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Carth prepared for the funerals of the late Duke Trebeis.

"Atilian exterminated Arsunt. Exterminated Arsunt. Arsunt."

The thought obsessed him. The fact that someone payed Ekaterina back with her own coin filled him with joy. On the other hand that was a whole city.

"If we'll start killing each other like fools we'll end up an empty Empire. The universe would be better off without us anyway, I think."

Message in advance to Atilian, Duke Trebeis:

[hide] I just wanted to tell you that the payment has been made for the Suk doctor. I cannot thank you enough for this.[/hide]

On the other hand he kept thinking at Arsunt. Carth had a pleasure to take troubled places or persons and try ( at least) to make them go the right way. He thought Arsunt would have been saved from Ekaterina's domination. But it died. Arsunt died.

"At least Atilian has strength. He will sooner be feared than respected. Maybe that is a good thing for a change. I wish he won't end up like Ekaterina. SHE has to suffer for all that. And I'd like to make her suffer... I'd like to TAKE her... "

Carth's thoughts went on dark thoughs no normal person would normally dare to think. Ashamed by his own weakness, he left the room and embarked for Arrakeen.

"I need to get out of here. I need ... SPACE. Arrakis got too crowded for such a lonely desert planet. I always loved it for its feeling of space and time and freedom. Now it's all gone. I need a new domain..."

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"Have you a plan?" Ekaterina asked impatiently. She drummed her fingers on the hilt of her rapier, the nails clacking noisily.

"I have a route, M'lady." Vail bowed nodded. "My first stop will be Grumman, and from there to Geidi Prime, to Richese. I will change my guise with each stop, and continue via several other systems to reach Arrakis."

"You know how important this is, Vail." Ekaterina emphasised the point with a twitch of her sword hand. "It is vital that you are not discovered while on Arrakis."

"The ship has no markings, and I have arranged to collect a different craft while passing through Kaitan. This is in addition to several other contingency plans." Vail nodded again, its voice showing not the least trace of impatience. "I will probably land in Carthag, posing as a minor CHOAM merchant. This will depend on communications from Orianna."

"Good. Get going then, I will await your return." Ekaterina made a shooing gesture. Vail bowed low, and left the small chamber.

Ekaterina sighed, and turned to leave by another doorway. Entering her audience chamber, she stepped over to the giant windows. They covered one wall of the chamber, allowing her to look down into the slaves pits of Catrione whenever she chose. Glancing downwards, she could make out a one of the foremen whipping someone. So, everything was moving smoothly.

"M'lady?" Alacia's voice intruded from behind.

"Mmm?" Ekaterina half-turned to the central table, where her small council of advisors and bodyguards waited. "Oh, right." She meandered over slowly. "What was it I wanted to discuss?"

"Ah... the Floating Fortresses, M'lady." Alacia reminded her mistress in a worried tone. Ekaterina blinked. "Oh yes, of course. ... What about them?"

"Two of them are still opperational after the Sardaukar attack." Rachael interjected. Setting an emitter on the table, she flicked a switch. A small display lit up, projecting the image of one of the fortresses. "Of the six that the Trebesians originally built, only two are still in working order. Of the remaining four, one is completely irrepairable. The last three are empty and untouched, but nonfunctional. These three were the more dangerous to the invading army, and so were the primary targets. Due to Trebesian manufacture, however, they are still very much salvagable."

"In other words...?" Alonya asked.

"With a bit of work, we will be able to reactivate the fortresses. Perhaps, with sufficient technology, improve them." Rachael stated. "We have the raw materials. What is required is the expertise of Grumman."

"I'll get onto that." Ekaterina waved a hand. "What about attack capabilities?"

"The Trebesian craft are, almost without exception, slow and heavily armoured." Rachael reported. "The plan is to supplement them with lighter, faster Moritani craft. In this way we hope that the larger ships will absorb damage while our own fighters are free to manoeuvre."

"Increased trade has already started with Grumman." Alacia noted. "In exchange for materials, the Viscount is providing... a passable number of ships."

"We need more." Ekaterina said. It was part question, part statement.

"I would like to draw attention to a new program being developed." Aurelien said quietly, from his position near the doors of the room. As the swordmaster spoke so rarely, he was immediately the focus of attention.

"Approximately one third of the Nokkar guard on Athalon has defected." Aurelien stated. "They have been allowed several perks to maintain their loyalty, including first choice of companion-slaves. They still train regularly, and indeed I have attended several Nokkar sessions. Their style is firm, and rigid. They rely on heavy armour and weaponry. I believe that they can be improved, through the training of Grumman swordmasters."

"So not only do you want to re-train the ordinary military, you wish to re-train the elite guard?" Alacia snorted.

"No re-train, merely augment their abilities somewhat." Aurelien corrected quietly. "After all, who knoes what they might have been taught by those talentless wand-waverers of House Ginaz? I can see their meddling in this, even if it has been heavily adapted."

