The Hallecks were one of the Houses Minor of Chusuk (fourth planet of Theta Shalish) and were in the business of exporting musical instruments. Their craftsmen produced instruments of high quality; as a result, the Hallecks prospered from the sale of balisets, salleshorns, and lyriflutes to customers throughout the Imperium. Young Gurney, along with his brother Kyle and their younger sister, Annette, was trained from his earliest years in the manufacture and use of fine instruments, and was expected to take over the running of the family business when August retired. He developed a real talent for the baliset, and in 10134 approached his parents with the notion of hiring himself out to entertain one of the Houses Major. The attention attracted to their business, he argued, could only improve it; and he was rapidly becoming convinced that he was a much better musician than businessman. It was a suggestion never to be acted on.
life on Giedi PrimeEdit
In 10155, following a trumped-up declaration of charges against House Euterpe (rulers of Chusuk and longtime allies of the Atreides Dukes), House Harkonnen ordered an attack on Chusuk which left over a third of its industrial areas in ruins. More than fifty thousand captives were taken in the raid, Gurney and Annette Halleck among them. Ten times that number were killed, including every other member of the Halleck family. This wave of murder and destruction was visited on the innocent people of Chusuk for two reasons. First, their siridar-governor was an Atreides ally: a strike against him was a strike against House Atreides, and a strike which could be made in greater safety than one directed against House Harkonnen's true enemy. Second, Chusuk was a small, relatively undefended planet; this made it the ideal place for Glossu Rabban, just entering his uncle's patronage, to conduct his first military action. Baron Vladimir Harkonnen had no intention of testing the boy-commander (Rabban was twenty-three at this time) against a world capable of fighting back. Even at so early an age, Rabban's bent for cruelty asserted itself. After the attack, he personally reviewed the many prisoners and divided them into three groups. The first group, consisting of strong healthy men, was sent to the slave pits on Giedi Prime, the Harkonnen homeworld. Slave labor was one of the mainstays of that planet's economy, and Rabban knew that his contribution to the labor pool would be appreciated by the Baron. Halleck was one of these. Women — but only young and attractive ones — made up the second group. These unfortunates were to be dispatched to the pleasure houses the Harkonnens provided for their troops; Halleck's sister, a strikingly beautiful girl of eighteen, was one of the first women chosen. The third group was a small number of old people, children, and those generally unfit for inclusion in the ranks of laborers and prostitutes. These undesirables were put to the sword as Rabban watched. Halleck spent the decade from 10155 to 10165 on Giedi Prime as a Harkonnen slave. In that brutal environment, where the average life expectancy of a worker was five years, the former musician managed to keep himself alive on the sheer strength of his hatred for his captors. His labor exceeded any the youth had ever known — slaves, for example, dug in the emerald mines outside the capital city of Harko sixteen hours a day, with Harkonnen Family holidays then' only rest — but he was toughened, not broken by it. At night while the others lay exhausted, Halleck comforted himself by remembering the songs of Chusuk, songs of love and of the green planet he might never see again, and by composing new songs in his head. Next to the work, the most dangerous threat to Halleck came from his fellow slaves. Given inadequate food and water, the survivors in the pits were those who learned to fight to defend their portion from the desperate and the greedy. Despite his early revulsion at the day-to-day violence, Halleck determined to survive; he learned to fight with the single-minded fervor be had once applied to learning to strum the baliset. And he never allowed himself to forget who had forced him to his new lessons. In 10164, during his ninth year of captivity, Halleck again met the man responsible for the deaths of his family. Rabban, now appointed to govern Arrakis — where he was thought of as a monster — -in his uncle's name, was making a tour of the pits when Halleck was pointed out to him by one of the guards. The Count was intrigued by the other man's tenacity — of those slaves captured in the Chusuk raid, only Halleck remained alive — and called him over for a personal inspection. Defying the guard's whispered instruction to avert his gaze while being scrutinized by the Count, Halleck stared directly into his enemy's face, with an expression of contempt too obvious to be ignored. The guard swung back his club, preparing to knock this insolent slave to the ground, but Rabban ordered him to hold. His curiosity piqued still further, Rabban demanded to know why Halleck was conducting himself so dangerously; didn't he realize, the Count asked, that he could be flayed alive for such disrespect? Halleck's answer was direct and to the point: he spat in his tormentor's face. Rabban flew into a rage. Seizing an inkvine whip from the nearest guard, he ordered two other men to hold Halleck in place. Then, with a curse, he cracked the whip smartly along the line of Halleck's jaw. Rabban was denied the satisfaction of hearing Halleck scream as the whip hit. He had to content himself with watching the beet-red tattoo rise on the skin the inkvine had struck before he stormed off without completing the tour. Rabban did, however, remember to commute the death penalty for striking a Harkonnen; he said he wanted the slave to live to enjoy the caress of the inkvine. One song, written during the years in the mines, (c. 10164) expresses the pain of slavery, of which the inkvine scar was only the visible reminder: Lost on Giedi's waste, lost in the wind's breath, Wounded by beasts and vines and blows and care, Waste world, Giedi, giving only pain and death, Pain and death, pain and death; but I bear, Though nights and days mix, slip, blend, I bear, as blood dries and hearts rend. Sleep blesses; my nightmares now my days, Days pace year-long where I live and cannot die; Where I die and cannot live, lost in ways Past help and hope, in the dark I lie. But I bear, bear and wait. It conies; I wait For the joys of home or the thrills of hate.
