A young woman, barely into her twenties, stepped into the stonework and wood structure on the tail end of the outlying space between Steel Horse Crossing proper and the old naval yard. It was clear she wasn’t familiar with the area, nor it’s people, and seemed baffled that she had a drink in one hand and something resembling food that smelled delicious in the other.
“Letter for Captain Maggie?” she asked more than said, her mouth working on the last morsel she had popped in before entering the building.
The metal veil swaying slightly as she stood, a woman well beyond twice the girl’s age beckoned towards her. “Whaddya got hon?”
The dark green coat was spoiled, and some of the embroidery was lifting. With a small curse, the Pure lit the candle in his quarters and immediately fretted over the stray threads. With a deeper than usual sigh, he quietly exclaimed to the metal walls around him, “It’ll have to wait. Damn shame.”
Extracting a pristine leather folio from a supply bag, he dutifully set up the makeshift writing table with his normal wares. Fine paper, an immaculate bottle of ink, and a well-tended feather tipped in a precious silvery metal. The ink well sat at the tip of the page with a small porous square of material to catch any errant drips, while the pen was deposited just enough to cover a portion of the metal tip. He ran a single hand over the surface, feeling the small ripple of the sheet. It was a ritual he had completed many times, and each time it calmed him considerably. Reaching inside the coat, he withdrew a small package he set to the left before reaching for the quill.
“My captains, my comrades,” he began writing, not sure where this all would lead.
“I write this as perhaps the last time you might hear from me. There is an impending fight that comes to our borders, and I have left each of you in charge of a small grouping of ships in order to protect each of our precious shore cities. I am not so lucky, and I have been called with my fleet to engage in a variety of maneuvers. I do not expect this to find each of you in time, but if it happens to make it to your hands, please know that I need you were I positioned you. Where I am headed is important to those in power, not those who need protection the most.
The rumors we have heard are slowly being confirmed. The Ironworks, always making progress, has gone well beyond their support of the abominable treatment of other people and have been experimenting for their own gain at manipulating the very core of our own bodies. I know, as I am marked for ‘retrieval’ should I fall in battle. I’m not even sure what that means aside from becoming a mindless servant of an empire built on the backs of its people. I want none of that, and I assuredly do not wish my sailors to suffer the same fate.
To that end, I commit to writing that as the Admiral of The Great Lake western squadron, I will not be standing idly by working for the same people that would commit atrocities for their own self-serving needs. And while I will not issue any orders to make you work against the same people, committing yourself to treason, I know you all well enough to understand you will do what is best when the time requires it. I therefore release you to whatever service you must find to carry out the last of my orders: Protect those that you serve, especially from tyranny.
I go now to meet on the waters and, when the time is right, do what must be done to ensure whatever remains of my conscience is clear.
Fair winds, my friends.
Rear Admiral, Iron Navy”
Thinking for a moment as he read through the letter once more, he nodded slowly and shifted the first sheet upward on the desk and began the next, copying the original text.
After some time, he pulled a small wooden handled seal and a bar of blue-green sealing wax, sealing and addressing each letter in turn within a different size and shape of envelope. He would need to find a moment before the battle to send these off in different towns along the way. At least one would need to make it through.
Maggie extended her hand for the envelope as the young woman dropped it into her hand. A hidden frown was accompanied by a visible raised eyebrow. As she turned the envelope over, her eyes fixed on the seal immediately. Without her standard composure, she hastily slid a finger in between the envelope and seal, ignoring the slight coating of grime on the surface of the entire thing.
Pulling the letter from its sheath, she scanned it top to bottom in moments. Her eyes narrowed, the emotional confusion washing over the visible parts of her face. Drawing in a slow breath, she exhaled at length and turned slightly. Over her shoulder Wrigley was watching from her station at the desk, as Maggie stated simply and slowly, “Go find me someone from the RPM. Please.”