"The swordmaster has a point." Rachael agreed. Her head was twitching slightly, as it did when she calculated figures at the same time as speaking. "Observations of the Nokkar force in battle have shown that greater flexibility and efficiency could be trained into them in the pattern of the Grumman masters. Such training would not take long, given the Nokkar's physical condition. It would take longer with the military, and would not be so... effective." She finished.

"Then do it, do it." Ekaterina shrugged. She wavered slightly on her feet. "It's not like, lik... What?" She looked around at the staring faces. "What?"

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As Carth rushed towards Arrakeen he was still preocupied by the papers that showed a variety of small moons and planets for sale throught the Empire.

One moon in particular has drawn Carth's attention: Gehay, moon over planet Ratah II in the Ratah system, near many trade routes used by the small-time traders such as smugglers. Though the Guild held monopoly over the long-distance travel, there was still activity in between neighboring systems. And this system, though barren was in the very center of it.

The moon had an old Empire outpost that was rendered obsolete and now the Empire was selling it. Not expensive regarding its position. The space it had could be converted to accaomodate about 50.000 people. And the bays could be extended to serve as a real space-port. The planet beneath, thought inhospitable could provide lots of raw materials.

"Gehay has no atmosphere... But it doesen't matter. The only thing I need are ships to get there. And advertisement. I wonder if Atilian could "borrow" me some ships to get there. First things first... after the funeral I'll contact the CHOAM to see to the details. This buissness will take about three quarters of my money... but surely this will pay off."

The convoy went on the road in a column of dust.

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Since the happenings on Arrakis, the Richese had tightened security. This was the work of Averion Richese, prince of Richese and heir to the title of Count. The present Count, Dibitch Richese is getting old, and he is about to die. Soon, Averion will take his place as Count. But Averion has hidden something from his father. Quietly, he has been developing an elite guard, which he has named the Derakan. So far, he has only three, because they have to become Ginaz swordmasters to become a Derakan. They are completly loyal to Averion. The Richesian products rival the Ixian's, although the Ixian's products are thought to be more reliable. The manufacturing facilities are second only to the Ixians, and half of the facilities are for military purposes. They also have a Face Dancer, Feran, who is loyal to Averion.


"So, Father, what do you wish me to do? The ground troops have organised, and the ornithopters have been armed. If there are any people on Corrin, there soon won't be. The engineers say that it will take a couple of days to complete a minor base. What orders?" said Averion. "Advance. The Heighliner is waiting, and we need to set in motion this venture," the Count said, then started coughing. When the coughing had subsided, Averion said "Consider it done." End transmission.


"Deveri, I need Feran to kill my father. He's getting really annoying," said Averion. "I'll get Feran and give it it's orders. Anything else?" "Yes. Once my father is dead, I want our scientists to start research on stealth. See if the generators react with shields. Also, start production of one thousand lasguns, one thousand swords, one hundred 'Havoc' ornithopters and ten thousand napalm bombs. This is all we will be able to produce, correct? . Start recruiting from the population..."


"Who are you? Get out of here! If you don't I will call my guards," the Count said. It was some of the last words that he spoke, as Feran fired a lasgun at him. Quickly, he morphed into a guard. It was already wearng the uniform underneath it's other clothes. Then he walked out. "Well, that was a job well done, it thought."My master will be pleased."


"My lord prince, your father has been killed by an assasin. You are now the Count. We are at your disposal," Flix told Averion. Flix was commander in chief of the Richesian armed forces, and chief of the Verina Guard. "Surely not! Well, I will want a full investigation into his death," Averion said. "Yessir", Flix said. "I will have to replace Flix",Averion thought."He was too devoted to my father. Oh well, that's another job for Feran."Flix walked throught the plasteel doors, and outside towards his office...


"Another job from Averion. At least he's giving me something to do",Feran thought. Flix always worked late, so Feran was not suprised to find his office light on. It formed the shape of Averion, and knocked on the door. "My lord Count! What a pleasure to see you! Come in and take a seat", Flix said. "I won't be long. I have a quick matter to bring up. Please shut the door. This infomation is not for everyone's ears", Feran said. "Of course, of course", Flix said, not suspecting anything. Then he slumped to the floor. Feran had fired a flechette pistol at him. It morphed into the shape of Flix, put on  Flix's uniform and walked out the door.

