- "Human life is not negotiable"
- ―Serena Butler
Serena Butler [221 BG - 164 BG] was born on Salusa Secundus about twenty years before the start of the Butlerian Jihad. She was the daughter of Manion Butler and Livia Butler, and a pivotal figure in the events leading up to and during the Jihad.
Born into a noble family in the League of Nobles, Serena was an ambitious and intelligent woman who seemed destined to follow in her father's vaunted political footsteps.
Her early political opinions espoused the view that the Unallied planets should be welcomed into the League of Nobles, and their inhabitants - many of whom were pacifist Zensunnis and Zenshiites - should be won over with compassion and aid. Serena was also staunchly against slavery - a common practice within the League which saw hundreds of thousands of Budislamic practitioners held against their will. Such views were controversial among League nobles, and drew great attention to her.
While pursuing her political career, Serena also engaged in a romantic relationship with the upcoming military commander Xavier Harkonnen.
Capture and slavery
Serena's life took a dramatic turn after the thinking machine invasion of Giedi Prime. Incensed by the lack of action taken by the League, Serena covertly organized a military task force comprised of other frustrated and peripheral figures, and traveled to Giedi Prime in an attempt to wrest the planet from Omnius' control.
Though the plan was ultimately successful, Serena was captured and taken to Earth, where she was assigned to the household of the robot Erasmus. Upon her arrival and initial medical exam, she was informed she was pregnant with Xavier's child. Her family, and Xavier, concluded she had perished in the initial assault.
For almost two years Serena resided with Erasmus in his hillside villa, tending his gardens, and providing him with a stubborn but enlightening subject for his studies into humanity. After eight months she gave birth to her son, Manion - who she named after her father. During this time, she got to know Vorian Atreides, the son of the Titan Agamemnon and a custodian of Omnius. Though Serena was suspicious of the naive young man, both her beauty and her defiant attitude enchanted him.
Her interaction with Erasmus lessened after her child was delivered and she became increasingly occupied with motherhood. The child's presence troubled Erasmus, who after much thought became convinced Serena would be better off without children. Thus the robot had Serena sterilized, and killed young Manion by throwing him from a balcony.
Serena's initial fury at her child's death saw her destroy a guard robot, which in turn inspired the simmering unrest among the other human slaves in the vicinity. Led by Iblis Ginjo, thousands of humans revolted against the thinking machines. In the turmoil, and in the face of an impending and brutal crackdown, Serena escaped into space with Vorian and Iblis in the Dream Voyager.
During the Jihad
Having been delivered back to Salusa Secundus by Vorian Atreides, Serena directed her grief and rage fully against Omnius, and helped inspire the League to escalate the conflict against the thinking machines.
For many years, Serena became little more than a figurehead spending much of her time in the City of Introspection while about her the Jihad against Omnius raged on. She consulted frequently Cogitor Kwyna who guided her thoughts and decisions, although she also trusted blindly Ginjo. Her role to the Jihad was significant, although not active: she gave inspirational speeches and blessings to the soldiers. She and Manion became symbols of courage and icons on banners during the battles. Her life was threatened during assassination attempts against her life, which were arranged by Ginjo. This was the reason of the creation of the Seraphim Order, which forced her to limit her moves, and also would allow Ginjo to watch her more closely.
Eventually the war grew stagnant and popular support began to dwindle and moved by Kwyna's warnings, she once again took up the reigns of power, much to the frustration of Ginjo. After the Liberation of Ix, she claimed the position as Head of the Jihad Council. Ginjo as a response and in order to retain his power, proposed her to marry and order the war as a couple, to which Serena denied.
The following years, she even visited Hessra and tries to persuade the Ivory Tower Cogitors to join the aim of the Jihad. Later, she was essential in persuading Aurelius Venport in offering his new Spacefolder technology (proprietary to VenKee Enterprises) to the Jihad.
The Cogitors pondering Serena's claims, proposed mutual truce between Omnius and the League. When confronted with this prospect, Serena volunteered as the League ambassador to Corrin. Officially she was to broker a truce, but secretly she and Iblis concocted a suicidal confrontation that would see her die at the hands of the thinking machines and thus create another martyr.
Serena 'met' Omnius in the Central Spire and apart from the truce; she demanded that Omnius release free all the human slaves. Omnius claimed it was not part of the truce, but Serena continued defiantly to provoke him. Eventually Erasmus showed up, whom she thought dead at the Battle of Earth. In her rage, she fell on him, but he pushed her away.
Eventually Omnius decided to execute the embassy. Erasmus however, having consumed historical archives, noticed her smile, and ordered the executor robots to stop. He explained to Omnius that Serena was bait, and planned to become a martyr. Niriem then, following the 'plan B' ordered by Ginjo, delivered a fatal blow, killing her and restarting outrage among the League, and left Ginjo all the power to the Jihad.
On Salusa Secundus, a set of fabricated images of Serena's 'execution' were created by Tlulaxa cooperatives of Ginjo. The images, as well as a burned body was supposedly discovered on a space drone, sent by the Machines but actually were planted by Ginjo himself. The images showed 'Serena' crucified and burned part by part by a Machine. This Serena was a clone body made by the Tlulaxa, out of her DNA taken during her visit on the planet.
When the League of Nobles turned against the organ harvesters of Tlulax, Rekur Van went to the Synchronized Worlds and tried to offer Erasmus Serena's modified DNA. They created a clone of her, but she was so different from the original, that Erasmus killed her soon after out of disappointment. Other disappointing clones have been created the following years.
The memory of Serena Butler remained a powerful call to arms throughout the rest of the Jihad. Her death, and that of her child, was interpreted by many throughout the League as showing the immoral and brutal attitude of Omnius.
Behind the Scenes
Jehanne Butler as primarily created by Dr. Willis E. McNelly for The Dune Encyclopedia. The name was changed to Serena by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson in their prequel novels, and her character significantly elaborated on.