Lady Jessica of the Atreides (10154 AG-10256 AG) was the official concubine of Duke Leto Atreides I, and the mother of his son Emperor Paul Atreides, and of the Regent Alia Atreides. She was also a Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood.
- 1 History
- 2 Migration to Arrakis
- 3 Legacy
- 4 Behind the Scenes
A result of the Bene Gesserit breeding program, Jessica was the illegitimate daughter of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. However, the Bene Gesserit breeding charts note that Jessica's birth mother was named Tanidia Nerus.
Due to this, prior to marrying Leto she was probably referred to as Jessica Nerus in Bene Gesserit records, as opposed to Jessica Mohiam or Jessica Harkonnen, which was top secret information and she was not named this.
She was raised from birth by the Bene Gesserit, who intended to breed her to the House Atreides heir Leto Atreides I, to produce a daughter who would then breed with Feyd Rautha Harkonnen in order to produce the Kwisatz Haderach, the one who would not only possess the genetic memories of all male and female ancestors, but also see into the future. Consequently, Jessica was provided with the most intense and advanced Bene Gesserit education and training.
Relationship with Leto Atreides I
The Bene Gesserit plan to couple Jessica with Duke Leto Atreides I initially appeared to work perfectly. Jessica became the official concubine of Leto Atreides I, which allowed him to also marry. Such political union prove advantageous for the Great House.
However, Jessica felt a great pity from the grief that Leto felt over the death of his first son, Victor Atreides.
The relationship between the two quickly evolved into genuine love, and due this love, Jessica disobeyed her orders and give birth to a son, Paul Atreides, who would be heir of House Atreides, and ultimately ruined the Bene Gesserit plans.
In 10,187 AG, when Leto announced that he was going to marry Ilesa Ecaz to strengthen House Atreides, Jessica took this in dutiful stride. Out of her love for Leto, she genuinely tried to welcome Ilesa to Cala City, and showed her the daily tasks of managing Castle Caladan. Ilesa was suddenly killed during the wedding ceremony, situation that started the War of Assassins of 10,187 AG. Once the war ended, Leto promised he would never marry, and that Jessica would be his one and only mate.
In 10,188 AG, Jessica and Paul visited Ix so that Paul could spend time as an exchange student in Vernii City, just as his father had done decades earlier. To Jessica's dismay, while there, the Bene Gesserit guilt-caster Stokia and three other Sisters visited Tessia Vernius. They demanded that Tessia produce more children for the Gesserit breeding program, which Tessia refused.
Unbeknownst to Jessica, Stokia used her psychic powers to put Tessia into a comatose trance, which rendered Tessia helpless.
Bronso and Paul Run Away
Later that day, Rhombur decided to tell his son, Bronso Vernius, about his true parentage, that he was the artificially conceived son of Tyros Reffa. Bronso, who was 11 years old, reacted bad and encouraged Paul to run away with him off-world. Jessica was concerned about her missing son, and Gurney Halleck and Duncan Idaho were dispatched from Caladan to aide in finding them. A few days later, they received information that both arrived first to Chusuk, and now could be found on Balut with a Jongleur performing group. When Jessica and the rest of the searchers from House Atreides and House Vernius arrived on Balut, they found both Bronso and Paul well treated by the performing group. The Jongleur group was to give a performance in honor of the Governor of Balut's upcoming marriage in the planet's famed Theater of Shards. Paul was able to figure that an assassination attempt was planned.
Paul saved the life of the planetary Governor Alra Kio, but when Rhombur pushed Balut's leader out of the way, the intense sound blast hit him, and ravaged his body. Jessica and the others recoiled in horror as Rhombus died, and Bronso cradled his dying father.
Just before Rhombur died, he whispered his last words to his son, "Is Paul safe?" Deeply hurt that his father did not speak of him or his mother while dying, Bronso cast Jessica and the rest of House Atreides out of his life for the next 12 years. The Atreides returned to Caladan.
Migration to Arrakis
In 10,191 AG, when House Atreides was given the fiefdom of Arrakis, Jessica relocated there along with Leto and their son Paul. However, their rule was short-lived, thanks to the scheme orchestrated by Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV and Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.
When House Harkonnen seized control of Arrakis, Leto was killed, and Jessica and Paul became renegade, and escaped into the deep desert, eventually joining the Fremen. Her grief over losing Leto, who was killed during the Harkonnen attack, was somewhat muddied by the knowledge that she was pregnant with his daughter Alia Atreides.
Life as a Widow
The Fremen of Arrakis were encouraged by Jessica's arrival, for two reasons. Firstly, their own Reverend Mother Ramallo was old and near death. With Ramallo's training Jessica was the perfect choice to replace her. Secondly, the coming of the Fremen messiah was foretold many eons prior (through Bene Gesserit mechanisms), and that he was to be born of a Bene Gesserit. Despite knowing the repercussions of becoming a full-fledged Reverend Mother, Jessica undertook the process of ingesting the toxic liquid of a young sandworm to produce the Water of Life. This act not only elevated her to Reverend Mother status but also fundamentally changed the fetus she was carrying, causing Abomination in her daughter Alia.
Duchess of Caladan
After her son conquered both House Corrino and House Harkonnen to become Emperor, Jessica remained on Arrakis for a year. She accompanied Emperor Muad'Dib on his first official state visit back to Caladan. Paul and Jessica met with the minor Ecaz official that Paul had put in place as governor of Caladan, the Prince Xidd Orlaq.
