It has been fifty-six hard years since the events of The Machine Crusade. Following the death of Serena Butler, the bloodiest decades of the Jihad take place. Synchronized Worlds and Unallied Planets are liberated one by one, and at long last, after years of struggle, the human worlds begin to hope that the end of the centuries-long conflict with the thinking machines is finally in sight. Unfortunately, Omnius has one last, deadly card to play. In a last-ditch effort to destroy humankind, virulent plagues are let loose throughout the galaxy, decimating the populations of whole planets . . . and once again, the tide of the titanic struggle shifts against the warriors of the human race. At last, the war that has lasted many lifetimes will be decided in the apocalyptic Battle of Corrin. In the greatest battle in science fiction history, human and machine face off one last time. . . . And on the desert planet of Arrakis, the legendary Fremen of Dune become the feared fighting force to be discovered by Paul Muad'Dib in Frank Herbert's classic, Dune At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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October 17, 2004
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Excerpt from Dune: The Battle of Corrin by Brian Herbert
Erasmus found the pecking order among the dying and hopeless humans fascinating, even amusing. Their reaction was all part of the experimental process, and he considered the results to be very worthwhile.
The robot strolled through the corridors of his meticulously organized laboratory facility on Corrin, swirling his plush crimson robe. The garment itself was an affectation he had developed in order to give himself a more lordly appearance. Alas, the victims in their sealed cells paid little heed to his finery, preoccupied instead with their suffering. Nothing could be done about that, since distractible humans had such difficulty focusing on matters that did not directly affect them.
Decades ago, squads of efficient construction robots had built this high-domed facility according to his exact specifications. The numerous well-equipped chambers ' each one completely isolated and sterile ' contained everything Erasmus required for his experiments.
As he continued his regular inspection rounds, the independent robot passed the glaz windows of sealed chambers in which plague test subjects lay strapped to beds. Some specimens were already paranoid and delirious, displaying the symptoms of the retrovirus, while others were terrified for good and rational reasons.
By now, testing was nearly complete on the engineered disease. The effective direct mortality rate was forty-three percent ' not at all perfect, but still the deadliest viral organism in recorded human history. It would serve the necessary purpose, and Omnius could not wait much longer. Something had to be done soon.
The humans' holy crusade against thinking machines had dragged on for almost a full century, with much destruction and distraction. The constant fanatical attacks from the Army of the Jihad had wrought incalculable damage to the Synchronized empire, destroying robot warships as fast as the various evermind incarnations could rebuild them. The progress of Omnius had been inexcusably stalled. Finally, Omnius demanded a solution. Since direct military conflict had not proved sufficiently effective, alternatives were explored. Biological plagues, for instance.