Paul’s Atreides Women
Book Two: MUAD’DIB
What do you despise? By this are you truly known.
- from "Manual of Muad’Dib" by the Princess Irulan
Irulan was nervous. Tense. She hated to be in that state. She was a Bene Gesserit student. She had to control herself.
The Padishah Emperor had called her.
He didn’t call his other daughters, just Irulan.
The Sardaukar opened the doors to his private quarters. A Burseg saluted her. She nodded without even seeing him and advanced to the next chamber.
A servant tried to maintain hide in a corner. Irulan called him with a quick gesture.
“Who is with my father?”
The man made a long bow:
“The Count Hasimir Fenring and his wife, Lady Margot, plus a slave-concubine.”
Irulan Corrino didn’t wait for the servant, she opened the double door and entered to his father’s private quarters.
The scene that she faced surprised her. The genetic-eunuch Fenring, one of the deadliest fighters in the Imperium, was seated in a chair next to the bed while in the bed laid naked Irulans father, the Padishah Emperor.
Above her father the slim body of Lady Margot, Fenring’s wife, danced her nakedness, satisfying the emperor with her body, making the emperors member appear and disappear inside her. Behind her a new slave-concubine embraced her and kissed her neck moving her body in unison while with both hands cupped her breasts and played with her nipples.
The emperor grunted. With a gesture he dismissed Lady Margot, took a golden towel and covered himself. Irulan still had time to see that is member was far from fully erect. His 72 years old didn’t allowed his prowess to be as virile as in his younger years. Besides everyone in the court knew that the Reverend Mother was his favorite.
In the bed the two women maintained their activity. Lady Margot laid down while the slave-concubine begun to pleasure her, licking her sex with a forced intensity. For a moment Irulan’s eyes crossed with the other Bene Gesserit. Irulan didn’t saw pleasure her eyes.
Beside the bed Count Fenring remained motionless.
“You asked for my presence, father!”
The emperor grumbled low:
“That was an hour ago!” he tried to cover himself with the towel without much success. “Where is your mother, Irulan?”
The young princess looked away to gain some time. Her nervousness was replaced by embarrassment.
“I don’t know.”
“I received the information that she went to Arrakis!”
“I don’t know, father.” She repeated avoiding his eyes, looking for the two women making love in the bed.
“Irulan, you are my oldest daughter. I have no male heirs, and you know you are my favorite, don’t you?”
“So what is your mother doing in Arrakis?” the emperor grumbled again, “daughter, you must decide, if you are faithful to me, to your mother, or to the Bene Gesserit!”
“My father, do I ever failed you?” she moved her face and looked for the emperor in the eye.
It was his time to look away and appreciate the show played by the women in the bed. Lady Margot had turned upside down and the two were in a sixty nine position, satisfying each other at the same time.
The Bene Gesserit was on top, her head with her golden-hair covering her partner’s sex and with her buttocks in display, taunting, just at reach of the emperor’s hand. He still raised his arm and with his fingertips e traced an invisible line on her left buttock.
He was tempted to took her from behind, but his lack of erection refrained him, so he finally look again to Irulan. He would play her game.
“Very well, you don’t know were is your mother. But you are an intelligent young lady. Were do you think she went?”
“According to you, to Arrakis.”
“Why? What is she doing there?… and don’t answer to me that you don’t know…”
“Wouldn’t it be better if we could talk in private!?”
The emperor shook his shoulders.
“At my age I like to look at them… I look, sometimes I can’t do much more…”
The count Fenring rose from his chair: “Do you want some spice my Lord?
Shaddam IV shook off the idea with a gesture. He was tired of spice.
“Speak…” he ordered to his daughter.
“Some of Sister Superiors are worried with the events in Arrakis and there are rumors that the duke has a daughter. The spice must flow. If the Sister Superiors would send someone to Arrakis to investigate, they would send my mother or the Reverend Mother. But I don’t know were they are.”
“Yes, yes, Gaius is away… but they wouldn’t send the two at the same time… unless…”
The emperor had lost totally is interest for the two women in the bed. He just sited down next to the count and maintained himself absorb in his taught and forgetting the presence of his daughter.
He could not ignore the data! There was treason all around him.