Richesian Military

Soldiers - 50,000

Derakan - 3

Verina Guardsmen(Ducial Guard) - 750

'Havoc' Ornithopters (Ornithopters armed with lasguns, air to air missiles and napalm bombs) - 300

Ornithopters - 3000

Richesian Military supplies

Shields - 51,000

Swords - 50,000

Vercarias (sword used by the Verina Guard and the Derakan) - 800

High powered lasguns - 51,000

Lasrifles - 1000

Napalm bombs - 30,000

Factories - 58

Lasguns - 12

Swords - 12

Ornithopters - 10

Outside - 14

New Research - 10

Training Centres - 20

Mines - 20

Lasguns(2000) - 10% at 20% per post

Swords(2000) - 10% at 20% per post

Stealth Research - 5% at 5% per post

Napalm bombs(10,000)10%, 10% per post

'Havoc' ornithopters - 10% at 5% per post

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"Your efforts to rescue me are appreciated, but that does not change the situation." The thin, plain man muttered. "I was gifted to a fremen from House Harkonnen. The fremen is dead, protocol demands that I return to my makers."

"We aren't finished with you yet." Orianna replied calmly. She sat against a stone wall, her arms folded casually. Her companion shrugged.

"That is not an issue." He answered. "I will return to Tleilax. You will not prevent me." Orianna raised an eyebrow.

"You are threatening me." She stated, a her expression cold. Evander said nothing, but Orianna noticed the slight shift in stance, the defensive crouch being readied. She frowned, and uttered a series of high-pitched clicks and whistles. The face dancer slumped forward immediately, to all appearences lifeless.

"You have been purchased by Ekaterina Moritani. Your loyalties are to the Lady Ekaterina. You accept this as right and natural. You are not aware of this behaviour modification session." She finished the statement with a slightly different sequence. Evander's eyes snapped open, and he glared about.

"You were saying?" He hissed.

"Vail will be delayed. It is up to you to take his place." Orianna explained. "You will travel to Arrakeen in whatever guise you see fit. Carry no weapons, it is too risky and you don't need them anyway. Not for this mission."

"And the mission is...?" Evander asked, with what Orianna felt was far too much familiarity.

"This." She answered stiffly. "You will make your way to Arrakeen, and attend the funeral of the old Duke..."

* * *

'So this is Richese.' Vail thought to himself. 'Pleasent enough place, I suppose.' He wandered away from the starport, wearing the face of a severe-looking woman. He had dressed himself in rich - but not flashy - clothing, and was now making his way from the starport to find a guard, or something. Someone who could get his message to the Count.

Message for the Richese:

A diplomat representing the Lady Ekaterina Moritani has arrived on Richese, and requests the pleasure of a meeting with his excellency the Count Richese.

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OOC: " Davidu runs around in his room banging his head on all walls thus painting them in BLOOD. That and the fact he is walking in circles. And stalking the thread for a reply. Arghhh! Argh!!! "

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OOC: " Davidu runs around in his room banging his head on all walls thus painting them in BLOOD. That and the fact he is walking in circles. And stalking the thread for a reply. Arghhh! Argh!!! "

Get one in this weekend. Had six hours of homework the first night and it's not getting much better.

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Well, I had planned to wait for Beowulf to respond in order to post the meeting, but it looks like he ain't gonna. He sent me an IM to say that I should post the audience, to which I responded that I needed him to actually let Vail in first. I've only just realised that the very message actually implies that there will be an audience. So I'll get right on it.

"You represent House Moritani?" The man sounded unimpressed, looking down on Vail with a slight sneer on his lips. The face dancer shook his head.

"No, I am a personal envoy from the Lady Ekaterina Moritani of Athalon IV." He corrected. "The Lady wishes to open negotiations with Richese regarding trade and... other issues." He smiled coyly. The female shape he was wearing had been deliberately designed to be seductive, but Vail was prepared to wait and see if this could be accomplished through dialogue.

"I have been authorised to speak on behalf of Count Averion Richese." The man said gruffly, puffing out his chest. "Anything you wish to say to him, you can say to me."

"And you would be?" Vail asked calmly.

"My name is Deveri." The man muttered, clearly uncomfortable with this direct approach from a willowy little female. "And whom do I have the pleasure of addressing?"

"Alacia Vorbid, in the service of my Lady." Vail smiled a cruel smile. Everyone knew Alacia'a name. It was whispered in the same circles as Ekaterina's; generally with even more fear and reverence. The military man seemed unaffected, but he coughed nervously as he tried to speak.

"I- Well, it is my duty to welcome you to Richese, Lady Vorbid." He bowed slightly. Vail curtsied. This seemed to puzzle Deveri. Vail's smile widened.

"Appearences can be decieving." He whispered.

"Ah, yes." Deveri nodded, blinking a trace of sweat from his eyes. "So, Lady Vorbid, what can Richese offer you?"

"Technology, of course." Vail scoffed. "As you will probably be aware by now, the Ixians have abandoned us. Not that they traded with our House much anyway, seeing as there was that whole Atreides, Ecaz mess. But this really couldn't have come at a worse time. My Lady is in the midst of reforming an entire planet, and building a sizable defensive fleet in the process. The Trebesian technology that we are using is... well it was build to function for a very long time, but has little in the way of subtlty or repair options. Apparantly when something ceased to function, their response was to melt it down and build another. We want technology that is... sleeker. Faster, perhaps smaller. And we need increased trade deals from yourselves in order to supplement what we would normally obtain from Ix. Parts, tools, meterials. To a certain degree, weapons. Mirrors..." Vail paused. He turned slightly, showing a long, delicate neck. "This would be worth a great deal, Deveri. We wish supplies for Grumman as well."

