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[QAGS] Dune: "The Knife's Edge"

avantman42

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You shall not so easy carry off our treasure.

Altahwida looks at the device that Shahin gave him as it starts beeping. He tries to find a way to make it stop, and eventually smashes it against a wall.

As he walks into the brothel saying, "Hello!. I'm here about the job!" One of the women (Rihana) walks up to him, looking him up and down. She flirts at him, commenting on his size, then heading towards a bedroom. Altahwida completely mis-reads the situation and thinks she wants a demonstration. As a man and woman step out of a bedroom, Altahwida picks Rihana up and throws her across the room. He follows up, standing over her, shouting at her.

Zaetar moves to block the exit as the man that left the bedroom hurries to it. He's a city fremen, and looks down at his feet rather than look her in the eye. After exchanging glances with Sanika, she steps aside and allows him to leave.

Rihana is crying, shedding actual tears. Altahwida eventually realises that she's not Kawthar, and that she's not interviewing him.

Hearing a commotion from downstairs, Kawthar takes a maula pistol from her desk drawer and motions to Shahin to follow her as she leaves the office. Shahin catches her in a choke-hold, taking her gun and setting her down quietly on the floor. As he's doing this, a bedroom door opens and a woman steps out, seeing him. He pounces on her and chokes her unconscious, but drops her with a thud.

Downstairs, Sanika asks Altahwida "What if all these people are the threats, and your client is held hostage upstairs?", then points out that Rihana said that Kawthar is upstairs. Zaetar runs for the stairs, taking her hands out of the krimskell fibre as she goes, and Sanika follows her. Altahwida tells everyone still downstairs to sit down and keep their hands where he can see them, saying that he's assessing the situation. Nina, to add to the confusion, says "They have come, they are going to kill us all. Help me, let me free before they get down here!", then curls into a ball and rocks. Altahwida throws a knife, apparently at Nina, but actually so that it lands in front of her, ready for her to pick up.

Upstairs, Shahin puts the two women in the rooms they came from, then closes the office door and starts looking for anything of use. Sanika and Zaetar enter the office, and he whirls round, maula pistol ready, then relaxes. He tells them that Kawthar has a woman of the bled somewhere, possibly in the building. They start checking the other rooms.

In one room, Shahin finds a bed, with a woman laid across it, wearing a desert stillsuit. He immediately sees that she's a desert fremen, and asks Sanika if she can help her, warning that she may be drugged. Sanika confirms that the woman is high on Semuta, and Shahin finds a small box of the drug, which he pockets.

Zaetar asks what they should do with the ones downstairs. Shahin suggests that they lock them in a room, and Sanika says that Kawthar has to die for what she has done. The others agree. Sanika calls for Altahwida, and Zaetar goes to keep an eye on the people downstairs. Altahwida takes the desert woman gently, while Shahin and Sanika bundle Kawthar into a sheet and carry her.

Downstairs, the people are confused that Zaetar is no longer bound, but she simply comments that krimskell fibre isn't as good as everyone says. The others come down as Zaetar moves them into a room. Altahwida tells them that he's going to stay in the reception room for an hour or two, and that he will stab the first person that comes out of the room.

The others leave, heading for Liet's residence. Zaetar drinks all the coffee in the cups before standing the table against the door, tying it in place with the krimskell fibre. Then she grabs the cash box before hurrying after the others.

At Liet's residence, the desert woman is placed very gently on a couch, while Kawthar is dropped heavily on the floor. Shahin gives the box of Semuta to Sanika, then goes ahead to prep the ornithopter, saving a few minutes. Zaetar takes the time to examine the desert woman, and manages to put her into a coma, slowing everything down, including the effects of the Semuta.

Sanika had planned to let Liet deal with Kawthar, but he says she's better dealt with in the desert, and so he joins them as they leave for Suhula Sietch.
 

avantman42

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Fortune passes everywhere

After a long break, this was a short session, since several of us were very tired.

We start with the party back at Suhula Sietch. Sanika runs to the infirmary as Altahwida gently lifts the drugged woman out of the ornithopter. Sanika tells Burayd (one of the physicians) about the drugged woman, and he follows her back. Meanwhile, Altahwida is carrying her toward the infirmary, with Zaetar keeping an eye on her. When they meet, Zaetar tells Burayd that she gave the woman dried kava, and Burayd assures her that she did the right thing, but all they can do now is keep her comfortable and hope. Altahwida carries the woman to the infirmary and puts her gently on a free bed, then goes back to help Shahin.

