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Fremen where are you?

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 2:47 am
by Ceres
House: Atreides
Character: Iakobos Isibis
Rank: Master of Arms/Swordsmaster

It had only been a few cycles since the start of a new imperial era. Padishah Emperor Blaigvor Corrino had died and his second son, Aramsham Corrino, had inherited the Golden Lion's Throne. The eldest son, Lors Corrino, had disappeared without a trace. Iakobos smirked to himself at that thought. 'Without a trace'. It was odd that the eldest son had disappeared shortly before the old emperor's death. There was a mourning period of course, but the new emperor hardly hesitated to claim the throne. In Iakobos' mind the question was not whether there had been foul play - but who were the conspirators.

Aramsham was of course involved, but who was really leading the plot? Was it those witches, the Bene Gesserit with their plans within plans? Or was it the reptilian creatures that made up the Guild, angry at the old emperor's governance? Or was it a member of the Landsraad, hoping to place the new emperor in their debt? Maybe even his own house, the Atreides? That would certainly explain how they acquired a contract over spice mining in this wretched planet.

No matter, thought Iakobos. Matters of intrigue at that level were beyond his pay grade. He refocused his thoughts to the current matter. He had been sent to Arrakis by his lord, the Duke, to attempt to make allies of its native peoples. The Atreides had gained a CHOAM contract over Arrakis, but it was not exclusive. They had been forced to share with their sworn enemies, the Harkonnen. They had entered a temporary truce, but he was sure that neither his lord or the enemy intended to keep the truce for long. It would be impossible to efficiently mine the spice if planetary control remained split.

Even if that were not true, only an invalid would think it possible for the proud noble House of Atreides to share a planet with the enemy. It was bad enough to share a galaxy with them - but a planet?! Iakobos never understood why the old emperor had not banished them and hoped that the new emperor would do it. Then again - maybe the present circumstance was the emperor's implicit blessing for the Atreides to rid themselves of their enemies for once and all?

It had been several days now since Iakobos had left Arrakeen, the Atreides' base on Arrakis, and begun wandering the deep desert in search for the Fremen, the desert dwelling people that called this planet home. The Atreides retainer was officially on medical leave, under instructions from the doctor to get some exercise in dry climate for his lungs. Unofficially he was under instructions from his lord to seek and ally the Fremen. The Fremen's knowledge of the dune planet would be crucial in removing the enemy.

After receiving his instructions, official and unofficial, he dressed in stillsuit and began his journey. In addition to him he had only a half dozen men accompanying, all also officially on medical leave. All unofficially ready to serve their magnanimous lord to the end's of the galaxy.

Iakobos (believed) he was nearing one of the Fremen's settlements, but it was hard to tell this deep into the desert...

Re: Fremen where are you?

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 5:24 am
by MinisterofWorms
It was night as two figures made their way across the vast expanses of sand. They moved without rhythm, tracing a narrow vein of rock that ran for miles just below the surface, following the unseen path to Sietch Bissal. The two ducked suddenly, disappearing without a trace into the sandlock door.

The Sietch was a network of tunnels below the shallow desert, a maze of secret entrances and false chambers that hid the true extent and location of the settlement. Entire sections could be been walled off and abandoned when discovery was suspected.

"Scouts from Arrakeen"

"...and?" murmured Adham, Naib of the Sietch Bassil. He had a soft demeanor, and eyes that stared off into the shadows of the low room. Eyes blue within blue.

The officer continued: "The Duke of Caladaan has sent his swordmaster to make contact. He is on his way to the Potemkin, and should arrive in the morning if his footsteps don't bring wormsign."

"A Swordmaster? An assassin?"

"Perhaps they thought a warrior would command greater respect."

Adham nodded, "Perhaps. Set thumpers at the desert edge, just to be sure he arrives safely. Have Waleed ready to receive him and I shall arrive shortly." then, to himself, so, the rumors worked.

The Potemkin was an old Sietch, bombarded early in the Richese occupation when they had tried to take the desert from the Fremen then. Tried and failed. Now Adham had it resettled, partially. The lower halls were still in ruins, the storerooms bare, and not a drop of water was held in its cisterns. But the entrance hall, the orgy room and diplomatic chambers had been restored to their former glory. A set, for a performance. They prepared to welcome their guest.

