My grandfather had an heirloom he used to keep in our winter palace. It was a priceless marble statuette of one of our ancestors standing with his foot on a woman's neck while she looks up at him in fear, or adoration - probably both. I loathed it. It was commissioned to commemorate some victory or other, but that wasn't the point of the thing. The message was clear, and it's the same one I've heard all my life: deep down, the people we dominate are happy to be dominated. When I was six years old, I smashed it. The servants came running. My father stormed down the stairs in his gown. He asked if it was an accident. There was such a strange look in his eyes. I knew that if I said yes, nobody would argue. Nothing more would be said. But I didn't. I stamped my foot and said 'No, Daddy, I did it on purpose!' It's the same with tradition. The people who pass it on think it's precious. They expect you to cherish it and pass it on in turn. But what they think doesn't matter, because the responsibility rests with you. If you know it's wrong, then you have to smash it. On purpose.
— Aisling Duval, A Fireside Chat with Serena, 3301
Princess Aisling Duval is a member of the Imperial Family. She is the eldest child of the late Prince Harold Duval, and the granddaughter of the previous Emperor, Hengist Duval. Her exact position in the royal line of succession is unknown, as while Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval, Aisling's aunt, has not yet designated an heir, Aisling was born out of wedlock and her father was disqualified from the succession, circumstances that weakened her bid for the Imperial throne in the succession crisis of 3301 despite her direct blood descent from Hengist. Princess Aisling's official residence is the Imperial Palace on Emerald in the Cemiess system.
Although considered naive and inexperienced by some due to her youth, the "People's Princess" enjoys considerable support from the people and also from elements who would benefit from shaking up Imperial society. Her carefully cultivated public persona also belies her cunning and ambition, which have occasionally been illustrated by her rivalry with the disgraced former Senator Kahina Tijani Loren and her controversial engagement with Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester.
Unlike other leading members of the Empire, Aisling is against the practice of Imperial Slavery, and to that end founded a non-government charity named Stop Slavery Stupid, which later merged with another anti-slavery charity and rebranded itself Unchain. She also has a strong dislike of narcotics, and believes that they should be made illegal in the Empire, at least partially because her mother, entertainer Imogen "Eccentrica" Gabrielini, died from an aneurysm caused by a narcotics overdose shortly after her birth.
In this new series, exclusive to GalNet, the popular political commentator Marcus Macmillan looks at some of the movers and shakers in 3301. In this first article he examines the life of the popular darling of Imperial politics: Princess Aisling Duval.
Aisling Duval is Prince Harold's eldest child, but has gained a substantial following on her merits. She appears to be a canny operator, although many would argue that her advisors provide her with a veneer of acumen. She is young at only 25, and very visible in the media. Her claim to the throne is technically nullified by the fact that her parents were not married, but her claim is no weaker than some of the other contenders.
The people's princess (as she is sometimes known) is extremely popular with many citizens, clients and patrons. She regularly appears on lightweight chat shows, but tends to avoid anything where she might have to face tough questions.
At heart Aisling is a populist, taking many of her views from the public mood. She splits her time between managing her brand from Cemiess, and spending time with her father in Achenar. Her mother died of a drugs overdose when she was young which, combined with her father's unfortunate legacy from a hedonistic life, has left Aisling with a passion for helping those whose lives have taken a turn for the worse.
Despite her youth, she enjoys considerable support from the people and also from elements who would benefit from shaking up Imperial society.
On February 25, 3307, Princess Aisling arrived at Patterson Enterprise in Sirius to attend the Galactic Summit as a member of the Imperial delegation.
Aisling Duval dated Senator Denton Patreus in 3301. At the time, they were only rumored to be dating and had not publicly confirmed that they were in a relationship. At some point, Aisling broke up with Patreus, presumably concluding that the Senator was only pursuing her in a bid to one day gain the Imperial throne.
On 20 March 3301 Aisling and Denton were spotted together on Facece. They walked hand in hand and went shopping for three hours in the Facece fashion halls. They were accompanied by a big entourage of followers and protected by security. Afterward they retired on Patreus' ship for a light dinner.
