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The Honored Matres were a powerful all-female group who emerge from unchartered space to become formidable rivals of the Bene Gesserit, some two thousand years after the death of the God-Emperor Leto Atreides II.
During the departure of almost countless people during The Scattering, the Bene Gesserit sent out many exploration and colonization teams from within their own ranks. Nothing was heard of the groups again. However, it was later discovered that some did survive, and indeed thrived in numbers and power. However, the experiences of this group, and their interactions with other groups from The Scattering, triggered fundamental changes in their beliefs, customs and objectives.
In the original Dune series by Frank Herbert, it is suggested that the Honored Matres' heritage is an offshoot of the customs of the Bene Gesserit and Fish Speakers, and indeed, the Matres did get heritage from both.
The Honored Matres are described as being descended from the females of the Tleilaxu. The Tleilaxu men saw females as nothing more than wombs, and their minds meant nothing to the men. In their childhood, the females were fed and sheltered, but no thought was given to their education or higher needs. When a Tleilaxu female reached menarche, she was turned into a axlotl tank, essentially brain dead and unconscious, and spent the rest of her life breeding whatever the Tleilaxu men wanted her to breed.
Some Tleilaxu women were rescued by Bene Gesserit. Some of these rescued women wanted to die, but other women regained their consciousness, and learned from the Bene Gesserit and vowed revenge on the Tleilaxu men for the crimes committed against their gender. This explains the Honored Matres' deep revulsion for Tleilaxu males and their violence against the Tleilax in particular.
Honored Matres typically wear single-body-suits (leotards) with draping robes over them. Gaudy colors and bright designs are also typical, with animal pictographs embroidered into the robes. The loose robes and body suits allow the Honored Matres great freedom of movement, able to cover themselves or seduce, and able to fight at any time.
Honored Matres use a form of Melange substitute derived quite literally from pain. The enslaved Tleilaxu Scribe Uxtal is given the task of manufacturing the Melange substitute by torturing prisoners of war. Different types of pain produce different qualities of the substitute.
Effects of the Melange substitute include orange fleckings in the eyes, comparable to the constant blue-within-blue of spice addiction. The orange color of Melange substitute, however, only occurs when the user is subjected to stresses that bring the user to anger. The effect of the drug in an angered state makes the compulsion to kill difficult, if not impossible, to resist.
Honored Matres were notorious for their sexual exploits, and are all extremely fit.
There is a theory that the Melange Substitute used by Honored Matres is none other than the substitute developed by the Tleilaxu on Ix during occupation there. This Amal could have been distributed by the few groups of Enhanced Face Dancers sent out by the master researcher, Hidar Fen Ajidica, on Ix before his death in the battle for Ix.
Customs and Ideologies Edit
While some Bene Gesserit ideologies remained a part of the Honored Matre identity, they incorporated outside customs and philosophies that made them very distinct from - and often at odds with - their ancestral origin. Key to these was their general opinion of control. While the Bene Gesserit used subtle and often deceptive methods to retain their powerbase within an existing balance-of-power, the Honored Matres sought to supersede the status-quo and gain absolute control over all other groups.
This aggressive strategy required the enslavement or destruction of all other power brokers, and consequently demanded the group possess powerful control mechanisms. The most effective method used by the Honored Matres to infiltrate and overwhelm other groups was a form of 'sexual enslavement'. During their evolution in uncharted space, the Honored Matres perfected sexual intercourse into a narcotic process.
By using carefully crafted skills, an Honored Matre practitioner learned how to coerce an outsider - typically of the male gender - into total subservience. This action, performed often and to the right individuals, allowed them to conquer many other groups in uncharted space and build a formidable military and resource base.
The Honored Matres hungered for intimidation and violence, a trait that encompassed their entire culture. Evidence of this was visible in their frequent use of assassination to gain power.