"I see." Deveri nodded, trying to keep his eyes away from the woman's chest. "And what does House Moritani offer in return?"

"Primarily, raw materials." Vail said sharply. "Athalon is very rich in minerals, specifically in metals. We supply you with metal, that you turn into products for us, keeping a percentage for your own use." He leaned forward. "We can also offer various incentives from Grumman. Things that might not be found elsewhere. You know the planet specialises in production of ships. The plants can produce several fascinating drugs that I know could be useful. You are welcome to research into them. Then there are the products from Athalon. Coal, Ergol, sapphires. And of course..." He started to whisper, despite the cone of silence in which the two stood. As expected, Deveri leaned in closer. "We can offer the training of the Moritani Swordmasters."

"Moritani?" Deveri scoffed. "House Ginaz-"

"House Ginaz is no more." Vail interrupted. "The family has been poisoned by my Lady's brother. If any further proof was needed of the superiority of Moritani techniques..." He trailed off, raising a delicate eyebrow. Deveri regarded the 'woman' with some hesitation.

"I shall inform my Lord of your words." He bowed.

"We're open to negotiation." Vail smiled, as a servent led him from the room.

Edit: Well, nobody's playing the Ginaz, and they were wiped out in the Dune Encyclopaedia, so I figured, might as well.

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Well, cancel that post this weekend. My cable router isn't sendinge a signal to my desktop or one of the other two laptops. Guy's coming out next weekend, so unless I go and specifically buy/install a ethernet card again (under the presumption that'd even work) then I won't be able to post until next saturday.

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"Well, that didn't go to badly", Deveri thought. "But I wish I could control my own eyes."He stomped out the door of his office and straight into the Special Operations room. Recently, he had been promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the Richesian armed forces, captain of the Verina Guard and commander of the newly created secret police. The soldiers that were on Corrin had built a small outpost near the equator. Everything's fine there,he thought. He then walked into the throne room and told Averion about the offer that had been made by Alacia Vorbid...

Lasguns(2000) - 70% at 20% per post

Swords(2000) - 70% at 20% per post

Stealth Research - 20% at 5% per post

Napalm bombs(10,000)40%, 10% per post

'Havoc' ornithopters - 25% at 5% per post

OOC: Sorry for the short post.

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OOC: Getting bored here...

Copies of messages sent between the Vicsount Hundro Moritani and his sister, the Lady Ekaterina.

Brother dearest,

In reply to your question, my health is improving somewhat. It seems that I have been taking too much of the local fungus in my food, a situation that I have already remedied. The I-meks are performing satisfactorily, but I am hoping that my negotiations with the Richese will improve their efficiency.

Speaking of which, the Ixian embargo will start to bite unless we can secure increased [official censor] aid. I am sure you know this already. However, in order to ensure their services, I have instructed my ambassador to offer Moritani training as a bargaining chip. With the destruction of House Ginaz, which you managed with great subtlty, we have a decided advantage in training. An advantage that I would prefer not to overlook.

In faith, Ekaterina.


I remind you that Grumman is still making a reasonable profit from certain ventures; and that we are not desperate for solaris. You may offer the training of our swordmasters, but I wish to make clear that this is not an unlimited resource. We are still trading with the neutral parties, after all. The Guild is still purchasing parts, and while [official censor] are as enigmatic as ever, they continue to provide their services for a price.

Do not take this as a sign to be complacent, however. The Ixian actions are becoming tiresome. As they are not a Great House, the Ixians are not able to declare Kanly on House Moritani. Even given this, I do not trust their new leader to remain a civilian nuisance. Sooner or later he will have to be put in his place. For now, however, we have greater concerns. How go the negotiations on [official censor]? And the Arrakis matter?

Viscount Hundro Moritani.

Postscript: It pleases me that your condition improves.

Dear Hundro,

The Trebeis are delaying, but I am assured that everything is in place for the Arrakis matter. This delay has in fact been most useful in that it has allowed us extra time to prepare. It is unfortunate that the [official censor] is also delaying, or Vail would already be on Arrakis to oversee the opperation personally. Orianna is a capable agent, however, and has avoided detection for some time.

Regarding the Ixians. I suspect that if they had nobody to support, their embargo would quickly disappear. Do you agree?

Things on Athalon continue to progress at a rapid rate. The Fortresses are still inactive, of course. But the spirit of the population is well and truly crushed. Moritani training has already begun to show some results.

Your sister, Ekaterina.