During the week of 12 March 3301, Senator Patreus and Aisling Duval were spotted together at various popular nightspots in Capitol. They refused to confirm their relationship to reporters thus far. If true, the association could potentially secure Senator Patreus’s bid to become the leading voice of the Empire. While Aisling herself is not currently considered a serious contender for the Imperial Throne, her pairing with the Senator could provide the leverage he needs to secure support from a large portion of the Senate, particularly from those who are currently throwing their weight behind Chancellor Blaine.
13 April 3301 "Denton Patreus and Aisling Duval were spotted grabbing dinner in Capitol late last night at the very exclusive pop-up restaurant, Fodder. The Empire's favourite power couple appeared to have a good time, with the pair polishing off several bottles of Chateau De Aegaeon during the course of their three-hour meal. Aisling looked stunning in a lace red dress with matching accessories. Senator Patreus was his usual dashing self, although he had chosen to go for a more casual unbuttoned look for his dinner date with the people's princess. After dinner the pair are believed to have retired to the Senator's ship, the Imperial Freedom, which departed Capitol for Eotienses this morning."
22 April 3301 "Denton Patreus and Aisling Duval were spotted in attendance at 'A Dinner to Defeat Dementia' in Capitol last night. The Empire's favourite power couple spent several hours mingling with Senators, CEOs and a few of the charity's lucky patrons, before dazzling the crowd with a rather energetic display on the dance floor."
Jordan Rochester and Jarl Toredo
On May 25, 3304, entertainment journalist Solomon Helios speculated that Aisling may be dating once more given that she had been spending more time in the company of three influential figures: Senator Caspian Leopold, Jarl Toredo of the anti-slavery organisation Universal Liberty, and Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester. Aisling has attended numerous meetings with Senator Leopold, noted to be a gifted orator with enormous wealth and influence, and the Senator has spoken warmly of Aisling in interviews. Toredo has been spotted visiting Aisling at the Imperial Palace, and a relationship would give Aisling's charity a significant PR boost. Ambassador Rochester has been stationed on Aisling's home moon of Emerald, and recently took a private tour with Aisling of the Prism's Shades empathic art installation.
On June 6, 3304, Solomon Helios reported that Aisling had hosted an exclusive diplomatic function the previous weekend, with Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester attending as the guest of honor. Unusually, Aisling also invited Ambassador Rochester's staff, including the captain and crew of his ship, the FNS Pioneer. Since the ship's commander was Vice Admiral Juno Rochester, one of Jordan's sisters, Helios speculated that Aisling may have been using the opportunity to meet a future in-law. Aisling and Jordan danced together before the ambassador formally thanked the princess on behalf of the Federation. The next day, Senator Caspian Leopold arrived on Emerald for official business, but Helios noted nothing had been scheduled on his calendar.
On June 13, 3304, after announcing the merger of Universal Liberty with Stop Slavery Stupid to form Unchain, Jarl Toredo briefly responded to rumors about his romantic connection to Princess Aisling, saying only "I suspect Her Highness's attention is focused elsewhere."
On June 21, 3304, Princess Aisling publicly announced her engagement to Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester, who also released a statement via a special edition of The Federal Times. Solomon Helios expressed his surprise at the sudden development, and questioned whether Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval and Federal President Zachary Hudson would allow such a union.
On July 13, the date of the wedding ceremony was set for August 25, 3304 at the Imperial Palace on Emerald, Cemiess. An honour guard of vessels from both the Federal Navy and the Imperial Navy would be in attendance, and the couple expressed their wish that the galactic community would join together in celebration of their union. Senator Zemina Torval continued to criticize the marriage as a publicity stunt that would directly undermine the Empire's policies, but former Federal President Jasmina Halsey, now an advisor to the Alliance, expressed her approval and noted that the union would likely present new opportunities for peace among humanity.
The wedding was cancelled on August 22, only three days before it was set to occur, following Jarl Toredo's public confession to Solomon Helios that he and Aisling Duval had been romantically involved for several months, and that the planned marriage between the princess and the ambassador was purely a political matter. Neither Princess Aisling nor Ambassador Rochester issued a response to the sudden turn of events. Pundits noted that because the announcement of the cancellation was made by Ambassador Rochester's mother Isolde, it was likely that Toredo's claims had some truth to them and the Rochester family matriarch no longer trusted Aisling. The scheduled date of the wedding passed without comment from either Princess Aisling or Ambassador Rochester.
