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Oh, and I won't be posting intil Dragoon does.

You'll have quite a wait then. At last check his internet was being squiffy. He probably won't be back for a week.

Now, to re-write my post...

A long pause filled the air after the Duke finished reading his figures. He looked up expectantly at the governor, and was slightly taken aback to see that his expression was not one of puzzlement, but stonier than his alabaster likeness.

"I told you not to build up your military, Duke Trebeis." Aleksandr said flatly. "I told you that a standing military on Arrakis by any but the holder of the fief was a threat to the security of the Imperium. I assumed that you would disband all but your honour guard into the city. And you present me with figures like this? I quote:

Message to Duke Trebeis:

You don't seem to quite understand the meaning behind my messages. This is not just any planet, it is Arrakis. A military presence beyond personal guards by any but the ruling house is a threat to the security not just of the planet but also of the Imperium. I must insist that all military buildup is halted. Feel free to start any business ventures, they would be more than welcome.

Sincerely, Governor Aleksandr Harkonnen."

The Duke was slightly taken aback by the exact recitation of the message. Nonetheless, he rallied.

"No specific limit was mentioned in that message." He said confidently.

"I had thought you were bright enough not to need one." The Governor replied sharply. "For the past few months I have been working under the impression that your forces consisted of three or four hundred men at maximum." He sighed. "And I inform you now that whether you choose to take up guardianship in Tsimpo or not, your forces will be reduced to five thousand men. You can keep all the equipment."

"But, but I won't have the men to use it!" The Duke protested.

"Then sell it." Aleksandr responded calmly. "Disband your men into the city, that way at least some of the population will be loyal to you. I know that there is space after a lot of the citizens moved to the new Arrakeen."

Message to the Fremen: [hide]

Keep the uniforms from the Huahin corpses. Call a council of the Naibs. Let me know when and where it shall take place, and I shall fulfill my part of the deal.

H. [/hide]

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Certainly. Choose a faction and join the fray. :)

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Relnev was crouched on the floor of his office, head in his hands.  The message that had warped his mind was finally beginning to take its final toll; his consciousness was filled with everlasting noise, crackling and popping like so much static.  Screams escaped from his mouth, unbidden and uncontrolled.  Eemins - who was still several corridors away - heard them.  He increased his speed, pounding along the metal pathways of Outpost 9 at a full sprint.  If his calculations were correct, then he only had a few minutes remaining.

When Eemins finally did reach Relnev's office, the screaming had subsided.  Relnev lay motionless on the floor, staring blankly at the ceiling.

"Oh damnation..." Eemins said to himself, rushing to Relnev's side.  He produced two small, gun-shaped objects and placed them either side of Relnev's head.  "Please let this work."

Eemins pulled the triggers of the two devices, which fired a concentrated directional sonic blast into Relnev's ears.  It was designed to be the exact opposite of the original message, with an additional sound at the end, designed to free the mind of current thoughts and induce calmness.

Relnev's back arced off the ground spasmodically, then lowered just as quickly.  His eyes closed, and his head flopped to one side.  Frightened, Eemins checked his pulse... he was still alive.  Suddenly, Relnev's eyes shot wide open.

"Stop the runner on the way to the ornithopter pads!" he shouted, then fell unconscious.  Realising he had no time to ask questions, Eemins rushed to the control panel.

"This is Eemins to the runner currently headed to the ornithopter pads; return to your normal duties."

Eemins sighed and pressed the emergency medical attention alarm... all he could do now was wait.

Message to Aleksandr Harkonnen:

Thank you for your help.  Ambassador Relnev is recovering at present.  He shall contact you when the time is right.

Acting Ambassador Eemins of Ixian Outpost 9.

Message to The Fremen:

Understood.  Let hostilities between us cease.  We shall contact you again shortly.

Acting Ambassador Eemins of Ixian Outpost 9.

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Pff, you don't post since page 8 and then turn up just when I say you won't... Annoying boy.

