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Thufir

Thufir Hawar -Illustration by Moebius

Early lifeEdit

(10075-10196). Thufir Hawat, who many believe was the greatest Mentat of the Imperium, was born the first of nine children to Golani and Alwidi Hawat on Logi, third planet of Alpha Centauri B. Hawat's mother Golani, herself briefly trained as a potential mentat, recognized the capability in her infant son and took the proper steps to begin his training. Golani scoured the Imperium for experts in muscle and mind control, and in sharpening the sensitivities and the awareness; and for teachers of languages and the physical and biological sciences. She sought to have her son well grounded not only in the fundamentals customarily given a potential mentat, but also in economics, communications, and military strategy. When informed of his potential and given his options, Thufir chose to continue his training and was sent to an eminent school for Mentats on Ix. There, Thufir soon made two significant attachments. The first was to Kolinar, whose wit and charm immediately attracted Thufir; the two young men quickly became inseparable friends. The second was to the young woman Anyya with whom Thufir fell, for the first and last time in his life, in love. The daughter of a Bene Gesserit and an official of the Imperial court, the highly intelligent Anyya rivaled Thufir in scholastic accomplishments and returned his affection. By all accounts they shared for years a happy and fulfilling relationship. The reports are notably sketchy, however, on the end of their affair. We do know that Anyya left Ix suddenly with Kolinar and is never referred to again in any of the Hawat papers. Rouse, the Mentat for House Dioscuri and Thufir's lifelong friend, reports (in his book, The Education of a Mentat) Thufir's moroseness following Anyya's departure, his adamant refusal to speak of her, and a cryptic remark Thufir made about this time, "The female of the species is without doubt incapable of fidelity." Seemingly, it was Camelot come again, but with a difference: rather than rising above his affliction to an Arthurian strength that could infuse his soul with iron, Thufir allowed his pain to debase his love for Anyya into a corrosive hate and to generate a deep, and lifelong, mistrust of all women, especially those connected with the Bene Gesserit. This anathema undoubtedly accounts for the fact that Thufir never again became seriously involved with a woman.

In service of Duke MintorEdit

By the time Thufir Hawat was ready at age thirty-five to join [[House Atreides]] on Caladan, be was the most superbly trained Mentat in the Imperium. The robust Duke [[Mintor Atreides]] had a vitality that promised to test Hawat's powers to their utmost. Determined to develop fully the fief his family had held for twenty generations. Duke Mintor challenged Hawat to solve his expansion problems. Accordingly, Hawat surveyed the Duke's lands, directed the construction of dams to control goods and complex irrigation systems, and designed efficient transportation and communication networks. He searched the Imperium for experts in agriculture, viticulture, animal husbandry, and mining to serve as a faculty in the schools he founded. Armed with Hawat's plans, the Duke's thoroughly trained subjects produced record crops and quality wines, propagated top- quality cattle and farm animals, and developed lucrative mines. Duke Mintor's flourishing estates, literally the creation of Hawat's energy and expertise, became the envy of the Imperium. The Duke's absolute fairness and honesty in all his dealings with Hawat (traits also seen later in Leto) aroused in the Mentat an abiding affection and admiration. One source suggests that the Duke was personally responsible for rescuing two of Hawat's loved ones from Harkonnen oppression. Although documentation of the details of this feat is lacking, the Duke's daring and courage must have endeared him to his Mentat. It is, thus, not surprising that before Hawat had been with Duke Mintor many years he almost literally gave his life for his Duke. In a skirmish with offworld raiders at one of the Duke's ranches, Hawat, dodging to escape a sword slash in the groin, took it instead in his left leg. He bore the scar, and the occasional pain, with pride. Hawat's regard for his Duke, a bullfighting addict, led him to develop an extensive bull-breeding program. Using his abilities to analyze genetic qualities, Hawat set up breeding farms and outlined feeding and nutritional experiments. He also designed a new arena for the Duke, supervised its construction, and took charge of the colorful pageantry known as the Atreides Tourney. Since Hawat never missed a corrida in which the Old Duke took part, he was present the day a great bull caught the Duke on his horns.

In service of Duke LetoEdit

After the Old Duke's death, Hawat transferred his allegiance to Duke Leto who turned his attention from his well-run estates to concentrate on espionage, defense and the expansion of his sea and air power. Hawat served his Duke brilliantly in every interest: military, political, economic, social and personal. In fact, it was Hawat who investigated the Bene Gesserit school and Jessica before reluctantly having her escorted to Caladan to be Duke Leto's concubine. He became even more useful after Paul was born. Suspecting that his son might have mental capabilities, Leto gave Hawat the responsibility of selling up Paul's intensive training program. During these intimate years of Paul's infancy and childhood, Hawat came to love the boy as his own son. This love endured to — and manifested itself magnificently on — his dying day.