In service of House AtreidesEdit
Somewhat less than a year later, House Atreides (in answer to yet another attack-of-provocation against an ally) sent a force against Giedi Prime itself. The killing of civilians, as well as undue damage to property, was for the most part avoided. Duke Leto Atreides knew the Harkonnen's soft spot and aimed directly at it: he ordered his troops to release and rescue every Harkonnen slave they could find. Halleck -was among those freed. The former slaves were taken to Caladan, the Atreides fief, and given a choice. Those who had relatives, friends, homes on other worlds were free to contact them and arrange for passage back. Those who, on the other hand, lacked any other place to go or wished to begin anew were welcome to sign on with House Atreides. The Atreides, it was stressed, kept no slaves. Anyone who chose to join their service could be certain of being treated fairly, of being free to leave that service at any time (other than under conditions of war), and of Duke Leto’s loyalty in exchange for his own. Halleck explained to the recruiting officer that he would be delighted to enter Atreides service, with one condition: that if he could locate Annette, and arrange her escape, he would be allowed to keep her with him. The officer readily agreed, but could offer Halleck little hope. He was too familiar with the practices inside the Harkonnen pleasure-houses to believe that Annette Halleck would still be alive after ten years, much less within reach of rescue. In 10165, then, at the age of thirty, Halleck found himself embarked on a new career — soldiering. The fighting skills he had learned in the pits of Giedi Prime made a good foundation for his training in modem warfare and, when combined with his fanatic loyalty to his new liege, made him a terrifying man for an enemy to face in battle. His officers made note of him, commended him, saw to it that he was promoted; he had a place in Leto's military council by the time he turned forty. He was happy in his work, feeling that he had at last found the role for which he was ideally suited. He had even — slowly at first, then with increasing confidence when he saw that his playing was received well by his fellows — returned to the baliset. astonished at how much of his early raining he still remembered. Freed now to sing out the pain he had held in for so long, Halleck set to work. (With the later appointment of Duncan Idaho as Warmaster jointly with Halleck, he had more time for his music, and wrote down the songs composed in his mind in his years of slavery. As just two examples of his versatility, see his Desert Hymn and The Flaming Dames at the end of this essay.) Although he had followed many leads over the years, Halleck was never able to discover what had become of his sister. In 10176, however, the answer came to him. A Harkonnen officer had made the mistake of taking an Atreides agent into his confidence and had explained a large facial scar as a souvenir of a girl in a pleasure-house on Larange, a planet in the same sector as Chusuk. The Harkonnen remembered the girl vividly after more than twenty years; she had seized the knife foolishly left on his belt and, after slashing at him, had fallen on it. The agent, with Halleck's quest in mind, put out inquiries and found that the girl was undoubtedly Annette Halleck, and that the incident had occurred on her first day at the Harkonnen facility; she had at least been spared a life of brutalization. The agent then arranged for the Harkonnen officer involved to be implicated in the sale of some very important military secrets. The Harkonnen reputation being what it was, it could be safely assumed that the officer suffered considerably more before his death than had Annette Halleck. All this was passed on to one of Halleck's aides, and thus to Halleck, on the eve of a battle in the Grumman campaign. Even seasoned veterans in the Atreides service spoke for many years of the ferocity with which Halleck led the following days' bloodbath against the Harkonnen forces. The battle on Grumman was the first campaign in service for Duncan Idaho, a new recruit. Halleck was highly impressed by the young man's fighting and took him as a protégé. Idaho rose in the Atreides ranks even more quickly than his mentor had, becoming the House's swordmaster (responsible, with Halleck and Thufir Hawat, for the training of Paul Atreides) in 10182. By his time, Halleck had been appointed War- master, a post he shared equally with his former pupil by 10184.
life on ArrakisEdit
In 10190, Halleck went to the desert planet Arrakis with Duke Leto — appointed governor — and the Atreides household. The Harkonnen- Sardaukar attack on Arrakis in 10191 followed. Halleck, along with the survivors of the force he commanded, joined forces with a group of smugglers. He lived and worked with this group for two years, believing that House Atreides no longer existed and that the Lady Jessica had betrayed both husband and son to the Harkonnens. Existing as he had in the pits on Giedi Prime — revenge his only motivation — Halleck subordinated his grief to his anger and bided his time, awaiting his opportunity to strike. When his band was captured by Muad'Dib (the young Duke he had believed dead) in 10193, Halleck believed that his chance to avenge himself on the traitor had been given, him. He seized Lady Jessica at knifepoint shortly after his arrival at the Cave of Birds and demanded she confess her treachery to Duke Leto. Only Paul's explanation regarding the way Dr. Yueh's Imperial Conditioning had been broken convinced Halleck that he had erred. After this incident, and Lady Jessica's instant forgiveness, Halleck was her most obedient servant.
