House Atreides: From Water To Sand

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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