On CaladanEdit

The best way perhaps to appreciate Hawat's value to House Atreides is to review his contributions during the move from Caladan to Arrakis, a fief that had been held by ancient enemies of the Atreides: the Harkonnens. The logistics involved in moving personnel and materiel from one planet to another were appalling, but Leto was confident the task was not beyond his Mentat. In record time, his confidence was confirmed. An even more difficult job was securing the settling of the new capital at Arrakeen, especially when all of Hawat's calculations warned him of the high probability of Leto's losing Arrakis to the disgruntled Harkonnens. In preparation, Hawat made himself an authority on Arrakis; he gathered and digested every scrap of knowledge available on geography, topography, climate, weather and history, as well as on the Fremen and their culture. After the move he sent out trained teams of observers to augment his information. Two immediate concerns were communications and military strategy. Hawat set up the Duke's own communications network and enlarged the codes, especially the Atreides hand signs and battle language: his creations. He deployed the troops, efficiently dividing the guards between the Governor's Mansion and the landing field. For future use, he assembled dossiers OB suspected Harkonnen sympathizers. The most sensitive area was security. Hawat spent sleepless days and nights checking every room and all the furnishings of the Residency. He set up shields, placed safety devices, cleared the servants, and personally installed the poison snoopers. Hawat had made security the core of his instruction to the young Leto, and later the young Paul:, "The cost of survival is eternal vigilance." However, despite all his care, a hunter-seeker placed by a traitor after Hawat had inspected Paul's room threatened Paul's life shortly after the move into the Residency. When, in an agony of remorse, he tried to resign, Hawat was reminded that Paul had survived largely through Hawat's own training. Leto felt he was more to be commended for Paul's readiness than blamed for his ignorance of an "internal" traitor, whose presence no one — from Duke Leto and the Lady Jessica down to the lowliest trooper — up to this moment had suspected. Leto's faith in his Mentat, revealed in his refusal to accept Hawat's resignation, refueled Hawat's unfaltering loyalty to House Atreides. Himself an expert in sabotage and counter-sabotage, Hawat ferreted out many a Harkonnen intrigue. He may have deplored the need, but he did not hesitate to use bribes, deceit, or even murder if service to his Duke called for them. From experience, Hawat had become eternally suspicious. As Duke Leto once said of him, "He sees assassins in every shadow." Perhaps Hawat's most significant service to the Atreides was his acute assessment of the Fremen. Using the data Gurney Halleck brought him, Hawat shrewdly saw that previous estimates of the Fremen population were ridiculously low. And, once he began to learn the qualities of the desert people, he knew without a doubt that they were a potential corps of fighters as strong and as deadly as the Sardaukar. Hawat did extensive research and prepared filmclips on the Fremen culture. His first analysis of the Fremen religion, which familiarized Leto and Paul with such terms as "Mahdi" and "Lisan al-Gaib," embodied all the essentials. The old Mentat quickly grasped Fremen ways and seemed especially sensitive in recognizing their concerns: as, for example, their preoccupation with water reclamation, their reticence with strangers, their passion for freedom, their obsession with exclusivism. His advice to Duke Leto was sound when he urged caution in commandeering the Desert Botanical Testing Stations lest the action antagonize the Fremen for whom the bases had some deep significance. Hawat also realized that the Guild's refusal to allow the Atreides to orbit a weather satellite was based not on financial considerations but on their fear of an Atreides' discovery of Arrakis's true value. The accuracy of his foresight was subsequently substantiated when the extensive Fremen colonization, the staggering potential wealth of the planet's spice and the beginnings of the Kynes- inspired ecological transformation became known. Once established at the capital, Hawat made only one error his readiness to believe the Lady Jessica a traitor — a belief born no doubt of his distrust of women, especially a Bene Gesserit "witch." Although the Harkonnens had left Arrakis, they had no intention of turning the fief over to the Atreides. Knowing Hawat's vigilance, the Harkonnen Mentat de Vries arranged to feed Hawat false information in an intercepted letter implicating Jessica. Even when Duke Leto refused to believe the Baron's letter and Jessica logically defended herself against the charge, Hawat could not eradicate his suspicion: the bitter fruit of Anyya's betrayal. Aware of his problem without knowing its cause, Jessica warned Hawat that, although he could brilliantly apply logic to anything outside himself, he had difficulty with "those things most deeply personal." Unconvinced, Hawat nevertheless left the interview with a "sense of supreme admiration" (as he wrote to Rouse) for the Lady Jessica, who at one point had with remarkable courage defied Hawat's knife by turning her back on him. Except for this one mistake, those days when Hawat labored to establish his beloved House Atreides on Arrakis were the last fine hours for the aging Mentat; indeed, they may have been his finest. From the moment he heard the news of the Harkonnen attack, bitterness became his daily companion. Having prepared for random raids or an attack of no more than ten brigades (the number Hawat's intelligence corps warned him to expect), Hawat was staggered by the size of the Harkonnen force and their strategic deployment. A rapid calculation revealed the attack consisted of more than one hundred brigades. The entire spice income of Arrakis for fifty years could not have covered the cost of such a venture. What Hawat could not possibly know was that much of the cost had been paid from the Imperial coffers. From that moment until the day he died, Hawat was convinced that the Lady Jessica had been their betrayer. One can only conjecture that his experience with Anyya, which must have been devastating, continued to cloud his judgment of women. Although helpless himself to assist his Duke as the Harkonnens advanced, Hawat was heartened by the unbelievable Fremen capture of an ornithopter manned by Sardaukar and a kamikaze destruction of a troop carrier before he was captured by Sardaukar disguised in Harkonnen livery.