Re: Fremen where are you?

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:41 pm
by Ceres
House: Atreides
Character: Iakobos Isibis
Rank: Master of Arms/Swordsmaster

Blue on blue eyes... As Iakobos and his fellow men made their way into the Fremen's dwelling they were captivated by the native's eyes. The urban Fremen that resided in Arrakeen had blue eyes as well, a side effect of the spice, but the desert Fremen's eyes were bluer. The mutation reminded Iakobos of the Guild mutants, but while the latter were chilling the Fremen eyes were something to be adored.

"I am Iakobos Isibis, retainer of the Duke Ulysses Atreides," announced Iakobos as he saluted in military fashion to whom he presumed to the Fremen. He did not bow. Not out of disrespect, but because of genuine ignorance of how to properly introduce himself.

In a galaxy where social class was strictly regulated, the Fremen were anomalies outside the Faufreluches system. He had heard that the prior house to hold a CHOAM spice mining contract had failed at subjugating them. The Atreides mentat, Aidan Bosque, reasoned that the Fremen could not be subjugated. Otherwise the Emperor would have sent his troops to do so already. The Fremen were formidable warriors. The success of the Atreides over the enemy depended on that statement's validity.

"I have traveled far away from the water world of Caladan to meet you here in this desert world. My lord wishes to normalize relations between your people and our house. He has sent me bearing gifts. If I may be allowed to present them..."

Iakobos motioned to one of the men using the house's battle language, who promptly opened one of the bags to reveal a canister filled with water. The canister was transparent, allowing full view of the precious liquid inside.

"This is sparkling water from the Duke's own private collection. Will you not share in this water with us?"

Re: Fremen where are you?

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:44 am
by MinisterofWorms
Waleed suppressed a smile, and stepped out from the gathering crowd. He was tall, and the pumps of his stillsuit made him even taller, with a long black mustache and thick eyebrows. He spread his hands slowly,turning them to show they contained no weapon, then bringing them together in a solem sign of greeting.

"My friend," his voice was strong and warm, like a father speaking to children, "surely your lord does not believe we are so thirsty as to send you all this way? Or that you would find us such poor hosts that we could not properly receive a party of the Duke Atreides? To show such water before wives and children and make our men look poor? Surely the Lord of Caladan would not intent to insult the pride of the Sietch, and the ways of the Fremen. Is this what he means by 'normalize relations'?"

The crowd shuffled uneasily behind him silently, a sea of eyes and cloaks crowding the colorfully painted entryway, looking down from terraces and balconies at the strange newcomers with suspicion. They did not emit a sound, but their presence filled the room like a choir.

Very good, thought Waleed, this Iakobos is impatient. He is tired from his trip, and is already thinking of his return. They flaunt their wealth because they believe their enemy is the Harkonen. They shall see past us. His wounded pride was a shallow ploy, though keeping a straight countenance in the face of such a opulence of water took effort, and it was for that reason that Waleed had been entrusted with this ritual. He knew the water in those bags was a millionth of what they would be able to receive if they were careful. We must not appear too eager to make a deal least we raise suspicion, nor can we show our true strength, thought the Fremen.

Re: Fremen where are you?

Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:14 am
by Ceres
House: Atreides
Character: Iakobos Isibis
Rank: Master of Arms/Swordsmaster

A man stood out from the gathering Fremen. Iakobos could only assume he was their leader, or at least a respected headman. He directed himself towards him.

"The riches of your people is known even to us far away in Caladan. After all what greater riches does a man need than family and good friends? Unlike those who came before us..." Iakobos hesitated to directly mention House Richese, "We come here to make friends with you. That is what is meant by normalize relations."

It was unclear if the Fremen held any special resentment towards that disgraced house. For that matter, it was unclear if one could speak of "the Fremen" as a single political entity or as cultural grouping. If it were the latter, it was entirely possible that these specific Fremen had never directly encountered House Richese and therefore had no need for resentment. These were the sort of things Iakobos had been sent to learn about the Fremen.

"And what sort of friends would we be if we came without a gift? Now won't you please enjoy this gift of water with us? Please, if only for my sake. I must admit I am thirsty."

Re: Fremen where are you?

Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:54 am
by MinisterofWorms
Yes, let us be friends Waleed thought as he nodded and smiled to the guests.

He stepped forward and received the gift graciously, cradling it in his arms delicately. Then with a flourish he gestured towards the door and the crowd parted to form a wide pathway into the ornate hallway.

"Then please, follow me."

Waleed lead them through the crowd, which formed back tightly behind them and followed. The passage was freshly decorated, its massive vaults covered with geometric paintings in the Zensunni tradition but every millimeter of wall was lined with curious and black clad Fremen who stared intently as they passed. Alongside walked a pair of large Fedaykin warriors, sternly escorting the party up the long and winding ramps. Just out of sight of this route were the ruined and abandoned hallways of the old sietch, the Fremen crowd carefully placed to disguise the fact that it numbered less than a hundred, and to prevent any deviation from that path. They proceeded in this way until they arrived at a large set of doors which attentive guards pulled aside at the approach of Waleed. Past these doors the crowd did not follow, and they closed heavily behind them.

"Retainers of the Duke Atreides, Adham" announced Waleed "They bring water to share and offers of friendship from their master."

Adham sat across a large round table of gold-veined stone, a twenty-one pointed star carved into it. Around the table sat others, an elder of the sietch and the watermaster. On the far side of the room was a great wide window of triangular panels that gazed out across the open desert.

Adham spoke softly, "Welcome distinguished guests, I am the Naib of Sietch Bassil. Let us see if we can be friends. Did you know that to share water is a sacred thing to our people, and not done lightly..."

As he spoke he signalled for cups, and water was poured for each of the guests, along with one more for himself. There was a brief shock on the face of the servant when the water began to bubble and hiss, but Adham only smiled as he raised the glass and continued, staring at the rising carbonation with amusement. I hear the emperor has a glass which can detect poisons he thought, but the poison here is vassalhood, and no cup is needed to detect that.

"...nor do we take lightly," he continued, "the acceptance of a gift, for the usury of a gift can be more than any debt. Tell me, Iakobos Isibis, what does your Lord want with us?"

Re: Fremen where are you?

Posted: Sun Jul 28, 2019 8:00 pm
by Ceres
House: Atreides
Character: Iakobos Isibis
Rank: Master of Arms/Swordsmaster

Success. Iakobos allowed himself a moment as satisfaction as his lord's gift was accepted. After having the water taken, he and his men were led to a second chamber. Iakobos had assumed that the earlier Fremen had been the tribe's leader, but the head leader (?) was waiting for them in this second location. The Atreides had managed to acquire intelligence on the Fremen, but this meeting emphasized just how much of an enigma these desert people were that even their leadership structure was fully known.

"I am Iakobos Isibis. Swordsmaster and Master of Arms of the Duke Atreides," Iakobos said as he raised his share of the carbonated water towards the Fremen, "I have been sent by my lord to offer the friendship of House Atreides to the Fremen people."

"Let me emphasize that we of House Atreides no more lightly offer friendship than you share water. I was born into slavery and would have died a slave if not for the Duke's friendship. The Duke has risked his life for a retainer as lowly for me." Iakobos motioned towards the rest of the Atreides retainers, "He has risked himself for all of us. We serve our lord not because he was born into House Atreides, but because of the friendship he has offered us."

"That is the sort of friendship we come to offer to your people. As long as you are our friends, you will never experience thirst again. Even if it means giving up our own body water, I assure it. The Duke assures it through me."

Re: Fremen where are you?

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:33 am
by MinisterofWorms
The Niab Adham forced a smile. This retainer makes big promises, I wonder how much authority he really has?

"You and your lord offer a lot, but what friendship do you ask of us?" He said

Jawhar, by far the oldest Femen at the table spoke up. His force was forceful and raspy, broken by decades of dry air. "The Richese called us "friends" after they failed to kill us off. They paid us water tax, and did not bring their "Crawlers" below the 60th Latitude that they would not bring the wrath of Shai-Huld. Many days we discussed this, though I was but a young Fedaykin at the time, I was a witness. Many Fremen gave their water for that peace. Many of my family died. And now your empire sends not one house, but two? To blaspheme the desert and offer new "friendship"?! He spat on the table."

Adham raised a hand and the old man sat down. Well done old friend.

