We will kill until no Harkonnen breathes Arrakeen air. There he stands waiting in the dark night. Gethsemane in black and white breathes Arrakeen sky. A white man in shadow breathes Arrakeen day. Tyrhogg girds his feathers with feathers breathes Arrakeen night. Celestia. They see.
Warnings: Cursing. Mentions of sex, violence, blood, nudity, death, torture, etc. Movie spoilers, and I assume book spoilers as well!
Pairing: Leto Atreides x fem!concubine!reader
Word Count: 1194
A/N: Certainly not my best, but I rewatched Dune, and this drabble has been on my mind for a bit since I watched it for the first time last week, so I decided to write it! Also, I have never read the books, nor do I know anything about them, so this is all based on what I know from the movie. If something's wrong, sorry! <3
The first time we slept together, it was on the tallest mountain on Caladan, rolling in the grass which I held onto for dear life with every thrust he gave, and our moans echoed through the valleys. There was no shame in what we had done. I knew of his concubine, Lady Jessica, and she knew of me. I knew of their son, Paul, and he knew of me. Later on, years after that day as my own daughter grew up, she learned to call Paul her brother, and Lady Jessica her mother— in privacy, of course. The last time he took me, Leto cried afterwards and held me in his arms as he whined about not doing more to protect our family and that he hadn’t married either myself or Jessica, both of whom he loved equally. I was speechless. There was my Duke in my arms, crying over something I had not yet known about, and all I could do was hold him until he was too tired to keep his eyes open any longer.
Hours later, I was woken up by Duncan Idaho who was covered in blood, despite his shield. Leto was nowhere to be found. Not by my side, in our bed, or even in our room. I asked Duncan where he was, and all I was met with was: “We must leave, my lady, there’s no time to waste.” Our path was blocked, however. Just as he turned to take me with him, the Sarduakar stood between us and the known doorway. He insisted that I’d run for the hidden tunnel just next to Leto’s side of the bed in case of instances such as the one we were facing where we would need a quick escape. Well, I would need a quick escape. Duncan stayed behind. I ran through the dark halls under the palace of Arrakis, navigating my way through with my arms out in front of me in the hopes that I wouldn’t run into any walls. What I didn’t anticipate was someone waiting at the end of the halls, and it wasn’t Duncan who was waiting for me like I almost expected.
“Dr. Yueh—” Just as my relief fell off my tongue, more Sardaukar appeared from behind him, clearly not a threat to him, though they were to me.
He stepped to the side so that they could grab me and drag me to the banquet hall as I kicked and screamed. It was impossible to escape them. The entire journey through the palace, no matter what I did, I was unable to free myself, and no one ever came to my aid.
And then two Harkonnen soldiers opened the doors to the banquet hall. I stopped struggling once I saw what was inside— or more of… who was inside. Sitting on the opposite end of the large table was the Baron, enjoying a fully cooked meal all on his own, brewing in the silence he shared with the man laying in a chair across from the Baron. I recognized him. Without even laying eyes upon his face, I recognized his grey curly hair that I had pulled on and played with so many times.
The Sardaukar didn’t hold me back from dashing forward while desperately exclaiming, “Leto!” I fell to my knees beside his chair.
They had stripped him of his clothes— everything, including his House ring. He didn’t look at me. He didn’t even move. I realized when I saw the sweat beading on his chest what he had done to him, that they had poisoned him with something that locked his joints and kept him in a hot pain which he had to suffer alone.
I grabbed his hand and kissed his fingers. There was usually a ring there to get in my way, or, more truthfully, to show my devotion to him and his House; but there was nothing there this time around. Nothing but my lips on his skin. I felt a single finger twitch until he could move it just enough to curl, signaling that he wanted to hold my hand. I obeyed. As our hands clasped together, I sat up on my knees to be closer to his face so that he could see me out of the corner of his eye.
I ran my free hand through his hair. “My love,” I whispered, “what’s happened?”
He couldn’t speak.
“My love, please… Please get up, walk out of here with me. Please.”
Vladimir Harkonnen laughed behind me. “And what makes you believe you’d leave here?” He stuffed his face with a giant spoonful of potatoes. “You won’t be leaving, my lady, and neither will your Lord.” He breathed loudly through his nose as he continued to chew. “You should at least find some solace in the fact that your daughter died a quick death, my lady. We’re brutes, yes, but she was too young to deserve such treatment.”
I looked to Leto again. “Please,” I cried quietly before kissing his cheek. “Please.”
For a moment, as he released his breath, I could have sworn I heard a word leave his mouth, I could swear it on my own life. He was too weak to speak loudly, so I inched closer until my ear was hovering just above his lips.
Leto croaked, “I’m sorry.” He squeezed my hand. “I love you.”
I cried again as I hid my face in the crook of his neck before I felt hands on me, pulling me away from my Lord, despite the protests that had arisen within me once again. “Leto! Leto, no! Please!” I looked to the Baron, “Please, my lord! Please! Spare him! Please!”
“Get rid of her quickly,” the Baron ordered his men who were now carrying me out of the hall.
Just before the doors closed, I saw him stand from his chair and float over the table towards Leto, and I anticipated what would happen next, though I wasn’t forced to watch, thankfully.
“Dogs!” Duncan’s voice echoed at the same time we heard screaming from inside the hall. I turned to see the warrior running right towards us with more blood drenching his hair and clothes, two blades in his hands now. “To hell with you!” And then he attacked. A few slices here and there as I jumped out of the way, and, suddenly, it was just Duncan and I standing in the hallway. “My lady, are you alright?”
“Leto—” I jumped at the doors.
Yet, I was stopped by Duncan who grunted, “Look,” he pointed at the bottom seam of the door where we could see the pink fog of poison rising. “Smell it.” We inhaled simultaneously. “Almonds. We must leave, my lady.”
“No, wait— Leto!”
“He’s gone, my lady.” Duncan was never rough with me, even hardly ever laid a hand on me, but what he did that night was understandable yet still expected. Since I was too stubborn to leave of my own volition, the man swung me over his shoulder and carried me out of the palace and to a thopter waiting for us in the middle of the burning city.
One thing that Dune 2021 really missed the beat on is how decadent the Harkonnens are. We’re talking tables made out of rare fossilized wood and models of the planets they rule made out of diamonds and precious metals.
Meanwhile in the movie it’s all plain and greyscale and boring. They’ve forgotten that the Harkonnens aren’t just arseholes, they’re rich arseholes, and they want everybody to know it.
A 3 panel Dune comic. Piter is a short white person with long dark brown hair and fully blue eyes. Baron Harkonnen is a tall, fat white man with short red-brown hair.
Baron (deeply wincing and pushing his fist against a table): Ohhhh I stubbed my toe on the table...
Piter (looking alarmed and cringing away): M’lord?
Baron: Piter, get out of my sight! Go home! Your workday is over, I won't pay you to hurt me. Don't take me for a fool, I know you take delight in causing pain. I know you did this. You disgust me.
Piter (with a large, agitated-looking text bubble): M’LORD?
Baron (holding a ‘world’s best boss’ mug in front of a background that looks like Michael Scott’s office from The Office): My mentat is incredibly cunning, and his nature is very chilling. Suffering pleases him. And I know that he will move against me someday. He has no loyalty to me, only to the wealth that surrounds me. So any time I get hurt when I did not expect to, it is simplest to assume that it's his fault. I don't care if it's his fault. I can't bear the thought of letting a slight against me go unpunished. It will be his fault often enough to be worth the approach.
Piter (standing in front of a background that looks like the wall of the conference room from The Office, presumably being interviewed as he’s leaving for the day): There was a pattern... to how he walked through that room... Every day... I saw it. And I saw. That if I could move the table. By only a little bit? I saw that there would be. A new pattern.
Piter’s expression is both focused and vacant. He’s licking his lips and reaching out with his hand. He’s holding his blue jacket and black gloves over his arm & wearing a white renaissance style shirt.
II. She was heavily veiled during the binding, leaving Leto only able to appreciate the even grace of her gait as she approached the dais and the faint scent of hyacinths that followed her, the pleasant alto of her speaking voice as she recited the vows that sealed her to him, and the delicacy of her wrist as he clasped tight the bracelet chased with the symbols of his House. His own vows were very simple though no more easily broken that her own; he must keep her in the manner afforded by her station and he could not abandon her, nor any child of their joining, though what keep and abandon truly meant included a great deal of latitude and historically, any challenges had favored the lord and not his Lady.
He did not see her face until they were alone together in the most formal of his private chambers.
