Arrakis, also known as "Dune", and later "Rakis" after the fall of God-Emperor Leto II, was a harsh desert planet located on the far edge of the Old Imperium in the Canopus star system. It later became the Imperium's center under Muad'Dib's empire. It was the original and for a long time sole source of the Spice Melange, which was vitally important for space travel.
Arrakis was located far from the major populated worlds and their trade routes. It was orbited by two moons: the first and larger of these bore a formation which looked like a human fist; the second had a formation that resembled a kangaroo mouse.
During the times of the Old Empire, imperial scientists had various laboratories on Arrakis, to estimate its worth. With the rise of the Titans, all scientists left Arrakis out of fear interstellar travel might break down in the upcoming turmoil.
Later Zensunni settled on Arrakis, maybe as part of their exodus, to flee the Titans and their robotic armies. They mainly made a living by scavenging the desert for anything that could be sold to the merchants at the spaceport. The sandworms were considered demons.
The distinction of the Fremen began with Selim. His Naib banned him from the Sietch for the good of the tribe. But Selim was innocent, so he never forgave his Naib and saw no need to return to a normal life. He was the first who learned how to ride a worm and became Selim Wormrider. He gathered followers, who despised the extravagant sinful life of their fellows as well. Selim laid the foundation for a cult, in which the worms were considered godly. Decades later, Selim's group mixed with zenshiite slaves, who had escaped from Poritrin, led by Ishmael. Ishmael declared themselves the free men. Years later, the free men again split into two factions: one would live on in the desert as nomads. The other faction would re-join the rest of the population to make an easier living. With this, the name Fremen spread to Arrakis' whole population.
Fight for SurvivalEdit
The fight for survival on the harsh world had long dominated the Fremens's cultural identity. The brutal environment of Arrakis necessitated the frugal use energy and resources, especially water. Additionally, their history with cultural persecution mandated the need for combat knowledge. These two aspects saw them emerge as efficient and hardy warriors, who used their skills and the environment of Arrakis to fend off off-world opponents who often possess far superior technology and formal training.
The Fremen typically lived in patriarchal collectives, known as sietches, which were led by a Naib. Each sietch resides within one of the numerous rocky formations that dot the sands of Arrakis. Collectively, all Fremen belonged to the Ichwan Bedwine, or broad brotherhood.
Other human settlers included the graben population in the urbanised areas. This population consisted of traders and off-worlders who tried to make their living through the water or spice trades. Indeed, the promise of riches through the sale of water to the Fremen, and the sale of the spice melange to other worlds brought many people to the more populous areas of the planet.
Arrakis also saw the peoples of Great Houses populate the planet. As a siridar fief of the Imperium, whichever House|Great House had possession of this fief would typically maintain a large population that included armies, administrative staff, Family members, household staff, a spy network, and richece.
The surface of Arrakis consisted almost exclusively of dry dune deserts, and was the reason for the planet's alternative name Dune. Various weathered mountain ranges stretched across the planet, breaking up the deserts and providing shelter to the limited native lifeforms. Rock outcrops also littered the planet's surface.
The atmosphere comprised of nitrogen and oxygen in measures compatible enough to allow human beings to live on the planet without the need for respiratory equipment. The production method of atmospheric oxygen sufficient to sustain limited biological life is through sandworm's metabolism, which acts like oxygen producing factory.
Vast reserves of water were located deep within the mountains of the planet, as well as within countless sandtrout. Small amounts of water vapour existed in the atmosphere, and were harvested via windtraps.
The northern pole of the planet sat on a large plate of bedrock, and was ringed by mountain ranges. Thus it was protected from sandworm incursion, until the Fremen, led by Paul Atreides, used atomics to destroy the Shield Wall shortly before he proclaimed himself Emperor.
This geography, combined with the milder climate, made human habitation at the pole more comfortable, and explained the presence of the capital city Arrakeen.
Little native life survived on Arrakis, due to its scorching heat and dry climate. The various lifeforms that did endure were eclipsed by the sandworms, which roamed the deep deserts of the planet. The sandworms played an important role in the production of melange, and aggressively protected their desert territory from humans and other sandworms alike.
The Fremen, traditionalist human clans, also eeked out a life on the planet, existing in the caves of rocky outcrops and mountain ranges that broke up the planet-wide desert.
