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Kynes was born on Paseo, the only son of Leuis, a botanist specializing in interplanetary transfer, and Marique Kynes, a biologist whose impressive credentials included five years of secret postgraduate study with the Bene Tleilax. They were of the most prominent members of the Pasean scientific community.
Pardot majored in a field, synthesis of those of his parents, as he wrote in the introduction to his masterwork, Ecology of Dune:
- "I chose to become a planetologist — if, indeed, that position may be said not to have chosen me — for the freedom of inquiry it provided. The ecology of a world is not made up only of flora and fauna; it encompasses weather, geology, even history as it applies to the balances present on that world. No area is beyond ecological consideration."
- ―Pardot Kynes
Kynes started with scientific precision, enrolling at 15, the age of admission in the Imperial University on Kaitain and immersed himself in the study of planetary ecology for six years, spent in singleminded pursuit of knowledge to the exclusion of all other interests; Kynes did not even visit his homeworld.
Meanwhile in the Planetary University of Paseo, the infamous Milberne lecture happened (10141 AG), when a guest speaker unwittingly loosed a few Ecazian glowspores in the campus's main hall. 3000 students and other attendees, included his parents died of exposure to the deadly spores. Kynes was lucky enough to stay on Kaitain.
In 10142 AG, Kynes graduated at the head of his class and entered Imperial service as a research assistant in an ecological survey station on Ecaz where he spent 2 years. Then he was transferred to a similar station on Topaz, as a full-fledged researcher. He continued to advance during his tenure on that world and was appointed as head of the largest facility on Topaz in 10147 AG. Along with his promotions, Kynes was earning a widening reputation among his circles, seen as one of their leading lights, astonishingly competent for his age.
During his stay there, Kynes, already familiar with the checks and balances of that world, witnessed the outbreak of Catha fungus on Ecaz in 10148 AG: The fogwood crop (one of Ecaz's most important exports) stood in danger of being completely destroyed by the fastspreading growth; Kynes recommended importing spores of Kuenn's Fungus, the nearest known equivalent to an organic catalyst, to halt the plague. The imported fungus crowded out the malignant growth while not harming the valuable fogwood, and Kynes was formally commended by House Xitan, the Ecazian administrator.
This commendation earned him the attention of Emperor Elrood IX who in 10149 AG offered him as a reward the position of Imperial Planetologist for Arrakis which was available. Kynes long considered the desert planet one of the most intriguing and understudied places in the Imperium, accepted at once. 28-year old Kynes' supporters considered his appointment long overdue, while his detractors thought him too young and inexperienced to handle such an important position.
On Arrakis, Kynes had bad relations with the Harkonnens, holders of that fief, who viewed Arrakis as a hellhole, fit only for producing spice and to keep their workforce subdued. Kynes wished only to be left alone to study the desert planet and to report his findings to the emperor, but the Harkonnens constantly interfered and insisted that Kynes was accompanied all the time by at least one House guard; Kynes protested and avoided them whenever possible.
Each new study convinced Kynes that it could be transformed into a gentler world, one on which humans could live without the constant threat of death from thirst and heat. The private and xenophobic native Fremen/DE were capable of meeting the desert on its own terms thanks to their innate ecological sense. They did not bow in terror to the tyrant Harkonnens, paid no fai, water tribute to them and even were eager to kill outsiders who invaded them. Kynes had decided that only them could possibly help him implement his vision.
In the spring of 10151, on a walking excursion (this time without his guards), behind the section of the Shield Wall nearest the village of Windsack, Kynes stumbled upon half a dozen fully armed and shielded Harkonnen bullies toying with three Fremen youths, evidently planning to kill them for sport. Kynes interfered and killed two of the Harkonnen men with a slip-tip before anyone noticed him, while the Fremen had downed two of the bullies on their own. One of the youths was down as well, with a severed artery. Kynes dispatched one more Harkonnen, then, leaving the single survivor to his fate at the hands of the two Fremen. He gave the third boy medical attention he needed. The ecologist represented to the youths a water burden they did not know how to repay. Confused, they took Kynes back with them to their sietch overlooking Wind Pass to decide what was to be done with him.