Where was Anirul Sadow-Tokin Corrino?
Where was his Truthsayer?
Lady Margot leaved the slave in the bed and crawled to the emperor. She pushed the golden towel aside and took the flaccid member in her mouth.
Irulan closed her eyes and, like the count Fenring, she waited for her dismiss order.
She still heard her father demanding to the count:
“Give me spice…”
"They are dead, Baron," said Iakin Nefud, the guard captain. "Both the woman and the boy are certainly dead."
The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen sat up in the sleep suspensors of his private quarters. Beyond these quarters and enclosing him like a multishelled egg stretched the space frigate he had grounded on Arrakis. Here in his quarters, though, the ship’s harsh metal was disguised with draperies, with fabric paddings and rare art objects.
"It is a certainty," the guard captain said. "They are dead."
The Baron shifted his gross body in the suspensors, focused his attention on an ebaline statue of a leaping boy in a niche across the room. Sleep faded from him. He straightened the padded suspensor beneath the fat folds of his neck, stared across the single glowglobe of his bedchamber to the doorway where Captain Nefud stood blocked by the pentashield.
"They’re certainly dead, Baron," the man repeated.
The Baron noted the trace of semuta dullness in Nefud’s eyes. It was obvious the man had been deep within the drug’s rapture when he received this report, and had stopped only to take the antidote before rushing here.
"I have a full report," Nefud said.
Let him sweat a little, the Baron thought. One must always keep the tools of statecraft sharp and ready.
Power and fear–sharp and ready.
"Have you seen their bodies?" the Baron rumbled.
"M’Lord... they were seen to dive into a sandstorm... winds over eight hundred kilometers. Nothing survives such a storm, m’Lord. Nothing! One of our own craft was destroyed in the pursuit."
The Baron stared at Nefud, noting the nervous twitch in the scissors line of the man’s jaw muscles, the way the chin moved as Nefud swallowed.
"You have seen the bodies?" the Baron asked.
"For what purpose do you come here rattling your armor?" the Baron roared. "To tell me a thing is certain when it is not? Do you think I’ll praise you for such stupidity, give you another promotion?"
Nefud’s face went bone pale.
Look at the chicken, the Baron thought. I am surrounded by such useless clods. If I scattered sand before this creature and told him it was grain, he’d peek at it.
"The man Idaho led us to them, then?" the Baron asked.
Look how he blurts out his answer, the Baron thought. He said: "They were attempting to flee to the Fremen, eh?"
"Is there more to this... report?"
"The Imperial Planetologist, Kynes, is involved, m’Lord. Idaho joined this Kynes under mysterious circumstances... I might even say suspicious circumstances."
"They... ah, fled together to a place in the desert where it’s apparent the boy and his mother were hiding. In the excitement of the chase, several of our groups were caught in a lasgun-shield explosion."
"How many did we lose?"
"I’m... ah, not sure yet, m’Lord."
He’s lying, the Baron thought. It must’ve been pretty bad.
"The Imperial lackey, this Kynes," the Baron said. "He was playing a double game, eh?"
"I’d stake my reputation on it, m’Lord."
"Have the man killed," the Baron said.
"M’Lord! Kynes is the Imperial Planetologist, His Majesty’s own serv –"
"Make it look like an accident, then!"
"M’Lord, there were Sardaukar with our forces in the subjugation of this Fremen nest. They have Kynes in custody now."
"Get him away from them. Say I wish to question him."
"If they demur?"
"They will not if you handle it correctly."
Nefud swallowed. "Yes, m’Lord."
"The man must die," the Baron rumbled. "He tried to help my enemies."
Nefud shifted from one foot to the other.
"M’Lord, the Sardaukar have... two persons in custody who might be of interest to you.
They’ve caught the Duke’s Master of Assassins."
"Hawat? Thufir Hawat?"
"I’ve seen the captive myself, m’Lord. ’Tis Hawat."
"I’d not’ve believed it possible!"
"They say he was knocked out by a stunner, m’Lord. In the desert where he couldn’t use his shield. He’s virtually unharmed. If we can get our hands on him, he’ll provide great sport."
"This is a Mentat you speak of," the Baron growled. "One doesn’t waste a Mentat. Has he spoken? What does he say of his defeat? Could he know the extent of... but no."