He had offered through their intermediaries for Jessica to choose the time and place of her unveiling, whether it was to be immediately after the binding, in the presence of their witnesses, his chambers or at the consummation that night, when there would only be starlight to see by, in the dark of the new moon. It seemed the least he could do and though he couldn’t trust her, he found some measure of comfort in allowing her this choice, a signifier of the respect he accorded all who fell under his protection.
As he had expected, she was beautiful. It would have been beneath the Bene Gesserit to send him anyone who could not adequately represent his House and a squandered opportunity to allay his suspicions; Atreides was known to appreciate the Old Grecian principles of physical loveliness, unlike the Harkonnens’ taste for vulgar extremity, the Corinno penchant for androgyny in all but the Head of House. Jessica had been chosen for him and so she was slender, well-proportioned, with clear green eyes like the lagoon Caer Dodona overlooked, her carefully braided hair the rich chestnut of an autumn leaf, the quirk of a dimple just barely evident beside her full lower lip. She was attractive to him in all regards, as fair as a nymph, not a goddess, the sort of woman he would have noticed across the crowded room in an Imperial proceeding and remembered when he lay alone in his bed that night. She had been most thoughtfully selected for him and it made him trust her even less. A smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose and cheeks marring her otherwise flawless complexion would possibly have disarmed him, but the sunlight necessary was in short supply on icy Wallach IX and so they’d picked the hyacinth perfume to entice him instead.
“Thank you for allowing me this, milord Duke,” she said as she unpinned the veil and folded the filmy gauze before setting it beside her on the low table at her right.
“Respect is not generosity,” he replied. “And we do not keep the Imperial Court’s protocols here on Caladan. You don’t need to call me milord Duke, nor do I expect you to curtsy when you approach.”
“I see. I shall have much to learn of your ways,” she said, holding his gaze. The gown they had put her in for the binding flattered her little, too ornate, too much like chainmail, and he wondered what it would do to see her in the clothes suitable to a woman of his house, her face framed with a finely woven woolen cowl when the first of the winter storms came and tried to claim the very stones of his castle for the sea. “What should I call you then? That seems like a place to begin.”
“In company, kyrie or Atreides. Alone, you may use my given name,” he said.
“Leto,” she replied, more in the tone of a pupil trying to demonstrate their dedication than a coquette, but it stirred him to hear his name on her lips. It was said the Bene Gesserit could speak in a such a way that they could not be refused, but Jessica’s voice only held the delicious hint of an entreaty, not a command.
“You will be Lady Jessica to my people. When we are in private like this, do you wish to be called Jessica or something else? I was not told if you had any other names,” he said.
“Jessica will do,” she said. It was an answer, though it did not answer his question properly. “Did you truly accept me without knowing anything other than my first name?”
“I was not in a position to refuse you,” he said.
“Would you rather call me another name? Some Houses do that, have members take a new name upon bonding or other great transitions,” she said. “I need not be Jessica if you don’t like it.”
He looked at her, sitting quietly with her hands now resting in her lap, her posture suggesting she might remain so for a number of hours without any complaint. If she were not Jessica, who would she be? Tyche or Brizo, Cigfa or Eszter or Adaline? There was an appeal to the prospect of giving her a new name, a new identity to inhabit, but unless she were to choose it for herself, it would only be another disguise for a woman he already mistrusted.
“I don’t see any reason for that,” he said. “It isn’t something we do and you are an Atreides now.”
“Almost,” she said, reminding him the binding was not complete until they had coupled. It occurred to him how young she was and how had been brought up in the Sisterhood, in a veritable cloister.
“Are you worried?” he asked. She looked away, past him, and there was a shadow in the depths of her eyes. What had she been told to expect? To bear without speaking of? “I will not hurt you. Not tonight, not ever. I’ll be gentle.”
“You must do as you want,” she said. “I have been trained to receive you, to please you. Your gentleness is not required.”
“I’ll be gentle,” he repeated. It was impossible to know if she’d been told to steel herself against a monster or to withdraw into a trance, to use whatever power the Bene Gesserit had cultivated in her to coax his seed from him. That was what the Reverend Mother had mentioned more than once, the heir of his body; once he had spent, she must be sent away to her own rooms. He could not risk sleeping beside her, that she might slip a knife into his heart and replace him as regent for the child she would bring forth. Whatever she had been told to expect, he would be himself, would treat her as he would have treated any other virgin in his bed. “Force wielded without necessity is brutality. Atreides is not a brutal House, not in its treatment of off-worlders and certainly not within itself. I don’t care that the binding made no such demand of me—you are my concubine, to be protected by me, just as any other who gives their allegiance to me.”
“The Sisterhood is not a realm where fear is given much weight,” Jessica said. He understood that was as near as she would come to admitting she had been frightened of him and probably still was. He let himself imagine for a moment taking the jeweled pins from her hair and feeling the silken spill of it over his hands, brushing against his shoulders, the scent of hyacinths overwhelmed by the breeze off the sea, the heady musk of their arousal. He found he still didn’t trust her but he wanted her and he pitied her, though she could well have been sent to the Harkonnens, whose perversities were legendary. He knew what was said of him: all Leto Atreides wanted was to fly and he’d take every chance he got. It wasn’t true anymore, but it served his purposes.
“Perhaps there are compensations, then, to your departure,” he said and the smile she gave in response was not blinding, not quick, but so sweet it would be terrible if it were a lie. He must keep her close as one did with a spy and yet let himself care for her. He felt Thufir’s hand on his shoulder before they’d walked to the receiving room, understand anew the encouragement and strength Hawat had offered.
“I’d never seen the sea like the one here,” she said. “On Wallach IX, the oceans are iced over. It’s much milder on Caladan.”
Last week I watched Dune. verdict: not enough Worms. I’ve been had... there were only three sightings. maybe they’re saving the extra footage for part 2?
it was a very gorgeous movie, though. I think it was Ursula Vernon who said that this is the movie version of one of those coffee-table books, and she’s absolutely right. It’s all sweeping vistas and dramatic shots-- not to mention the strange, abstract soundtrack which suits much more than a traditional movie score would.
mind, that doesn’t mean I don’t have issues with the actual plot. Point 1: I find that Atreides kid decorative, but awfully ineffective for someone who’s supposed to be the Messiah. I wonder how old he’s supposed to be here--obviously Chalamet is at least in his twenties, but Paul reads as so baby in the film, especially the earlier bits. He just has no agency. All he does is passively react, hallucinate Zendaya, and have occasional delusions of grandeur. And honestly, it explains why the Empire is so messed up, because their secret test of suitability for power is endurance of physical pain. which. is certainly not the measure I’d use to decide whether to give someone godlike power.
So to fix this, what they really ought to have done was made Lady Jessica the protagonist. She’s just so more interesting as a character-- she’s a grown woman with an actual personality, and she’s interestingly entangled in the politics in a way other than “passive pawn.”
See, they could have started with her training with the cultists, move on to her arranged marriage and complicated relationship with Leto, the motivations behind her decision to disobey her Bene Gesserit handlers and have a boy baby instead, and then do the events of the book, with the emotional heart of the book being Jessica’s loyalties being torn between the cultists and her son. Not to mention her husband. See? Wouldn’t that be better?
I won’t touch on the dubious moments in the film, such as the Harkonnen fat=evil thing they had going, or the whole Magic Desert Arabs. Lots of people have written entire essays on this, much better and more nuanced than I could.
so, conclusion: interesting movie. I will probably be watching part 2. I will not, however, be reading the book.
oh, one last thing: what was up with questioning Leto by stripping him naked and tying him up? was that really necessary? who exactly are we pandering to here, hmm? do you guys want to see Leto/Harkonnen fic on AO3? huh? do you? pg-13 but rather nsfw example pic under the cut.
This can be read as a solo or starter for anyone interested. Does take place on Arrakis. Also, I’m posting this on mobile so apologies if this just looks awful with horrible spacing.
Warnings: Mentions of death, blood, medication use. Mentions of not getting sleep (If I missed something just lemme know.)
How long had he been staring at the bull? Looking into those dark, lifeless eyes. Reliving the day that he lost his father to it. The day that the mantle had passed and he became the Duke. Duke Leto Atreides.
He should have been facing the portrait of the Old Duke, hoping for wisdom from the man. Asking for wisdom from his father who had long passed, but his eyes locked onto the horns of the bull. The dried blood looked wet tonight, and Leto surpassed a shiver that passed through him. Remembering the day that made him Duke.
“I heard that the Old Duke laughed while the Bull trampled him,” a young Paul had once said to him.
Leto remembered that day all too well and the Old Duke wasn’t laughing. He was gurgling. A sound that couldn’t be mistaken. A sound that Leto heard in his dreams when they came to remind him it could happen to him. Still, the creature was only partially to blame. It was merely a pawn.
