Leo Dykstra usually didn’t take himself too seriously. As Governor he didn’t really need to rule over the roughly 100,000 people on Ignatius. The colonists were largely men he had commanded in the Forestport Rangers, and they respected him enough that a gentle suggestion was usually more effective than an order. As their commander his job had been far more demanding, and now he found himself making himself busy in ways that in his more introspective moments he realized were completely trivial.
Nevertheless, years of military regimen kept him sharp. He knew that someday, sometime, a crisis would arise that would demand his best, and Emperor willing he was prepared to give it. So he rose today as he did every day at 5:00am for a set of calisthenics, then showered and dressed neatly in civilian dress that never quite managed to look casual. Armed with a handheld rather than a lasgun he stepped out the door of his bungalow onto the porch.
As he did every day he went to the edge of the porch and rested his hands on the dew-damp rail to watch the sun rise. The gas giant Secundus that Ignatius orbited was already full and red over the horizon when Hraxis, the sun, peeped out beside it. He often said the sunrises were better than the pay, and today the crimson and oranges clouds stretching over the jungle at the edge of town didn’t disappoint.
Wiping his hands together to dry the dew Leo stepped down off the porch into the street and headed towards the center of town. He’d managed to subdue his officer’s purposeful stride to a regimental saunter over the years since he’d arrived, but still covered ground quickly.
Given the size of Ignatius City, he arrived almost as soon as he’d left, and found most of the doors still closed and the streets empty. But in the Town Square Morn’s was open, and as Leo drew near he could smell the fresh kaf brewing.
The old regimental sergeant major saluted Leo with a nod as he entered the shop, and there was a cup of kaf ready by the time he reached the counter. He sat in a stool and raised the cup to his lips, blowing gently over the surface before taking a careful sip. “Thank you Morn, as good as ever.”
“I wouldn’t serve it any other way Mister Dykstra.” Morn had a way of making mister sound like a military rank.
A comfortable silence ensued as Leo enjoyed his coffee and Morn puttered around the shop. The next customer to enter Farris Priesly, the Dukorp company factor. Farris looked rough, hair untidy and clothes wrinkled, and deep pits circled his eyes.
“You look like a gaunt’s breakfast. You sleep at all last night?” Leo asked.
Farris moaned, “Emperor, not a wink, I have to file my monthlies this morning when the Astropath opens.” Morn placed a kaf in front of the factor, who took it up immediately, “Bless you Morn, they ought to saint you for this.”
“Careful Mister Priesly, the Inquisition will be thinking I’m getting delusions.” The men shared a laugh, as they doubted an inquisitor had ever set foot on Ignatius, and if one ever did he would have stood out like a sore thumb among all the familiar faces.
Their laughter was interrupted by the entry of a young man, red-faced and out of breath. Leo looked alarmed when he saw him, “Joss, whats wrong?” Joss was the astropath’s assistant, and usually not out of bed until much later.
Joss panted for a moment before he could speak. “Priority message… Governor’s eyes only…” He held out a folded sheet of paper sealed with the Adeptus Astra Telepathica sigil.
Leo took a moment to take the message. He had never received an eyes-only post, nothing on Ignatius was that important. His hands were trembling slightly as he cracked the seal and unfolded the page. The others watched as Leo grew pale, and the message slipped from his fingers to flutter to the floor.
Farris scooped it up, and fumbled on his glasses. “Emperor, Leo, they’ve sold us out.”
Leo was rested his face in his hands a moment, rubbed it. Then he looked up and took the message from Farris’ unresisting hands. “This goes no further than here. I don’t want another soul knowing. And that’s an order.” Leo stood up to his full height, and Morn actually saluted. “Come with me boy, its time to put your boss to work.”
Leo was back to a purposeful stride by the time he reached the door, and Joss was hot on his heels. The crossed to the Aven, the Astropath’s home, and Joss let him in. Aven was sitting in the only outer room. His robes and hair were unkempt, and he stared blindly ahead. Both hands were typing on a keyboard, and a fresh sheet of paper shot out of the printer.
Leo took it even as Aven reached forth blindly and accurately, “Do not break the ritual Leo.”
Leo snorted, “Don’t be a stick in the mud Aven, this is serious.”
“I know, the Adeptus Astartae are coming to our fair world.”
Leo shook his head, glad as always that Aven took the oath of secrecy so seriously. A glance revealed Joss, merely confused before, now looking shocked. “Remember, silence boy.”
Joss nodded furiously.
Leo shook the new page, “So what is does this new one say then Aven?”
“Read it yourself. It was in High Gothic, I translated it.”
Leo lifted the page, which read:
- From: Korvus, Legatus Miles Rufus
- To: Colonel Leo Dykstra, Governor, Ignatius
- Encryption Scheme Delta Tertius
- Governor Dykstra:
- May the Emperor find you in good health of body, spirit and mind. I am certain news of the change of circumstances on Ignatius has come as a shock and grave disturbance to you. It is my hope that this message will arrive as soon as possible, its intent being to assuage your concerns.
- It is my belief that in this situation our needs would best be served by working with the current administration, namely yours.
- Our ships will be jumping from Kali shortly, our destination Ignatius. Serious works will be in needed to transform Ignatius to suit our needs, though the inevitable result will be a benefit to its economy. Upon our arrival my staff and myself will meet with you to lay plans for the future.
- There are certain facts you must be aware of before our arrival. Ships have lifted from our chapterworld of Priory bearing two reserve companies, associated support personnel, and much of the equipment and specialized materials needed for our short term priorities. Their time of travel is estimated at three months, and housing and storage facilities will be required upon their arrival.
- We will be bringing refugees from the conflict on Kali on promises of land in return for a term of service. Suitable temporary housing will be required for them upon our arrival in an estimated two weeks.
- All labour and materials expenses generated by these tasks will be reimbursed upon our arrival. Technical details of our needs are appended.
- Finally, to ensure an equitable distribution of land among new colonists expected in the future, approval of all land grants is suspended from the date of message until our arrival.
- Until we meet.
- Korvus, Legatus Miles Rufus
- Gloria Imperator Universalis
- <Technical Addendum Alpha>
- Transmission Ends.
Leo sighed, “Emperor.”
Aven was quiet, “Indeed.”
“Joss, please leave.” The boy scuttled out and closed the door behind him. “Send this to the legate. Message received and understood, and I await your arrival.” His shoulders sagged.
“It may not be so bad, Emperor willing.”
Leo shook his head, “Only time will tell.”
Korvus 20:50, 9 February 2008 (UTC) Nicholas Cioran