"He has spoken only enough, m’Lord, to reveal his belief that the Lady Jessica was his betrayer."
The Baron sank back, thinking; then: "You’re sure? It’s the Lady Jessica who attracts his anger?"
"He said it in my presence, m’Lord."
"Let him think she’s alive, then."
"But, m’Lord –"
"Be quiet. I wish Hawat treated kindly. He must be told nothing of the late Doctor Yueh, his true betrayer. Let it be said that Doctor Yueh died defending his Duke. In a way, this may even be true. We will, instead, feed his suspicions against the Lady Jessica."
"M’Lord, I don’t–"
"The way to control and direct a Mentat, Nefud, is through his information. False information – false results."
"Yes, m’Lord, but... "
"Is Hawat hungry? Thirsty?"
"M’Lord, Hawat’s still in the hands of the Sardaukar!"
"Yes. Indeed, yes. But the Sardaukar will be as anxious to get information from Hawat as I am. I’ve noticed a thing about our allies, Nefud. They’re not very devious...politically. I do believe this is a deliberate thing; the Emperor wants it that way. Yes. I do believe it. You will remind the Sardaukar commander of my renown at obtaining information from reluctant subjects."
Nefud looked unhappy. "Yes, m’Lord."
"You will tell the Sardaukar commander that I wish to question both Hawat and this Kynes at the same time, playing one off against the other. He can understand that much, I think."
"And once we have them in our hands... " The Baron nodded.
"M’Lord, the Sardaukar will want an observer with you during any... questioning."
"I’m sure we can produce an emergency to draw off any unwanted observers, Nefud."
"I understand, m’Lord. That’s when Kynes can have his accident."
"Both Kynes and Hawat will have accidents then, Nefud. But only Kynes will have a real accident. It’s Hawat I want. Yes. Ah, yes."
Nefud blinked, swallowed. He appeared about to ask a question, but remained silent.
"Hawat will be given both food and drink," the Baron said. "Treated with kindness, with sympathy. In his water you will administer the residual poison developed by the late Piter de Vries. And you will see that the antidote becomes a regular part of Hawat’s diet from this point on... unless I say otherwise."
"The antidote, yes." Nefud shook his head. "But –"
"Don’t be dense, Nefud. The Duke almost killed me with that poison-capsule tooth. The gas he exhaled into my presence deprived me of my most valuable Mentat, Piter. I need a replacement."
"You’re going to say Hawat’s completely loyal to the Atreides. True, but the Atreides are dead. We will woo him. He must be convinced he’s not to blame for the Duke’s demise. It was all the doing of that Bene Gesserit witch. He had an inferior master, one whose reason was clouded by emotion.
Mentats admire the ability to calculate without emotion, Nefud. We will woo the formidable Thufir Hawat."
"Woo him. Yes, m’Lord."
"Hawat, unfortunately, had a master whose resources were poor, one who could not elevate a Mentat to the sublime peaks of reasoning that are a Mentat’s right. Hawat will see a certain element of truth in this. The Duke couldn’t afford the most efficient spies to provide his Mentat with the required information." The Baron stared at Nefud. "Let us never deceive ourselves, Nefud. The truth is a powerful weapon. We know how we overwhelmed the Atreides. Hawat knows, too. We did it with wealth."
"With wealth. Yes, m’Lord."
"We will woo Hawat," the Baron said. "We will hide him from the Sardaukar. And we will hold in reserve... the withdrawal of the antidote for the poison. There’s no way of removing the residual poison. And, Nefud, Hawat need never suspect. The antidote will not betray itself to a poison snooper. Hawat can scan his food as he pleases and detect no trace of poison."
Nefud’s eyes opened wide with understanding.
"The absence of a thing," the Baron said, "this can be as deadly as the presence. The absence of air, eh? The absence of water? The absence of anything else we’re addicted to."
The Baron nodded. "You understand me, Nefud?"
Nefud swallowed. "Yes, m’Lord."
Then get busy. Find the Sardaukar commander and set things in motion."
"At once, m’Lord." Nefud bowed, turned, and hurried away.
Hawat by my side! the Baron thought. The Sardaukar will give him to me. If they suspect anything at all it’s that I wish to destroy the Mentat. And this suspicion I’ll confirm! The fools!