Other lifeforms on Arrakis included sandtrout (which interplays heavily with the sandworm); the kangaroo mouse, known to the Fremen as Muad'Dib. Some forms of flora existed on the planet, including the creosote bush. Various birds and bats were also known to exist in the ecosystems of the planet. Some of these were domesticated by the Fremen.
Specifically,the kinds of life forms that existed on Arrakis included:
- Poverty grass
- Ephemerals - chenopods, pigweeds, amarinth
- Scotch broom
- Low lupine
- Vine eucalyptus (from Caladan)
- Dwarf tamarisk
- Shore pine
- Shrubs and bushes, including camel sage, onion grass, gobi feather grass, wild alfalfa, burrow Bush, sand verbena, evening primrose, incense bush, smoke tree, creosote bush.
Various animals, including:
- Burrowing animals: kit fox, kangaroo mouse, desert hare, sand terrapin
- Predators, including the desert hawk, dwarf owl, eagle, desert owl
- Insects, namely scorpion, centipede, trapdoor spider, biting wasp, wormfly
- The desert bat
Old Empire and Time of TitansEdit
During the times of the Old Empire, imperial scientists had various laboratories on Arrakis, to estimate it's worth. With the rise of the Titans, all scientists left Arrakis out of fear interstellar travel might break down in the upcoming turmoil.
Later Zensunni settled on Arrakis, maybe as part of their exodus, to flee the Titans and their robotic armies. They mainly made a living by scavenging the desert for anything that could be sold to the merchants at the spaceport.
Arrakis was known to the Old Empire, which dispatched a team of scientists shortly before its fall. After concluding that the planet offered no tangible benefits they were called back due to the unrest being caused by the rise of the Cymeks. By the time of the protracted war between Omnius and the League of Nobles, Arrakis had become a remote trading outpost and haven for fugitives. Shortly after the rise of the Thinking Machines and prior to the creation of the Guild, various pacifist Zensunnis crashed onto the planet in a prototype warp vessel to escape the wrath of both humans and sentinent machines. On Arrakis they started a barely self-sustaining culture that shunned outsiders. This culture, with the addition of later off-world religious refugees, would later evolve into the Fremen.
Before the discovery of the Spice Melange on the planet, Arrakis was of little tactical, biological or geological interest to the inhabitants of the Imperium. However, the powerful effects of the spice, especially with regard to space travel, quickly made it an essential resource and a focal point for the empire. The discovery of the Spice Melange noticeably increased the Arrakis's importance, until by the time of Paul Atreides it had become a critical component in the Corrino Empire.
A Corrino plot to develop a spice alternative or synthesise it, lead to the Arrakis ecology becoming of some interest to Emperor Elrood IX, and his son Shaddam. Previous experiments had seen sandworms die shortly after they were transplanted from Arrakis to another world, regardless of how faithful a reproduction of their ecosystem was made. As a result, Elrood sent his Imperial Planetologist Pardot Kynes to analyze the planet's ecosystem. Kynes' analysis of Arrakis convinced him that the planet was once a lush and fertile world. He believed that through careful and multi-generational planning, Arrakis could once again become a paradise. The Fremen, enchanted by Kynes' stories of large bodies of water, greenery and mild temperatures not requiring stillsuits, followed him with fervour. Kynes became so fascinated by the planet and its people that he married into a Fremen tribe, eventually being absorbed by their culture and coming to be known as a leader among the Fremen. He saw so much potential in the planet and its people that he sought to hide its secrets from the Emperor. This lead eventually to Kynes' death; but not before leaving a legacy with the inhabitants of Dune, teaching his son Liet Kynes his knowledge, and a long-lasting vision for the Fremen people.
During Shaddam's rule, in 10,191 A.G., House Atreides arrived on Arrakis, and took over control of the planet and spice production. By this time, the planet had for some years been under the brutal control of Atreides enemies House Harkonnen, who managed spice mining operations on behalf of Emperor Shaddam IV. The Atreides rule was cut short, however, through a betrayal in a conspiracy by Harkonnen and Imperial forces.
House Atreides went into hiding, but after seeking refuge with the Fremen, they quickly became their leaders through their inherent ability to command loyalty, and through their promise that Kynes' vision would be realised through their rule. Three years later, Paul Atreides under the Fremen name of Muad'Dib, using Atreides Family atomics, created a gap in the Shield Wall that had been protecting Arrakeen since the dawn of time. Riding into the city on sandworms, the Fremen defeated Harkonnen and Corrino forces, and Paul Atreides declared victory and ascended to the Golden Lion Throne. Arrakis became the new seat of power for both the Empire and the religious jihad that Paul unleashed upon the known universe.