Zaetar, seeing that Sanika is upset, walks her back to her yali to see Adira. When the others are done, they meet up at Sanika's yali, Altahwida having picked up his muad'dib on the way. When they are all settled, Liet tells them that he has some news - he's been confirmed as the new Imperial Planetologist. There is a little discussion about whether this will increase or decrease the threat to him.

Sanika suddenly remembers the drugged woman, and starts to cry. Adira puts an arm around her, offering some comfort. Liet leaves them to deliver his news to the naib.
 

avantman42

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We make our own justice

The characters go to Reverend Mother Badia's yali to report. There are cushions and drinks ready for each of them.

Sanika gives the papers that they took from Kawthar's safe to Badia, and tells her that Kawthar had a woman of the bled captive, using semuta to keep her under control. Badia is shocked at the mention of semuta, but Sanika tells her that the drugged woman is in the infirmary, and that Zaetar may have saved her life. Zaetar explains what she did, and Badia compliments her on her good thinking.

The conversation makes Altahwida realise that the prisoner they've brought back is the woman that he'd applied for a job with, and complains that she's not going to give him a job now. Badia asks him if he wishes to find a job in the city, and he explains that he'd hoped to use it to find out information. Badia assures him that they'll be able to find out whatever Kawthar knows now that they have her in the sietch.

Zaetar tries to open the box that she took from Kawthar's brothel. She fails, breaking her knife in the process. Nina tries to pick the lock, but also fails.

While they are working on the lock, Badia looks through the papers. They mention hunter-seekers, and she asks if they found out any more about that. Sanika tells her that the man that operated the controller was in Kawthar's house.

Badia asks if they found out anything about the Muearada or the Bene Gesserit, but Sanika says not. Having found the semuta-addicted woman, they had to get her back to the sietch as soon as possible. She also mentions another woman, who died in Nina's arms.

Badia knows this woman - she's called Subiay. She asks if they found a note on her, and Nina hands it over, examines it, and asks, "I take it none of you were able to read this?". They weren't, so she writes out a translation and passes it over for them to read:

My dear Tessia,

The witches have found out about the heighliner and Kudu.They may think you are implicated in Kudu. I don't knowhow they found out, perhaps it was the Minister.

Aziz
Altahwida, having taken the box from Nina, breaks it open and money falls out onto the floor. Zaetar gathers them up and counts them - just over 4,000 solaris.

Badia tells them that the note was from someone in Maysarah Sietch and intended for a contact in the city. They will be pleased to know that the note did not fall into Harkonnen hands. They also sent thanks for returning Subiay's water to them.

Badia also tells them of news from Sietch Makab. Fawzi challenged Naib Raquib. Altahwida responds that he can't - there's an ongoing challenge. Badia points out that these are people that would use a hunter-seeker against a Fremen, but she also tells them that Raquib won, and is still the naib. She does add that unless Altahwida wishes to become naib, the challenge will have to be interrupted. Further, Sietch Makab is currently fighting itself over the almuqatil. Thus far, eleven have died, but Badia expects that number to rise.

There is talk of going to Makab to demand return of the people that tried to kill Sanika - she still has the tampered rope, and Shahin has the recordings. Badia points out that if they were to go and demand the return of ex-Suhula people, Raquib could demand that the challenge be resolved. Altahwida doesn't like that idea - he has no wish to be a naib.

Sanika suggests that Altahwida would make a good naib, but Nina counters that if the reverend mother would end up running the sietch. There is some discussion, but Zaetar ends it by saying that she doesn't care how good he'd be, she wants him to stay at Suhula.

*OOC note: the note that Badia translated had been sent by one of the PCs from the last campaign, to an NPC that he'd befriended during that campaign.
 

avantman42

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Faith, however, will see us all though this time of change and stronger as a result. Faith and love.

We started in the common area. Altahwida is practising his baliset when Sanika goes over to him, checks the sparring area is free, then reminds him that he'd promised to show her why opening with a kick to the kneecap was a bad idea. He asks if she wants training or a fight, to which she laughs, then says that she just wants to learn a little, so that she's less of a liability when they're in a fight. She's concerned that it's been happening a lot lately.

Altahwida counters that one can learn a lot by losing, or even by not fighting at all, but agrees to go over the knee thing. Sanika adds that she thinks she's been lucky, and asks him to show her the holes in her attacks.

