House Atreides: From Water To Sand

006 - Even Bigger Close Up

The Atreides spies are quickly finding their place amongst the harvester crew.

Ialis has made a place for himself as the co-pilot to the crew's main carryall pilot – an older man with only one eye.  Not the best choice for a pilot – a man without depth perception – but they've gotten by so far.

Livia continues to ply her trade as a patch, keeping the crew as healthy as she is able with her meager supplies.  One of her patients – one of the Fremen – wounds his hand badly enough that Livia uses some extra supplies to take care of it.  In thanks, he holds her head steady as he gives her some water from the drinking tube of his stillsuit as payment.

Gest tries his hand in the harvester's main control room and even tries to steer the harvester.  It wasn't a great run, but the others let him know that he'll come along and that more training and experience are in his future.

Ianto works the separation matrix, separating the sand from spice as it flows through, standing across from a grizzled harvesting veteran.  He comes along well to the point that the veteran remarks at it and even relaxes enough for some good-natured banter.

It isn't too far into the day that Ialis sees worm-sign from his perch high up in the sky in the carryall.  Swooping down toward the harvester, the main pilot lets him take the yoke and pick up the rest of the crew.  Ialis comes in a little hard – not bad, but it is enough to break one of the supports on the harvester that helps the carryall latch on.

The worm gets closer and closer – dangerously so.  This is the closest that the crew has ever come to an incoming sandworm.

Ialis makes another run at the harvester and is able to lift it up.  Higher and higher it goes, the sound of the breaching sandworm far too close for comfort.  The harvester is safe, but they lost some spice production and almost a harvester. 

Getting back to the barracks, Ialis treats the entire crew to drinks at the local watering hole using his bonus from spotting the worm-sign.  It's a good excuse to get the entire team of spies together to take in the goings on at the pub.  The same officer that Livia had encountered in the patchs' area is there again and the bartender lets the others know that this man is not one to be trifled with.

Each of the team members brings the data that they have found to Gest who conducts a Mentat calculation.  The result?  Someone is purposefully impeding spice harvesting on Arrakis – someone in the Harkonnen hierarchy, perhaps in an effort to disenfranchise Rabban, the current governor.  Supplies, backup, and manpower are not being sent in a fashion that would restore efficient harvesting and it is being done in a calculated fashion.

005 - Spying and Spice

In this episode, the team gets their first taste of real sand-work, taking up their places in a spice-harvester's crew.  They also get a chance to gather some intelligence.

In the harvester, the real work begins.  Ialis and Ianto Gest start by working on various machinery and miniature cranes, while Livia works as a patch for the crew and Gest serves as the record keeper.  The work is hard, HOT, and draining.  A couple of the crew are identified as actual Fremen, but they stick to themselves and aren't very talkative.

Back at camp, each member of the group puts their feelers out for intel.

Ianto finds his way into the shadows, then the ventilation ducts, of the camp's main administration building.  On his recon he discovers a woman in a torn and soiled dress being held as a captive in one of the rooms there by several security guards and a Harkonnen officer.  He is able to find out by eavesdropping that her name is Wanna Marcus.  He is able to signal her that he is there without alerting the guards inside the room, before heading out of the duct-work.

Gest, meanwhile, gets a look at the accounting section of the main administration building.  Mentats are taking in the data on the log-books as they're presented to them from a long line of harvester record-keepers.  Gest, looking at one of his fellow keeper's logs, calculates that he is skimming spice from the Harkonnens and subtly lets him know that they will see this.  The man skulks away, his future unknown.

Ialis does more research at the local pub, seeing which Harkonnen officers and other officials come and go, gaining more useful information from the bartender again.  Who they are, what they drink, what they do, who they interact with.

Livia takes a patient at the patchs' tent on the compound – a young woman who was skewered through the arm while working on a harvester.  Not an out of the ordinary event, but she was brought there by an overly-concerned Harkonnen officer.  She obviously meant a lot to him.  Livia tended to her wounds, though keeping a portion of the supplies to herself to store as an emergency bundle, should the team need it.  She takes note of the officer before heading back to the barracks.