One of the most formidable Mentats in all history, a Mentat trained to kill, and they’ll toss him to me like some silly toy to be broken. I will show them what use can be made of such a toy.
The Baron reached beneath a drapery beside his suspensor bed, pressed a button to summon his older nephew, Rabban. He sat back, smiling.
And all the Atreides dead!
The stupid guard captain had been right, of course. Certainly, nothing survived in the path of a sandblast storm on Arrakis. Not an ornithopter... or its occupants. The woman and the boy were dead. The bribes in the right places, the unthinkable expenditure to bring overwhelming military force down onto one planet... all the sly reports tailored for the Emperor ’s ears alone, all the careful scheming were here at last coming to full fruition.
Power and fear – fear and power!
The Baron could see the path ahead of him. One day, a Harkonnen would be Emperor.
Not himself, and no spawn of his loins. But a Harkonnen. Not this Rabban he’d summoned, of course.
But Rabban’s younger brother, young Feyd- Rautha. There was a sharpness to the boy that the Baron enjoyed... a ferocity.
A lovely boy, the Baron thought. A year or two more–say, by the time he’s seventeen, I’ll know for certain whether he’s the tool that House Harkonnen requires to gain the throne.
The man who stood outside the doorfield of the Baron’s bedchamber was low built, gross of face and body, with the Harkonnen paternal line’s narrow-set eyes and bulge of shoulders.
There was yet some rigidity in his fat, but it was obvious to the eye that he’d come one day to the portable suspensors for carrying his excess weight.
A muscle-minded tank-brain, the Baron thought. No Mentat, my nephew... not a Piter de Vries, but perhaps something more precisely devised for the task at hand. If I give him freedom to do it, he’ll grind over everything in his path. Oh, how he’ll be hated here on Arrakis!
"My dear Rabban," the Baron said. He released the doorfield, but pointedly kept his body shield at full strength, knowing that the shimmer of it would be visible above the bedside glowglobe.
"You summoned me," Rabban said. He stepped into the room, flicked a glance past the air disturbance of the body shield, searched for a suspensor chair, found none.
"Stand closer where I can see you easily," the Baron said.
Rabban advanced another step, thinking that the damnable old man had deliberately removed all chairs, forcing a visitor to stand.
"The Atreides are dead," the Baron said. "The last of them. That’s why I summoned you here to Arrakis. This planet is again yours."
Rabban blinked. "But I thought you were going to advance Piter de Vries to the–"
"Piter, too, is dead."
The Baron reactivated the doorfield, blanked it against all energy penetration.
"You finally tired of him, eh?" Rabban asked.
His voice fell flat and lifeless in the energy-blanketed room.
"I will say a thing to you just this once," the Baron rumbled. "You insinuate that I obliterated Piter as one obliterates a trifle." He snapped fat fingers. "Just like that, eh? I am not so stupid, Nephew. I will take it unkindly if ever again you suggest by word or action that I am so stupid."
Fear showed in the squinting of Rabban’s eyes. He knew within certain limits how far the old Baron would go against family. Seldom to the point of death unless there were outrageous profit or provocation in it. But family punishments could be painful.
"Forgive me, m’Lord Baron," Rabban said. He lowered his eyes as much to hide his own anger as to show subservience.
"You do not fool me, Rabban," the Baron said.
Rabban kept his eyes lowered, swallowed.
"I make a point," the Baron said. "Never obliterate a man unthinkingly, the way an entire fief might do it through some due process of law. Always do it for an overriding purpose–and know your purpose!"
Anger spoke in Rabban: "But you obliterated the traitor, Yueh! I saw his body being carried out as I arrived last night."
Rabban stared at his uncle, suddenly frightened by the sound of those words.
But the Baron smiled. "I’m very careful about dangerous weapons," he said. "Doctor Yueh was a traitor. He gave me the Duke." Strength poured into the Baron’s voice. "I suborned a doctor of the Suk School! The Inner School! You hear, boy? But that’s a wild sort of weapon to leave lying about. I didn’t obliterate him casually."
"Does the Emperor know you suborned a Suk doctor?"
This was a penetrating question, the Baron thought. Have I misjudged this nephew?
