Imperial Guard: Orders

Imperial Aquila

The Imperium of Man is a vast, sprawling Leviathan. On countless worlds, the human civilization trudges on in time to the unyielding tempo set by the Adeptus Terra. From densely urbanized forge-worlds to comparatively sparsely populated agricultural planets, the minutia of daily life is dictated to the Imperial citizen by the seemingly omnipresent Administratum, through its legion of agents.

Very much like a Leviathan, the vast organism that is the Imperium is often slow to react. Fully six thousand years had passed since human eyes looked upon records concerning the Sorathian system, a minuscule spec of dust somewhere in the Viridian sector. Deep within the bowels of Holy Terra, the offices of the Sub-departimento Occupatio housed hundreds of thousands of scribes. Each is tasked with the duty of scouring an endless tide of Imperial records, in the futile attempt to measure just how large the Imperium is, count how many worlds fall within its domain and discern where they are located.

An especially thankless task, is to peruse ancient documents from the times of the Great Crusade and cross-reference the obscure mentions of planetary systems with current information, to determine whether these worlds are still part of the Emperor’s domain. Scribe A-3400/9 had spent months sifting through garbled text and badly damaged combat logs, until he finally stumbled upon one sentence: “World eaters pursued….Viridian sector…Garrison left on Cadia XIV…”

It took the scribe two more weeks of searching through the files pertaining to the Viridian sector, before finally finding a millennia old footnote “Guardsman platoons left in the Sorathian system…warp storms…all contact lost.” A-3400/9 compared his findings with current census data, but found nothing that hinted at an Imperial presence on any Sorathian world. The meager evidence that the scribe had found probably amounted to nought, and he felt fairly certain that there was nothing of value in that Emperor-forsaken smudge of space, but by Terra, he needed a promotion. The scribe was a mere nine levels away from becoming a petty administrator, which meant that his designation would finally be changed to a true name. Normally this would take twenty more years of hard work, but A-3400/9 was confident that, with the right phrasing, his report would halve that time. Barely containing his excitement, the scribe began to craft his masterpiece.

From a couple of garbled sentences, the scribe produced a three page Memorandum, detailing the high strategic value of the Viridian system and the need for the vast human population of Cadia XIV to be returned to the Imperium’s fold. The lowly scribe was not alone in his desire to seize on this opportunity and by the time his report made its way to the higher levels of the Sub-departimento Occupatio, it had become a hundreds-of-pages long document, culminating with the following finding:

It is with studied certainty that we find the issuance of a reclamation fleet not only virtuous in His holy eyes, but necessary for the survival of humanity within the entire Viridian Sector. The overwhelming evidence, unearthed by our dedicated and hard-working servants, unequivocally demonstrates the critical importance of the Sorathian System. It must be reclaimed for the glory of the Imperium.

Long live the Emperor!

After reading this last paragraph, having completely ignored the rest of the report, Commissar Nemo crumpled the page it was written on in his right fist. Disgusted, he dumped the entire document down an incineration shute, much to the horror of his subordinate. “Security reasons” Nemo said curtly. He did not need to read the report, he had seen dozens like it, all with the same grandiose air and lack of substance. In the end it did not particularly matter. The mission was always the same. Travel, fight, die or conquer. But Lieutenant Perkins did not know this, for he was freshly graduated from the academy and assumed that everything that agents of the Imperium said was true.

The officer stood to attention and exclaimed “Of course Lord Commissar! How foolish for me to even think to question your wisdom, what are our orders sir?” The Commissar sighed before paraphrasing: “In His holy name, we are to go forth at maximum speed as a vanguard of the reclamation fleet. Once we reach the Sorathian System we are to immediately lay siege to Cadia XIV until pacified.” Perkins was so excited by the prospect of leading his troops in his first campaign, that he was completely oblivious to the sarcasm in his commander’s voice. “Splendid sir! I shall go to the men and tell them the good news!” The Lieutenant screeched, saluting stupidly. “Yes, you do that,” Nemo said dryly, “dismissed.”

Once the simpleton subordinate left his ready room, Commissar Nemo took a moment to collect his thoughts. The innumerable masses of the Imperial Guard had countless assets of war at their disposal, with equally varied tactics to employ. Somehow, the Administratum only ever ordered the use of one tactic: The wave. Like an implacable ocean, entire companies of infantry and armored divisions are thrown at the enemy. When, not if, that assault is destroyed, it is immediately followed by another, and another, until nothing is left of their foe.

The high death toll is apparently of no consequence to the bureaucratic hegemony. Life, they say, is the Emperor’s currency and victory seems to always be on sale. Over the decades Commissar Nemo had noticed the patterns in orders given, small details hidden amidst requisition orders. Whereas others might be puzzled at only being given enough fuel for one trip, Nemo knew there would be no supply missions. In short, he recognized a suicide mission when he saw one, and this was it.

In the great battles against overwhelming foes the likes of Abbadon, a Necron dynasty, or Tyranid hive fleet, the armies of humanity are commanded by the Imperium’s finest generals, where every life under their command is a precious asset, spent with the precise economics of a master tactician. But this was no titanic struggle, just an ignominious backwater theatre unworthy of the Imperial Guard’s true leadership. So the Administratum happily usurped that role, greedily pursuing its own agenda. Even the Commissariat had better things to do than curb the unnecessary waste.

None of this helped Commissar Nemo in the slightest, who was bound by duty to comply. Of course, the battle-scarred veteran had absolutely no intention of following the spirit of his orders and would instead meticulously and obstinately abide by its letter. If he was clever enough, maybe some of the boys would make it back home in one piece.

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