Lady Ekaterina,

In contrast to your efforts, I can assure you that the population of Grumman have never been happier. In fact, I am informed that crime rates have just fallen yet again. Once again I remind you, our expertise is not a toy to be thrown about and shared with all. Keep this training select.

I plan to petition the Emperor to have the Ixians remove their embargo soon. We shall see how that develops. I will not share details at this time. I leave for Kaitan this moment, and so this is a brief message. Do not forget my prior instructions regarding our brother.

Viscount Hundro Moritani.

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OOC: Ah, if only anyone was playing the Corrino  :P

The sound of activity rang throughout the city center. People milled about and a large structure had been placed in the center of the thourghfare. Soldiers and Ducial Guardsman moved through the crowds, not much attention was paid to their activity.

After a period of waiting, there was a rumble. Striding into view was a column of Soldiers, marching in lock-step. After a moment where all one could see was a seeming wall of men, a break appeared. Being bourne aloft by several Nokkers and Soldiers was the Duke's coffin. 

Making it to the structure, the coffin was slowly placed on the top. A deep silence came upon the on-lookers.

Finally, from atop a balcony over-looking the entire thing. The Duke Atillian Appeared. Wearing the sombre outfit of mourning, he walked to the rail. Clearing his throat, he began to speak. "People of Arrakis. Today, we mourn the loss of a great man."

ooc: Will continue later.

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OOC: What, you think I've got only one plan here? :P

Though he tried to focus on the funeral, on Atilian's speech, Aleksandr was finding it increasingly difficult to tear his mind away from the recurring question of why? Why had the Tleilaxu agent attacked the old Duke? Why hadn't the Tleilaxu's ordinary procedures been followed? Who was responsible? Nobody had claimed responsibility, not even his demented sister...

Aleksandr stood slightly behind Atilian, hands clasped behind his back. He wore a robe of deep green, plain next to the gaudy mourning outfits of the visiting nobles. As Atilian spoke on, Aleksandr tried to forget his persistant questions regarding the Duke's death. The man was dead. Perhaps it didn't matter who or how. House Trebeis had enough enemies arrayed against it as the situation stood. He looked out at the crowds of mourners, those on the ground and those on the balconies of various other buildings. His eyes drifting across the various representatives, Aleksandr let Atilian's message float through him as he examined the people before him. Faceless at this distance, most of them wore green in some form. Dark green, vivid green, bright green, even the occasional Emerald green. The colour of mourning. He wondered how many of these people had cared when House Trebeis had been forced from Athalon IV, how many of them would risk their own position to regain the old planet for the dead Duke's family. Few to none, he suspected.

Working with Arrakeen's finances and businessmen, Aleksandr was surprised to find that one balcony overlooking the ceremony was empty. He knew that the owners of the various buildings would have charged highly for such a prime spot, though not too high as, after all, there was competition to consider. And yet this one was unoccupied, by people at least. In the centre of the space was a man-sized deivce that glinted in the sunlight. Aleksandr recognised it as a projector/recorder of Ixian manufacture. He feld a slight twinge of disquiet. What kind of person would wish to record a funeral for later viewing? Or perhaps, he thought, a noble from another fief could not be on Arrakis in person, but wished to witness the funeral. But in that case, why were there no other representatives? As if on cue, his worries concerns were put aside at the appearence of a short woman on the balcony. She wore a plain brown robe, and appeared to adjust the machine. A light blinked.

"People of Arrakis!" The voice boomed forth, shaking the looser stonework and causing many to shout in pain and surprise. Aleksandr cringed at the assault to his ears, and looked aside to check Atilian's voice magnifiers. They were still set as normal, but even as he looked back Aleksandr realised that Atilian had stopped talking, and the voice had not been his...

"People of Arrakis, do not be duped!" The voice went on. The people in the square were milling about in confusion. The Nokkars were already arrayed protectively about the coffin of their former leader.

"What is going on?" Atilian hissed to one of his bodyguards. The man shrugged, and indicated that it might be wise to retreat from the balcony. A bright flash of light interrupted the movement, causing the guard to blink in pain. A large movement pulled Aleksandr's gaze out away from the balcony on which he stood. The wall of the New Arrakeen Hotel was filled with movement. The wall, covered with a thin veneer of bright white stone, had been covered with a huge projection. The old Duke Trebeis looked down on the confused people, his expression stern.

"You know me, you know I would not forsake you, my people." The Duke's image spoke with military crispness, but with an edge of sympathy.

"What is this?" Atilian shouted, fury rising in his voice even as the projection continued.

"- have always believe in me, and I in turn believe and trust in you. But I was betrayed!" Watching the imagine in fascination, Aleksandr couldn't help noticing the tiny things that were wrong with the image. The Duke's uniform was accurate in every respect, but his hair was too thick. His cheeks were too full, his manner too vigorous. In short, the Duke looked younger than Aleksandr had ever known him, though the details would never be noticed by most people. Atilian was shouting something, while others who had noticed the projector were informing the Nokkars.