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Ah. i'm joining then as a vigilante/mercenary group of Fremen and Atreides. in total about 900 people, 13 trikes and 6 thopters. located near Mt. Idaho, although a secondary base is set up in the Shield Wall.

if i left out anything, tell me and i'll add it.

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OOC: Just curious, how many people can an ornithopter carry? And also, the same with trikes

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i think a thopter takes 4 or 5 people...

not sure about trikes.

In Dune, Paul and Jessica were bound in a thopter escorted by 2 harkonnen guards.

so 4-5 would be accurate.

Maybe even 6 if you toss out unused supplies.

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there's also the bit where a worm is heading to a crawler and Duke Leto is discussing how many a thopter can hold...that should give a fairly accurate number.

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OOC: in the worm attack scene I think it was somewhere in the region of 10 - 15. Can't remember for sure though, its been a while...

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In the orni were four people: Kynes, Paul, Leto and Gurney.

The Duke looked down. His own craft's shadow was just passing over the

crawler. "Only four spotters, is that right?"

"Correct," Kynes said.

"There are five in our party," the Duke said. "Our ships are larger. We can

crowd in three extra each. Their spotters ought to be able to lift off two

each."

So in the thopter they were in would normally fit seven people.

Paul did the mental arithmetic, said: "That's three short."

...

"Gurney, you and Paul toss out that rear seat," the Duke said.

...

"Four over here!" the Duke shouted.

Meaning that if you remove the bench, you could have four people extra, but it would be too heavy to ascend normally.

So seven people for this thopter, and eight people if you want to be heavy.

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Looking at the seated Governor, the Duke Replied "And yet you allowed me to take in the last of my men AFTER you requested that forces be demiliterized and said nothing when my troop disposistions were let known." Then looking to the Fremen that still stood at the end of the table, he continued "Besides which, we had had some problems with our friends, the Freman. I was not going to allow myself to be reduced to a point of no longer being abled to defend myself." Looking sharply at Aleksandr, he pressed on "And Correct if I'm wrong, but would you not wish your ally to be as strong as possible? Have I ever acted in ill faith toward you? Have you not had over 7,000 of my men aiding your defense?" The conversation was heating up and the handful of Harkonnen guards could sense it- and were beginning to look uneasily at the 30 Elete Nokker Guardsman and 12 or so Freman. Steping forward, the Freman Reprisentitive said "Duke, When are you going to hear us out?" Visibally Cooling down, the Duke Replied "Do excuse me, Please speak your part"

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I said you could take in your men." The governor interrupted, "I did not say that they were to remain on active duty." He glowered for a moment. "Very well. Your standing military can be eight thousand men if you choose to take guardianship of Tsimpo. If not, five thousand."

"You have no right to make my decisions!" The Duke shouted.

"I have every right." Aleksandr said firmly. The various guards around the room began to shuffle uneasily. "I am quite willing to have you as an ally, Duke, but you must remember that my word here is not final. The Baron and Landsraad are already pushing to have both yourselves and the Huahin evicted from the planet. Forcefully. Any large military force will only give them more reason. I hope that by handing Tsimpo over to you, they will believe that your forces will be too busy to disrupt the flow of spice."

"And too busy to defend themselves?" The Duke raised a questioning eyebrow.

"If it comes to that then you haven't trained them well enough." Aleksandr said pointedly.

"What about the Ixians?" The Trebeis asked. "They have been expanding for months now, what do the Landsraad say to that?"

"The Ixians are fighting their own battles." Aleksandr replied. "If you wish to attempt this yourself then you are more than welcome to try. I should warn you however that the Baron has lost no time in taking over the Landsraad seats that you used to occupy." The Duke muttered something under his breath. "Hmm?"

"What kind of man deliberately weakens an ally?" The Duke scowled.

"A politician." Aleksandr answered sadly.