"The Emperor doesn’t know it yet," the Baron said. "But his Sardaukar are sure to report it to him.
Before that happens, though, I’ll have my own report in his hands through CHOAM
Company channels. I will explain that I luckily discovered a doctor who pretended to the conditioning.
A false doctor, you understand? Since everyone knows you cannot counter the conditioning of a Suk School, this will be accepted."
"Ah-h-h, I see," Rabban murmured.
And the Baron thought: Indeed, I hope you do see. I hope you do see how vital it is that this remain secret. The Baron suddenly wondered at himself. Why did I do that? Why did I boast to this fool nephew of mine – the nephew I must use and discard? The Baron felt anger at himself. He felt betrayed.
"It must be kept secret," Rabban said. "I understand."
The Baron sighed. "I give you different instructions about Arrakis this time, Nephew. When last you ruled this place, I held you in strong rein. This time, I have only one requirement."
"Have you any idea, Rabban, how much we spent to bring such military force to bear on the Atreides? Do you have even the first inkling of how much the Guild charges for military transport?"
The Baron shot a fat arm toward Rabban. "If you squeeze Arrakis for every cent it can give us for sixty years, you’ll just barely repay us!"
Rabban opened his mouth, closed it without speaking.
"Expensive," the Baron sneered. "The damnable Guild monopoly on space would’ve ruined us if I hadn’t planned for this expense long ago. You should know, Rabban, that we bore the entire brunt of it. We even paid for transport of the Sardaukar."
And not for the first time, the Baron wondered if there ever would come a day when the Guild might be circumvented. They were insidious–bleeding off just enough to keep the host from objecting until they had you in their fist where they could force you to pay and pay and pay.
Always, the exorbitant demands rode upon military ventures. "Hazard rates," the oily Guild agents explained. And for every agent you managed to insert as a watchdog in the Guild Bank structure, they put two agents into your system.
"Income then," Rabban said.
The Baron lowered his arm, made a fist. "You must squeeze."
"And I may do anything I wish as long as I squeeze?"
"The cannons you brought," Rabban said. "Could I –"
"I’m removing them," the Baron said.
"But you –"
"You won’t need such toys. They were a special innovation and are now useless. We need the metal. They cannot go against a shield, Rabban. They were merely the unexpected. It was predictable that the Duke’s men would retreat into cliff caves on this abominable planet. Our cannon merely sealed them in."
"The Fremen don’t use shields."
"You may keep some lasguns if you wish."
"Yes, m ’Lord. And I have a free hand."
"As long as you squeeze."
Rabban’s smile was gloating. "I understand perfectly, m’Lord."
"You understand nothing perfectly," the Baron growled. "Let us have that clear at the outset. What you do understand is how to carry out my orders. Has it occurred to you, nephew, that there are at least five million persons on this planet?"
"Does m’Lord forget that I was his regent-siridar here before? And if m’Lord will forgive me, his estimate may be low. It’s difficult to count a population scattered among sinks and pans the way they are here. And when you consider the Fremen of –"
"The Fremen aren’t worth considering!"
"Forgive me, m’Lord, but the Sardaukar believe otherwise."
The Baron hesitated, staring at his nephew. "You know something?"
"M’Lord had retired when I arrived last night. I... ah, took the liberty of contacting some of my lieutenants from... ah, before. They’ve been acting as guides to the Sardaukar. They report that a Fremen band ambushed a Sardaukar force somewhere southeast of here and wiped it out."
"Wiped out a Sardaukar force?"
"Fremen defeating Sardaukar," the Baron sneered.
"I repeat only what was reported to me," Rabban said. "It is said this Fremen force already had captured the Duke’s redoubtable Thufir Hawat."
The Baron nodded, smiling.
"I believe the report," Rabban said. "You’ve no idea what a problem the Fremen were."
"Perhaps, but these weren’t Fremen your lieutenants saw. They must’ve been Atreides men trained by Hawat and disguised as Fremen. It’s the only possible answer."
Again, Rabban shrugged. "Well, the Sardaukar think they were Fremen. The Sardaukar already have launched a program to wipe out all Fremen."