004 - Training To Sand

The heroes are invited to a dinner with the Atreides family, just them and the team alone in the main dining hall.  The feast is sumptuous and praise is lavished on Livia, Ialis, Gest, and Ianto for their heroic deeds before and after the attack on House Bezas.

But there is no rest for these loyal retainers.  Immediately, Duke Leto offers them another mission – intelligence gathering on Arrakis.  The agents who had been sent there by Hawat have ceased reporting back and something is afoot.  There is always something afoot on the planet known as Dune.

The group accepts and their training begins immediately using mock ups of desert life on Caladan.  Desert survival, doing the work of a spice harvester, and more are drilled into their heads for the mission ahead.  At one point, Livia even takes refuge in the mocked up maw of a dead sandworm.  By the end of the month's training, all are drained, tired, and all the better for their new knowledge.

The team leaves for Arrakis under the guise of a husband and wife seeking work for themselves and their family.

Once on Arrakis, Ianto and Livia speak to the main spice harvester employer – a Harkonnen officer – and secure work for the group.  Work can begin almost immediately.  They are issued basic gear, to include an improved version of the standard stillsuits issued to workers (thanks to Livia's shrewd negotiations).

Living in the harvesters' barracks, they quickly find out that the former Atreides spies were killed in their sleep in those same barracks.

Getting the lay of the land, each member of the team scouts out their own areas of the camp to dig into.  Ialis goes to the outskirts of the camp to the pleasure centers, where he interacts with a few characters, most notably the main bartender.  Gest gets an idea of what is going on in the main section of the administrative building on the grounds.  Ianto seeks to scout out the admin building.  And Livia plies her trade as a "patch" – an EMT type of job within both the working harvester and the camp.

003 - The Fate of Bezas

At the start of this episode, Gest communicates with Thufir Hawat back at Castle Caladan using a predetermined code to give him the information in simple-sounding conversation.  Instead of the update on trade, the younger mentat communicates the likely upcoming attack on the Atreides.

Hawat's orders are to secure young Paul, gather information as the group is able, then secure the thopter pad.

Ialis Palon arranges a private meeting with Baronet Aaklys to get an idea of his part in this plot.  Ianto blends in with the servants in the background in order to eavesdrop on the head merchant, Johann, as he entertains several courtiers in the main courtyard.  Meanwhile, Gest begins quietly gathering up Atreides guards.

Ianto finds that Johann is definitely making friends with just the right people.  And he definitely has the eye and attention of Lady Nneka Bezas.  He brings this information and more back to Livia.  Armed with that information, she has Ianto bring an audience request to Johann, which he accepts.  Ianto's role there complete, he goes to help round up any Atreides at the keep with Gest.

Ialis has his meeting with the Baronet, Aaklys showing off his antique Orange Catholic Bible to the other noble, then sitting down for some wine as they speak of things intellectual and noble.  Ialis sees that, while he may be the head of House Minor Bezas, that he does not appear to be part of this conspiracy and, indeed, is ignorant of it.

Livia meets with Johann in a private meeting room just off of the courtyard.  After going back and forth, Livia lets the merchant know that she feels underutilized with the Atreides and would be interested in other employment.  He takes the bait, negotiating terms with her.  Talks end when there is the sound of fighting outside.

Ialis is finishing his meeting with the Baronet when suddenly he begins to act strangely, eventually collapsing and frothing at the mouth.  The wine!  The effect hits the Captain of the Guard as well, but he fights off the effects as he makes way for the young master's room.  If this has begun, the heir must be protected!  He makes his way to the rooms, meeting up with Gest on the way, who helps him get down the hallway.

The duo enter Paul's room just in time to see him fighting one of the "merchants" armed with two blades.  The boy must have just gotten out of the bath – he is dripping wet, wearing only a pair of workout shorts…and no shield belt.

Gest puts himself in-between the youth and the attacker, defending the boy but getting stabbed in the stomach for his troubles.  He falls to the ground, still between the two in order to act as a barrier as best he can.  Ialis, still in pain from the poison, steps in and is able to put the merchant off-balance and get his blade past the man's shield, up into the underside of his chin and into the brain.  They then barricade themselves in the room for the moment for reinforcements to arrive.