There, Kynes felt himself completely in his element. He lectured the amazed Fremen on a number of subjects — anchoring dunes with grass, with Trait bearing trees might best be planted in the resulting greenbelts, pros and cons of qanat (open-trench) irrigation — with complete disregard for his own safety. The Fremen listened and debated what to do with the benevolent stranger. Kynes was clearly admired by most of the sietch, especially his talk about water, but their security overrode all other considerations, and the elders pronounced his death sentence (albeit with some regret).
Uliet, one of their most experienced fighters, was sent with a consecrated knife to carry out the sentence. Two watermen followed him, prepared to release the intruder's water for use by the sietch. As it was, the ecologist merely paused between sentences when Uliet approached. Then he turned his back, leaving himself open. Uliet hesitated, and in that moment, he took three steps and fell on his crysknife, "removing" himself as ordered. The stunned watermen carried him off to the deathstill, and Kynes continued his lecture oblivious of what had just occurred. Everyone present took it an obvious message from Shai-Hulud. Kynes was meant to lead them.
The Harkonnens knew nothing of Kynes's plan, nor of his Fremen. Behind the ecologist's back, jokes were made about his pleasure in associating with the "desert scum" — it was discovered that he had taken Mitha, a woman from Sietch Tabr, as wife — but no one dared mock him openly (imperial servants had power).
The Fremen were a people who had learned patience at the hands of men with whips; they were content to wait, knowing that their labors would buy glory for themselves and a living paradise for their descendants.
Beginning with a one kilometer square area located in the deep desert (around 40° south latitude), Kynes ordered that the tribes begin the work of settling into the hitherto-uninhabited region. The first tribe died, almost in its entirety, and only a pair of messengers survived to report back. Kynes took careful notes, and sent out another group of 150, this one better prepared, who established the settlement, at the cost of half their numbers.
Kynes under the unsuspecting noses of his Harkonnen overseers, smuggled desert Fremen into his Biological Testing Stations who studied, conducted tests, and stole tools and equipment back to their sietches for use in setting up hidden windtraps and water basins. All water obtained by the sietches, gleaned from the air, supplemented by that from the death-stills, found its way into one of these basins which started to fill up. No Fremen would drink of the sacred Water of Paradise, no matter his extremity, on pain of losing his soul. The sole exception was combat water, which by Fremen law belonged to the victor of a hand-to hand fight.
The first phase of the project had several considerations.
- The first core samples taken from the trial zone, in 10152 AG, revealed that sand-worm digestion byproducts became nutrients, so the sand itself could provide most of the nutrients for the plants.
- Even a relatively mild sandstorm could bury the trial zone. Some old, reasonably stable dunes would give the plantings their best chance — provided the problem of holding down the dust could be resolved.
- The sandtrout swam freely through the sand and sealed off all available water in the porous lower strata, something which would destroy their attempts.
Teams were studying weather patterns, area climates, and myriad other ecological details. The Fremen discovered and cultivated several curious plants such as the Gift to the Thirsty which collected a great amount of water. Kynes worked furiously, not only performing his own research but also correlating data between Fremen groups; and also make the necessary social moves and dodges to keep the Imperium ignorant of his work. He never showed his tiredness to his Fremen, who had come to consider him one of their umma.
Eventually Kynes himself discovered that there had been open water on Arrakis at some time in the past, when he discovered a salt pan in the deep bled, giving hope that water can exist again. Still worried about the sandtrouts, he loosed some in one of the Testing Station gardens to see their reactions: the plant roots hindered them from performing their usual function and just flew or died.
With these 2 discoveries, real work could begin.
After weeks of careful inquiry and widespread bribery, Kynes had arranged for an interview with Altenes and Garik of Ix, responsible for governing the Guild. Without explaining his reasons, but using their sensitivities concerning the melange supply, Kynes arranged that the Guild not permit observation satellites to be placed above the deep desert on Arrakis. The large payment demanded, was not permitted to weigh against the need for the planted areas.
More Fremen groups were sent out to establish new trial zones along the 40° line. Equipped with a variety of sophisticated drilling equipment, windtrap construction material, poverty grass seeds and sandtrout-proof sheaths, they were either dig for water under the sand, or build a windtrap if there was no water.