11 MAR 3308
EmperorArissa Lavigny-Duval has ordered the Imperial Guard to provide increased security to surviving members of the Duval dynasty. Many Imperial Family members, including Prince Harold, were assassinated by the NMLA. Sources close to Emperor Arissa state that she is determined to preserve the remaining Duval bloodline as well as deter any future attacks. The Imperial Guard is a legion of elite warriors under the direct control of the Emperor. Although typically seen performing ceremonial duties, they are a highly trained fighting force. It is understood that their numbers have been boosted by a focused enlistment drive from other areas of the Imperial military. A cohort of Imperial Guard has been placed at the service of Princess Aisling Duval. She has gratefully accepted their presence and integrated them with her existing security team. Similar squads have been posted to the households of Archduke Otto Lombardo-Duval and Lucretia Roche-Duval, both of whom are descended from the siblings of Emperor Hesketh. Legionnaires were also assigned to direct relations of Emperor Arissa, including her prominent cousins Admiral Lucius Lavigny and Countess Guinevere Lavigny. Only Hadrian Duval declined the offer of additional protection, stating that he will rely on his Praetorian Guard. He reassured his followers that a hand-picked corps permanently surrounds his infant son Hector Duval.
16 FEB 3308
EmperorArissa Lavigny-Duval has attended a public ceremony following her year-long abduction by the Lords of Restoration. Her proclamation from Trasken Square, standing before millions of Capitol's citizens and flanked by legions of Imperial Guard, was broadcast across all channels: "To those who protected the Empire during my enforced absence, I offer my deepest gratitude. My trusted chancellor, senators and security agencies are to be commended. To those who dared to attack Imperial citizens, who dared to impersonate me and mislead my people…who took the lives of my family. Know this: there will be no place to hide from my wrath. And to all citizens who may fear these uncertain times, I vow that your Emperor will lead you into the glorious future that is ours by right." Subsequent messages from the Imperial Palace praised ACT and its supporters for their work in freeing Arissa and destroying the NMLA. Princess Aisling Duval was also thanked for her dedication to finding out the truth, although some newsfeeds have noted that Aisling would hold a strong claim on a vacated throne.
01 FEB 3308
The Affiliated Counter-Terrorism unit is actively investigating Imperial Intelligence, despite the Senate ordering it to cease operations. Inspector Mara Klatt, one of ACT's co-leaders, told the media: "We are convinced that elements within Imperial Intelligence provided support to the NMLA. Our view is that a modified version of the Omega Grid software was supplied to the terrorists, allowing them to build their own dark-comms network. Thanks to Captain Saskia Landau's inside knowledge, we are learning how to detect a unique identifier associated with the network employed by the NMLA. Our actions may have political repercussions, but this taskforce is dedicated to finding and destroying the NMLA. We must follow the trail wherever it leads." Civil and military leaders in the Empire have reacted with outrage, including SenatorZemina Torval: "Are we expected to risk our citizens' lives by letting our security services be compromised? How might the Alliance or Federation respond if we attempted to hack into Interpol or the FIA?" However, a plea for cooperation was made by Princess Aisling Duval: "If nefarious groups within our Empire have helped the NMLA, we must uncover the truth. I firmly believe that the Emperor herself remains in danger, and ACT might help us to learn her fate."
26 JAN 3308
The Imperial Senate has shared a personal message from EmperorArissa Lavigny-Duval, who has been in a secure location for nearly a year. The brief statement was broadcast on all public channels: "Citizens of the Empire, be assured that your Emperor is alive and well. I regret that my temporary seclusion has lasted for so long, but I have remained in contact with the Senate during this time. I was advised to depart from Capitol when Imperial Intelligence warned me about a legitimate NMLA assassination attempt, and of Marlinist sympathisers within the highest levels of our government. Once the work of this loyal agency is complete, I will continue my work in leading us toward a prosperous future." Eye on Achenar reported that this address was "welcomed by a relieved Empire", adding that it was vital to "root out all Marlinist traitors". The Imperial Herald noted that the Emperor seemed to absolve Imperial Intelligence of the allegations that it was secretly enabling the NMLA. However, a caution was sounded by Princess Aisling Duval: "Arissa has communicated with the Senate in the same manner for months, so this changes nothing. Only a public appearance will alleviate my concerns regarding her wellbeing. I would be delighted to host a suitable event if she will accept my invitation to attend in person."
