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Arrakis, (derived from the Arabic name ar-rāqiṣ, "the dancer", originally a star-name for Mu Draconis) later Rakis (known colloquially as "Dune") is and the home of the Fremen (Zensunni wanderers) and later, the Imperial Capital under Muad'Dib's Empire. Arrakis is the third planet orbiting the star Canopus, and it in turn is orbited by two moons, one of which has the image of the desert kangaroo-rat, Muad'Dib, on it; the other possessing the image of a human hand.
- "Arrakis, DUNE, desert planet . . ."
It is a desert planet with no natural precipitation, away from the ice caps, and is the only known source of the spice melange which makes interstellar travel possible. The planet has no surface water bodies and thus has at least three times the land area of the Earth. Giant sandworms (also known as Shai-Hulud or Shaitan) and their immature forms of sandtrout and sandplankton were among the few fauna on the planet when it was discovered. As indicated by large salt flats, Arrakis once had oceans; the depletion of the oceans, the primary result of which was desertification, was probably caused by the impact or near miss of a comet or other quasi-planetary body. This event caused the loss of much of the Arrakeen atmosphere, allowing most of the oxygen and water to escape into space. This is thought to have occurred approximately 50 million years before the Imperium's creation. This catastrophic loss of oxygen led to the extinction of nearly all native flora and fauna. One of the few forms to survive were tiny worms of the phylum protochordata. One of these forms was shaihuludata, an anaerobic burrowing worm that was the basal species from which Shai-Hulud, the sandworm of Arrakis, evolved. Rather than sandworm creating desert, it was desert that created sandworm. The mass extinction of all of shaihuludata's predators and competitors for food allowed the animal, in a manner somewhat analogous to the evolution of unique faunal forms on isolated Terran islands, to take the evolutionary path that would not only re-oxygenate the Arrakeen atmosphere, but also create the spice melange with all of its immense consequences for humanity.
Early in the history of Arrakis, the Imperium made several attempts to terraform the planet, which resulted in an abundance of Terran desert life on the planet, but met with little success, as the local sandtrout "encyst" any open water on the planet.
The Zensunni wanderers, driven from planet to planet, eventually found their way to Arrakis where they became the Fremen. They settled in artificial cave-like settlements known as sietches across the Arrakeen deserts. They also developed stillsuit technology, allowing them to survive in the open desert. By harvesting the melange of Arrakis, they were able to bribe the Spacing Guild for privacy from observation and weather control in order to hide their true population and plans from the Imperium. The Fremen commenced their own terraforming program under the guidance of Imperial Planetologist Pardot Kynes and his son Liet-Kynes. The core of the plan was gradual water-collection from the Arrakeen atmosphere to form large reservoirs that would, eventually, become lakes and oceans. Much of this activity took place in the unexplored southern latitudes of Arrakis. The most well known of the sietches is Sietch Tabr, home of Stilgar and Muad'Dib's center of operations prior to the Battle of Arrakeen.
Arrakis' capital and largest city historically is Arrakeen (later Onn under Leto II and Keen following the death of Leto II). Arrakeen housed an attractive palace where the Emperor's right-hand man, Count Fenring and his wife lived, while the Harkonnen rulers of the planet resided in their own palace, elsewhere. Arrakeen would go through multiple transformations in its history, turned into an Imperial Capital of staggering proportions under Muad'Dib, then into a festival city (Onn) explicitly for the worship of Leto II and, finally, into a modern, though still impressive, city to house the Priesthood of Rakis (Keen).
There are other cities scattered in the northern regions of the planet (especially near the ice cap, where water is harvested), as well as the sietches scattered throughout the desert where the Fremen reside. All Imperial cities on Arrakis are in the far-northern latitudes of the planet and protected from the violent weather of Arrakis by a natural formation known as the Shield Wall. During the years under Harkonnen rule, the true seat of planetary government was the Harkonnen-built "megalopolis" of Carthag; Arrakeen was merely the titular capital until the arrival of the Atreides and Muad'Dib.
Other notable sites on Arrakis throughout its history are: Observatory Mountain, Mount Idaho, the Sareer, Dar-es-balat, the Idaho River and many others.
History of Arrakis
In the year 10,191 the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV granted Leto Atreides of the Atreides family rule of Arrakis to replace their enemies, the Harkonnens. The Atreides took up residence in the Arrakeen Palace, but their rule was cut short through a betrayal in a conspiracy by the Harkonnen and Imperial Sardaukar.
However, in 10,193, under the leadership of Muad'Dib and using the Atreides' family atomic explosives, the Fremen created a gap in the Shield Wall near Arrakeen and rode into the city on sandworms. In the ensuing battle, the Harkonnen were wiped out and Shaddam IV was deposed in place of Paul Muad'Dib, the Mentat Emperor. The planet then became the center of the Imperium.
Following that, Leto II, Muad'Dib's son, became the God Emperor and completed the terraforming of Arrakis at the expense of killing all sandworms and sandtrout--save for himself, who had merged with the creatures. After some 3,500 years of rule, Leto II was killed and his worm-body was transformed back into sandtrout who, within only a few centuries, returned Arrakis, hence called 'Rakis', to a desert.