Ianto is walking down one of the corridors with several Atreides guards when Illyana walks by in the opposite direction.  With Ianto at the rear of the formation with the guards, the woman surreptitiously takes hold of the servant's arm, towing him out of the Atreides group.  Ianto moves his other hand into her shield, as if to gently take her arm.  The woman feels only the prick of the poison-ring on her arm and a supreme sense of betrayal before she falls to the ground in a dead heap.

After only a short wait, there is a banging at the door to Paul's quarters – Atreides reinforcements who give the correct counter-sign to Gest's challenge.  They move the group out of the room and begin securing other areas of the keep.

Livia, meanwhile allows herself to be led away by Johann, claiming his new-found "prize."  He pulls her along as they near the thopter pad when she gets his range just right and says, using The Voice, "I'm happy to come with you – no need to use force."  The words have their effect and he lets go of her, walking beside her toward a waiting thopter instead.

Ianto, the servant-assassin, has, unbeknownst to Johann and the thopter's passenger, subdued the pilot and thrown him out of the vehicle, strapping himself into the pilot's seat.  He makes himself visible to Livia, who is now nearing the thopter with Johann beside her.  The only passenger in the thopter is Lady Nneka.  As they near, the Bene Gesserit again uses her bewitching power.  "With my help, you have no need of any other partner to steal profit."  The man's mind puts things together in such a way that Nneka is no longer a necessary part of the equation and he enters the cabin of the thopter and puts a knife through her heart.  After doing so, he is left bewildered at what he has just done.

Livia enters the vehicle just as Paul, Ialis, and Gest Paris arrive, ready to be extracted.  After a quick debate, they decide that Johann is worth taking alive.

As the thopter lifts off, the camera pans back to show the landing area and the field leading up to the keep.  Forces wearing the Atreides green and black are quickly taking the area with mercenaries disguised as merchants lying dead in their wake.  

The fate of House Minor Bezas is inevitable – it has fallen.

002 - Bezas: Friend or Foe?

The episode begins with the entrance of a new character – Gest Paris, Mentat of House Atreides.  He enters the quarters of Ialis Palon, where the rest of the team has gathered.  He brings with him orders and new information from Thufir Hawat.  The group is to be certain the young Paul is protected, while at the same time gathering more data and investigating the goings on in the vicinity of the Bezas keep.

Ianto and Paris form one team, while the Baronet and Livia form the other.

The soldier and Bene Gesserit send a missive to the head of the House – Baronet Aaklys to arrange a meeting.  Aaklys, well-known for his pleasure in hob-nobbing with other nobility accepts the offer soon thereafter, inviting the pair to join the Baronet and his sister, the Lady Nneka, for dinner.

The assassin and mentat decide to investigate one of the nearby merchant warehouses, carrying with them notarized pundi rice certificates for trade.  Being chauffeured in a ground car to the nearest warehouse, they were greeted by Petr and his assistant Illyana.  While Petr took Gest inside the warehouse, Illyana took the servant Ianto for a walk around the warehouse to inspect it.  While Gest did his best to confuse the merchants' young mentat into making a mistake, Ianto was being flirted with outside.  Once brought inside to join the mentat, Ianto noted that the inside was smaller than it should have been, given the circumference of the warehouse as a whole.  Meanwhile, Gest had deduced several discrepancies and figures that just didn't add up well for profit.

Back at the keep, dinner was going well.  Ialis was seated to the honored right of Paul, at the young master's request, while Livia was seated across from him and two seats down from the Lady, who she watched with all of her powers of observation.

While Baronet Aaklys was happy to speak of matters noble and intellectual, the Lady Nneka was exceedingly bored and irritated at her dining company, with the exception of the lead merchant for whom she showed obvious fondness.

Meanwhile, at the warehouse, Ianto was being heartily flirted with by Illyana who even offered to buy up his contract with the Atreides to serve as her own personal servant and traveling companion, as she was coming into some very good money.  Gest had determined that the numbers just didn't add up, but needed more data yet.  Regardless, the pundi certificates were spent on trade during the meeting.  As they were leaving, Illyana pushed an item surreptitiously into Ianto's hand before bidding the duo farewell.  The item turned out to be a solari coin with a small note through the hole in the center of it – "Make your decision before tomorrow night."  With that, they headed back to the keep.