20 JAN 3308
Princess Aisling Duval has discussed growing concerns over EmperorArissa Lavigny-Duval's lack of public engagements in recent months. In an interview with The Imperial Herald, she said: "ChancellorBlaine assures us that the Emperor has been kept in seclusion for nearly a year to protect her from the NMLA. But why has this prevented the Empire's ruler from engaging with her citizens? After all, Hadrian Duval and his family were placed under the same senatorial protection without disappearing altogether. We know that the Emperor has communicated with the Senate on various matters during this time. Government channels are generally trusted thanks to Imperial Intelligence's verification protocols. But Captain Landau's recent testimony, which links Imperial Intelligence to the NMLA, has me concerned. How can I be sure that a breach to our most secure networks wasn't responsible for the location and murder of my father, Prince Harold? Until Arissa appears in person, it is irresponsible to assume her safety is guaranteed. I will be most relieved to have my fears proved wrong." Chancellor Anders Blaine responded: "With the greatest respect to Princess Duval, I have never had cause to believe that Her Majesty the Emperor is in any danger from her own security agencies. Her imminent return to public life should alleviate such concerns."
01 JAN 3308
Princess Aisling Duval marked the start of 3308 by introducing her cousin Hadrian Duval, his wife and their newborn son to Imperial high society. Entertainment journalist Solomon Helios broadcast a report on the event: "It's an annual tradition for Princess Aisling to invite the great and the good to her palace on Emerald, although the tragic loss of her father in 3306 meant that last year's gathering was cancelled. This year she made up for it with a sumptuous, glittering celebration of the kind that we Imperials are famed for. For the first time, Hadrian Duval and Lady Astrid Minerva-Duval were in attendance. This youthful couple were surprisingly charming for a pair who would once have been arrested on sight. They entertained guests with stories of trading and fighting aboard tiny ships, from the days when their only title was Commander. However, the real guest of honour spent most of his time asleep, oblivious to the colossal attention he drew. Yes, baby Hector made his very first public appearance, having been born while his parents were under senatorial protection. Many dignitaries insisted on having their image recorded beside the 'future Emperor', a phrase one could hear being murmured throughout the palace. But what of the current Emperor? Unlike Hadrian's family, Arissa Lavigny-Duval remains in seclusion and only communicates remotely with the Senate. Now that the terrorists have been quelled, surely the time has come for Her Imperial Majesty to reappear before her loyal subjects?"
09 DEC 3307
*Pilots' Federation ALERT* The birth of Hadrian Duval's son has been celebrated in grand fashion in the Paresa system. Praetor Leo Magnus, the new leader of Nova Paresa, publicly thanked pilots for delivering Chateau De Aegaeon, HR 7221 Wheat, Indi Bourbon and Yaso Kondi Leaf to support these highly exclusive proceedings. Payment is now available from Dyson City starport. Political journalist Cassia Carvalho discussed the arrival of Hector Mordanticus Duval in The Imperial Herald: "As EmperorHengist's illegitimate grandson and former enemy of the state, Hadrian Duval has always been the outsider. Indeed, his newborn son's middle name seems deliberately chosen to remind the Emperor that she ordered Hadrian's mentor, Imperator Mordanticus, to be shot in cold blood. But over the last two years, Hadrian's position has gradually shifted from isolationist rebel to legitimised ally. He appeals to citizens who are unhappy with a female monarch, even more so now that he has a male heir. And he remains closest to the Imperial bloodline, with most other Duval family members having been assassinated by the NMLA. Therefore, unless Arissa Lavigny-Duval or Aisling Duval produce children, it's entirely possible that Hadrian's child might inherit the throne. Despite only being a few days old, Hector Duval's impact upon the Empire could be measured in centuries."