"The rumours of my death are nothing more than a conspiracy! In truth, there was an attempt upon my life, but it was made by my own flesh and blood, my own son!"

"What?" Atilian bellowed.

"Aye, my son! I realised long before-" Atilian seethed, even as the Nokkar beside him drew his attention over to the projector. "-treachery. When I refused to succumb to chaumurky, he resorted to other means, bartering with the dirty Tleilaxu." The image spat. "Unable to kill me himself, he has had me kept in a weakened state, slowly having poison administered through my skin until I was barely able to move."

"Someone end this fabrication, this mockery!" Atilian shouted furiously, but he was drowned out by the relentless image.

"I am alive, good people, while my turncoat son sits in my place! But do not fear. His time will soon come to an end when he is killed by his accomplice, the Harkonnen usurper!" At this Aleksandr felt a sick feeling rise in his stomach. The image opened its mouth to shout more, but at that moment two Nokkar guards ran out onto the balcony, deactivating the projector. The image vanished. Aleksandr fancied he could hear its voice still ringing in his ears. He looked over the balcony.

The people below were murmuring amongst theselves, glancing up at the wall where the old Duke's visage had been. A few of them were glaring suspiciously up at the balcony where he and Atilian stood. The Duke, for his part, was shaking with rage. Aleksandr leaned in over his shoulder.

"With all respect for your fury, Atilian, any suspicious behaviour now would only fuel conspiracy theories." He whispered. "It's up to you to win them back. They won't listen to me, and in a few moments the oppertunity will be lost." He withdrew, worry creasing his brow. Atilian stood, sword in hand, facing his people.

'Well drat.' Aleksandr thought.

* * *

'A complete success.' Evander thought to himself. The face dancer took little pride in the matter. After all, it was just a job. An unimportant job, compared to the ones to come, but it was perhaps the most impressive. Evander hobbled down a narrow alley, wearing the shape of an ancient old man. He would return to his quarters, change his clothes, and then burn the brown robe that he currently wore. The uniform he had used to impersonate the Duke, as well as the pictures and recordings that the face dancer had copied, were all waiting there as well. They too would be burned. Though the guards at the city gates had accepted the items as fitting for a 'worshipper' of the old Duke, Evander did not want them linking the fan with the projector.

Still, he had to move quickly. If Vail was unable to reach Arrakis on time, Evander was to carry out the entire remainder of the plan. It was a daunting task, as Evander knew himself to be inferior to Vail. Still, first things first. He had to report to Orianna, and then find new quarters.

* * *

Vail stood motionless in his chamber, scanning for unwanted observers. Locating two methods of spying on him, he walked into the room without shifting from the delicate female build he wore. It was just a matter of time...

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Carth was in the Plaza at the moment of the "appearance".

The hologram was surely a fake as he personnaly knew the Duke and the circumstances around his death, as well as he knew Atilian. Atilian would have never done that.

But the people around started to talk.

- Do you believe a hologram? If the Duke would have been alive he would have come forth and expose the traiters himself. shouted Carth to the people around while the Nokkars were dismateling the projector.

- Why are you so sure? Do you know the Trebeis? Do you know how they are? They may be like the Harkonnen, only more subtle. shouted a man.

- I knew the Duke, and I know Atilian, and I know Alexandr. I founght besides them. A treachery would be impossible. This surely is the work of Ekaterina.

People started to gather around Carth. Some of them saw the truth of his words... some were still shaken by the phantomatic appearance.

After a short wile Atilian appeared and took over the crowd.

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I've noticed that no one is playing the Emperor, so I decided I might play that part. if you lot allow me to play the part of Emperor, that is. Anyway, I'm abandoning that little group I started forming. 'K. here goes nothing. :)

Shaddam Corrino stalked his throne room on Kaitan,thinking,formulating a plan, while a group of Sardaukar guarded all possible entrances. He knew he was in a dangerous position.Very dangerous. An advisor came scuttling in, like some bug. Shaddam hated the man, yet kept him for his frankly astounding political knowledge and contacts.

"Mi'lord," the advisor started in a whiny voice. "I advise you to ally with someone. We can not keep this foolishness up for long!Sooner or later one of the Houses involved in this affair will make an open move on us! Be it the Atreides, Trebeis, or -"

The Emperor turned around, face beet-red, an gripped the advisor by the neck. The man started choking.

"Listen to me very carefully, fool," the Emperor said, his voice calm, but eyes aflame.

"I want you to think! Just because of the fact that we could issue an apology to the Atreides stating that we helped the Harkonnen only because House Atreides was becoming a military threat to us, you think they'll ally with us? No, fool! It goes deeper than that! If you haven't noticed yet, Leto was the current Atreides' Duke's FATHER! It is a personal insult. Trebeis are no doubt seething at us because we gave over their homeoworld to the Moritani. Who is left that we can ally with? Moritani? Harkonnen? By the gods, no! Who do you think will trust those two after Arrakis? Who?! Nobody! The only thing that can be done now is a formal and informal apology to House Atreides and Paul Atreides. They will still hate us, no doubt, but that is a place to start. I don't want you to even suggest an alliance with Harkonnen or Moritani. Understand?!"