Each stabilized area accumulated a higher windward crest after each sandstorm, which would in turn be planted with poverty grass (a mutated version of the plant which had been engineered by Salim, one of Kynes's first Fremen students) in each of the 12 planting zones, along the downwind sides of old dunes. There it stabilized the sand against the prevailing westerly winds, until sifs (barrier dunes of more than 1,500 meters' height) were produced. In all but 4 of the test zones — in which the grass refused to take root — three sifs were ready in a matter of months.
Aware that he was more or less still under constant surveillance, he guided the processes away from the eight palmaries, which were named for eight of the Imperial Testing Stations: Wind Pass, Chin Rock, Hagga Basin, Tsimpe, Gara Rulen, Windsack, Old Gap, and Harg. In this way, it was hoped, they could be mentioned without alerting the Harkonnens.
He had predicted that in many decades, the palmaries would spread over enough of the surface to establish a "self-sustaining cycle". He had estimated that 3% of the green plant element would have to be involved in forming carbon compounds to start the cycle (the actual figure eventually proved to be 3.92%).
With 8 tile barriers in place, planting continued in those areas, with species from all over the Imperium, experimenting with chenopods, pigweeds, and amaranth. They were tough and stringy enough and in only 2 years these provided stable bands of growth that were (in the protection of the sifs) expanding outward. Then slightly more fragile plantings such as scotch broom, low lupine, vine eucalyptus (originally adapted for the northern reaches of Caladan), dwarf tamarisk, and shore pine were placed at each site. Their mortality rate was higher but those managing to survive were toughened by the trial.
Each plant was carefully tended, pruned, cautiously watered, and provided with its own dew collector that condensed air moisture which then trickled down to the roots, to keep the additional moisture needed to a minimum. Much support production needed, including dew collectors, stillsuits or cloth. Fremen children began instruction in the workings of Arrakis's ecology at age 5 and were taught to check the collectors and remove dead or dying growths. Kynes's own son, known Liet, was no exception.
Not all varieties took equally well at every site, but by 10167 AG each of the palmaries had more than tripled its original groundcover area, with increasingly large amounts of water being successfully tied into the root systems.
Animals were imported next: borrowers to keep the soil aerated: kit fox, kangaroo mouse, desert hare, sand terrapin; predators to balance the population of the burrowers: desert owl, desert hawk, dwarf owl, eagle; insects to feel necessary ecological niches: scorpion, centipede, trapdoor spider, biting wasp, wormfly; and desert bat, to keep the insects under control.
Within 2 years, the Fremen ecologits had learned their lessons well and found the proper balances among the new arrivals.
The most crucial stage was the smuggling from offplanet of more than 200 selected medicinal and food plants vital to their goal, including coffee, date palm, melon, cotton, which were dispersed among the palmaries.
For that batch, the Fremen worked harder than ever, with watches (even with round-the-clock) over newly planted areas to ensure their safety from rodents. Remains of dead plants were carefully examined and reported to Kynes through his son.
Over the next 3 years reports were increasingly encouraging: over 100 varieties had been successfully cultivated without major change. Other 75 proved to be adaptable to Arrakis through grafting, crossbreeding, or alteration of seeds by various external stimuli. (Salim had assembled a group specializing in this type of treatment.) Only 30-odd plants proved absolutely incapable of surviving.
As the cultivated areas expanded farther, however, the native sand plankton that came in contact with the new lifeforms was poisoned by protein incompatibility. A barren zone was formed at the edge of each palmary, saturated with poisonous water.
Kynes would not handle it on an on-the-spot basis. He fabricated a story about wanted to investigate an obscure type of plant at an outlying sietch. Eluding the Harkonnens he arranged a 20-thumper/DE trip to the barren zone to the south, in a palanquin carried by his Fremen. For 3 days he locked himself into his yali and examined samples of the poisoned soil, lookinh haggard as a man who travelled from the Great Flat.
He discovered that adding fixed nitrogen and sulfur to the chemicals produced by the decomposed sand plankton would convert the barren zone to rich soil in which their plantings could thrive. The speed with which the palmaries could expand would now be determined solely by labor and available water. This advance shortened the projection of the transformation to 350 years.
