crafts had slammed into the Tower of Strength!

~*~*~*~*~

FROM: BARON VLADIMIR HARKONNEN II

TO: EMPRESS ARISTA ATREIDES V

MESSAGE:

LET ME INFORM YOU THAT VENDETTA -- AS IN ANCIENT TONGUE, THE ART OF

KANLY -- IS STILL ALIVE. THIS WILL NOT GO UN-AVENGED.

90

HEAD

HOUSE HARKONNEN

Arista passed the communiqué to Duncan who read it as she said, “He blames us.”

I remember a lecture that I attended when I was training to become a Swords Master. It said -

War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.” He returned to the panel that was feeding him reports.