While there, Paul attempted to return to the joy of his childhood, but was unable to, as he realized that he was no longer just a Duke, but an Emperor. When a courier came to Cala City, announcing that Fremen warriors had taken Kaitain, Paul made his mother, Duchess and ruler of the water planet; a post that Jessica was happy to assume. A year later when Jessica visited Paul on Arrakis, she arrived with Gurney Halleck.
In Caladan, Jessica and Gurney settled into the rule of the planet with continued justice and fairness. She exspecailly loved to join in the local festivities in Cala City during the changing of the seasons. One such festival was the one of the "Empty Man".
Visit to Salusa Secundus
Paul asked his mother to accompany Chani Kynes and Irulan Corrino on a fact-finding mission to the exiled Corrino homeworld of Salusa Secundus provide an update on the status of the terra-forming of the planet. On Salusa Secundus, the former Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV and his aide Hasimir Fenring greeted Jessica's entourage and invited them to a formal dinner. While there, the conversation was steered by Fenring towards Paul's sterilization of worlds. Only Chani could speak positively of Emperor Paul's actions.
Later that week, the fact-finding tour was guided to the other side of Salusa to witness terra-forming first hand. Lars Siewesca, his assistant Qhomba and the rest of the world-altering planetologists blew up an underground aquifer. Lars reported to those assembled that the water from the aquifer would irrigate nearby canyons and that Salusa would be a garden in a couple of centuries. Jessica observed that Shaddam had said out loud that he could not wait that long, reminding Jessica of Corrino treachery of the past.
The Sisterhood's Offer
As the years went by, and Paul's Jihad reached fever pitch, Jessica began to wonder of her son's sanity, believing that perhaps he had turned to Abomination. During a visit to the Motherhood on Wallach IX, Jessica was approached by Mohiam and Mother Superior Harishka, who offered Jessica the post of Mother Superior of the entire Bene Gesserit order, if she kill Paul.
As Jessica thought of all of the human suffering that Paul had created throughout the universe, and though torn by the thought of killing her own son, Jessica inwardly agreed that Paul had indeed become the most brutal ruler in the history of mankind.
Rise of Bronso
In a secret meeting, Paul arranged to meet his mother and the now restored relationship with Bronso Vernius of the planet Ix. Suddenly Paul stepped out of the shadows, to explain to his mother the role of the Jihad.
Paul explained to Jessica that he had to sterilize those worlds, because the people that had looked upon him as some type of Messiah, have to learn the kind of tyranny that false messianic hopes could foster. After seeing his atrocities, mankind never would trust in one human for a type of salvation again. He calmly explained that he planned to sterilize even more worlds, but was secretly evacuating the populace of each world to limit the number of deaths. He also told her about Bronso's secret mission—to write diatribes and publications about Paul's failings.
Murder for Peace
Jessica immediately returned to Caladan to find the planet in an uproar. The people of the water world had declared independence from the Emperor, and were holding rallies of secession. Gurney, in Jessica's absence had tried to negotiate and reason with the planetary rebels, to no avail. When Jessica arrived at Castle Caladan in Cala City, she summoned ten of the secessionist leaders to brokering negotiations. Jessica served them all a bountiful dinner with toasts of drinking water.
Unbeknownst to the rebels, Jessica secretly poisoned the water, and turned the toxic substance into an inert mixture in her own body, by using Gesserit techniques. As the mayor of Cala City, and others that Jessica had known for years fell and dropped dead, realized that she "did what she had to do" to save Caladan from the misguided rebel leaders, and from Paul's wrath had he found out about the rebellion.
After the Death of Paul
Immediately after the supposed death of Paul, Jessica returned with Gurney to Arrakis, out of concern for her grandchildren, Leto and Ghanima. She was also dismayed about the rising cruelty that her daughter Alia used in consolidating her power after Paul's "death". She watched with alarm as Alia created the Mahdinate, a super-religious organization based on the Atreides family. Jessica was also concerned about how Alia banned all forms of opposing expression, and had executed Paul's childhood friend, Bronso Vernius of Ix, for his writings the changes that Paul had gone through. She eventually returned to Caladan in deep concern for the Empire.
Jessica returned to Arrakis, long after Paul's believed death, to again inspect his children Leto II and Ghanima Atreides, in the hope of them not being Abomination and of returning control of the bloodline to the Bene Gesserit. However, while on her mission she discovered that her own daughter, Alia, who was acting as regent, was possessed by the late Vladimir Harkonnen, who was driving her to destroy the Atreides Empire out of revenge.
For her protection against her murdering daughter, Duncan Idaho (the ghola formerly known as Hayt) "kidnapped" Jessica and took her to Salusa Secundus, home of the exiled Corrino House. There, she taught Farad'n Corrino the ways of the Bene Gesserit, unwittingly preparing him for his role as husband to Ghanima and royal scribe to Leto II.
In the thousands of years after her death, Jessica's legacy remained far-reaching. The Bene Gesserit Sisterhood attibuted her universe-changing decisions (and the loss of control of the Kwisatz Haderach) to having fallen in love with "her Duke." Her falling in love became known, in millennia afterwards, as "the Jessica Crime." For the Sisterhood, Jessica's experience was regarded as a valuable lesson in showing restraint for the good of the Sisterhood and of humanity in general.
As a Ghola During Kralizec
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