Updated question with summary:
Why does Baron Harkonnen agree to exterminate the Atreides family when asked by the Emperor?
In "Dune", the Emperor tells the Harkonnen family to leave Arrakis and cede it to the Atreides family, that is a given. Then as far as I can tell the Emperor tells the Baron that he can regain control of Arrakis once the Atreides family is removed.
Is there an origin story of why Baron Harkonnen came to despise the Atreides family or is Harkonnen simply a mercenary that does what the Emperor asks?
So in summary from answers/comments given:
In the Battle of Corrin during the final push to kill off Skynet, umm sorry Omnius, an officer Abulurd (Harkonnen) in an army led by Vorian (Atreides), disables military equipment thinking to save the lives of human-shields being used by the enemy. The battle is none-the-less successful (Omnius is defeated), but Abulurd (Harkonnen) is branded a coward by Vorian (Atreides) and exiled.
When the exiled Abulurd Harkonnen dies of sickness, his family essentially mounts a mis-information campaign to blame the Atreides family for "bringing the fever" that killed a Harkonnen. This hatred is taught down through generations of Harkonens and we, as readers, are then plopped in the middle of the feud between Baron Harkonnen and Leto Atreides that is the book "Dune".
There seems to be a lot of pulpy-paperback elements in these prequel books. Thanks for all the comments and answers. Since I read the word "execrable" in one comment I'm thinking that I should just stick with the remaining books written by Frank Herbert as I complete the series.