Francesca Wolfe of the Wallglass Investigations Agency provides an inside view of the Jokers' Deck gambling circle. "Gunnarson's intel was correct. The latest host is multi-billionaire investor Lexi October, the lady who rescued Supratech from bankruptcy. We're in one of October Consortium's disused warehouse complexes, which looks derelict on the outside but is a fabulous glittering palace within. I don't actually know what planet I'm on, since all the servants – including me with my fake ID – were transported here in total secrecy. Jokers' Deck is exactly what you'd expect of a luxury casino for the super-rich. Exquisite food, sumptuous clothes, and dozens of games from deadlock poker to Giant Verrix racing. Wagers are made using billion-credit chips, precious gemstones and even land deeds to an entire continent. And that's not counting the VIP rooms that I can't get into. I've served exotic drinks to several famous faces, such as Duchess Rouncival and Scorpio DeVorrow. I've seen Senator Leatrix talking earnestly to Ambassador Rochester about a princess they both know. Arch-Corsairs Trask and Volantyne from the Kumo Council are here, taking on Zachary Rackham at the roue mortelle tables. And there's no mistaking the voice of Alliance megastar Xiona whenever she wins big. Oh, and who should walk in just now but... wait, I can hear an alarm. Looks like a security alert. Damn it, have they detected me? I should – " The message was published by Erik Gunnarson, who added this coda: "I've heard nothing more from Wolfe since receiving this, and she didn't check in at a scheduled rendezvous point. I've decided to share her report as a warning to Jokers' Deck. If anything happens to her, just remember we know who you are."
21 SEP 3307
Lady Astrid Minerva-Duval, wife of Hadrian Augustus Duval, has confirmed that she is expecting a child in December. The story was broken by the Paresa News Network: "Lady Astrid was visibly overjoyed as she told us of her pregnancy, and of Hadrian's excitement at being a father. Her only complaint was that she's no longer allowed to fly support missions for Nova Imperium. Once a Commander, always a Commander!" Mainstream media channels also commented on the news. The Imperial Herald: "This has caused tangible ripples of unease in the Senate. Since neither EmperorArissa Lavigny-Duval nor Princess Aisling Duval have heirs, Hadrian's claim to the throne will be strengthened if he alone ensures that the Duval bloodline continues." Eye on Achenar: "Who cares about the spawn of Emperor Hengist's illegitimate grandson? The NMLA may have assassinated much of the Imperial Family, but this outcast boy is still a footnote in their noble history." Vox Galactica: "Despite his unofficial status, Hadrian Duval has many silent supporters within the Empire. His isolationist stance appeals to nostalgic citizens, as does returning to the tradition of male Emperors. Should Hadrian have a son, he may feel empowered to seek his birthright more forcefully."
10 SEP 3307
A day of mourning has been declared across the Empire to mark the first anniversary of the NMLA's Imperial starport bombings. On Thursday the 10th of September 3306, Imperial stations in the Cemiess, Gabjaujis, LHS 4031 and Rabh systems were attacked without warning. Over sixty thousand people were killed and twice as many wounded by powerful explosives that delivered a caustic enzyme payload. The Neo-Marlinist Liberation Army is an extremist paramilitary group that is dedicated to reforming Marlin Duval's original republican government. Prior to these bombings, it had only performed minor strikes with low casualties. The NMLA's terror campaign grew to encompass all three superpowers with the Nine Martyrs attacks in March 3307. It also led to supporters of Marlinism fleeing from the Empire as refugees, eventually resettling in the Marlinist Colonies. Princess Aisling Duval paid respects to the victims during a memorial ceremony at her palace on Emerald. She also spoke of her father Prince Harold Duval, who was assassinated by the NMLA shortly after the bombings. Messages of condolence have been sent by President Zachary Hudson, Prime Minister Edmund Mahon, Imperator Hadrian Augustus Duval and First Minister Octavia Volkov. All vowed to continue contributing resources to ACT, which recently shut down many terrorist cells. Coupled with the loss of its political wing, the NMLA threat may finally be diminishing.
27 AUG 3307
The Marlinist Colonies are recovering from a period of political infighting and inter-faction conflict. Octavia Volkov has been voted in as the new first minister following a snap election. Her decisive action against Aaron Whyte's Neo-Marlinist movement, which led to the elimination of the NMLA's political wing, drew huge support from voters. In a parliamentary address, First Minister Volkov said: "We must focus on building an independent society rather than changing the Empire. In time we will evolve into the fully-fledged Marlinist Republic we have fought so hard for, and perhaps inspire our Imperial cousins to walk the path to democracy." Marlinist factions now control all eight of their original colony systems, some of which had temporarily fallen under external governance. They have also expanded into a handful of new systems. Prime Consul Kayode Tau, the chief ambassador of the Marlinists, has established formal channels with the Alliance Office of Diplomatic Relations and the Federal Diplomatic Corps. The Empire recognises the Marlinist Consulate, but maintains a distant relationship with what many consider to be subversive ex-Imperials. The ceremonial funeral of First Minister Jenna Fairfax has taken place. Speakers drew attention to her achievements and leadership qualities. In a gesture that many viewed as an olive branch from the Empire, Princess Aisling Duval attended virtually and spoke of her meeting with Fairfax during the Galactic Summit.