In service of the Baron HarkonnenEdit

In Baron Harkonnen's papers (in an Appendix to House Harkonnen) we learn of the Baron's delight that not only was Thufir Hawat, Duke Leto's Master of Assassins, taken alive, but also that he could be used against the Atreides. The Baron's strategy was simple: by allowing Hawat to believe Jessica was alive and never revealing that Dr. Wellington Yueh was the true betrayer, the Baron could feed Hawat's desire for revenge. The Baron summarized: "The way to control and direct a Mentat is through his information. False information — false results." Much as he wanted a Mentat after Piter de Vries was dead at Leto's hands, the Baron had too much healthy fear of Hawat not to lake some precautions: he instructed Iakin Nefud, his guard captain, to impregnant Hawat's body with the residual poison developed by de Vries and to administer the antidote regularly in the Mentat's meals. Without the antidote, Hawat would die within a few days. Hawat's scantily recorded career on Giedi Prime remains enigmatic. His actions seem, on the one hand, to be depraved, and yet, on the other, to mask perhaps some plan of his own to destroy the Baron. One of Hawat's less worthy projects was a perverted alteration of the jousting techniques he had developed in the old days in Duke Mintor’s bullrings: two such adaptations were abstractors to be carried by Harkonnens in The Gladiator Games and crippling handicaps for their slave opponents. Hawat also devised a plan whereby Feyd-Rautha could give a spectacular, albeit rigged, performance before an elite audience. Instead of being drugged as was usual with slave- gladiators, the victim was conditioned by Hawat to be overcome by a key word. Thus, it would appear that Feyd- Rautha had brilliantly defended himself against an undrugged slave who had been slipped into the arena to kill the na-Baron. The plot would not have' been so despicable had it been only to glorify an egotistical young man, but its true purpose was to eliminate the Baron's slavemaster, who would necessarily be blamed for the undrugged slave. Possibly Hawat hoped to use fee evil to accomplish his good — because the slave came within a hairsbreadth of besting the Baron's nephew. Another puzzle is Hawat's role in Feyd-Rautha's assassination attempt on the Baron. Knowing the Baron's preference for boys, Hawat conspired with Feyd-Rautha to send the Baron a beguiling slave boy with a shielded needle planted in his thigh. And yet, Hawat warned the Baron before the assassination could take place. The Mentat seemed to be playing both ends against the middle for some game of his own. Hawat's mysterious and sometimes ambiguous behavior while in Harkonnen service can best be explained in the light of his intense loyalty to House Atreides. Given the depraved Baron Harkonnen’s method of operation — to tic subordinates, from whom he shrewdly knew he could never expect loyalty, to him through some devious means — Hawat could count on no less. With his Mentat powers he most certainly knew, or at least suspected, that he had been poisoned and lived- only as long as it was the Baron's whim to administer the antidote. Burning, nay obsessed, with the desire for vengeance on the enemies of his beloved Atreides, Hawat walked the path of expediency; he complied with the Baron's orders, joined his conspiracies, designed his plots, no matter how nefarious — all to one dedicated end: the glorious day he could strike the annihilating blow against those who had crushed his cherished House. We can only wish we had more evidence covering these years. Except for some notes of the Baron and some fragments of letters Hawat sent to his old school friend Rouse, little else has been unearthed. In one of his notes, the Baron boasts that he had succeeded in aiming Hawat's attention and vengeance against the emperor by convincing him that the emperor was the cause of the House Atreides' destruction. Hawat still hated the Baron with a "casual" hate, but "he thinks he uses me," the Baron wrote, "to wreak his revenge upon the emperor.... He does not think beyond his revenge. Hawat's a man who must serve others, and doesn't even know this about himself." Hawat's letters to Rouse, however, seem to contradict the Baron's view. One letter declared that Hawat "loathed" the Baron; another called him "a gross and dangerous pig" and avowed that "destroying him [the Baron] will be a service to mankind." How Hawat planned to destroy the Baron is not clear. That it involved Arrakis seems certain, for in one of his last services for the Baron, Hawat directed the Baron's attention to the desert planet. Hawat revealed to the Baron that the emperor had turned against Duke Leto primarily because Leto had trained a fighting force to rival the Sardaukar; he then told the Baron that the emperor suspected Harkonnen emulation of the Duke's feat with the Fremen. When the Baron doubted, especially because of the Fremen lack of numbers, Hawat convinced him that the Fremen population could easily be in excess of ten million. Hawat also suggested that — if it could be done without alerting the emperor — the Fremen could indeed be trained into an awesome force. What he did not tell the Baron was that Gurney Halleck had survived the treacherous Harkonnen attack on House Atreides and that he received reports from Halleck on Fremen battle tactics. Thus, the scheming most likely pivoted on Hawat's desire to lure the Baron to Dune — where Gurney had many hands to help him earn his revenge. Fate, however, stepped in to lure more than the Baron to Arrakis. The Guild, alarmed by the changes they had observed on the planet — especially the increased tempo in troop activity brought about by Paul Muad'Dib — not only relayed this information to the throne, but also reduced troop transport fares to a minimum. Thus, in a short time the skies above Arrakis held the seven-ship fleet of the Harkonnens in company with the emperor's five legions of Sardaukar.

