The Imir of Io looked out over his empire. Below him spread the whole of the Io Lunar colony. The colony was not actually situated on the surface of Io, but it was an artificial satellite that slowly orbited the volatile and deadly moon. He had been here for fifty years, and had been Imir for fifteen of them. He was tired of it.
He was tired of the constant bureaucratic struggles with the Alliance of Outer Planets. He was tired of the late shipments of supplies from those scammers on Europa. He was tired of the constant intrigue in the Ioan Council. He was tired of the day to day tedium of running the colony.
He turned away from the window and ordered the apartment's computer butler to shade the glass. He sighed and rubbed his hands over his face, swollen from the fluid that collected there due to the 1/3 gravity they had. He was seventy years old, the third oldest person on the colony, and he was feeling it.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Ingrid asked. She was his personal secretary, and had been with him since he first came into the Imirship. Half his age and more handsome than pretty, she was holding a flex screen in both hands, twisting it nervously. “You don't have to do this.”
“I do, Ingrid.” The Imir held out his hand and she placed the rolled up flex screen into it.
“You don't have a successor. No plan for a hand over of power. Sir, please. Think about it a little longer.”
“I've thought on it enough,” he said as he unrolled the flex screen and scanned the text on the translucent surface. His abdication papers.
“This will throw the whole Council into chaos.”
“Let them fight it out.” The Lunar Council was a nest of venomous snakes he would be glad to be rid of.
“They'll never let you leave until it's sorted out.” Ingrid said. She was getting desperate. She had been with him for so long, her whole career was built around being his assistant. He suspected her whole identity depended upon her status as his closest confidante. He ignored her protests and picked up the light pen and signed the papers. He placed his DNAIdent in the lower right corner beside his scrawled signature, and rolled the flex screen into a tube before handing it back to the secretary.
“See that this is delivered to the Council in the morning.”
“This is the last thing I will ever ask of you, Ingrid,” he sighed. “First thing in the morning. I will meet with the Council.”
She pressed her lips together, making a hard thin line across the lower part of her face and nodded. He dismissed her, and turned back to the window and instructed the butler to raise the screen again.
Ishmael Irving, no longer the Imir of Io gazed out over his former empire, taking in the metal and composite buildings festooned with milt-colored lights, and silently made calculations. He wouldn't be meeting with the Council in the morning. In an hour he would be taking a transport to a ship in orbit around Thebe. That ship would take him back the inner planets, to Mars where he had set up his retirement. The money he had siphoned from the colony accounts for the last twenty years in compensation for all the frustrations, petty back biting, intrigues and constant threats to his life would be more than enough to keep him comfortable in his last years.