03 AUG 3307
The Alliance, Empire and Federation have clarified their official positions regarding the emergence of onionhead gamma strain. All variants of the popular psychedelic drug remain illegal within Federal space. AmbassadorJasmina Halsey, who was president in 3300 when the ruling was made, announced: "I am pleased that my decision to outlaw onionhead stands. I still maintain that it leads to experimentation with more dangerous narcotics, and we must steer our youth away from that path." The Empire has also declared onionhead illegal, despite rumours that it is imported by the wealthiest citizens for private use. Princess Aisling Duval told the media: "It was insulting enough that Delaine was allowed into the Galactic Summit, but now he's peddling filthy drugs and pretending it's medicine! I only pray that nobody loses a loved one to such poison, as I have." The Alliance has not made a broad ruling regarding onionhead, which is illegal in the majority of member systems but available in those classified as having anarchy governments. However, Deputy Prime MinisterAngela Corcoran addressed the issue: "As with most trade, we defer to the legislation of local authorities. But we are in contact with the IHO and are keeping a close eye on the situation." Onionhead gamma strain remains on sale in selected systems governed by industrial anarchy factions.
15 JUL 3307
*Pilots Federation ALERT* The Kumo Crew syndicate has procured enough materials to introduce a new product to the market. The drug originated with the Blue Viper Club, a piratical travelling community whose dredger is currently in the vicinity of Kumo City station. It was confirmed that enough shipments of agronomic treatment, liquid oxygen and performance enhancers were received to enable immediate mass production. Pilots also fought to protect haulage vessels from pirate ships, suspected to be Kumo Crew rivals. The Interstellar Health Organisation has obtained a product sample and confirmed that, despite the name 'helix', it is a new variant of the recreational drugonionhead. As such, the product will be legally classified as onionhead gamma strain when it appears on the market. Despite claims of medicinal and psychological benefits, it is likely to be illegal in most systems. President Zachary Hudson, Princess Aisling Duval and several other political heavyweights have expressed outrage at the open manner by which its ingredients were procured. Archon Delaine, warlord of the Kumo Crew, responded: "Every system government generates revenue from the pharmaceutical trade, so the holier-than-thou attitude from these hypocrites turns my stomach. Helix brings happiness, and provides income for my people. I make no apologies!" Rewards for pilots who contributed to this campaign are now available at Kumo City in the Pegasi Sector PN-T C3-14 system.
28 APR 3307
ACT has confirmed receiving evidence that NMLA attacks were orchestrated by Imperator Hadrian Augustus Duval, who immediately denied the claim. Landgrave Delacroix of the Neo-Marlinist Order of Mudhrid provided details to ACT that the isolationist group Nova Imperium is at the heart of the NMLA. In response, Hadrian Duval made this statement: "These accusations are completely false. Our political stance is the exact opposite of Marlinism, since we believe in restoring the Empire's traditions. Nova Imperium forces even fought against the terrorists in Mudhrid, as required by the Treaty of Paresa. As for Lady Astrid being a 'top NMLA agent', my wife has been a loyal Imperial Commander since she first piloted a ship." Princess Aisling Duval has publicly decried the allegation and offered support to Hadrian Duval. However, Senator Zemina Torval told the Senate: "Should we be surprised that an extremist organisation performs extreme acts? That this arrogant boy who declares himself 'Imperator' should turn to violent rebellion once again? Enemies of the Empire must be punished, even those with Duval blood. ACT is fully investigating the Landgrave's evidence and has asked for patience, despite urgent demands for action from the Alliance, Empire and Federation.