Return to Arrakis and DeathEdit

As soon as the Guild gave the Harkonnen troops permission to land, the Baron sent Hawat to a smuggler base with orders to infiltrate the camp of the infamous Fremen Muad'Dib. Hawat was well away from Arrakeen then when the mysterious Muad'Dib defeated the Sardaukar and captured the emperor with all of his retainers. When he returned to Arrakeen more than five days later, weak and already moving toward death from lack of fee antidote, Hawat discovered not only that the Baron was dead, but that the invincible Muad'Dib sitting in state in the Residency was none other than his young Duke Paul. Certainly he reproached himself when he learned that the Lady Jessica, alive and with her son, was not Paul's betrayer, but, like himself, a victim of a devious Harkonnen plot and of the treason of Dr. Yueh. When the Padishah Emperor and the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam summoned him shortly before the captives went to their audience with Paul, Hawat knew it meant treachery. He accepted the tiny poisoned needle without a word,- too weak to nod his head as the emperor commanded him to use it against the "upstart Duke." When he saw Gurney Halleck checking the entourage entering the Great Hall for weapons, Hawat used the old hand signs to tell him that, thinking Paul was dead, he had been working with the Harkonnens and to request that he be left with me group — to avert, no doubt, any move that might be made against Paul. And then Paul called him out and greeted him as "old friend." As Hawat obeyed his beloved Duke for the last lime, he surely knew that Paul was aware of the needle and certain that Hawat had no intention of using it against him. In her account of the scene, the Princess Irulan writes that Paul and Hawat whispered together for a few moments before Paul reached out to support Hawat by the shoulders. And then, she records, Hawat turned in. a magnificent gesture to face the emperor, extended his left hand, palm up, to expose the needle cupped against his fingers, and said, "See, Majesty? See your traitor's needle? Did you think that I who've given my life to service to the Atreides would give them less now?" With that last act of supreme defiance proclaiming his inviolable loyalty to the Atreides, Hawat sagged in death against Paul and slumped to the floor. Hawat's Duke then paid his faithful servant, the Mentat who had served three generations of Atreides, his final honor: he gave, the order to have Hawat's body carried away and treated with all the respect of a hero of the tribe.

O.K.

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