In 10175 AG the Plaster Basin cave warren — containing one of the secret water catches — collapsed when Kynes and a party of Fremen were trapped in a landslide. The bodies were recovered and rendered for their water, according to the Fremen custom. The hoarded water was sealed and not even the tons of rock and sands affected it, but instead of tunneling into the holding system, the Fremen instead held ceremony in which the concealed water was dedicated to the spirit of Pardot Kynes.
It was believed that the water would not return to the ground system until the ecological transformation was nearly complete. In this way, Kynes would be a participant in the process he had begun, long after his actions in the real world had been abruptly halted.
Kynes's death caused no deviation from the plan. The palmaries continued on the cared for by the Fremen and unknown to any outsiders for almost half a century. Nor did the Harkonnen-Atreides warfare, the demise of Liet-Kynes (who had inherited his father's place with the tribes) in 10191 AG, nor even the ascension of Paul Muad'Dib Atreides in 10196 AG. When the soldiers of the Jihad left Arrakis it was with the knowledge that those left behind were also fighting for their cause by tending the palmaries.
Not until 10221 AG, when Leto II was transformed into the superhuman being who would rule for over 3000 years, was Pardot Kynes's plan brooked. Kynes never imagined that his timetable might conflict with that of a God-Emperor.
Leto II, just beginning his reign, needed time. He knew that he would continue, and perhaps hasten, the transformation which Kynes had initiated, but he had not yet decided at what pace it would be done. In 10221 AG he purchased a breathing space of several decades by destroying the qanats of four of the eight palmaries: Gara Rulen, Windsack, Old Gap, and Harg.
Deprived of their water, the still fragile plantings withered and died. This left only half the original number of green areas — Wind Pass, Chin Rock, Hagga Basin, and Tsimpe — to harbor Kynes's, and his Fremen's, dreams.
The Fremen, terrified by the sudden destruction, but unable to face abandoning their work, concentrated their efforts on the remaining sites and hoped for peace.
Leto II, once his rule was firmly established, gave them rather more than that. He brought the decades-old secret into the open, acknowledged the palmaries' existence, and made their advancement an Imperial priority. The Fremen were able to go on with their work at a pace which would have astonished and gratified Pardot Kynes.
By 10260, fifty palmaries, each larger than any of the original sites, Were in various stages of completion; a century later, they had spread over enough of the Arrakis surface to establish the "self-sustaining cycle" which Kynes had originally predicted would occur. (He had estimated that three percent of the green plant element would have to be involved in forming carbon compounds to start the cycle working, and he was very nearly correct. The actual figure was 3.92 percent.)
As the greenbelts and groves took over larger and larger segments of the planet, the native lifeforms, including the sandworms, were driven off into increasingly smaller reservations. The establishment of Kynes's cycle signaled the end for them: the last sandworm sighting occurred in 10402, and the sandworm was in its death throes.
The God Emperor stepped in once again, ordering the placement of Ixian weather-control satellites over the small area of the planet which remained desert. While weather satellites had been in use on Arrakis to one degree or another since the rule of Leto II's father, these were intended for a use unique in the planet's history. Earlier satellites had been brought in to help gentle the fierce climate; these were intended to bring back some of that lost ferocity, to preserve one small piece of Arrakis, the Sareer, in as close to its original form as possible.
Socially, even those who liked and admired him considered him cold and distant as he often reoved himself from the company of others. It was not aloofness but rather a sense of time passing in which he had too much to accomplish to permit himself any distractions. His friends accepted this attitude, his enemies did not, and Kynes himself refused to let it concern him.
The greening of Arrakis is perceived as the ecologist’s gift to the Fremen, but he also left behind written work; books and articles that have provided generations of scholars with insights and information unavailable from any other source. They were preserved and rediscovered in the Rakis Hoard
- Ecology of Dune (10150 AG) considered the seminal work pertaining to Arrakeen ecology, is his best-known piece
- Notes of a Planetary Ecologist offers a detailed comparison of the ecological systems of a dozen worlds, stressing the similarities underlying the differences necessitated by the changes in locale.
- Storm Systems and Their Effects provides with an astute analysis of the major weather patterns throughout the Imperial planets, with special emphasis on the role of storms in accelerating erosion and soil damage.