* * *

"Your master has done well." Orianna Lyasma spoke without emotion, her face expressionless. She disliked dealing with the Fremen now. Nothing like old wounds to bring out the worst in someone. The fremen before her was of a similar disposition, his own face completely without the faintest flicker of a smile, or a frown.

"The matter has been dealt with." He said calmly. "We wish payment."

"Seth has been told the people he must gather for us." Orianna replied stonily. "We will do our part then. Also, inform your master that we may have another task for him." The fremen nodded sharply. There was a tense silence for several long seconds, as the two respective messengers stared at each other.

"May your bones be ground into powder and your water spilt on the sand, traitor." The freman spat.

"Old threats, old blustering." Orianna sighed. "You have not changed, Ullip."

"Neither have you." The freman hissed, turning his back and stalking out of the hollow shell of a building in which the meeting had taken place. Orianna watched him depart. She shrugged to herself, and left by another door.

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OOC: Since Omnius has dissapeared, I'll continue.

"I believe I will take you up on your offer although I wish to ask for an allowence. Instead of disbanding the bulk of my forces into the population, I would like to instead initiate a system in which a group would stay on active service for a pre-determined amount of time, then be replaced by another group. This would keep the forces fresh and would allow everyone to establish themselves in Tsimpo". Looking to the Harkonnen, he then asked "What then of the defenses of my WTF? Due to the high volume of revenue generated by the Plant, I would like to request that the forces already in place there to be left be for the sake of keeping up production. Just remember how vital that water really is".

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"What we are going to say is this. We will offer a alliance where we pay reparation for the damage, and we support each other when we are attacked. It is very simple. All hostile actions will cease." Piron finished talking. "That is all we have to say."

***

Message to other fremen

[hide] Iwould like to convene a Council of Naibs to discuss the change of leadership of Arrakis. Everyone has to come, no matter what. It will be at the Cave of Birds in four posts time.

Seth, the fremen[/hide]

Message to H

[hide]The meeting shall be at the Cave of Birds, in four posts time(OOC:Dante, you might have to wait till theclansman1911 posts.)Coordinates and Huahinian uniforms are with this message[/hide]

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My Fremen will be at the Council. You will have to admit a small escort, purely for security reasons, but i'm sure that during these troublesome times, you will understand.

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"Arrakis managed without your water, and it could do so again." Aleksandr said calmly. "Nevertheless, I recognise that you have put considerable effort into creating and maintaining the facilty. I know that the position at the facility is rotated, so I suggest that you send one thousand men from Tsimpo to oversee production. Seven thousand should be enough for the city, especially as you will be rotating them in and out of active service."

"Seven thousand?" The Duke raised an eyebrow.

"Do you really think it would be fair to keep eight thousand and leave those men out in the desert constantly?" Aleksandr asked rhetorically. "You can send five hundred out and keep the remainder, if you wish. But the limit is still eight thousand. In times of crisis, if the city needs defending, send a request to me and you can enlist your reserves as well. Is that suitable?"

"I would prefer to have greater control myself..." The Duke sighed. "But I can see that this is probably the best deal that I will get. For now." He added. Turning to the waiting fremen, he folded his arms. "Well, first you are hostile and now you offer alliance? Tell me, why should I trust you?"

Er... I have more to add, but it has to wait. Hmph.

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Dante asked me to make a return....so here I am!

The Atreides remnants, meanwhile, have been laying low. Mining spice whilst avoinding detection, they have become masters of stealth and experts on desert survival. They are still no rivals to Fremen in those respects, though. Earning far more then is necessary to provide the basics of life, they have been accumulating vast wealth, for a purpose yet to be revealed. Whispers are passing amongst the men about the Duke Paul planning on a return to the planet, but the leaders remain silent about their intent.

Today the leaders of the community, Fharim Odreck and Athanasios, receive two very special guests.

Fharim examined the features of the face in front of him. Leathery, void of any excess fat, and a curious mark near the mouth unmistakenbly caused by a stillsuit tube worn for many years. A face dancer could not look more Fremen than this person. The man was still weighing the implications of the conversation they just had.