"It’ll keep the Sardaukar occupied. And we’ll soon have Hawat. I know it! I can feel it! Ah, this has been a day! The Sardaukar off hunting a few useless desert bands while we get the real prize!"
"M’Lord... " Rabban hesitated, frowning. "I’ve always felt that we underestimated the Fremen, both in numbers and in –"
"Ignore them, boy! They’re rabble. It’s the populous towns, cities, and villages that concern us. A great many people there, eh?"
"A great many, m’Lord."
"They worry me, Rabban."
"Oh... ninety per cent of them are of no concern. But there are always a few... Houses Minor and so on, people of ambition who might try a dangerous thing. If one of them should get off Arrakis with an unpleasant story about what happened here, I’d be most displeased. Have you any idea how displeased I’d be?"
"You must take immediate measures to hold a hostage from each House Minor," the Baron said. "As far as anyone off Arrakis must learn, this was straightforward House-to-House battle. The Sardaukar had no part in it, you understand? The Duke was offered the usual quarter and exile, but he died in an unfortunate accident before he could accept. He was about to accept, though. That is the story. And any rumor that there were Sardaukar here, it must be laughed at."
"As the Emperor wishes it," Rabban said.
"As the Emperor wishes it."
"What about the smugglers?"
"No one believes smugglers, Rabban. They are tolerated, but not believed. At any rate, you’ll be spreading some bribes in that quarter... and taking other measures which I’m sure you can think of."
"Two things from Arrakis, then, Rabban: income and a merciless fist. You must show no mercy here. Think of these clods as what they are–slaves envious of their masters and waiting only the opportunity to rebel. Not the slightest vestige of pity or mercy must you show them."
"Can one exterminate an entire planet?" Rabban asked.
"Exterminate?" Surprise showed in the swift turning of the Baron’s head. "Who said anything about exterminating?"
"Well, I presumed you were going to bring in new stock and–"
"I said squeeze. Nephew, not exterminate. Don’t waste the population, merely drive them into utter submission. You must be the carnivore, my boy." He smiled, a baby’s expression in the dimple – fat face. "A carnivore never stops. Show no mercy. Never stop. Mercy is a chimera. It can be defeated by the stomach rumbling its hunger, by the throat crying its thirst.
You must be always hungry and thirsty." The Baron caressed his bulges beneath the suspensors.
"I see, m’Lord."
Rabban swung his gaze left and right.
"It’s all clear then, Nephew?"
"Except for one thing. Uncle: the planetologist, Kynes."
"Ah, yes, Kynes."
"He’s the Emperor ’s man, m’Lord. He can come and go as he pleases. And he’s very close to the Fremen... married one."
"Kynes will be dead by tomorrow’s nightfall."
"That’s dangerous work, Uncle, killing an Imperial servant."
"How do you think I’ve come this far this quickly?" the Baron demanded. His voice was low, charged with unspeakable adjectives. "Besides, you need never have feared Kynes would leave Arrakis. You’re forgetting that he’s addicted to the spice."
"Those who know will do nothing to endanger their supply," the Baron said. "Kynes certainly must know."
"I forgot, "Rabban said.
They stared at each other in silence.
Presently, the Baron said: "Incidentally, you will make my own supply one of your first concerns. I’ve quite a stockpile of private stuff, but that suicide raid by the Duke’s men got most of what we’d stored for sale."
Rabban nodded. "Yes, m’Lord."
The Baron brightened. "Now, tomorrow morning, you will assemble what remains of organization here and you’ll say to them: ’Our Sublime Padishah Emperor has charged me to take possession of this planet and end all dispute.’ "
"I understand, m’Lord."
"This time, I’m sure you do. We will discuss it in more detail tomorrow. Now, leave me to finish my sleep."
The Baron deactivated his doorfield, watched his nephew out of sight.
A tank-brain, the Baron thought. Muscle-minded tank-brain. They will be bloody pulp here when he’s through with them. Then, when I send in Feyd-Rautha to take the load off them, they’ll cheer their rescuer. Beloved Feyd-Rautha. Benign Feyd-Rautha, the compassionate one who saves them from a beast. Feyd-Rautha, a man to follow and die for. The boy will know by that time how to oppress with impunity. I’m sure he’s the one we need. He’ll learn. And such a lovely body. Really a lovely boy.