House Atreides

GIEDI PRIME

Transmission to the galactic merchandizing conglomerate “Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles” (CHOAM) from the Spacing Guild:Our specific charge in this unofficial mission has been to search the uninhabited worlds to find another source of the precious spice melange, upon which so much of the Imperium depends. We have documented the journeys of many of our Navigators and Steersmen, searching hundreds of planets. To date, however, we have had no success. The only source of melange in the Known Universe remains the desert world of Arrakis. The Guild, CHOAM, and all other dependents must continue in thrall of the Harkonnen monopoly.

However, the value of exploring outlying territories for new planetary systems and new resources bears its own fruit. The detailed surveys and orbital maps on the attached sheets of ridulian crystal will no doubt be of commercial import for CHOAM.

Having completed our contract to the specifications upon which we previously agreed, we hereby request that CHOAM deposit the required payment in our official Guild Bank headquarters on Junction.

To His Royal Highness, the Padishah Emperor Elrood IX, Ruler of the Known Universe:From His Faithful Subject the Siridar Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Planetary Governor of Arrakis, titular head of House Harkonnen and Overlord of Giedi Prime, Lankiveil, and allied planets.

Sire, let me once again affirm my commitment to serving you faithfully on the desert planet Arrakis. For seven years after my father’s death, I am ashamed to say that my incompetent half brother Abulurd has allowed spice production to falter. Equipment losses have been high, while exports fell to abysmal levels. Given the dependence of the Imperium on the spice melange, this bottleneck could have had dire consequences. Be assured that my family has taken action to rectify the unfortunate situation: Abulurd has been removed from his duties and relegated to the planet of Lankiveil. His noble title has been removed, though he may reclaim a district governorship one day.

Now that I am the direct overseer of Arrakis, allow me to give you my personal guarantee that I will use whatever means necessary— money, dedication, and an iron hand— to ensure that melange production meets or exceeds previous record levels.

As you so wisely have commanded, the spice must flow!

Melange is the financial crux of CHOAM activities. Without this spice, Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers could not perform feats of observation and human control, Guild Navigators could not see safe pathways across space, and billions of Imperial citizens would die of addictive withdrawal. Any simpleton knows that such dependence upon a single commodity leads to abuse. We are all at risk.

—CHOAM Economic Analysis

of Materiel Flow Patterns

Lean and muscular, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen hunched forward next to the ornithopter pilot. He peered with spider-black eyes through the pitted windowplaz, smelling the ever-present grit and sand.

As the armored ’thopter flew high overhead, the white sun of Arrakis dazzled against unrelenting sands. The sweeping vista of dunes sizzling in the day’s heat made his retinas burn. The landscape and sky were bleached of color. Nothing soothed the human eye.

Hellish place.

The Baron wished he could be back in the industrialized warmth and civilized complexity of Giedi Prime, the central world of House Harkonnen. Even stuck here, he had better things to do back at the local family headquarters in the city of Carthag, other diversions to suit his demanding tastes.

But the spice harvesting must take precedence. Always. Especially a huge strike such as the one his spotters had reported.

In the cramped cockpit, the Baron lounged with well-postured confidence, ignoring the buffet and sway of air currents. The ’thopter’s mechanical wings beat rhythmically like a wasp’s. The dark leather of his chestpiece