The Niab spoke softly. "You can see my people feel strongly on the subject. For us this is not just greed or pride but our love of Arrakis, our respect for the desert and Shai-Hulud. I think these are things that may be hard for an offworlder to understand. I have never seen oceans, for you say your planet has many, but I have heard travelers speak of the desert erg like the ocean. We Fremen live in the desert, and with the desert. The Richese learned the value of that, and for that they gave us, what was it Saadiq?"

The water master spoke in a flat tone. "Two million decaliters a year to Seitch Bassil, and to all the Ichwan Bedwine, some 50 millions decaliters a year. This was in reparations, lease of the deep desert, and to account further for the water lost by the mining damage to the desert."

Adham nodded and leaned back. "50 million decaliters, and that was to harvest spice in the northern ergs. Now there are two houses, the Emperor hungers for more spice. How long before crawlers are as far south as the equator?"

Re: Fremen where are you?

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:52 am
by Ceres
House: Atreides
Character: Iakobos Isibis
Rank: Master of Arms/Swordsmaster

Is it business then? Iakobos was a warrior, not a mentat, so he would have to defer to Aidan Bosque the house mentat when it came to negotiating specifics. He cursed himself for not bringing the old man along in this trip. They certainly had water to spare, but the cost of guild shipping was another thing...

"Gluttony is not a sin possessed by House Atreides. Indeed, if the Duke has any sin in excess, he has kept it hidden from me. I on the other hand am weak with lust," Iakobos said.

"If it is water that your people need, I can assure you that it can be supplied. We are not like the ene- the Harkonnen, slavery is outlawed among us. Our men are each paid for their labors."

"Nor do we engage in attempted genocide like others." Iakobos avoided directly mentioning House Richese here. The Empress Dowager had been born in House Richese, and so it was beyond his station to directly attack a member of the Emperor's family. "We train ourselves to be able to defend our friends, but we avoid violence for its own sake. How does the saying go? Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."

"However if your people are concerned with two houses on Arrakis... Perhaps we could come to an arrangement to downsize. I do not think the Emperor cares if there is two or one houses so long as things function."

Re: Fremen where are you?

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:52 am
by MinisterofWorms
The Naib nodded slightly and cast his eyes down onto the heavily carved table. For a moment Adham was silent as he visibly collected his thought.

This messenger has said enough, he calls the Harkonen "Enemy." He does not hesitate at any price if it will secure a deal. Adham knew what this meant: the Atreides were not only competing against the Harkonen, they were AFRAID of them. Threatened enough that speed was of the essence. War would be coming to Arrakis, and soon the Fremen would be in the middle.

Adham was of the "waterfat" generation, born after peace was made with the Richese and the Sietch plump with extortion wealth. He had never been paticularly strong or large or quick, preferring games of strategy to martial sport, but the Fremen do have a place for cleverness, and he became water master at a young age.

The Naib in those days had been ruthless, uniting the Ichwan of Sihaya ridge to form the stronghold of Bassil, sacrificing entire Sietches to protect its secret. Many of Adham's age saw these measures as tyranny, and so a young Fedykin of great strength challenged the aging Naib for leadership and slew him in ritual combat.

It was in his role as Watermaster Adham would discover that the son of the new Naib was a water thief, and only by his father's position had he been spared exile for such a serious crime. Adham publically challenged the Naib for this abuse of his power, who arrived to find, not the mild Adham, but his own son, convinced by the Watermaster that only by standing as champion could he clear the shame he had brought. The duel ended in death and exile, and the need for a new Naib.

That night Adham, Waleed, Taahir, and Saadiq had moved through the Sietch with Crysknives drawn, eliminating those close to the previous regime. By dawn there were a dozen corpses in the death still, and Adham was Naib unchallenged. His strength was patience, a careful observation of the balance of things. That is what was needed here.

Adham looked up from the table and smiled at Iakobos.

"If it is as you say, then tell your Lord we welcome his friendship, and look forward to working together in harmony. Tell him this is all we ask for now: that the mining of spice be limited to the shallow deserts north of 60 degrees unless supervised by Fremen guides. That he recognize the Ichwan Bedwine as the rightful steward of the desert, and commit to protecting the land of Shai Hulud from desecration."