After dinner, Livia continued watching the goings on at the small party after dinner.  Ialis spoke at length with the other baronet about things great and small, standing next to the young master as he did so.  As he was backing away from the conversation, he bumped into the lead merchant.  The merchant, instead of stumbling back as a person without training might have done, instead put a hand up in a guard, his other hand toward a knife that wasn't there, and moved in a circular motion to avoid the accidental contact instead.  Ialis, taking the movements as a possible attack on the young master, grabbed the man's arm, swept his legs, and pressed him to the ground and held him there.  The room went silent at the display.  The merchant simply apologized and thanked the other for the interesting display.  The short party went back to normal after that.

Afterwards, the four met up in Ialis' quarters again to discuss their findings.  Gest still needed more data, so the others went about getting just that for him.  Livia did some research into the House Minor Bezas and found some bad blood between themselves and House Atreides that would explain some of the Lady Nneka's attitudes toward her guests.  Ianto took note of the various guards and "servants" through the house, some of which were serving as spies.  Ialis spent more time with the Baronet Bezas.

The data, when computed by Gest, came to one conclusion – an attack on House Atreides by the Bezas was imminent.

001: The Beginning of Intrigue

In the first scene of this session, we see flashbacks of our protagonists doing what they do best…

Ianto, the House Atreides assassin who works under the cover of a dedicated servant.  Having stealthed his way onto a Harkonnen highliner, he makes his way to his target's room – a diplomat who had been entertaining a lady in his personal cabin.

The diplomat and his companion are exhausted and asleep as the assassin enters.  As the Harkonnen awakes, he swipes at Ianto, knocking the serving tray from the man's hands, then immediately demands more wine.  Ianto hands him a glass of wine, allowing grains of a delayed-effect poison to drop into it as he does so.  The diplomat gulps down the wine and angrily dismisses the servant.

As the passengers of the highliner are shuttled down to the planet's surface and depart for their destinations, Ianto slips into the crowd and disappears – just another traveler amongst the multitudes.

We meet Livia – a Bene Gesserit sister who is well-versed in the art of negotiation.  She is seated in one of the conference rooms in Caladan's main spaceport, seated across from two Guild representatives.

The representative on her left is one that she has had many dealings with and remains seated at the table, while the one on the right is new to her and is standing in his best attempt to loom over her as he tells her exactly what new tariffs and charges will be on the latest pundi rice shipment.

The cold, emotionless look to her features belays how very little the man is intimidating her.  With only a look long enough to nearly register disdain for the standing man, she turns to the other representative and reminds him of the agreement that they had struck the day before at a dinner at Castle Caladan itself.  To break this deal and impose these new costs would mean that future deals would sour and that the Guild would be sorry for the loss of their profits in transporting those items.

The seated representative stands, pats the other man on the shoulder, explains that he didn't know with whom he was dealing when he tried this tactic, and notes that the former deal will stand.  And with a bow from the more wise of the two Guildsmen, they leave.

Enter Ialis Palon – captain of the military garrison at Castle Caladan.  On a Harkonnen raid years ago, we find him knee-deep in the mud of a swamp on Giedi Prime as part of an attacking force that had been dropped in crushers not long before.  He finds himself alone and falling down face-first in the muck, his eyes only inches away from the boot of a Harkonnen soldier.

Instead of trying to right himself, he instead evens the odds by grabbing the enemy's leg and upending them, slamming the soldier on his back into the mud.  After a brief struggle on the ground, shield repelling shield, Ialis' blade strikes home driving into the Harkonnen's throat.  Covered in blood and muck, the Atreides soldier stands and begins advancing again.  As the camera pans back, we see the greater part of the battlefield – Atreides and Harkonnen lines advancing on one another through the swamp.  The battle has only begun!

Move now to present day – the year 10,188 AG.  House Atreides occupies Castle Caladan and rules over the planet Caladan, as it has for many generations.

Our intrepid protagonists have been chosen by Duke Leto himself to enter into the inner circle of the House and take on duties integral to the prosperity and survival of the House as a whole.

Initially invited to a dinner at the Atreides table, instead first Ianto then Livia are gathered up by the Duke himself and escorted up to the castle's thopter pad.  Ialis is soon brought up, having been alerted the the Duke's command by one of his men.