And yet, Leto stood wondering if he was going to encounter his own bull on Arrakis. It was true the Harkonnens were planning something against him. There was talk of a traitor in their midst and that Leto knew he was their target. Still, he believed that knowing this plan meant he was one step ahead. That he could build something here for Paul to take over once he was gone. It would never be his ancestral home, but they would plant the roots for it to grow into something great. He wanted to do that for his son, then peacefully go. He could go when Paul was ready. Leto refused to leave when Paul was so young. Like his father had done to him.
Dropping his chin to his chest, his hands squeezed the back of the chair. Could it be possible that he was going to face his own bull on this harsh planet? The feud between House Atreides and House Harkonnens was an old one, but still there were embers in those dying flames. It wasn’t something that Leto often thought about back on Caladan. Where the threat of the Harkonnens wasn’t nearly as great as here. Leto had known the risk was greater here. That the Baron wasn’t going to just be okay with everything and had sent him a letter at one point. However, none of that mattered. With each passing day, Leto missed his home more and more. He missed hearing the waves when he was listening late at night, hearing them in the morning, and even during the storms. The salt in the air that clung to the castle and was part of his home. Home. Leto missed home. His family had ruled over Caladan for so many generations and now it was likely the future of his house would rule Arrakis…
Still, Leto was determined to do what he could for this planet and show Emperor Shaddam he could do it.
Even if he wasn’t certain.
Paul had even encountered a Hunter-Seeker when he arrived. They had tried to kill his son. Ice formed in his stomach at the mere thought that not only was he in danger, but his family. Leto didn’t doubt that his family was protected, he trusted his men. Leto trusted their loyalty, but doubt still swam in his mind at moments when he was alone. It hurt him to question everyone’s loyalty. Second, guess everyone’s words or motives.
The bottle of his anti-fatigue pills was the only thing on the table currently. Dinner had gotten cleared long ago, and he wasn’t even going to the kitchens to find himself something to eat. His appetite was long gone, even if they had made one of his favorite dinners.
Grabbing the bottle of anti-fatigue pills, he swallowed a few before leaving the dining hall and heading towards his personal study. There were reports to look over for Arrakis that Hawat had found him and he could learn more about the spice. It was going to be another restless night, but at least for the night he kept his own personal bull from trampling him.
Stellan: I didn't do the role [of the Baron Harkonnen]. It was actually the prosthetics that did the role because it was all about the visuals. We worked a lot about how to make him look so that you could see it was a person and not just a monster. [...] Maybe we went over the top a little.
Oscar: What I love that you also did though... I remember when I first saw you in [the Baron costume] ...
[GIF 1: A close up of food. Caption: Too bad. I thought they were Harkonnen.]
[GIF 2: A close up of food. Caption: Cha-aksa!]
[GIF 3: A person preparing food in a kitchen. Caption: ♪ [Screams, Grunts] ♪]
This is the “Dead Zone” arc, featuring Luke and Jan Valentine.
This arc is set around... uh, September 3rd-ish, I think. By now, Hellsing has had time to investigate this recent uptick in vampire incidents, and she calls a meeting of the “Convention of Twelve” to discuss her findings. This group represents the heads of various important agencies, political leaders, and noblemen, and the manga states that they “essentially” run the British Empire. I’m not sure how to read that, exactly. Kouta Hirano appears to be establishing one of two things:
1) Parliament Shmarliament, everything is really controlled by this secret group of oligarchs sitting at a table.
2) This is a collection of all the big wheels in British society, so they might as well be calling the shots even if they aren’t a true governing body.
I’m not terribly concerned about which one it is, since we left real-world Great Britain behind a long time ago. The Hellsing U.K. seems to put a lot more power in the monarchy, for example. Also there’s friggin’ draulas runnin’ around everwhere.
Anyway, Integra reveals that the vampires they’ve been killing lately all have microchips installed in their bodies. She says the chips “define the vampire’s status, behavior, intent, and aggression.” I don’t know if that means outright control or a more subtle manipulation. It might exaplain why the couple in Chapter 3 weren’t exactly being subtle.
Moreover, these vampires haven’t been following the conventional rules laid down back in Chapter 1. Vampire bites can turn a person into another vampire, but only if the victim is a virgin. Otherwise, they turn into ghouls. Destroying the head vampire will destroy all the ghouls he’s created. But that hasn’t been happening. The couple in Chapter 3 killed a lot of children, but they all became ghouls. And in Badrick, Anderson killed the vampire, but the ghouls remained active long enough for Alucard and Seras to fight them.
At least, that’s what Integra is saying. We never actually saw any ghouls in Chapter 3, and Anderson killed the vampire in Badrick off-panel, so we don’t know the exact timing. But I’ll take Integra’s word for it.
Something that got lost along the way was the matter of what happens to Seras if someone managed to kill Alucard. According to Chapter 1, she’d die immediately, but we never actually see that play out, and Seras is the only vampire created by another vampire in this story. We never see ghouls die en masse, either, because there’s never a situation where their master dies first, and the ghouls we see from here on out are these rule-breaking microchippy kind anyway.
Never mind that shit, here comes the Seras part. Walter has replaced her bed with a coffin. Apparently she had a bed in this dank-ass dungeon, and then one day Integra got a wild hair and decided “Oh, yeah, she should be sleeping in a vampire bed.” She’s been a vampire for like two months now. I feel bad for Walter, having to lug that big-ass bed down here, only to have to take the damn thing right back out. He must have known it was going to end this way. You’d think he would have said something before.
Seras hates this idea, but Walter relays a second order, one from Alucard: Seras has to sleep in the coffin. Well, that seems kind of redundant, but I guess Seras might have tried to sleep on the floor or something instead. The main thing I find interesting about this is that Seras is mostly irritated by Integra ordering the coffin, but she takes it much more seriously when Alucard is mentioned.
According to Walter, since Seras hasn’t drunk any blood, her powers will weaken... unless she sleeps in a coffin lined with soil from her birthplace. So maybe it’s an either/or deal. Integra was fine with Seras using a big girl bed because she assumed Seras would be drinking blood. But without it, she has to use a coffin, or she’ll be no good to the team. And after two months, it’s become clear that Seras has no intention of drinking blood, even bags of donated blood, like the one Alucard snacked on in Badrick.
Even Seras doesn’t know exactly why she won’t do it, which Alucard finds baffling. If this was a dealbreaker for her, she should have just died as a human in Cheddar.
But Al isn’t entirely unsympathetic either. His words are harsh, but they’re the truth: Seras is a vampire now, and there’s no going back. She keeps trying to resist this, but it’s already happened. Denial will only make this more painful for her. I think that’s part of the reason he offered his own blood to her in Badrick. I mean, there weren’t a lot of other options, but from an ethical standpoint, drinking Alucard’s blood seems reasonable, since it won’t kill him. The unspoken sentiment here is: Listen, I know this is difficult for you, and I’ll try to make this as easy as possible, but you need to do this and there’s no way around it. But even that doesn’t seem to work, and Alucard’s in no particular hurry, so he’s willing to table the matter. Which I suppose is how the coffin thing came about in the first place.
Walter also takes this moment to give the vampires their new guns. Alucard wanted something special for the next time he tangles with Alexander Anderson. Recall that Al already has a special cosmogun with an infinite supply of magic bullets, and he shot Anderson in the face and it didn’t stop him. So Walter builds him “The Jackal”, which is basically the same as his first gun, only even bigger and with a black finish. It also says “Jesus Christ is in Heaven Now”, which drives me nuts because I don’t know if that’s like a message to Anderson, or just some random thing. Kouta Hirano puts these nonsense religious slogans all over Hellsing, and I’m pretty sure he’s just doing it for effect, and not particularly concerned over whether there’s any religious significance to the words.
As for Seras, she gets a giant bazooka-looking think called the Harkonnen, named after a Dune character. One of these days I want to sit down and read Dune. I kind of feel guilty that I haven’t already, because then I could be writing this and get all excited for this moment. “HOLY SHIT!! IS THAT MOTHERFUCKING DUNE REFERENCE?!” Instead I’m like, ho-hum, yes it is.
Let’s move on. This arc is about the Valentine Brothers, two vampires who take the fight to Hellsing instead. They have a small army of ghouls, and their plan is to just drive up in a tour bus and storm the gate. Ghouls are mindless, zombie-like monsters, but apparently they can work a gun well enough, and Hellsing never imagined an enemy would try such a thing.
As soon as Integra finds out about this, she tries to evacuate the Twelve, but their helicopter gets destroyed, cutting off any chance of escape. Then Jan (pronounced “Yon” by the way), calls her on the comm system and threatens to kill them all.
