When I was deployed to Saudi Arabia one of my units tasks was to implement security for a number of Patriot missile bases in the area surrounding Riyadh. I recall one base in particular was within a kilometer or two of an enormous oil refinery. This place was the size of a small city and dominated the skyline to the north.

As you may or may not be aware, Saudi Arabia does not have the stringent environmental regulations that some of us are accustomed to. As far as I know Saudi Arabia doesn’t have any environmental regulatory committee. This refinery took advantage of this lack of regulation. The pressure release flame was constantly lit and must have stood several hundred feet high. It was impossible to miss during the day, and at night it illuminated the desert. It was bright enough that you needed no extra light to work in the evening.

The flame itself varied from bright orange to a deep purple, depending I imagine on what impurities were being released at the time. It cast an eerie glow over the entire base, and made nightly patrols just that much more tense. I always imagined that this must have been what Herbert had seen to create his vision of Giedi Prime. Unwieldy and frightening, but industrially enticing.

Of course that sort of thing comes with a price. One day a group of rather professional looking people visited and took a bunch of soil and air samples. They instructed the female soldiers stationed with the missile unit not to attempt pregnancy for three years. Each of us received a biohazard tag to clip to our uniforms and were instructed to notify our command immediately if it ever turned colors. To this day I am an unworthy blood donor.