We open in the same meeting with Count Fenring and the Emperor’s Truthsayer, the Reverend-Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. Norma picks up on the tension between the Emperor and the Reverend Mother. The Emperor himself is stiff, while Fenring seems far more at ease.
Fenring informs us we’ll be reporting to him. Equipment deteriorates quickly on Arrakis, and our experience with ornithopters makes us well-suited for this task. Leaving the room, the Duchess seems concerned for Daphne. Almost like she’s failed, despite how great a boon the Emperor has given our House. Norma peels off to meet with the Bene Gesserit, who says she may need to take Massum to Wallach, a training facility for Bene Gesserit. Daphne’s a bit worried about sending Massum there, given the Bene Gesserit’s relationship to the Emperor.
But it’s time to head back to Jabberwock. Gwyllion preserves the DNA he managed to gather at the meeting. Pardot obtains a gram of spice from Gwyllion, which he feeds to a House servant to test its addictive properties. Davos begins setting up his own “trade” routes on and off Arrakis. Norma trains her proteges while Lysander delivers the sad news regarding his troop deaths to their families. Daphne looks into House Harkkonnen. They have two holdings, Gedi Prime, a heavily polluted and industrialized world. They have a vendetta against another Major House, Atreides, which is probably bad for them because this House has a reputation for deviousness.
Daphne also takes the time to visit her mother. She reveals the offer Kyra made – the holdings of House Iasi, to which she is technically entitled. Her mother warns her of the danger inherent in making such public claims, and Daphne agrees, still uncertain as to what she should do about being the legal heir of two Houses.
Back on Jabberwock, we have a House meeting. The first order of business is Gwyillion’s wish to recruit a Botani-trained assassin. Omelas, Lady Adelaide’s advisor, is against this. But unless Lady Adelaide vetoes the power, he won’t. This requires a bit of discussion. So does the question of Massum, and whether to send him to the Bene Gesserit. There’s a great deal of debate to determine what’s in his best interest. We don’t come to a firm conclusion, only that we should probably ask Massum what he wants.
Next, we discuss the big issue: Arrakis. Mother slips out. Daphne follows. Mother disappears. Daphne uncovers secret passage. We’re in the war room. Daphne confronts her mother. “If you want me to survive Arrakis, you need to start telling me the truth. And all of it.”
She discusses their intention to target their enemy House, House Carroll. Sister Alicia volunteered to be the infiltrator. Socially engineered it to seem like Alicia had fallen into disfavor, then leaked her location. She was held hostage for years, but spread misinformation to the House while feeding info back to our House. Info flow stopped recently, probably via Ixian tech. Time to work as a family. Daphne says she thought they had been. We’re going to have to track down the probes and find out what has happened with Alicia.
After Lady Adelaide reveals this to Daphne, she calls the rest of the House and brings them all up to date. Adeliade doesn’t know what Alicia ever truly intended, or if she ever planned to come home. What Daphne really wants to know is her standing within the House – if she’s still the Heir. It seems that out of Adelaide, Alicia, and Daphine, Daphne seems the only one inclined towards political leadership.
As we discuss what to do, it becomes clear Davos is best situated to take point on this task. One of his contacts, Marcus Binjo, is adept at moving Ixian technology. Currently, we can find him non Faranz V.
After the meeting adjourns, Gwyllion seeks out Duchess Adelaide. He says he was tasked by the Face Dancers to obtain certain DNA samples. Adelaide wants to know if Kyra is still alive. If anyone knows, the Bene Gesserit will.
It’s now time to ask Massum what he wants. He has planned for this, however, setting up a decoy and trying to use the Voice on us. Lysander resists, and wraps the boy up into a tight hug. Massum lets his grief spill out of him, and says how much he misses his mother. He also says he knows we’ve been talking about him and doesn’t want to be anyone’s pawn. He demands of Norma what the Bene Gesserit want from him. Norma promises they will train him to meet the future. Lysander says this gift will come with strings. Ultimately, he resigns himself to his fate and chooses to go with Norma.
Daphne isn’t entirely certain that this is in his best interests, however. After all, the Bene Gesserit never even wanted him to exist. She slips him a code word. If he ever writes to Daphne and calls her his sister, she’ll know something is wrong and she’ll do whatever she can to find and retrieve him.
We have one final farewall breakfast with Massum before he leaves for Wallach. Lysander gifts him with a House specialty weapon, the cat’s tail dagger, so he can find his way back to us if he can. Davos also gives him an escape hatch if he ever decides he needs one. Pardot sends good wishes.
Norma bestows her own gifts on Massum before escorting him, and her protege Belle, to the Mother Superior. She announces a new arrangement with the Emperor, one which will ensure his cooperation for decades. They’ll raise him in anticipation of his eventual ascension to the throne, and condition him to obey the Bene Gesserit. As part of this training, Norma is offered the chance to go through the spice agony and become a Reverend Mother.
Massum extends his hand to Revered Mother, giving her something she seems grateful to receive.
With that, we’re off to Faranz V and Marcus Binjo. Davos makes the initial contact at Marge’s Barge. Unfortunately, Binjo’s been pinched by the security forces after getting into a firefight. He’s now imprisoned on the other side of the planet. Investigating the the wreckage of the firefight, Davos finds groundcars turned to slag… and a poison needle of the sort the Tlailaxu use.