Eventually, Paul's limited interpretation of the Golden Path strategy led to the terraforming of the planet, carried out by Paul's son, Leto II, the long-lived God-Emperor. Over several thousand years, Arrakis was transformed into a green and temperate world much more habitable to humans, just as Kynes had hoped. Ultimately however, the new ecology was dangerous to the giant sandworms, and they all but became extinct under Leto II's rule. During this time, new mountain ranges, forests, and rivers came into existence. Off world animals were introduced and took root on the planet. Only Leto's Sareer remained evidence that Arrakis was once a desert planet.
After some 3,500 years of rule, Leto II was assassinated while crossing the Idaho River after the Guardian Wall of the Sareer opened. Leto fell into the river, and his worm-body was destroyed by the water, which was toxic to him. His body decomposed into sandtrout that absorbed water, eventually leading to a recreation of the conditions required for the sandworms to appear. Over the next 1500 years, Arrakis gradually returned to desert. Also during this time, many names for places had become shortened. Arrakis eventually became known as Rakis, while the city of Arrakeen became known simply as Keen. Following Leto's death, control of the planet was taken over by Leto's Fish Speakers, the Rakian Priesthood, and the Bene Gesserit.
The Scattering & The The Return of the Honored MatresEdit
As most of humanity had gone out into The Scattering, the returning Honored Matres 1500 years later, caused the most fear about Rakis. The humans of the Scattering had been weaned of any need for melange, and the Matres especially, saw eliminating spice as a way to break the power brokers, the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood and the Tleilaxu, who had stayed behind in the Empire.
In an attempt to destroy the center of spice production, the planet was eventually attacked and decimated by the Honored Matres with their space-borne incinerating Weapon, an action that totally destroyed all biological life; and rendered parts of the planet's surface akin to fused glass. However, their efforts did not totally succeed, and the Bene Gesserit managed to escape with a ghola of Duncan Idaho, Sheeana, their leader Darwi Odrade, and a single sandworm to Chapterhouse. The sandworm managed to survive the transplant, and revived hopes in the Bene Gesserit to recreate Arrakis, or "Dune", on other planets through the Known Universe.
Upon arriving at the secret Gesserit capital planet of Chapterhouse, Odrade had the worm drowned, and some of its' sandtrout placed into the soil of Chapterhouse. Slowly over time, the world was slowly terra-formed into a planet similar to Dune, with a sandworm spice cycle.
Waff & the Return to RakisEdit
A few decades later, a ghola of the Tleilaxu Master Tylwyth Waff was awakened by the Honored Matres and a Tleilaxu scribe in Bandalong, just prior to battles at the end of the age, during the advent of Kralizec began. As such, it was Waff's goal to re-introduce sandworms to the planet, in which he believed the essence of the God Emperor, who was the Tleilaxu Prophet, lived. Having been rescued from the destruction of Bandalong by the Guild, Waff strengthened captured sandworm specimens he had, by giving them armored mouth sections, in hopes they could burrow through sections of Rakis' fused-glass surface.
Waff and his specimens were dropped off onto the surface of Rakis, with a small entourage' of assistants. To Waff's dismay, he released his armor-enhanced sandworms, but they soon died. Waff was overjoyed later, as deep rumblings hundreds of feet below the surface of Rakis, revealed sandworms that had survived the attacks decades earlier. As the worms shot to the surface, Waff, exuberant at the survival of the worms from the Matres' attack over 40 years earlier, decided to commit religious suicide and allowed the worms to devour him.
Later, after the events of Kralizec, and the revelation of Duncan Idaho as the Ultimate Kwisatz Haderach, the gholas of Paul Atreides and Chani, newly married, resettled on Arrakis. The planet had developed a new spice cycle, producing melange, as the sandworms had flourished and multiplied.
Behind the ScenesEdit
The length of day and night on Arrakis at the poles were not explained clearly in the novels by Frank Herbert.
Very little information of the pre-Imperium history of the planet was mentioned in the original novels by Frank Herbert. However, the prequel novels by his son Brian Herbert and co-author Kevin J. Anderson stated that the existence of Arrakis was known to the Old Empire.
The name Arrakis is believed to come from the Arabic name الراقص ar-rāqiṣ, meaning "the dancer", originally a star-name for Mu Draconis.
- Arrakis is also known as "Dune".