So Integra calls Walter, who already knows what’s happening. Um, how? I feel like the anime explained this better. Maybe Jan’s profanity-laden threats were on a public-address system instead of just for the conference room. But it sure looks like Walter’s just chilling out in a windowless, underground room. But he already knows there’s no hope of reinforcements arriving to save them. He proposes himself and Seras using the ventilation shafts to get to the coference room, where they can defend the twelve, while Alucard can go on the offensive.
Alucard is amused to hear that Walter is going back into action, and calls him “Angel of Death”. We’ll come back to that.
So Walter’s pretty much on top of things here. No one ever considered anything like this happening before. Hellsing is supposed to be a secret organization, so a vampire shouldn’t know to come here in the first place. Moreover, no one dreamed that a vampire would plan it out so well, using ghouls in a military fashion. But he’s optimistic about their chances for survival, because...
Walter has super powers. Specifically, he has these magic wires he can use to bind and slice up his enemies, and this makes short work of the Valentines’ ghouls. He then repeats Jan’s taunts back at him. Okay, so I guess Walter did hear Jan’s message from earlier.
The problem I always had with this development was that it seemed awfully convenient for Walter to have super powers. But then, it took me a while to catch on to Anderson having super powers, and he took a bullet to the face. I think the conceit of the Hellsing world is that these “anti-freak” organizations have to have super-powered operatives, so they use secret techniques and alchemy or whatever to empower men like Walter and Anderson. It’s really not that hard to swallow.
Except that the first vampire-hunter we meet in Hellsing is Alucard, who is himself a vampire. So it seemed like the whole point was that he was the best suited for the job because he had the raw power to do it. Integra doesn’t seem to have any powers, and neither do any of the rank-and-file Hellsing operatives who get mowed down by the Valentines’ ghouls. So it always confused me for Walter to just go “Wassup, I have powers too.” But it only makes sense for Hellsing to have more than one card to play. Clearly, Walter used to hunt vampires on the regular before he retired to become a butler.
Between Walter’s wires and Seras’ giant gun, they manage to subdue Jan easily enough, but he reveals he has a partner, Luke, whose job is to tackle the second half of their mission: to destroy Alucard. Let’s check in on him...
Yeah. I was thinking about doing a blow-by-blow of this fight, but it’s kind of pointless. Luke talks a big game, and seems confident that he’s on a higher level than the vampires Alucard has been fighting recently, and for a hot minute, even Alucard believes that he might be a worthy adversary, “above even a ‘Category A’ vampire,” so he releases his “control art restriction,” to “Level 1″.
I guess I should back up and explain this. Alucard, like all overpowered anime characters, can hold back his full power and reveal it in stages. For some reason he has to announce that he’s doing this, like Windows 10 describing it’s own updating. Presumably, there’s a Level 4 where he usually operates, and that was enough for him to fight Luke evenly. But here, we see him jump all the way to Level 1, which allows him to turn into some shadowy form with lots of eyes and two dog heads.
Also, centipedes. The point is, this is all stuff Luke can’t do. He’s more of a “super speed gun-shooting” kind of vampire, so he’s immediately outclassed. Alucard’s dog form eats Luke and that’s the end of him.... OR IS IT?
Meanwhile, Jan’s ghoul army is beaten, but he still has reinforcements in the form of all the Hellsing soldiers they killed earlier. These men rise up as new ghouls and chase down Seras while Jan makes a break for the conference room where the Twelve are holed up. Walter tries to catch Jan, but only manages to rip off one of his arms. He makes it to the door, only to find...
Integra and the others all have guns, and they shoot him down.
All Jan has left now is his second wave of ghouls, except Seras manages to overwhelm them. At first, she was panicking, but then she freaks out and goes feral on them, to the point where Integra has to jump in and order her to stop. When she does, she seems to have no idea what just happened. This is mostly overshadowed by the sheer horror of Hellsing’s soldiers being reduced to the undead.
All that’s left is Jan, who refuses to talk. He has the same microchip implants as the previous vampires, and the people who sent him are monitoring him in real-time, which means they know he failed, and they can make him self-destruct before he can tell Hellsing anything. As he dies, Jan flips them all off and gives them one word of information: “Millennium.”
After that, Integra tasks Walter with destroying the remaining Hellsing ghouls, until Sir Irons, one of the Twelve reminds Integra that this is the duty of a commander. As Hellsing’s C.O., it’s her responsibility, so she agrees and starts shooting the ghouls in the head.
Meanwhile, Jan’s mysterious overseers talk amongst themselves, and their leader calls for them to resume their “research”. As devastating as this attack on Hellsing was, for Millennium, this was merely a test.
A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.
‘A popular man arouses the jealousy of the powerful,’ Hawat had said.
He recalled the response from the Litany against Fear as his mother had taught him out of the Bene Gesserit rite. ‘I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.’
Sand through a screen. He nodded. ‘We Bene Gesserit sift people to find the humans.’
‘Hope clouds observation.’
There must be terrible purpose in it … the pain and fear had been terrible. He understood terrible purposes. They drove against all odds. They were their own necessity. Paul felt that he had been infected with terrible purpose. He did not know yet what the terrible purpose was.
‘Why do you test for humans?’ he asked. ‘To set you free.’ ‘Free?’ ‘Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.’ ‘“Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man’s mind,’” Paul quoted. ‘Right out of the Butlerian Jihad and the Orange Catholic Bible,’ she said. ‘But what the O.C. Bible should’ve said is: “Thou shalt not make a machine to counterfeit a human mind.
To attempt an understanding of Muad’Dib without understanding his mortal enemies, the Harkonnens, is to attempt seeing Truth without knowing Falsehood. It is the attempt to see the Light without knowing Darkness. It cannot be. —from ‘Manual of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
‘The necessity is obvious, but I don’t have to like it.’
‘(...) as someone once observed, given the right lever you can move a planet. We found the lever that moved the doctor.’
Thus spoke St Alia-of-the-Knife: ‘The Reverend Mother must combine the seductive wiles of a courtesan with the untouchable majesty of a virgin goddess, holding these attributes in tension so long as the powers of her youth endure. For when youth and beauty have gone, she will find that the place-between, once occupied by tension, has become a wellspring of cunning and resourcefulness.’ —from ‘Muad’Dib, Family Commentaries’ by the Princess Irulan
Presently, the old woman muttered: ‘What’s done is done.’ ‘I vowed never to regret my decision,’Jessica said. ‘How noble,’ the Reverend Mother sneered. ‘No regrets. We shall see when you’re a fugitive with a price on your head and every man’s hand turned against you to seek your life and the life of your son.’ Jessica paled. ‘Is there no alternative?’
‘Grave this on your memory, lad: A world is supported by four things …’ She held up four big-knuckled fingers. ‘… the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave. But all of these are as nothing …’ She closed her fingers into a fist. ‘… without a ruler who knows the art of ruling. Make that the science of your tradition!’
‘She asked me to tell her what it is to rule,’ Paul said. ‘And I said that one commands. And she said I had some unlearning to do.’ She hit a mark there right enough, Hawat thought. He nodded for Paul to continue. ‘She said a ruler must learn to persuade and not to compel. She said he must lay the best coffee hearth to attract the finest men.’
‘Then she said a good ruler has to learn his world’s language, that it’s different for every world. And I thought she meant they didn’t speak Galach on Arrakis, but she said that wasn’t it at all. She said she meant the language of the rocks and growing things, the language you don’t hear just with your ears. And I said that’s what Dr Yueh calls the Mystery of Life.’ Hawat chuckled. ‘How’d that sit with her?’ ‘I think she got mad. She said the mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience. So I quoted the First Law of Mentat at her: “A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it.” That seemed to satisfy her.’
‘Don’t sit with your back to any doors,’
(...) the unknown sum called nature, a vague summation without any sense of the now. And he wondered: What is the now?
‘Mood?’ Halleck’s voice betrayed his outrage even through the shield’s filtering. ‘What has mood to do with it? You fight when the necessity arises – no matter the mood! Mood’s a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset. It’s not for fighting.’
‘If wishes were fishes we’d all cast nets,’ he murmured.
“Polish comes from the cities; wisdom from the desert.”’
“Think you of the fact that a deaf person cannot hear. Then, what deafness may we not all possess? What senses do we lack that we cannot see and cannot hear another world all around us? What is there around us that we cannot—”’
‘Don’t let a woman’s fears cloud your mind. No woman wants her loved ones endangered. The hand behind those warnings was your mother’s. Take this as a sign of her love for us.’
‘The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance.’
Delay is as dangerous as the wrong answer.
‘… motivating people, forcing them to your will, gives you a cynical attitude toward humanity. It degrades everything it touches. If I made him do … this, then it would not be his doing.’