Return to CaladanEdit
When the Lady returned to Caladan in 101%, he asked for and received permission to accompany and guard her. Scholarly opinion concerning Halleck's relationship With Lady Jessica after their return to the Atreides's old fief is divided. In The Errant Sister, the most exhaustive biography of the Lady yet discovered, researcher Chatan S. Meed advances the theory that the two became lovers before their departure for Caladan. While his case is logically built, and his evidence sound — quotations from letters written by the Lady Jessica to Princess Irulan, for example, in which she refers to Halleck as "my most beloved friend" and makes her affection for the man quite obvious — it is entirely possible that the friendship between Halleck and his liege-lady was no more than a bond between companions who had suffered and triumphed together for many years and wished to share a quiet retirement. It should also be noted that Leto II mentions no such intimacy between the two in his version of the Atreides family history and that he, other than any but the Lady or Halleck, could best confirm its existence. Until more concrete evidence to the contrary can be uncovered, caution decrees that rumor should be ignored and their comradeship be considered exactly that.
Return to Arrakis and final YearsEdit
In 10218, Halleck was again on Arrakis, having accompanied Lady Jessica on her journey to discover the true condition of her daughter Alia, and her grandchildren Leto III and Ghanima. Evidently she had revealed to him her knowledge that Alia had succumbed to Abomination, and her terror that her grandchildren might be similarly afflicted. On her orders, Halleck' arranged for the capture of Leto II, then a boy of nine, and subjected him to the boy's own version of the test-mashad (the Fremen expression for a trial which is either passed honorably or not survived; a test of the soul). Leto's test consisted of being observed and questioned before, during, and after his exposure to large doses of melange: it was believed that the spice-trance the drug induced had led Alia into possession; any indication that Leto would follow the path she had taken would require his death. To assist him in conducting the test — and, perhaps more importantly, to kill the boy should it prove unavoidable — Halleck had taken a Fremen named Namri, father of one of Alia's chief priests. Only when the test was nearing its conclusion did Halleck learn that Namri's true alliance was with Alia, and that the instructions and notes from "Lady Jessica" had in reality been forged by her daughter. Namri, after revealing himself, discovered that Halleck was not the soft, easily bettered off-worlder the Fremen thought, and paid for his mistake with his life. Had Namri but lived to see it, Halleck's next action would have astonished him even more: donning the slain Fremen's robes for disguise, Halleck walked into the desert, called a worm, and rode it to Tuck's Sietch on the inner lip of False Wall. As soon as possible after his arrival at the sietch, Halleck stole a 'thopter and used it to escape to one of the small rebel sietches at Gara Rulen. He was met there by Leto who wore what Halleck believed to be an odd type of stillsuit (it was actually the sandtrout skin the boy had made his own) and led the blind man known as The Preacher. The Bene Gesserit training which Lady Jessica had given him during their years on Caladan convinced Halleck of two things: that Leto spoke the truth when he denied being possessed, and that The Preacher was, as had been rumored, Paul Muad'Dib Atreides. On the basis of those truths, Halleck agreed to return to Arrakeen with Leto and his father. His presence there could not prevent Paul's being killed denouncing his sister to an angry crowd, tat Halleck felt no guilt. Years of association with the Atreides, combined with the teachings of his mistress, had shown Halleck how little the actions of an individual mattered in the face of history — or of legend. Leto II, immediately after his assumption of the throne, sent Halleck as his advisor in Stilgar's Council at Sietch Tabr. A faithful servant of House Atreides to the end, he performed this function until his death in 10226.
His demise marked the passing of the last of the original Duke Leto's advisors and his funeral was conducted with the ceremony and respect generally reserved for those of a much higher caste. Lady Jessica made one last trip back from Caladan to pay her respects to her loyal servant and friend, and the emperor himself presided over the rites. Following the public service, Halleck's body was taken to Sietch Tabr for the private Fremen ceremony he had requested. The water counters representing his water were given to Leto 11, who is (believed to have kept them among his most prized possessions throughout his long life.
Acording to Prelude to Dune Gurney had been born into the slave-caste of Giedi Prime and his sister was named Bheth, not Annette.Also Gurney was not freed by the Atreides Duke but was able to flee from Giedi Prime by his own abilities and first entered the service of House Vernius on Ix before attaching himself to the Atreides.Also in this version his sister had not been killed shortly after her imprisonment but had lived a pityful live as a tortured and mute sex-slave and it was not until Pauls ascension to the throne that Gurney was able to act out his revenge on her torturer, Rulien Scheck and outlawed the practice of slavery on his former homeworld.
- Atreides, Jessica;
- Atreides, Leto I;
- Atreides, Leto II;
- Atreides, Paul;
- Giedi Prime;
- Rabban, count Glossu;
- Chatan S. Meed, the Errant Sister, B.G.
Foundation Studies 9 (Diana: Tevis);
- Juniper Atreo, comp., Diary of an Assassin: A Biography of Gurney Halleck, Arrakis Studies
25 (Grumman: United Worlds).