05 APR 3307
Imperator Hadrian Augustus Duval, leader of the isolationist group Nova Imperium, has married his consort Astrid Minerva in a closed ceremony. Commander Minerva was a young Imperial pilot who aided Nova Imperium at the Battle of Paresa in 3305 and became a loyal supporter. Her official title is now Lady Astrid Minerva-Duval. Princess Aisling Duval personally attended her cousin's wedding at a secure location. She referred to it as "a precious moment of joy in these bleak times". The Imperial Palace and the Senate have sent congratulatory messages, and the event was covered by mainstream media. Paresa News Network: "Astrid's well-deserved rise to nobility has made her fellow Paresans very proud. Everyone at PNN is overjoyed for the happy couple!" Eye on Achenar: "It's an insult to the noble Duval bloodline when some trigger-jockey from a gutter system can sink her claws into the Emperor's own nephew." The Imperial Herald: "Hadrian taking a bride at the age of 20 has surprised many. If he becomes the only Duval to produce heirs, it will place pressure on Emperor Arissa and Princess Aisling, neither of whom have consorts." In related news, Nova Imperium vessels are participating in the current conflict against the Neo-Marlinists of Mudhrid. Praetor Leo Magnus, head of security, is liaising with the IISS on anti-terrorism intelligence.
08 MAR 3307
At the Galactic Summit, the infamous pirate leader Archon Delaine has demanded to be accepted as the legitimate leader of a political power. A gap in the schedule allowed him to make an address in the main conference chamber: "Most of you see me as a common criminal, rather than the rightful ruler of multiple systems. That must end now! My efforts to build a Kumo nation deserve respect. I am here to declare my sovereignty and take my rightful place on the political stage." This was immediately dismissed by many delegations. Princess Aisling Duval said this was a barbaric mockery of nobility, while Shadow President Winters asked how much bloodshed the pirates had caused to obtain their power. Archon Delaine replied: "Are you all so innocent, then? Every civilisation begins with barbarism, and maintains authority with the threat of violence. None of you can say otherwise. We all wear a crown of bones." There followed intense debate as to whether the Kumo Crew's territory could be recognised as a new nation-state or was simply a rebranded crime syndicate. There is suspicion that some of the many criminal vessels detected in the Sirius system are from Delaine's pirate fleet. The Federal and Imperial delegations have offered to remove Archon Delaine's retinue, only to be reminded that Sirius Corporation has granted them full diplomatic immunity.
03 MAR 3307
Leaders from the Alliance, Empire and Federation have agreed a series of minor treaties at the diplomatic gathering in the Sirius system. Vox Galactica featured this report from political correspondent Conrad Sterling: "Following days of heated arguments, temperatures in the conference chamber finally cooled enough for all three superpowers to formalise a raft of agreements. These were ratified in person by Chancellor Blaine, President Hudson and Prime Minister Mahon. The most significant of these treaties is the Cornelius-Lasky Convention, named after its two leading proponents. This requires the Alliance, Empire and Federation to share information on any large-scale threats to civilian populations, including environmental, medical and xenological crises. There has been slow progress on other topics, such as military limitation and border control. Many independent ambassadors are demanding to prioritise debates on the Thargoid issue, and especially the defensive role played by Aegis. Outside the chamber, First Minister Fairfax invited Princess Duval to a small ceremony to honour her late father. Fairfax formally apologised for Prince Harold's death and condemned the terrorists responsible. Aisling Duval gracefully accepted this, but time will tell if it was an empty gesture or the first step toward Imperial-Marlinist rapprochement."
01 MAR 3307
Delegates at the diplomatic conference have clashed over long-standing political issues, with some threatening to abandon the event. Journalists at Patterson Enterprise in the Sirius system reported their observations via mainstream newsfeeds. The Imperial Herald: "Minister Whyte's claim that the Empire had fomented terrorism by repressing Marlinism was somewhat predictable. But nobody expected Princess Duval's icy retort, which caused shocked gasps across the chamber." Sol Today: "President Hudson easily dealt with Patreus's whine about the Federation's so-called 'war-mongering', putting the bombastic Imp in his place." Eye on Achenar: "The dull-witted thug of a president was no match for Senator Patreus, who received cheers for his condemnation of typical 'Fedneck' arrogance." The Alliance Tribune: "The conference's hosts were visibly embarrassed by Councillor Kaine's claims that Coalsack Nebula terraforming projects had triggered recent Thargoid attacks. Shockingly, several delegates dismissed this as an internal matter for the Alliance." The Federal Times: "Chancellor Blaine's stonewalling on the co-funding of humanitarian aid brought a rare flash of anger from Felicia Winters: 'Maybe the Emperor's puppet could loosen a few strings?'" The Sovereign: "Despite Prime Minister Mahon exaggerating the benefits of Alliance membership, several independent ambassadors complained about its incomprehensible bureaucracy, saying it would be less damaging to declare war against the Alliance than join it." A representative from Sirius Corporation reported that the Galactic Summit was "going well".