Many have marked the speed with which Muad’Dib learned the necessities of Arrakis. The Bene Gesserit, of course, know the basis of this speed. For the others, we can say that Muad’Dib learned rapidly because his first training was in how to learn. And the first lesson of all was the basic trust that he could learn. It is shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult, Muad’Dib knew that every experience carries its lesson. —from ‘The Humanity of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
What had the Lady Jessica to sustain her in her time of trial? Think you carefully on this Bene Gesserit proverb and perhaps you will see: ‘Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere. Climb the mountain just a little bit to test mat it’s a mountain. From the top of the mountain, you cannot see the mountain.’ —from ‘Muad’Dib: Family Commentaries’ by the Princess Irulan
Command must always look confident, he thought. All that faith riding on your shoulders while you sit in the critical seat and never show it.
‘Bitterness I can understand,’ the Duke said. ‘But let us not rail about justice as long as we have arms and the freedom to use them. (...)’
‘(...) One cannot truly blame them for this; one can only despise them.’
‘There is probably no more terrible instant of enlightenment than the one in which you discover your father is a man – with human flesh.’ —from ‘Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
Greatness is a transitory experience. It is never consistent. It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind. The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man. —from ‘Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
‘Most educated people know that the worst potential competition for any young organism can come from its own kind.’ He deliberately forked a bite of food from his companion’s plate, ate it. ‘They are eating from the same bowl. They have the same basic requirements.’
‘(...) And remember that growth itself can produce unfavorable conditions unless treated with extreme care.’
‘Because of an observation made by my father at the time. He said the drowning man who climbs on your shoulders to save himself is understandable – except when you see it happen in the drawing room.’ Paul hesitated just long enough for the banker to see the point coming, then: ‘And, I should add, except when you see it at the dinner table.’
‘There is no escape – we pay for the violence of our ancestors.’ —from ‘The Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irula
‘Humans live best when each has his own place, when each knows where he belongs in the scheme of things. Destroy the place and destroy the person.
She sighed. ‘Thufir, I want you to examine your own emotional involvement in this. The natural human’s an animal without logic. Your projection of logic onto all affairs is unnatural, but suffered to continue for its usefulness. You’re the embodiment of logic – a Mentat. Yet, your problem solutions are concepts that, in a very real sense, are projected outside yourself, there to be studied and rolled around, examined from all sides.’ ‘You think now to teach me my trade?’ he asked, and he did not try to hide the disdain in his voice. ‘Anything outside yourself, this you can see and apply your logic to it,’ she said. ‘But it’s a human trait that when we encounter personal problems, those things most deeply personal are the most difficult to bring out for our logic to scan. We tend to flounder around, blaming everything but the actual, deep-seated thing that’s really chewing on us.’
‘The finest Mentats have a healthy respect for the error factor in their computations,’
Does every human have this blind spot? he wondered. Can any of us be ordered into action before he can resist? The idea staggered him. Who could stop a person with such power?
Do you wrestle with dreams? Do you contend with shadows? Do you move in a kind of sleep? Time has slipped away. Your life is stolen. You tarried with trifles, Victim of your folly. —Dirge for Jamis on the Funeral Plain, from ‘Songs of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife – chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: ‘Now, it’s complete because it’s ended here.’ —from ‘Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
‘I never could bring myself to trust a traitor,’ the Baron said. ‘Not even a traitor I created.’
The day the flesh shapes and the flesh the day shapes.
‘A time to get and a time to lose,’ Jessica thought, quoting to herself from the O.C. Bible. ‘A time to keep and a time to cast away; a time for love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace.’
Black is a blind remembering, she thought. You listen for pack sounds, for the cries of those who hunted your ancestors in a past so ancient only your most primitive cells remember. The ears see. The nostrils see.
My father once told me that respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality. ‘Something cannot emerge from nothing,’ he said. This is profound thinking if you understand how unstable ‘the truth’ can be. —from ‘Conversations with Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
‘Any man who retreats into a cave which has only one opening deserves to die,’ the Fremen said.
‘One should never presume one is the sole object of a hunt,’ the Fremen said.
Muad’Dib could, indeed, see the Future, but you must understand the limits of this power. Think of sight. You have eyes, yet cannot see without light. If you are on the floor of a valley, you cannot see beyond your valley. Just so, Muad’Dib could not always choose to look across the mysterious terrain. He tells us, that a single obscure decision of prophecy, perhaps the choice of one word over another, could change the entire aspect of the future. He tells us The vision of time is broad, but when you pass through it, time becomes a narrow door.’ And always he fought the temptation to choose a clear, safe course, warning ‘That path leads ever down into stagnation.’ —from ‘Arrakis Awakening’ by the Princess Irula
‘You say you’re not for sale, but I believe I’ve the coin you’ll accept. For your loyalty I offer my loyalty to you … totally.’ My son has the Atreides sincerity, Jessica thought. He has that tremendous, almost naive honor – and what a powerful force that truly is.
‘If you rely only on your eyes, your other senses weaken.’ It was a Bene Gesserit axiom.
‘Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear’s path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.’
What do you despise? By this are you truly known. —from ‘Manual of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
‘The absence of a thing,’ the Baron said, ‘this can be as deadly as the presence. The absence of air, eh? The absence of water? The absence of anything else we’re addicted to.’
‘Never obliterate a man unthinkingly, the way an entire fief might do it through some due process of law. Always do it for an overriding purpose – and know your purpose!’
To stop, she thought. To rest … truly rest. It occurred to her that mercy was the ability to stop, if only for a moment. There was no mercy where there could be no stopping
‘Better a dry morsel and quietness therewith than a house full of sacrifice and strife.’
We came from Caladan – a paradise world for our form of life. There existed no need on Caladan to build a physical paradise or a paradise of the mind – we could see the actuality all around us. And the price we paid was the price men have always paid for achieving a paradise in this life – we went soft, we lost our edge. —from ‘Muad’Dib: Conversations’ by the Princess Irulan
‘Perhaps. And if so, I’ll give you my father’s answer to those who act without thinking; “A stone is heavy and the sand is weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.”’
‘One does not risk everything to settle a score prematurely,’
‘Whether a thought is spoken or not it is a real thing and it has power,’
‘Move slowly and the day of your revenge will come,’ Tuek said. ‘Speed is a device of Shaitan. Cool your sorrow – we’ve the diversions for it; three things there are that ease the heart – water, green grass, and the beauty of woman.’
How the mind gears itself for its environment, she thought. And she recalled a Bene Gesserit axiom: ‘The mind can go either direction under stress – toward positive or toward negative: on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyper-consciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training.’
‘If we could only risk a light,’ he whispered. ‘We have other senses than eyes,’ she said.
‘The more life there is within a system, the more niches there are for life,’
‘Religion and law among our masses must be one and the same,’ his father said. ‘An act of disobedience must be a sin and require religious penalties. This will have the dual benefit of bringing both greater obedience and greater bravery. We must depend not so much on the bravery of individuals, you see, as upon the bravery of a whole population.’
Then, as his planet killed him, it occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error.
Prophecy and prescience – How can they be put to the test in the face of the unanswered questions? Consider: How much is actual prediction of the ‘wave form’ (as Muad’Dib referred to his vision-image) and how much is the prophet shaping the future to fit the prophecy? What of the harmonics inherent in the act of prophecy? Does the prophet see the future or does he see a line of weakness, a fault or cleavage that he may shatter with words or decisions as a diamond-cutter shatters his gem with a blow of a knife? —’Private Reflections on Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
Jessica’s motion started as a slumping, deceptive faint to the ground. It was the obvious thing for a weak outworlder to do, and the obvious slows an opponent’s reactions. It takes an instant to interpret a known thing when that thing is exposed as something unknown. She shifted as she saw his right shoulder drop to bring a weapon within the folds of his robe to bear on her new position. A turn, a slash of her arm, a whirling of mingled robes, and she was against the rocks with the man helpless in front of her.
‘This will be a good exchange of teachings. I hope you and your people feel no anger at our violence. It seemed … necessary. You were about to … make a mistake.’ ‘To save one from a mistake is a gift of paradise,’
The Fremen were supreme in that quality the ancients called ‘spannungsbogen’ – which is the self-imposed delay between desire for a thing and the act of reaching out to grasp that thing. —from ‘The Wisdom of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
‘Paradise on my right, Hell on my left and the Angel of Death behind.’ He rolled the quotation in his mind.
And she permitted herself to face fully the significance of this other child growing within her, to see her own motives in permitting the conception. She knew what it was – she had succumbed to that profound drive shared by all creatures who are faced with death – the drive to seek immortality through progeny. The fertility drive of the species had overpowered them.