Altahwida heads to the practice area and sits down, indicating that Sanika should also sit, which she does. Then he asks her to think back on the language and words she just used. She goes through it, first thinking that the way she attacks perhaps isn't the problem. Then she thinks maybe he's trying to teach her a lesson about her temper, but he replies that it's not a lesson for him to teach. Finally, she asks if he's saying that she should always be ready to die in a fight, even in training.

A shocked Altahwida says that isn't his point at all. He goes through points - One, she can beat him. She does it all the time. Not all fights are with weapons or fists. Two, a fight is not just unceasing attack. There's also dodging, parrying, feinting. He thinks it's better to avoid the fight, but she tends to go all out on the attack. Three, she's far from a liability in a fight. He says that she's a sayyadina and so it's the honour and duty of the rest of them to protect her, then asks if she would deny them honour and duty.

Sanika responds that every fremen is valuable, but Altahwida says not equally valuable. There is some to and fro over this, but Sanika accepts his point that different people have different value depending on the particular situation. When Sanika says that their strength is in the whole, Altahwida shouts his agreement, drawing some looks, including a frown from Jaiyana.

Sanika still wants to know why the knee trick is a bad idea. Altahwida gives several reasons - she leads with an attack rather than assessing first. It leaves her dangerously extended and off-balance. If she does it well enough, her opponent will be on their knees, which is difficult to break through without a lot of brute force that she doesn't have. But leading with an uncertain attack is his main issue.

At Sanika's request, they move onto sparring. Altahwida begins by kicking her in the knee, provoking a shocked look from Jaiyana, who looks like she might be about to interfere before composing herself. Aatif, another of the onlookers, smiles and comments to Lanika that one should never do what one's opponent expects. Zaetar tells him that Sanika has an advantage over all of them there.

While they are sparring, Reverend Mother Badia glides into the area, approaches Nina, and says "I was hoping to find you here, Nina. I have a job for you, Shahin, and Zaetar. If Altahwida and Sanika can tear themselves away from each other, I'd like them to join us too."

Seeing the reverend mother, Sanika and Altahwida stop their sparring. Badia addresses the five of them, allowing everyone to hear, "The five of you have made a reputation for yourselves. I intend to make good use of it. I have to journey to Sietch Gara Kulon. The five of you will accompany me."

The onlookers swap comments about the destination. Jaiyana starts to rise, and Badia addresses her, "No, Jaiyana, you may not join us. I have already stated who my escort will be."

------

They travel to Gara Kulon by worm. The one that answers the call is huge. As they travel, Badia tells them that a woman named Tahani has challenged and defeated Tharthar. Tharthar was apparently the leader of the almuqatil at Gara Kulon, so it should have been a serious blow to them. Badia tells them that she does not want it to be general knowledge for the time being.

In response to a question from Altahwida, she tells them that the challenge was about the almuqatil. Specifically, Tharthar was the one that ordered a hunter-seeker to be used against Liet. They are going because Badia has a reason to go to Gara Kulon. Naib Bikouros is known to oppose what they are doing, and the five characters have a reputation, so they will use Badia's visit to make a statement.

Sanika asks if Badia expects her to duel all the water handlers, and Altahwida to kill the naib. Badia looks disappointed, and Altahwida repeats what he said to Sanika earlier - that there are ways to fight other than with fists and knives. Badia says that it is a time of change, the greatest change the fremen have ever seen, and they all need to make that change. She adds that she won't stop her exercising her right to Tahaddi Challenge, but they are not her personal executioners.

------

Badia leads as they approach the sietch, with Altahwida offering a smile and friendly wave to likely hiding places. A guard named Mitha appears, and after checking that Badia is there to see their reverend mother (Talibah), leads them inside. As the others are introduced, Mitha is obviously a little taken aback as she recognises the names. They are shown to the common area as Badia shows herself to Reverend Mother Talibah's yali.
 

avantman42

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Don’t Stop Believin’

Mitha leads them into a communal area, and indicates where drinks and snacks are available. Remembering that someone named Mitha was mentioned in Rafidah's notebook, Sanika tries to indicate her to Nina, but Nina is too busy watching for attack to pay attention. The people in the communal area watch the visitors with interest as Mitha leaves them to say something quietly to a man named Jawa. Shahin, Sanika, and Nina avoid the food and drink. Once Mitha has left, Sanika quietly tells Nina that the way Mitha reacted on hearing their names suggests that she's almuqatil. She warns Nina to be ready for trouble, and they pass the message onto the others.