As the three sit in the thopter with Leto, as he hands Livia a sheath of papers in a thick folder.  These are documents and notes related to a mentat calculation by Thufir Hawat.  Presently the calculation hangs in a balance between two possible outcomes – either a trade consortium is following a mentat plan of their own to profit off of Caladan's pundi rice or it is the preamble to an invasion, possibly by the vile Harkonnen.  The former is completely acceptable and is in fact beneficial to Atreides trade, while the latter is obviously a threat to the House.

Seemingly independent traders are taking up residence on Caladan, opening warehouses and trade stations throughout the province in which House Minor Bezas calls home.  They are bringing in more cargo than they are shipping off-world and some of the cargo has a confidential tariff on it, according to Atreides spies – tariffs that could either represent exotic goods for trade or military hardware.  One of the merchants is spending quite a bit of time in the Bezas court, raising some eyebrows.  And that the price of pundi rice has gone down is either a sign that requires suspicion or that the merchants are actually a consortium playing the long game on the pundi market.

Oh, and the Duke's son Paul is presently spending time with the Bezas as a guest.

The trio will be flown to the Bezas estate and will pose as tutors to the Atreides boy, since he will be staying there for some time – a move which will help to not arouse suspicion.  If Paul is there with the Duke's consent, one might assume that he trusts in the boy's safety and suspects nothing.

The group's orders are first to secure his son, who is presently in the care of several bodyguards, then to gather data for Hawat to analyze and to figure out what is truly going on with the merchants.

After being greeted at their destination's thopter pad by a single Bezas representative, they are escorted in to the grounds to see Paul.  Along the route from pad to estate entrance, topiary on either size had been trimmed into the shapes of hawks and boars (boars being the symbol of House Minor Bezas).  Ianto observed several areas along the way that could be used for sniping or ambush-style attacks – prudent for an arrival area.

Upon entering the hallway in the guest quarters area of the estate, two armed guards could be seen standing outside of one door – that belonging to the ducal heir.  The group is admitted to the room, Ialis leading the way.  The guards lower their hands from their weapons a little too quickly as he enters, something that is noted by several present.  Too trustworthy, those guards.

Paul, having just finished bathing after a workout, came out from the bathing area wearing compression shorts and drying off with a towel as he greets the new arrivals.

The young man recognizes the tutors and servant from the castle and lets them know that he would be available for instruction soon.

The trio is shown to their rooms – Livia in her own room and Ianto occupying a cot inside of Palon's room, both next door to the heir.

Both Livia and Ianto make quick work of inspecting their rooms for nefarious devices.  while Livia finds a spot where a listening device had been, Ianto (after stopping Palon mid-sentence from blowing his cover as an assassin) manages to find a deactivated monitoring device under one of the tables fixed to the wall.

After that, each member of the team attends to a different task.

Ialis Palon gives Paul some instruction in combat.  When he asks Palon why he should be worried about an enemy who wears no shield, the Baronet simply states that, "Sometimes you won't have your shield," and deactivates his own as he attacks the boy.  After putting the young man off balance and wedging his knife-arm to one side, he manages to get past Paul's own shield before returning to an en garde stance.  "Sometimes you won't have your shield, but you must still fight," the elder says to the younger.  Lesson learned.

Livia makes her way to the estate's common areas and finds one with quite a bit of activity.  Prepared to simply stand and observe, she is beckoned over to a table by a little girl who has a deck of tarot cards.  The girl explains that she has no idea how they work, but they're pretty.  Livia instructs her in each card's meaning, dealing some here and there.  "So you deal the cards and then magic happens?" she girl asks.  Livia assures her that the cards are more insightful than magical devices.  The girl then shares a secret with the Bene Gesserit that the head merchant has taken one of the House's ladies to a room on occasion and that she doesn't like the sounds that emanate soon thereafter.  Livia advises her to keep her secrets a little better.

Meanwhile, Ianto monitors activity outside of the young Atreides' room.  As it turns out, a younger man and an old woman each appear at hallway junctions on either side of the room once ever four minutes.  Something is afoot, possibly as mundane as general security, possibly more.

After taking care of their duties, they meet in Palon's room to discuss what they've found and possibly formulate plans and hypotheses.


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