A leader, you see, is one of the things that distinguishes a mob from a people. He maintains the level of individuals. Too few individuals, and a people reverts to a mob.’
And what he saw was a time nexus within this cave, a boiling of possibilities focused here, wherein the most minute action – the wink of an eye, a careless word, a misplaced grain of sand – moved a gigantic lever across the known universe. He saw violence with the outcome subject to so many variables that his slightest movement created vast shiftings in the pattern. The vision made him want to freeze into immobility, but this, too, was action with its consequences.
I should’ve seen that before. He broods. He’s the silent kind, one who works himself up inside. I should’ve been prepared.
‘When in doubt of your surface, bare feet are best.’
Gurney Halleck’s words were there to remember: ‘The good knife fighter thinks on point and blade and shearing-guard simultaneously. The point can also cut; the blade can also stab; the shearing-guard can also trap your opponent’s blade.’
Memory of Duncan Idaho’s voice flowed through Paul’s awareness: ‘When your opponent fears you, then’s the moment when you give the fear its own rein, give it the time to work on him. Let it become terror. The terrified man fights himself. Eventually, he attacks in desperation. That is the most dangerous moment, but the terrified man can be trusted usually to make a fatal mistake. You are being trained here to detect these mistakes and use them.’
‘Keep the mind on the knife and not on the hand that holds it,’ Gurney Halleck had told him time and again. ‘The knife is more dangerous than the hand and the knife can be in either hand.’
‘Killing with the point lacks artistry,’ Idaho had once told Paul, ‘but don’t let that hold your hand when the opening presents itself.’
A Bene Gesserit axiom came to Jessica’s mind: ‘Survival is the ability to swim in strange water.’
The meeting between ignorance and knowledge, between brutality and culture – it begins in the dignity with which we treat our dead.
(...) when you kill … you pay for it.
The concept of progress acts as a protective mechanism to shield us from the terrors of the future. —from ‘Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
A killer with the manners of a rabbit – this is the most dangerous kind.
‘It’s easier to be terrified by an enemy you admire.’
“Do not count a human dead until you’ve seen his body. And even then you can make a mistake.”’
‘To accept a little death is worse than death itself,’ Chani said. She stared at Jessica, waiting.
‘I’ve been a long time waiting for you,’ she said. ‘Here is my life.’ There it was, encapsuled, all of it. Even the moment of death.
He realized suddenly that it was one thing to see the past occupying the present, but the true test of prescience was to see the past in the future.
Else why bargain. One bargains with equals or near equals!
The man without emotions is the one to fear. But deep emotions … ah, now, those can be bent to your needs.’
‘Who does Hawat blame for his present circumstances?’ the Baron asked. ‘Me? Certainly. But he was an Atreides tool and bested me for years until the Imperium took a hand. That’s how he sees it. His hate for me is a casual thing now. He believes he can best me any time. Believing this, he is bested. For I direct his attention where I want it – against the Imperium.’
Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic. —from ‘The Sayings of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
There is in all things a pattern that is part of our universe. It has symmetry, elegance, and grace – those qualities you find always in that which the true artist captures. You can find it in the turning of the seasons, in the way sand trails along a ridge, in the branch clusters of the creosote bush or the pattern of its leaves. We try to copy these patterns in our lives and our society, seeking the rhythms, the dances, the forms that comfort. Yet, it is possible to see peril in the finding of ultimate perfection. It is clear that the ultimate pattern contains its own fixity. In such perfection, all things move toward death. —from ‘The Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
And he knew fear at the thought of such a place, because removal of all limitations meant removal of all points of reference.
She had quoted a Bene Gesserit proverb to him: ‘When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movement becomes headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.’
‘Give as few orders as possible,’ his father had told him … once … long ago. ‘Once you’ve given orders on a subject, you must always give orders on that subject.’
The waiting. It’s the dreariness, she thought. You can wait just so long. Then the dreariness of the waiting overcomes you.
We know the need for cautious waiting, Jessica thought, but there’s the core of our frustration. We know also the harm that waiting extended too long can do to us. We lose our sense of purpose if the waiting’s prolonged.
You cannot avoid the interplay of politics within an orthodox religion. This power struggle permeates the training, educating and disciplining of the orthodox community. Because of this pressure, the leaders of such a community inevitably must face that ultimate internal question: to succumb to complete opportunism as the price of maintaining their rule, or risk sacrificing themselves for the sake of the orthodox ethic. —from ‘Muad’Dib: The Religious Issues’ by the Princess Irulan
When law and duty are one, united by religion, you never become fully conscious, fully aware of yourself. You are always a little less than an individual. —from ‘Muad’Dib: The Ninety-nine Wonders of The Universe’ by the Princess Irulan
‘The people who can destroy a thing, they control it,’
How often it is that the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him. —’The Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib’ by the Princess Irulan
‘All men beneath your position covet your station,’ went the Bene Gesserit axiom.
And she recalled another Bene Gesserit saying: ‘Prophets have a way of dying by violence.’
‘One of the most terrible moments in a boy’s life,’ Paul said, ‘is when he discovers his father and mother are human beings who share a love that he can never quite taste. It’s a loss, an awakening to the fact that the world is there and here and we are in it alone. The moment carries its own truth; you can’t evade it. I heard my father when he spoke of my mother.
‘Orchards and vineyards, And full-breasted houris, And a cup overflowing before me. Why do I babble of battles, And mountains reduced to dust? Why do I feel these tears? Heavens stand open And scatter their riches; My hands need but gather their wealth. Why do I think of an ambush, And poison in molten cup? Why do I feel my years? Love’s arms beckon With their naked delights, And Eden’s promise of ecstasies. Why do I remember the scars, Dream of old transgressions … And why do I sleep with fears?’
(...) the test of a man isn’t what you think he’ll do. It’s what he actually does.
He seemed too submissive to Paul, but then the Sardaukar had never been prepared for such happenings as this day. They’d never known anything but victory which, Paul realized, could be a weakness in itself. He put that thought aside for later consideration in his own training program.
There should be a word-tension directly opposite to adab, the demanding memory, she thought. There should be a word for memories that deny themselves.
‘You must understand that she does this out of kindness,’ he said. ‘Isn’t it odd how we misunderstand the hidden unity of kindness and cruelty?’
He’s overconfident, Paul thought. There’s a natural advantage I can accept.
He’s a talker, Paul thought. There’s another weakness. He grows uneasy in the face of silence.
‘Use the first moments in study. You may miss many an opportunity for quick victory this way, but the moments of study are insurance of success. Take your time and be sure.’
‘Expect only what happens in the fight. That way you’ll never be surprised.’
Beyond a critical point within a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. This is as true of humans in the finite space of a planetary ecosystem as it is of gas molecules in a sealed flask. The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive. —Pardot Kynes, First Planetologist of Arrakis
Men looked at their gods and their rituals and saw that both were filled with that most terrible of all equations: fear over ambition.
Riots and comedy are but symptoms of the times, profoundly revealing. They betray the psychological tone, the deep uncertainties … and the striving for something better, plus the fear that nothing would come of it all.
All men must see that the teaching of religion by rules and rote is largely a hoax. The proper teaching is recognized with ease. You can know it without fail because it awakens within you that sensation which tells you this is something you’ve always known.’
‘Whether a thought is spoken or not it is a real thing and has powers of reality.’
Muad’Dib: ‘Religion often partakes of the myth of progress that shields us from the terrors of an uncertain future.’
Muad’Dib: ‘If a child, an untrained person, an ignorant person, or an insane person incites trouble, it is the fault of authority for not predicting and preventing that trouble.’
O.C. Bible: ‘Any sin can be ascribed, at least in part, to a natural bad tendency that is an extenuating circumstance acceptable to God.’
If I may add to Feyd-Rautha discourse, I do think that gender matters, if only because for Bene Gesserit reasons and the proposed alliance (also don’t take away my potentially homoerotic duel). I think we should ask K-Pop Stan twitter to submit a suggestion. (Surely they could pull off appropriately Harkonnen fashion).
Excellent point! Yes, let’s get the K-Pop folks involved because I think that’s the only way to get the same audience reaction that Sting brought to the table in the 80s.
Thinking Machine - a Dune comic || Part 1 [xxx] || Part 2 [xxx] || Part 3 [xxx] || Part 4 [xxx] || Part 5 [xxx] || Part 6 [xxx] || Part 7 [xxx] || Part 8 [xxx] || Part 9 [xxx] || Part 10 [xxx] || Part 11 [xxx] || Part 12 [xxx]
That new Foundation TV series was pretty good! Here’s more Dune!!
Image description under the cut
A seven panel comic featuring characters from Dune. Earlier comics provide context. Thufir Hawat is a new character, a black man with a scarred face and a white beard, dressed in yellow.