"This is to big for even me to decide alone." he finally said. "I must consult with the Sayyadinas."

Athanasios, who hadn't said much so far, took the word. "Let me come with you.", an unusual proposal indeed.

"That's a bold proposal you're making, Atreides. My brethren won't like a stranger amongst them." the Fremen said.

"Athr, you're Naib of Sietch Matrah. If I come with you under your responsibility, they'll accept it."

Fharim joined in on the debate.

"Idaho of the Atreides joined Stilgar in Sietch Tabr, and found him to be spotless. It will help strenghten our relation if my friend comes with you."

This seemed to convince Athr. The reputation of the honourable Idaho was known to most Fremen.

"Very well. I'll take you with me on my thopter- blinded that is." he finally said, to wich Athanasios nodded. Such precautions were certainly understandable from a Fremen viewpoint, as the location of the Sietch was possibly the most treasured secret of any Fremen.

"Another condition is that I will also send one of my men to accompany you in your community- an agreement of mutual trust, you might say."

The Atreides leaders looked satisfied. Anastasios extended his hand towards Athr. The old Naib looked confused at first. He allowed Anastasios to take his hand and shake it. Fharim then did the same thing. It seemed that Athr then realised the meaning of this custom, for he spitted on the table, the old Fremen gesture of respect.

The three went to the camoflauged hangar outside. Fharim exchanged a few last words with Anastasios while Athr was waiting to board the thopter.

"Good luck, my friend. I hope you'll make some good progress while you're there."

"I'm a bit nervous to meet these Sayyadinas. They seem to be hold in high regard among the Fremen, almost as much as the Naibs."

"They are our religious leaders." Athr cut in. "And religion is important to Fremen. You do well to keep that in mind at all times."

Fharim embraced Athanasios and patted him on the shoulders one last time. "Goodbye" he said. Athanasios nodded.

Athr had taken a piece of cloth meanwhile and gestured Athanasios to turn around. He complied, and was blindfolded by the Fremen Naib. Fharim helped Athr get him into the ornithopter, and then Athr sealed the hatch. Fharim backed away from the machine and soon it took off, blowing a fresh wind into his face with it's wingtips. The ornithopter, containing his friend and co-leader, accelerated and flew away into the darkness of the night, to a remote Sietch of wich only Athr knew the location.

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OOC - As mentioned earlier, my House doesn't wear a uniform on Arrakis...

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"I remember everything, Eemins." Relnev said, sitting back in his chair.  Both of them were back in his office, several days having passed since the healing took place.

"Sir?" Eemins asked, pausing momentarily while sorting through papers.

"The worst part of this whole endeavour is that I remember everything that I did while in that... maddened state." Relnev explained.

"It is past now, sir."

"But the fact that it happened remains!" Relnev said, sitting up.  "What have Ixian Command to say of this?"

"They deny having any part in it, sir."

"But there is no doubt that the message was tampered with?"

"The chances of such a malfunction happening naturally are several million to one."

"But who?" Relnev asked.  "Who would benefit from me in that state?  We would war with the Fremen, and eventually with the Harkonnen, Huahin and Trebeis..."

"You are missing one faction, sir."

Relnev looked at Eemins with a mix of awe and curiousity.  "Surely you do not think the Atreides capable of such a thing?"

"I think that they have been forcefully removed from a planet that was "rightfully" theirs, and that their new Duke - this Paul Atreides - is made of different stuff."

"You suggest that they would resort to -"

"If you were they, sir, would you not think it beneficial that the bulk of the forces that would oppose you were engaged in battle with others?  That they would be too concentrated on the wars at hand to focus on the waiting threat just beyond their sight?"

"You make a good point, Eemins.  But you have no proof of this.  We are to remain neutral towards all - the Harkonnen, the Huahin, the Trebeis, the Fremen, the Atreides Remnants, the Sardaukar... and anyone else on Arrakis!"

"Yes sir." Eemins said, resuming his duties.