As one of the locals, a man named Merkur, walks towards them, Sanika spills Zaetar's coffee. Merkur makes a friendly joke at their expense, and Altahwida asks for a water master so that they can repay the lost water. Merkur calls to Ibhama, a water master. She comes over, and Sanika hands over water rings in compensation for the lost water. Merkur introduces himself, and he and Shahin strike up a conversation, while Altahwida talks to Ibhama. As they talk, Merkur mentions that one of their people went missing recently. They assume that she was taken by the Harkonnens whilst in the city, but they were unable to retrieve her water. Sanika realises he's talking about Dhuri, the woman they rescued that is addicted to Semuta. As they talk to Merkur, he says things that suggest that he isn't an almuqatil.

Altahwida asks if there are any musicians around, and Ibhama introduces him to Nacher, one of the women in the communal area. He persuades her to sing while he accompanies her on the baliset. Sanika dances with Merkur, and others join in. Before long the communal area is full of people dancing.

One of the men in the communal area is Jawa, a name that was mentioned in Kawthar's documents. He does not dance, but leaves after a little while. Nina discreetly follows him to what appears to be a yali. Inside, she hears him mutter, "What are bloody Suhula doing here?"
 

avantman42

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The joy of living, its beauty is all bound up in the fact that life can surprise you.

Nina stayed outside Jawa's yali a little longer, long enough to hear him say, "I bet that lizard turd Kawthar has said something", then after a pause, "Ya maraary! I'll bet that's why Johara has come to see Talibah. I told them Talibah could be trouble."

Once she's certain that she won't get anything more of use, Nina goes back to the common area, where Nacher and Altahwida are performing the traditional Fremen song, This Sand is Our Sand (lyrics here). Nina reports to Sanika that Jawa is unhappy that the reverend mothers are talking. She doesn't know what the specific concern is, but says that Badia may already know, and she adds that Jawa is worried that Kawthar has already talked to them.

Badia enters discreetly and makes her way to the others, and looks at each of them in the Reverend Mother Way. In response to Sanika's question, she says that the meeting went well, but that they should probably leave before Gara Kulon steal Altahwida away from Suhula.

Badia makes a discreet signal to Altahwida, and at the end of the song, he goes to leave. Nacher is disappointed that he has to go, and suggests that she might be able to visit him at Suhula. Sanika, Nina, and Badia all tell Nacher that she would be welcome to visit Suhula, and by the time they leave, there is talk of sending messages to other sietches to get musicians from various sietches performing together.
 

avantman42

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Do not count what you have lost, Sanika. Count only what you still have.

As the worm they rode back home disappears under the sand, Reverend Mother Badia feigns annoyance at Altahwida inviting the rest of the bled to her sietch to make music. He points out that it's his sietch too, and that while they are singing, they aren't fighting. She accepts this, and suggests that they check on Dhuri, the young woman they rescued from the city.

They find Dhuri in the infirmary. They're relieved to find that she's awake, but then realise that she's addicted to the Semuta, and will never be the person she was. Dhuri is able to talk, but finds it difficult to concentrate or remember anything. Aamilah, the physician, tells them that it's a symptom of the Semuta, and that she'll have lucid periods as well as periods like this.

Dhuri, talking like a child, says that she missed the sand, and Zaetar gently suggests that they could go walking on the sand when she's feeling better.

Sanika suggests to Aamilah that she may be able to make something to take the edge off the addiction, and asks if she can borrow books to help. Aamilah is happy for her to try. She's never had to deal with anything like this before.

Altahwida, realising that he can't help, goes to get changed before heading for the communal area.

As they leave, Zaetar discusses an idea with Nina. She thinks that letting Dhuri meet Dib Dib, Altahwida's pet muad'dib, might help.

In the communal area, Altahwida asks Faysal to spar with him. They discuss current events, then move onto other subjects. Faysal tells him that he no longer considers the people that goaded him into challenging Altahwida to be friends, but he's still with Lichna. He intends to offer her his water rings soon.

Altahwida suggests that the next day, they could have a big graduation fight. Faysal has become one of the best fighters in the sietch, and this would be a chance to show everyone else that. Whatever the result, it would be an excellent time for him to offer Lichna his water rings.
 
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