With a start, Shaddam realized that the man was unconcsious. He let him drop to the floor and called for him to be taken away.He then sat down at his desk and started composing a letter, written by hand on paper. It was addressed to the Duke of House Atreides.

Duke Atreides,

I feel I have not earned the right to call you by your first name, so I shall use you proper title instead.I am truly sorry that you father had to die. It was not even his battle. The Atreides had been growing in power militarily for a long time, and it was unfortunate that your father was Duke  at that time. I just wish that you know I never had anytihng against your father or you. However, you have every right to hate me, and I cannot stop you from doing so. So I am issuing an informal apology to you, because I feel that a formal one would be too...stiff,lifeless! However, do not think that I shall be cowed into submitting to your requests. For now, I have decided not to take sides, as that could prove fatal to me politically and, perhaps, physically.


Shaddam Corrino

Shaddam looked it over twice.He was satisfied with the result. It was sincere, but firm in confirming he still held influence. With another quick look to summoned a messenger and sent it off. Now to await the reply...   

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"My liege, Padishah Emperor Shaddam the fourth of the known universe; your most loyal servent pleads that you accept this petition, on behalf of Recognised House Moritani, of the Landsraad." The Viscount Moritani bowed low, his head almost touching his knees. In his hand he held a roll of Grumman papyrus, bound in crimson ribbon and sealed with white wax.

The Emperor, sitting in full regalia on his throne, gestured to a court official to retrieve the petition. The man did so, bringing it to the Emperor and bowing equally as low as he unsealed the message, and presented it to his master. Taking the scroll, Shaddam cast his eye over the flowing script.

Your royal highness, Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV.

I do most humbly beg of your royal person, to entreat the Ixians to remove their embargo against my house and my people. It is most unbefitting of such a party to take a stand against a noble House such as mine, and unfair toward the people of Grumman. I request no special treatment, only equality with my fellows in the Landsraad council. Your noble majesty, the fate of my house and my people are in your hands.

I have the honour, sir, of being your most humble and obedient servent.

Viscount Hundro Moritani.

The Emperor glanced up. The Viscount was standing almost upright, keeping his head bowed in deference to the royal presence.

"Your petition will be considered, Viscount." The Emperor stated formally. "Return tomorrow, and you shall have an answer."

"Your highness is most gracious." The Viscount replied, bowing once more. He stepped aside as the next petitioner moved forward, retreating into the crowd of nobles clustered about the throne.

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OOC: I'm starting to think Paul won't forgive me. Time for a change of plans. :D

After the petitioners had left for the day, Shaddam sat down on his throne with a grunt and lounged, fingers on chin and eyes staring thoughtfully into space. The words the political advisor had spoken had sunken in and gotten to him.

On one hand, I could try to make peace with the Atreides. But where would that leave me? Even if they accept my proposal, the last thing the Atreides would do is ally with me, after I killed their Duke. A truce, perhaps, but no alliance. The Trebeis are baying for my blood, and nothing will come out between me and them.

Unconciouosly, Shaddam frowned.

The only ones who I haven't damaged or weakened are Moritani and Richese and Harkonnen...But I mustn't! It was then that Shaddam's scheming mind kicked in.

But what other choice do I have? The Atreides are probably scheming against me with the Trebeis and Ixians. If I can gather enough strength and ally myself with the Moritani and Harkonnen, I can crush the Atreides and Trebeis so hard that they will never be able to recuperate. A full-scale invasion of Caladan, with my Sardaukar and the troops of Harkonnen and Moritani... Shaddam realised he was wandering.

He got up and walked over to his desk, where he started composing a letter in his long,neat script...


Viscount Hundro Moritani,

I have considered your petition, and have accepted it. I will do as much as in my power now to have the Ixians lift the embargo on your House and it's allies.


Padishah Emperor IV,Shaddam Corrino[/hide]

He sealed it and stamped it with the seal of the Emperor himself, and gestured for it to be sent off. An aide, bowing, retrieved the letter and retreated. Shaddam reached for another piece of paper an started on another letter, this one to the Ixians.


To whom it may concern:

I, Padishah Emperor IV, Shaddam Corrino, declare that in name of free trade and equality within the Landsraad, hereby command that the Embargo on House Moritani and it's associates be lifted. I remind you that even if I am weakened somewhat politically, I still have at my commands many legions of Sardaukar. If you lift the embargo quietly and without fuss, I am at a loss where to find some weapons. Perhaps I could offer to buy some weapons contracts from you in exchange for the lifting of the embargo?