"But remain vigilant, Eemins.  The Ix are not to be trifled with."

"Yes, sir."

"Neutrality, after all, has its limits."

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OOC - As mentioned earlier, my House doesn't wear a uniform on Arrakis...

What do they wear then?

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OOC: Beowulf, If nobody else is going to attend this meeting, you might as well start. Anathema, I'm happy to see you.

"My spies inform me that my darling brother is handing Tsimpo over to that refugee Trebeis." Ekaterina frowned, sitting on her new throne. She glanced at the snooper above her head, before sipping at the Caladan wine she held. With nobility came certain perks.

"You wish to exert influence in Tsimpo?" Her unofficial mentat, the woman known only as 'Rachael,' cocked her head to one side.

"No, that would only upset Aleksandr even more." Ekaterina pouted. "And I expect Trebeis would be more than willing to take a few pot shots at me if I gave him reason. That in turn would annoy the Baron, the Landsraad..." She waved a hand airily, "The whole caboodle. No, interfering with the pompous Duke's new playground would be more trouble than it's worth."

"Yet taking no action would be to allow the Harkonnen influence on Arrakis, and thus the Imperium, to wane." Rachael said calmly, righting her head. She stood poker-straight beside the throne, hardly moving.

"Yes, and we can't allow that, can we...?" Ekaterina folded her arms, glaring at the ground.

"Mistress?" A confused expression crossed Rachael's face. She tilted her head again.

"I was being rhetorical."

"Ah." Rachael's neck straightened.

...

The silence stretched. Ekaterina frowning at the floor, Rachael staring directly ahead.

"Perhaps, the Trebeis would be holding too much power." Rachael said quietly.

"Hmm?" Ekaterina looked up.

"The Duke takes over Tsimpo, and modifies the running of the city to his own pattern." Rachael continued. "He turns it into the seat of his power. But with power comes paranoia. The Duke launches an unprovoked attack on Arsunt, in the express desire to murder the Lady Ekaterina. Such violence from a house that is practically renegade will not be tolerated by the Landsraad, and House Harkonnen will be given permission to wipe out this threat to the Imperium. The Duke will stand trial and be executed. Ekaterina Harkonnen, as the attacked party, takes control of Tsimpo."

"Alternative scenario." Rachael continued, before Ekaterina could speak. "An unprovoked attack by the Trebeis sparks a war between Tsimpo and Arsunt. The Landsraad does not have time to act, but all sizable parties on Arrakis will side with the defending city. Aleksandr Harkonnen is duty-bound to protect his sister, and the probability of Ixian aid in some form, however small, is very great. Ekaterina's own forces use these troops as cannon fodder, and the Trebeis are overwhelmed. The Duke is killed in the fighting. The triumphant Harkonnen army occupies Tsimpo. Aleksandr's army is too depleted to protest. Tsimpo becomes a second to Arsunt. Influence is quickly exerted in Carthag again, and with three cities under her belt, the Lady Ekaterina soon moves in to Arrakeen. Aleksandr Harkonnen becomes Governor in name only." She stopped abruptly. Ekaterina smirked.

"A pleasing turn of events." She steepled her fingers. "And I'm sure Vail can cook something up for us."

"He is most adept." Rachael stated, in what was probably agreement.

"Then it's decided." Ekaterina grinned evilly. "Tsimpo is the next target, and perhaps we can take out two problems at once. However," she mused, "It might be beneficial to buildup a bit while the Duke asserts himself."

"It is begun." Rachael stated.

"Oh yes, and how is that other business with the fremen doing?"

"It should be completed in a matter of days, Mistress."

"Excellent."

* * *

Aleksandr slipped out of the room as the Duke began his negotiations with the Fremen. Signalling an aide, he made his way out of the Trebeis facility, toward his waiting ornithopter. Behind him, two men carried the stone bust. As he boarded, the governor glanced up at a large frigate, floating into place above the starport.