Leadership of the Honored Matres was executed via the absolute control of one member, who typically rose to the top by killing the previous leader and any other colleagues who got in her way. This method was the established right of ascension. Thus the title of leader changed frequently and loyalty between Honored Matres was conditional at best.
When a sub-commander Matre leader named Lenise lost a direct duel with an unnamed superior, Lenise and her entourage' headed out into deep space for worlds to conquer. After some time, Lenise's group bounded upon a robotic outpost, which was a fringe planet of the reborn Thinking Machine empire. Lenise stole the Obliterator weapons that the outpost had, and summarily destroyed the base. Before its' complete destruction, the base sent a signal to the Machine leaders, Omnius and Erasmus, on distant Synchrony, who quickly launched an aggressive counter-attack. Lenise realized her peril, and retreated back into human-Scattering space, drawing the machines after her group.
The Machines once again realized where human-kind's location was within the galaxies, and launched starships and the dreaded Omnius Scourge against the Matres. The Matres losses were staggering, and they quickly abandoned most of their Scattering worlds, such as Rikka's Planet, and retreated quickly back into the Old Imperium. This bought them a few decades of reprieve from their Machine pursuers who lacked fold-space technology, which the Matres had with no-ships.
Seeking Bene Gesserit skills such as cellular control, which would render the Scourge powerless, the Matres continued on in violence, and destroyed planets and civilizations with their stolen Obliterators. The Matres returned to the core of the Imperium, during the leadership of Bene Gesserit Mother Superior Alma Mavis Taraza. They wrought havoc in an attempt to instill fear and gain absolute power over all. After conquering many planets, they made Junction the beach head in their war of conquest.
Though most groups of the Old Empire were conquered or infiltrated (including the Bene Tleilax), the Bene Gesserit mounted strong resistance, thanks in no small part to their immunity to the Honored Matres' enslavement skills and the efforts of Miles Teg and one of the Duncan Idaho gholas.
Merger of the Honored Matres and Bene Gesserit Edit
Using their own resources, the Bene Gesserit succeeded in holding the Honored Matres at bay. However, realizing military might would not be enough to succeed long term; they embarked on a strategy of infiltration. Thanks to the powers resident within the genetic makeup of their Duncan Idaho ghola (who was largely immune to the sexual talents of the Honored Matres) they captured Murbella, a talented and rapidly emerging member of the Honored Matres.
Over time Murbella was coerced into becoming a Bene Gesserit, although she retained partial loyalty to the Honored Matres until completing the Agony. Upon realizing the change in Murbella, the Bene Gesserit Mother Superior Darwi Odrade gave instruction that she should succeed her as leader of the Bene Gesserit.
During the final confrontation between the leadership of the two groups, Odrade was killed, and Murbella killed Logno, the Great Honored Matre. Murbella ascended to the roles of Mother Superior and Great Honored Matre and was thus the leader of both groups. She proceeded to unite them in an uneasy alliance taking the title of Mother Commander of the newly formed New Sisterhood.
Rebel Factions Edit
Not all Matres faction immediately recognized Murbella as leader, nor recognized her desire to merge the two groups. The most notable was a rebel faction on the soostone-producing world of Buzzell, and the main rebel faction on the Tleilaxu homeworld of Tleilax, from their main city of Bandalong, led by Hellica.
Murbella led the para-military group of specially trained New Sisterhood operatives called the Valkyries against Buzzell, easily conquering the sea world. This gave Murbella the impetus of attacking Tleilax and Bandalong, and eliminating the last rebel faction of Matres.
The planet Tleilax fell with a bloody battle, which saw the destruction of many cities. As Hellica was killed, it was revealed that Hellica and other rebel leaders were actually Lost Tleilaxu Enhanced Face Dancers, and they had been leading the Bandalong faction astray for years. This realization that the main Matres rebel stronghold had been led by Face Dancers, their dwindling numbers, and the need to unite against the Enemy in the upcoming galaxy changing war; caused the final unification with the Sisterhood.