Piter is cheerfully holding a coffee cup. There’s a cookie on a plate next to him. He’s wearing a white renaissance style shirt.
Piter: ...And I'm sure we've ALL heard the one about 'mentat' being an acronym... "Managing Eminent Neurotypicals' Tasks, Albeit Thanklessly"? HA HA HA. Classic. I think I heard it first from Hari Seldon. God, he was such an asshole. So fun! I think he's dead.
There’s a musical note drawn at the end of Piter’s dialogue.
Piter (holding up a small metal box): Thufir? Hasimir? Spice cube for your coffee? (musical note)
Thufir Hawat is sitting next to Hasimir Fenring, both opposite Piter. Thufir has a small mug in front of him, Hasimir has a mug and a plate with a pastry on it.
Thufir (crossing his arms and scowling): We're here to talk about the matter of the gala, de Vries. Hasimir and I have busy schedules... seeing as your people have insisted that the party should be held on Giedi Prime, and security has become the issue that it is.
Hasimir is reaching to take Piter up on his offer, but now he’s looking at Thufir and hesitating.
A zoomed-out view of the scene shows that they’re sitting at a table at a cafe. Piter is looking at Hasimir and holding up a spice cube, a wordless invitation. Hasimir is smiling and sliding his coffee mug forward. Thufir’s posture is unchanged.
Piter: Ohhh... that's right... silly me, arranging a deliberately ambiguous meeting close to a big event we're all preparing for... Now that you're both here, I was actually hoping that I could possibly trouble you for insight on a personal matter. Please?
Thufir (looking to the side, quietly): Unbelievable...
In the background, Piter is still smiling as he meanly throws the spice cube directly at Hasimir’s forehead.
Thufir: And why should we help a Harkonnen agent with a "personal matter"?
Piter: You don't have to. But it's a cold world out there... us brain-weird folks could stand to stick together sometimes, eh?
Thufir (from off-screen): Could stand to... Piter, you’re the one who killed Hari Seldon.
Piter (blinking innocently, looking shocked): Was I? ...Oh. That’s right, yes. But... but it was for work?
Piter (from off-screen): And hey! You both knew that the math prediction thing his House had him working on was making powerful enemies! Neither of you stepped in and helped him... and look what happened to him! This is exactly what I mean! A cold, cold world!
Thufir is glowering and holding a hand to his mouth, and his eyebrow is twitching. Hasimir is completely occupied with finding the spice cube, and he looks a little frantic.
"An object seen from a distance betrays only its principle," Scytale said, revealing that he wished to discuss the Emperor's fortress Keep.
"That which is dark and evil may be seen for evil at any distance," Farok said, advising delay.
Why? Scytale wondered. But he said: "How did your son lose his eyes?"
"The Naraj defenders used a stone burner," Farok said. "My son was too close. Cursed atomics! Even the stone burner should be outlawed."
"It skirts the intent of the law," Scytale agreed. And he thought: A stone burner on Naraj! We weren't told of that. Why does this old man speak of stone burners here?
"I offered to buy Tleilaxu eyes for him from your masters," Farok said. "But there's a story in the legions that Tleilaxu eyes enslave their users. My son told me that such eyes are metal and he is flesh, that such a union must be sinful."
"The principle of an object must fit its original intent," Scytale said, trying to turn the conversation back to the information he sought.
Farok's lips went thin, but he nodded. "Speak openly of what you wish," he said. "We must put our trust in your steersman."
"Have you ever entered the Imperial Keep?" Scytale asked.
"I was there for the feast celebrating the Molitor victory. It was cold in all that stone despite the best Ixian space heaters. We slept on the terrace of Alia's Fane the night before. He has trees in there, you know -- trees from many worlds. We Bashars were dressed in our finest green robes and had our tables set apart. We ate and drank too much. I was disgusted with some of the things I saw. The walking wounded came, dragging themselves along on their crutches. I do not think our Muad'dib knows how many men he has maimed."
"You objected to the feast?" Scytale asked, speaking from a knowledge of the Fremen orgies which were ignited by spice-beer.
"It was not like the mingling of our souls in the sietch," Farok said. "There was no tau. For entertainment, the troups had slave girls, and the men shared the stories of their battles and their wounds."
"So you were inside that great pile of stone," Scytale said.
"Muad'dib came out to us on the terrace," Farok said. " 'Good fortune to us all,' he said. The greeting drill of the desert in that place!"
"Do you know the location of his private apartments?" Scytale asked.
"Deep inside," Farok said. "Somewhere deep inside. I am told he and Chani live a nomadic life and that all within the walls of their Keep. Out to the Great Hall he comes for the public audiences. He has reception halls and formal meeting places, a whole wing for his personal guard, places for the ceremonies and an inner section for communications. There is a room far beneath his fortress, I am told, where he keeps a stunted worm surrounded by a water moat with which to poison it. Here is where he reads the future."
Myth all tangled up with facts, Scytale thought.
"The apparatus of government accompanies him everywhere," Farok grumbled. "Clerks and attendants and attendants for the attendants. He trusts only the ones such as Stilgar who were very close to him in the old days."
"Not you," Scytale said.
"I think he has forgotten my existence," Farok said.
"How does he come and go when he leaves that building?" Scytale asked.
"He has a tiny 'thopter landing which juts from an inner wall." Farok said. "I am told Muad'dib will not permit another to handle the controls for a landing there. It requires an approach, so it is said, where the slightest miscalculation would plunge him down a sheer cliff of wall into one of his accursed gardens."
Scytale nodded. This, most likely, was true. Such an aerial entry to the Emperor's quarters would carry a certain measure of security. The Atreides were superb pilots all.
"He uses men to carry his distrans messages," Farok said. "It demeans men to implant wave translators in them. A man's voice should be his own to command. It should not carry another man's message hidden within its sounds."
Scytale shrugged. All great powers used the distrans in this age. One could never tell what obstacle might be placed between sender and addressee. The distrans defied political cryptology because it relied on subtle distortions of natural sound patterns which could be scrambled with enormous intricacy.
"Even his tax officials use this method," Farok complained. "In my day, the distrans was implanted only in the lower animals."
But revenue information must be kept secret, Scytale thought. More than one government has fallen because people discovered the real extent of official wealth.
"How do the Fremen cohorts feel now about Muad'dib's Jihad?" Scytale asked.
"Do they object to making a god out of their Emperor?"
"Most of them don't even consider this," Farok said. "They think of the Jihad the way I thought of it -- most of them. It is a source of strange experiences, adventure, wealth. This graben hovel in which I live" -- Farok gestured at the courtyard -- "it cost sixty lidas of spice. Ninety kontars! There was a time when I could not even imagine such riches." He shook his head. Across the courtyard, the blind youth took up the notes of a love ballad on his baliset.
Ninety kontars, Scytale thought. How strange. Great riches, certainly. Farok's hovel would be a palace on many another world, but all things were relative -- even the kontar. Did Farok, for example, know whence came his measure for this weight of spice? Did he ever think to himself that one and a half kontar once limited a camel load? Not likely. Farok might never even have heard of a camel or of the Golden Age of Earth.
His words oddly in rhythm to the melody of his son's baliset, Farok said: "I owned a crysknife, water rings to ten liters, my own lance which had been my father's, a coffee service, a bottle made of red glass older than any memory in my sietch. I had my own share of our spice, but no money. I was rich and did not know it. Two wives I had: one plain and dear to me, the other stupid and 60 obstinate, but with form and face of an angel. I was a Fremen Naib, a rider of worms, master of the leviathan and of the sand."
The youth across the courtyard picked up the beat of his melody. "I knew many things without the need to think about them," Farok said. "I knew there was water far beneath our sand, held there in bondage by the Little Makers. I knew that my ancestors sacrificed virgins to Shai-hulud . . . before Liet-Kynes made us stop. I had seen the jewels in the mouth of a worm. My soul had four gates and I knew them all." He fell silent, musing.
"Then the Atreides came with his witch mother," Scytale said.
"The Atreides came," Farok agreed. "The one we named Usul in our sietch, his private name among us. Our Muad'dib, our Mahdi! And when he called for the Jihad, I was one of those who asked: 'Why should I go to fight there? I have no relatives there.' But other men went -- young men, friends, companions of my childhood. When they returned, they spoke of wizardry, of the power in this Atreides savior. He fought our enemy, the Harkonnen. Liet-Kynes, who had promised us a paradise upon our planet, blessed him. It was said this Atreides came to change our world and our universe, that he was the man to make the golden flower blossom in the night." Farok held up his hands, examined the palms. "Men pointed to First Moon and said: 'His soul is there.' Thus, he was called Muad'dib. I did not understand all this.
