The great Guild Heighliner had paused for a scheduled stop at Arrakis, taking onboard a large cargo of the precious spice before resuming its journey to Kaitain. Most of the passengers who could stared out of the windows in wonderment at the desert world which was the source of the most valuable commodity in the universe. Almost hidden among the many cargo craft and ships of the various Great Houses, the frigate Psyche attracted little notice. This was however a vessel which had not seen the well-travelled spaceways of the Imperium for a very long time, and even the royal insignia on its hull were faded and of a design no longer used. It had spent almost the whole last 11 years docked at the secret Guild Sanctuary Planet of Tupile, there for the convenience of a very special passenger who had decided it was now time to return home. The inside of the ship, like the outside, was decked out in the style of yestayear but nonetheless was sumptuously appointed as befitted the personal transport of a Princess of the Imperial House. The Princess though was far from happy.
"Oh do we really have to stop here?! This place is so boring boring boring! I visited here you know, with my father even. It was boring then too. When do we get to Kaitain?" whined Shalandra Corrino, sister of the Emperor.
"I apologise, highness, but I have spoken to the Navigator and he will not deviate from the schedule" said the servant nervously, well aware of the unpredictable nature of his mistress.
"Oh poo!" snapped Shalandra, "Well whatever. Stupid Guild. I shall have to have my brother sort them out when we get home. That is all - you may go".
Shalandra shifted in her seat, brushed a strand of her long dark hair out of her face and regarded the planet again while stroking her favorite cat Raphael. She had indeed been to Arrakis before, although she had been only 10 years old at the time. She remembered the Royal family's inspection of spice mining as though it were yesterday though; she always had been blessed with a good photographic memory. She remembered the terrible heat, made worse by her insistence on retaining her heavy full-length dress. Her parents and brother had changed into some special suits, the name of which escaped her, but she had stamped her foot and refused point blank to wear something so unbecoming for a princess. She also remembered all the vulgar dirty workers everywhere, their overalls streaked with so much spice that you could smell them a mile off. They had been infinitely preferable to the disgusting natives however. What were they called? Froman? Freyman? Well it didn't matter because they were beastly anyway. She recalled how they had thrown rocks at the Imperial Thopter, and remembered laughing as the guards had picked them off with lasguns. Well, she wouldn't be here too much longer she hoped. Kaitain beckoned. Elrood would be so surprised to see her, but happy she hoped. Her brother was nice, by far nicer than anyone else in the family. He would welcome her she was sure.
Kaitain would have changed a lot in 11 years she suspected, but it had to still be better than Tupile. Tupile was horrid. The company was lousy, probably because no decent people could be bothered getting the 10 different permits from the Guild that were needed just to visit the blasted place, protected as it was as an inviolate sanctuary for the defeated and the dishonored. That was another thing; being around all those people made her feel like a failure, and she wasn't a failure. She couldn't be because Doctor DeVries had told her so. It was too bad he couldn't accompany her on this trip, but she supposed that whatever he had been called to Tleilax for must be pretty important. Doctor DeVries was a wonderful man, so much better than the other quacks who had been foisted upon her over the years. Where they told her that she needed to change herself, twist her poor spirit into a contorted shape to fit into society, he told her that she was a valuable person and that society should accommodate her. In the last six months since she had been seeing her new doctor, Shalandra had gained a lot of confidence. He had encouraged her to realise that nothing kept her on Tupile beyond her own incorrect belief that it was where she belonged. She was a princess and nobody could order her away like an unwanted house-guest. So, after a particularly good esteem-building session with DeVries, she had walked right up to the captain of the Psyche and told him in no uncertain terms to prep the ship for departure because Princess Shalandra was going home. The man had listened too. For the first time in what seemed like half a lifetime Shalandra had discovered that she could actually make people do what she wanted.
Below her the planet Arrakis shimmered in the burning light of its sun, but Shalandra didn't even see it now. Her fingers still found Raphael's soft fur but her mind was elsewhere, imagining how good it would be to finally return to the palace she remembered from her childhood and be a part of the royal family again. Elrood would be there, and she had missed him terribly she realised once she got the bad failure thoughts out of her head and started thinking according to her station again. He would be glad to see her. In fact he needed her, for as Doctor DeVries had reminded her she was next in line to the throne. If she knew her brother like she remembered him then he wouldn't be worrying about wives and children. He would want to live, to enjoy the beginning of his reign. So, just as the good doctor had told her, it was important that Shalandra should be there to let him know that the universe would be in safe hands were anything to happen to him.