"What is that frigate?" He asked the aide, pointing into the night sky. The man followed his gaze, and consulted his records.

"That's the shipment from Huahin VI." He said, a slight note of disapproval in his voice.

"Already?" Aleksandr looked surprised. "Very well. Take me to the starport."

* * *

"Welcome to Arrakis." Aleksandr announced to the hundred people that stood below him. "I am governor Aleksander Harkonnen. I wasn't informed of your arrival, so I appologise for my appearence." He ran a hand through his windswept hair. Nobody smiled. Each of the hundred slaves from Huahin VI glared up at the governor with a sullen expression.

'Well, I can hardly blame them for that.' Aleksandr thought to himself. 'Rabban can't have been gentle with these people...' He shook himself out of his reverie. He beckoned for the aide, who stepped over. "Take their chains off." He ordered. The aide concealed his expression well, and hurried away to give the order. Aleksandr turned back to the Huahin.

"You know that I have bought you from Glossu Rabban, with my own funds." He said, as the guards began to close in. "Some of you may have theorised as to your purpose here. I know what you must be thinking. Brothel slaves, as on Giedi Prime. Spice workers. Or perhaps you believe the rumours about the people of this planet, and think we will drink your blood." He smiled softly as the first chains were unlocked and fell to the ground. "I tell you now that you are all free! You are your own masters now, here on this planet. I bought you and now I free you." More chains were removed. Those Huahin that had seemed violent or liable to run now stood in place, bewildered.

"I have set aside housing for you in Arrakeen." Aleksandr continued. "You are not obligated to stay there, but it is there if you want it. I have also designated a set ammount of funds for each of you, to start new lives here. Also, I should inform you that there are kinsmen of yours on this planet. Your archduke himself is said to be among them." He listened to a few faint gasps. "I admit, that I am hoping that this gesture will compell him to come out of the deep desert and talk with me."

"Harkonnen pig!" A voice called out from the crowd. "You enslave us with chains, then you enslave us with words! We are but means to an end for you!"

Aleksandr held up his hand to stop the guards removing the speaker. He sighed. "I know my gesture is small, and it is not perfect." He said quietly, so that those at the back leaned forward to listen. "But I am trying. I am not a rich man, despite my position. And I cannot work against House Harkonnen directly. But I am doing what I can." He sighed again, looking down at the ragged, starving refugees. "I appologise for not informing you of this sooner, but I suspect that Glossu Rabban would not have sold you to me is he had guessed. Fortunately," Aleksandr smiled wryly, "he isn't too bright." This time there were some smiles, and a few shocked gasps. The governor nodded.

"From here you will be taken to a medical facility and treated for any illnesses or injuries that you may have." He announced, as the guards began to lead people away. "From there, you will be taken to Arrakeen. Clothes and food will be provided in the medical building. If any of you wish to search for your kin, we have the coordinates of a cave that they use." As the last refugee was led from the building, Aleksandr turned aside. The aide wandered back.

"That was a noble gesture, sir." He said calmly.

"It was the best I could do." Aleksandr sighed. "I couldn't afford any more. Rabban charges a fortune."

"Aren't you worried that they might take advantage of your generosity?" The aide asked, as the two of them began to head back to the governor's ornithopter.

"That's what it's there for." Aleksandr smirked. "And if the whole thing fails, and they all join their guerilla kinsmen, well... at least I tried."

"That's all you can ever do." The aide said sympathetically. Aleksandr looked over to him, surprised. "What?"

"I just realised," the governor said, "that I don't know your name."

"Oh." The aide looked taken aback. He held out his hand to support Aleksandr as the governor boarded the ornithopter. "It's Aleron."

"Aleron." Aleksandr repeated. "It's a nice name."

"Thank you, sir."

"You know what I like about you, Aleron?" Aleksandr smiled, as the ornithopter began to lift off.

"No, sir." Aleron began to turn red.

"You haven't bowed once."

Buildup of Arsunt: 2%. 7% per post.

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