He lowered his hands, stared across the courtyard at his son.
"I had no thoughts in my head. There were thoughts only in my heart and my belly and my loins."
Again, the tempo of the background music increased.
"Do you know why I enlisted in the Jihad?" The old eyes stared hard at Scytale. "I heard there was a thing called a sea. It is very hard to believe in a sea when you have lived only here among our dunes. We have no seas. Men of Dune had never known a sea. We had our windtraps. We collected water for the great change LietKynes promised us . . . this great change Muad'dib is bringing with a wave of his hand. I could imagine a qanat, water flowing across the land in a canal. From this, my mind could picture a river. But a sea?"
Farok gazed at the translucent cover of his courtyard as though trying to probe into the universe beyond.
"A sea," he said, voice low. "It was too much for my mind to picture. Yet, men I knew said they had seen this marvel. I thought they lied, but I had to know for myself. It was for this reason that I enlisted."
The youth struck a loud final chord on the baliset, took up a new song with an oddly undulating rhythm.
"Did you find your sea?" Scytale asked.
Farok remained silent and Scytale thought the old man had not heard. The baliset music rose around them and fell like a tidal movement. Farok breathed to its rhythm.
"There was a sunset," Farok said presently. "One of the elder artists might have painted such a sunset. It had red in it the color of the glass in my bottle. There was gold . . . blue. It was on the world they call Enfeil, the one where I led my legion to victory. We came out of a mountain pass where the air was sick with water. I could scarcely breathe it. And there below me was the thing my friends had told me about: water as far as I could see and farther. We marched down to it. I waded out into it and drank. It was bitter and made me ill. But the wonder of it has never left me."
Scytale found himself sharing the old Fremen's awe.
"I immersed myself in that sea," Farok said, looking down at the water creatures worked into the tiles of his floor. "One man sank beneath that water . . . another man arose from it. I felt that I could remember a past which had never been. I stared around me with eyes which could accept anything . . . anything at all. I saw a body in the water -- one of the defenders we had slain. There was a log nearby supported on that water, a piece of a great tree. I can close my eyes now and see that log. It was black on one end from a fire. And there was a piece of cloth in that water -- no more than a yellow rag . . . torn, dirty. I looked at all these things and I understood why they had come to this place. It was for me to see them." Farok turned slowly, stared into Scytale's eyes. "The universe is unfinished, you know," he said.
This one is garrulous, but deep, Scytale thought. And he said: "I can see it made a profound impression on you."
"You are a Tleilaxu," Farok said. "You have seen many seas. I have seen only this one, yet I know a thing about seas which you do not."
Scytale found himself in the grip of an odd feeling of disquiet.
"The Mother of Chaos was born in a sea," Farok said. "A Qizara Tafwid stood nearby when I came dripping from that water. He had not entered the sea. He stood on the sand . . . it was wet sand . . . with some of my men who shared his fear. He watched me with eyes that knew I had learned something which was denied to him. I had become a sea creature and I frightened him. The sea healed me of the Jihad and I think he saw this."
Scytale realized that somewhere in this recital the music had stopped. He found it disturbing that he could not place the instant when the baliset had fallen silent.
As though it were relevant to what he'd been recounting, Farok said: "Every gate is guarded. There's no way into the Emperor's fortress."
- Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah. Putnam, 1969. p. 57-64.
“The degraded natives who hang about in our towns have little of the appearance or character of the true Fremen.” Not my words, of course, but all too true. And yet, I have no others to work with. My informants needs must be city Fremen, because in spite of all my appeals to the vile Harkonnen; to the Bene Gesserit – they know something, curse them!; to the mysterious Liet Kynes – my counterpart in imperial service, but certainly no colleague; and to the Fremen themselves, I have still not seen the inside of a sietch. Morning, afternoon and evening I hear the cries of the city Fremen – “Soo soo sook!” – from the streets. Bah! They are no help. They are insular and secretive, but have none of the secrets I want.
“Elsden Ahsan, Imperial Ethnographer of Arrakis”! A grand title, I thought, but I should have paid more attention to the muffled giggles of my colleagues back in Kaitain when it was announced. After a year and a half on the desert world I am not closer to any kind of insight beyond what the textbooks already say about these strange people.
A warrior race, no doubt, once you get beyond the crawling, half-civilized city folk, but whatever traditions they have are nothing compared to even a modestly equipped modern force. The Harkonnen barbarians massacre them by the hundreds, slowly exterminating the remaining real Fremen with no regard to humanity, let alone the vital progress of ethnographic science. A couple more decades and the few traces of real Fremen left in the desert will probably be wiped out, and we’ll be left with the city folk, with only the echoes of whatever interesting art and culture evolved out in their desert fastnesses.
I have a new lead today, though. A girl who claims to be from the desert. I met her at the Suk where the real Fremen come to trade (and skirmish) with their debased cousins of the city. Usually they spurn me, but this girl seems unusually intelligent and receptive to the needs of science. I still start at their striking blue eyes, a sign of great wealth and wisdom anywhere else in civilization; here, the birthmark of the common savage.
I meet her in a small room in an inn near the Suk. It is dirty and cheap, probably usually used by prostitutes and thieves. She has brought a few trinkets of sietch life, and I fear that maybe she has misunderstood my interest in her. She winks and laughs, showing me crude jewelry and other women’s things, as if I should be excited or impressed by baubles that you can find in any market stall. There is no industry in the sietches. The desert Fremen, one must presume, lives from day to day without planning beyond their immediate survival.
She moves closer me, playing with her robe and giggling. I clear my throat:
“Can you tell me anything about how these objects are used in the sietch”
“Oh sir, I can think of more interesting things to talk about”
“I am a scientist – what we of the civilized world call an ethnographer. To me, your people’s lives and culture are of the greatest importance in the galaxy. I am more interested in them than in anything else.”
She blinks, licks her lips and tilts her head. Her face has fine features, even though her complexion is terrible and skin dirty. As she pulls at her robe I see that she is a woman – her body swells with pertness. Her small hips sway slightly. She moves closer.
“Sir, you want to know more about us? I can show you.” She giggles again. “Did you bring some water? Some trinkets?” She looks towards my bag on the wretched plastic table, and at my expensive voice recorder.
“Um, would you sit down? I am concerned here with sietch life, not with… other things that you might encounter.”
“Oh, you want to see how we do it in the sietch? I can show you that!” She unties the top of her robe. I can see she is naked underneath – no stillsuit. She is thin, but her body swells and my eyes blur.
She is a common city tart! No real Fremen would behave or look like that, surely! I try to stand and get away in disgust, putting the recorder back and hefting my bag in as dignified a way as I can, but she is pressing against me now, still giggling, one hand on my thigh, the other grabbing at my bag.
With great strength, she grabs my – I can’t write it – in one hand and pulls at my bag with the other. When I resist she screams. I scream, too, as she squeezes. There is thumping from the corridor outside. Two young Fremen burst in and grab me. In an instant they have pinned me to the wall. I have never experienced such extraordinary pain. It paralyzes me.
“Get your hands off my cousin. I should take your water, parasite!” What does he mean? I can see they are already stealing my precious water flask! The other man pulls my dagger from my belt, and holds it against my groin.
I try to respond or to explain the misunderstanding, but cannot speak with his hand around my throat. I’m dying! They smell of week-old sweat and a hint of spice. Their hands are like steel claws, manipulating my body up, out, through the narrow window without effort. I fall out into an alley, where I land on a pile of oily rags. A huddled city Fremen sitting across the alley starts, reaches into his robe, then relaxes, chortling hideously. I hear the girl’s screams turn to manic laughter.
“Take that, Sir Imperial Eff-off-grafter. Eh ha ha!”
My body aches and my eyes sting. The humiliation! I can hear her laughing still as she pulls back from the window, gibbering in conversation with her accomplices. They have my bag, with everything. Even my wallet, which was deep inside a safety-pocket in my jacket, is gone – there is now a long, straight cut in the lining. I didn’t even see the knife.
One must make sacrifices for the advancement of human knowledge, but this is too much. I will write immediately to the Chancellor for reassignment, even if it means insulting the Golden Lion Throne by rejecting their poisoned assignment!
The laughter, though. How can ones such as them laugh at me?
Editorial note, by Princess Irulan: Imperial Ethnographer Elsden Ahsan only escaped his posting on Arrakis much later, a few months before Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV executed his scheme to destroy the Atreides on Arrakis. He later published a lengthy, dismissive ethnographic analysis of Fremen life, almost all of which was fiction. He did not produce any other work of scholarly value during his six years on Arrakis, or, for that matter, through the rest of his career. I include this story from his diaries only for its possible historical interest.