Padishah Emperor IV,Shaddam Corrino[/hide]

He finished off the second one and sent it off. Now for the wait.

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OOC: Ah, Commanding the Ixians. This will end well.  ;)

Atillian shook with rage. Carth could be seen at ground level with a crowd of people around him. The Ducial Guardsman still surrounded the coffin of the old Duke; Bristling with weapons and Aleksandr had come forward, placing a restraining hand on Atillian's shoulder. He shrugged and sheathing his sword, cleared his throat into his receiver. The masses quitted until the the area was filled with a deafening silence. At last The Duke spoke. "Citizens of Arrakis hear me!" looking down and adjusting his belt, he continued "What you have seen was nothing but a terrible attempt to destroy everything that I, all of you and my father worked so hard to create here on Arrakis. I do not doubt that your faith in me has been shaken, but I know that you all know in your hearts, that what you heard was lies. I loved my father more than life itself; a part of me died the day he succumbed to his injuries." The crowds shifted and moved, they believed what he said, the truth. Once more continuing, Atillian said "I know that what has happened have thrown things off plan, however we must finish honoring the memory of my father. This ceremony must be finished." He nodded to the Nokker Guardsman who began clearing people away from the structure. A single Ducial Guardsman walked to within twenty paces of the Pyre. Lifting a single arrow, he lit the end on fire and proceeded to set it in his bow. Having lined up the shot, he closed his eyes and loosed the arrow, it flew into the Pyre. The structure almost instantly was engulfed in flames. Atillian slowly turned and left the balcony. It appeared no one noticed the internal struggle that overcame him. He fought the tears until he made the privacy of his office.

Hobbling along the alleyway, Evander thought himself secure. He was mistaken; as he exited the back-street a pair of soldiers noticed him immediately. They exchanged a look and confronted the Face dancer. "Excuse me" one of the uniformed men said "What exactly re you doing here? Everyone is at the funeral." Pausing, the Tlelaxu replied "I am old, I need my rest. I've been on my feet for hours." The Second soldier cocked an eyebrow and asked suspiciously "You would not have happened to visit any balconies, would you?" Shaking his head, Evander said "No sir, I was among those on ground level." The first soldier, who was obviously a native, asked quickly "You dress and act like an old-one of Arrakis and yet, you speak like an off-worlder. Explain!" Evander grew uneasy, he was sure he was caught, but he was prepared. Adopting a look of seriousness, he replied "Ey, I am not originally of Arrakis. I came here as a small child with my family. Unfortunately my parents were killed by a band of Freman. I have been here since but have never adopted the way of speaking." The men were satisfied with this answer and waved the Face-dancer on. He Sighed and thought I made it. He made it twenty yards before he heard rushed talking behind him. The Soldier's com-unit crackled. He only heard one word, but it was enough. "Face-Dancer". He quickened his pace but quickly heard the snapping noise of a shield being activate, the clicking noise made by an Automatic Projectile-Rifle being cocked, the drawing of a sword and then, booted foot-steps. He knew he was caught. Dropping his disguise, he spun around and leapt at the men. He was however, unarmed. Still, he was trained in hand-to-hand combat. He fell upon the first man, the off-world Trebesian without his shield activated, and with a quick chopping motion, crushed the Trebesian's throat. Grabbing the Soldier's Rifle, he quickly fired at the second. The rounds simply ricochet of the man's shield. One caught the Tlelaxu in the shoulder. He however was not fazed and swung the Rifle at the Native Trebesian. The Soldier deftly parried away the rifle's Bayonet and front-kicked the Face-dancer in the chest. Struggling for breath and suffering from two or three newly-shattered ribs, the Tlelaxu fell to the ground and scrambled backward. The Soldier advanced on the Beleaguered Evander. Desperately, Evander kicked at the man, it was futile. The Native Trebesian slowly pressed down on the Face-dancer. Pinning him and said "You are responsible for desecrating the memorial of my Duke. That man was the best thing to happen to me and the rest of this planet."Evander coughed and said "I did nothing of the sort, I am here on a diplomatic mission from-"

"Quiet! You will pay Tlelaxu." Smiling, the man shifted his weight so that he could continue pinning Evander and regain use of his arms. Drawing his sword, he said "This is for my Comrade" and nodding to the dead Trebesian, Hacked the Face-dancer's arms off. Evander did not scream. "This is for the reputation of the Duke Atillian." And hacked Evander's legs off. Finally, he stood and looking down at the bleeding mess that was Evander, smiled and said "Now, I am finished with you. However, I believe there are several Ducial guardsmen on their way that will not be able to contain themselves at the thought of getting you into an "Information-Extraction" facility. I'm sure you will love it too. Evander glared up at the Trebesian and slowly smiled as well, the suddenly bit down, hard. His face contorted as his false tooth emitted a toxic gas. He inhaled, convulsed once or twice and died.

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