The Emperor had appointed literally hundreds of administrators. The goal was to supplant the military bureaucracy that had grown over the years since the revolution. The fact of life was that now, there was three layers of entrenched bureaucracy that covered nearly every phase of life, private and public.
Which most of the citizens could have lived with except for the fact that a lot of it was corrupt, if a business wanted to paint its exterior. There were at least five different offices that had to be approached. Each with its own forms and fees and time tables as to how and when things should be done. Each could deny the petition with or without reason, or even push it further up the line for more review, and thusly incurring more fees and time.
The bureaucrats would make inquiries as to whether or not the work was being done by licensed professionals, who distributed the paint, was the paint approved for outdoor use, when was the last time the building had been painted, had all the taxes been paid, the number of employees, did the color match the current aesthetic requirements of the area, had an impact study been done as far as the paint fumes and the local wildlife, how would the dirty paint spreaders be cleaned, if the building were to come up for sale how much would the paint add to the value of the structure, and even more. Some of the questions would have nothing to do with the paint, where would the painter park, would the business have to hire a caterer, or an portable restroom.
Most people ignored the regulations, and would go on with their lives, which risked fines and in some cases prison time if caught.
But one individual in the system was making a difference.
She had been appointed years ago by the Emperor to a minor post in the interagency mail distribution system. Dannie had taken an interest in the system and learned how things got done.
Others began calling her with questions, people trusted her judgement, and many admired her knowledge of the system. She was promoted out of the mailroom to the information office.
In the information office she fielded questions and problems from all over. She trained several helpers in how to deal with the system. Who in which office would tell you what, how to get things done, and so on.
Soon she was in a management position. People would come to her office first to find out exactly what to do when they wanted to have a communicator installed, when they wanted to move when they had to aplly for a permit to do it. When they were contacted by an agency to supply information, Dannie would either find the forms or they needed, or she would go into the system and find out who could.
She warned people of which offices would try to overcharge them, duplicate fees, and sometimes charged illegal fees.
Dannie became known within the system. Some administrators complained about her and her office. Their profits were down. Some offices within the system had nothing to do as word got out that the office did nothing, their work had been entirely taken over by other offices, and as a redundancy within the system, their existence was unneeded. If they couldn't find a nitch for themselves, they were either absorbed by another division or disbanded. Which created some hard feelings.
Her office was usually right on their budget. Every bit of funding was accounted for, and if a shortcoming was found, Dannie would make it up out of her own funds until the reason was investigated and corrected.
The comptroller was most impressed. Her's was the only office in the information department that didn't come screaming for more funds halfway through the year. She made due with last year's technology, older office furniture, they recycled paper, and returned calls when the rates were cheaper.
Word filtered up to the Emperor.
One day an older gentleman walked into her agency. He had a problem. He wanted to transfer the title on a business to someone outside his family. How could he do this quickly, yet have everything legal and honest?
Dannie looked over the papers. She got out her folders of information, and made a few calls. Then began to draw up a plan for the gentleman.
He was stunned. "You do not require a fee for such service?" He asked.
"No sir. As yet we haven't incurred any expenses. But if I have to send something by special courier or make a large numbers of copies I will ask you to offset that cost." She smiled at him, "Of course I will give you signed receipts for any fees."
The gentleman nodded, then thought a minute. "But what if I cannot pay today?"
"We can work something out. Maybe you could list the expense on the business transfer and the new owner will pay for it." Dannie continued to work as they talked. She had a list of agencies he would have to contact already started.
"Most impressive." He touched a button on a rather intricate bracelet.
Dannie nearly panicked as the room was suddenly filled with people. Her top-level supervisor came in looking rather upset. There were security guards eyeing everybody carefully. Very important people took careful notes into and on all sorts of portable devices.
The gentleman saw the look in her eyes and took her hand carefully.
"Don't worry. You did nothing wrong. In fact. You have done everything right. If only I had a dozen more like you."
She didn't understand.
"I am Emperor Darian. And I need somebody like you to put the system to rights. You are being brought to the Capitol to oversee all the departments, to clean up the system." He nodded as she shook her head in protest. "You have what it takes."
"Sire, no, I don't. I only do my job the way I know God wants me to do it."
"Very good." He nodded. "You can teach the others that as well."
"I can't afford to loose her!" Her supervisor protested.
The Emperor put his hand up. "Neither can I."
The supervisor lowered his eyes in respect.
Dannie could not speak. She followed the gentleman out of the office.
In a ceremony broadcast over the entire Empire Dannie became The Magistrate, over the entire regulation and administration bureaucracy throughout the realm.
Dannie performed in her new office as she had in her old. She trained those in the office to think of the citizen first, they took only such fees as were reasonable and justified. And they expected those agencies under them to do the same. She worked closely with others in the government, and slowly began to make a difference.
Now there were only one hundred twenty offices and divisions where there had been countless more. Which she found to have been part of the problem, endless offices and divisions that did nothing but devour resources and add to the problems of running the Empire.
But instead of gratitude and relief from those in the government, jealousy and contempt grew. Conspiracies against her took root, others plotted ways to have her removed and have things go back to the way they were.
One office manager who was now in the mailroom engineered a way to have her fired. He despised working, and had enjoyed running a small office that did absolutely nothing for years. He wrote out a complicated regulation that banned all worship of unknown beings by employees of the Empire, if said being lived outside of the boundaries of the Empire, as a threat to the security and sovereignty of the Emperor. As a finale he had tagged a line onto it that unless the Emperor specifically vetoed the law, it was to be considered in force at the beginning of the next month. Then he sent it through channels that consisted of other disgruntled administrators.
Whether it ever came before the Emperor himself is not known. In any event, it was posted with the enforceable body of law and sent out with the updated book of codes.
Dannie was never even aware of the law.
She was brought before a tribunal on the charge of treason to the Emperor and sentenced to hard labor in a fuel ore mine. Which was the equivalent of the old law sentence of death by slow torture. Dannie begged the court to let her appeal to the Emperor. But her pleas fell on unhearing ears.
In the mine, she wept bitterly night and day. But she prayed for those that hated her so deeply as to do this to her. She also asked her God to protect the Emperor from the people that could do this. If they would take an action like this toward her, she couldn't imagine what they might do to him.
In the mine, she was almost useless. The mine foreman called her into his office. "Is there anything you can do for me?" He asked. "You are not strong enough to operate the plasma drill, you are too short to drive the loader. What can you do?"
She told him she was most experienced in office work. He shrugged and put her to work organizing his files and payroll.
Within a week the office was operating at peak efficiency and since the payroll was on time, the worker's morale improved, and along with it, the working conditions and safety.
That mine led all mines in productivity over the next marking period.
Soon that mining division was making phenomenal gains in output and cost savings.
Which got the Emperor's attention.
The gentleman walked into the mine division office with the mining operation administrator. "She is the reason the entire division has turned around." The administrator said. "It was a blessed day when she was sentenced by the court to labor in the mines."
"I read that transcript. And I have news for you." The Emperor took Dannie by the hand and held it tightly. "Those corrupt enough to do this to her, and the judges that went along with it will be working in your mines. She will be sitting by me, telling me of her God that can bring her through all this, and running the Empire for me."
Dannie wept as the gentleman looked at her with admiration in his eyes.
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