Golden sunlight bathed Governor Jarmal’s private stateroom. The sun just starting to dip lower in the sky was casting long shadows across the room. Kiervan Jarmal stood, letting the warmth of the sun fall across his face. A great many things troubled him, the arrival of the Ork fleet most of all, with the woeful weakness in numbers of his PDF adding to his worries. He reached down and picked up his cigar from the ashtray, raising it to his lips and breathing in the wonderful taste deep into his chest. The heady aroma and the almost sensual caress of the smoke going a little way to easing the fears he harbored. True, Forlorn Hope’s own defense would not hold against such a mighty foe but the impending arrival of the Emperor’s own warriors, the astartes, made his hopes soar and his determination galvanize. Though he had never seen any in action personally, he had heard many tales of their heroics and deeds in battle. It would be the greatest honour of his life to be in the presence of such mighty weapons of the Emperor’s might.
He turned and padded across the deep crimson carpet to the drinks cabinet in the corner, leaving a trail of wispy smoke in his wake. He had been governor of Forlorn Hope for the best part of forty years now, having taken office in his early twenties. The planet had known peace and tranquility under his guidance and had been the epitome of an Imperial world. Tithes paid in full and on time, the system of rule ticking over perfectly and the quota of soldiers into the Imperial Guard met every time. Yes, he thought as he took a crystal tumbler from the cabinet and filled it with amber liqueur, I have done my duty and I’ll be damned if some greenskin scum are going to blemish my career.
There was a faint knock at the door. “Enter”, acknowledged Jarmal and the mighty oak doors swung silently open as Lonas Kell made his way into the room clutching his staff of office.
“Ahhh Lonas, good to see you”, greeted the governor with a warm smile to his senior advisor and more importantly, his closest friend. “What news from our space marine reinforcements?”
“No news as yet old friend”, replied Kell, returning the smile. “But there is no need to concern ourselves, they will be here in time, of that I am sure”.
“A drink?” offered Jarmal, proffering a glass.
“No no,” chuckled Kell, “it disagrees with my stomach far too strongly, unlike you however that seems to be able to quaff gallons of the stuff and feel no worse off for it”.
Jarmal shrugged and padded back over towards the grand oak table that dominated the stateroom. Strewn across it were a mess of torn and faded parchments, maps and data slates with all manner of information on them. He absentmindedly shuffled a few before picking up a data slate and moving around to sit in his chair. It was a high backed seat, more akin to a throne of sorts, though Jarmal always dismissed such parallels being drawn. Intricately carved it depicted various scenes of hunting, battle and ceremonies of legend. Each arm was carved into the majestic shape of an eagle and it was on one of these that he rested his glass.
“How go the preparations in the defenses?” he asked, his mood becoming serious once more. “We have little by way of our own I know, but I hope everything we have can be brought to bear on the foul xeno scum that dare invade our system”.
“They go well governor”, responded Kell in his customary business-like manner. “First and foremost is the defense of the Imperial Palace and its environs. The 33rd and 9th mechanized infantry regiments are in position along the main approaches”, he continued, pointing out locations on a map laid out on the table. “The 88th artillery battalion is forming up within the palace grounds here, and we have defended these areas of the basilica with elements of the 2nd. As you can see from the pict image, these are the locations of our other PDF forces across Forlorn Hope”.
“Excellent…excellent Lonas!” replied Jarmal taking a sip of liqueur. “The Ultramarines and Space Wolves will be very pleased with our efforts”.
“Indeed, our allies will be most impressed”, Kell acknowledged, a faint glimmer of a satisfaction fleetingly crossing his face.
“You know Lonas, I have never fought side by side with a warrior of the Emperor before, and while I had hoped to end my days in peace, there is a certain part of me that thrills at the thought of being part of something such as this”, Jarmal’s voice almost singing with youthful vigour for a moment.
Kell laughed, “forgive me old friend, but it is highly unlikely that you would ever get to fight at all, let alone side by side with a space marine”. Lonas Kell smiled, as though remembering a personal joke.
“I know, I know. I’m far too old and decrepit now to be of any good, but one can dream Lonas, one can dream” he said sipping his drink again.
Kell nodded and moved to stand at the shoulder of his old friend. They both gazed out of the window, across the palace grounds and towards the slowly setting sun. “Yes Keirvan, of course, you may dream…” his voice trailing off.
All of a sudden, there was a strange feeling, one Jarmal couldn’t quite put his finger on, he was an old man now and he had been sure he had experienced all the emotions humanity had to offer him but this sensation was new to him. New, and yet somehow strangely familiar on some unconscious level he thought. He looked down and saw the blade emerging from his chest. The gleaming silver of the metal contrasting with the deep thick crimson of blood… his own blood. The tumbler fell from his hands and landed with a dull thump on the carpet, the remains of the liqueur soaking into the pile. Jarmal felt no pain, just a slow chill creeping into his body. He could hear the sound of crashing waves suddenly rushing in his ears, a strong metallic taste filled his mouth and he coughed a gout of thick blood which ran down his lips and chin. His vision became black and white and began to fade around the edges. Jarmal’s head suddenly becoming very heavy and he rested it against the wing of his oak chair. The irresistible urge to sleep overcame him and slowly he closed his eyes, seeing for the last time the sun setting out across the rooftops of the Imperial palace.
“…you may dream”, Lonas Kell whispered as he withdrew the sword. He wiped the blood from the blade on the sleeve of Governor Jarmal and sheathed it within his staff. “Now it is time to welcome our allies”, and with that the senior advisor and closest friend to Keirvan Jarmal left the room.