26 FEB 3307
Alliance, Empire and Federation leaders have held their first ever face-to-face discussions at the diplomatic conference in the Sirius system. Political correspondent Conrad Sterling published this report for Vox Galactica: "The Galactic Summit has already made history by bringing together many political figureheads within one conference chamber. Optimistic opening statements from ChancellorAnders Blaine and Prime MinisterEdmund Mahon gained applause. PresidentZachary Hudson was more curt, reminding everyone that billions of people would be affected by their efforts. Agendas and debate topics for the next three weeks were formalised. Much of the work will be done behind the scenes by ambassadorial staff, making big decisions in small rooms. The general tone so far has been courteous, although that may not last. Predictably, interactions between the Imperial and Marlinist delegations have been frosty, with SenatorDenton Patreus refusing to even acknowledge their presence during discussions. However, First Minister Jenna Fairfax enjoyed a more cordial meeting with Shadow PresidentFelicia Winters. They were joined by Jasmina Halsey, who has accompanied Winters from Mars in an unofficial capacity. One notable absentee was Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester, whose family is under legal scrutiny following the crimes of his older brother Jupiter Rochester. This at least spared Jordan the awkwardness of having to formally greet his ex-fiancée, Princess Aisling Duval. But it's likely there will be no shortage of tension between other delegates in the coming weeks."
25 FEB 3307
*Pilots Federation ALERT* The Federation is working with Sirius Corporation to offer bounty hunting opportunities to protect the diplomatic conference. The first Galactic Summit has officially opened at Patterson Enterprise station in the Sirius system. Temporary permits have been issued to all arriving delegates and Commanders for the three weeks of its term, although these do not apply to fleet carriers. Sirius Corporation's CEO Li Yong-Rui announced: "The data supplied to us in January revealed several unanticipated threats, putting additional strain on our navy and security forces. Working with the generous support of the Federation, we have placed bounties on all wanted ships to ensure delegates' safety. Pilots defending the Sirius system will be rewarded for handing in bounty vouchers at the Spirit of Laelaps." The joint initiative will run for one week, after which Sirius Corporation will partner with the Empire to provide for the needs and security of the conference. In related news, Core Dynamics, Gutamaya and Lakon Spaceways are celebrating the political gathering of all three superpowers with a 10% discount on their ships during the next three weeks. Delegations have begun to arrive and formal introductions are taking place, with much media attention. This is the first time that universally recognised figures such as President Zachary Hudson, Prime Minister Edmund Mahon and Princess Aisling Duval have been seen side by side.
12 FEB 3307
Delegations have been formed by the Empire and the Marlinist Colonies to take part in the forthcoming diplomatic conference. EmperorArissa Lavigny-Duval will not attend in person, but will be directly represented by ChancellorAnders Blaine. During the conference, SenatorZemina Torval will temporarily assume chancellor duties and act as head of the Senate. In addition, Princess Aisling Duval and Senator Denton Patreus will be in attendance. They will be accompanied by experienced ambassadors from the Imperial Diplomatic Corps. The Marlinist Colonies have also finalised their delegation, which includes First Minister Jenna Fairfax and Minister Aaron Whyte. A spokesperson for the Marlinist Parliament said: "The Galactic Summit offers us an opportunity to engage with the Empire diplomatically, and we sincerely hope our voices will be heard. We also aim to establish mutually beneficial relations with other governments." There is widespread speculation on how the Empire will respond to political overtures from its own ex-citizens, who were persecuted for following the democratic ideology of Marlinism. However, most societies within the Marlinist Colonies still remain culturally Imperial in nature, despite their republican governance. The Galactic Summit is being hosted by Sirius Corporation and will officially commence on Thursday the 25th of February 3307.
08 JAN 3307
The organisation Aegis has expressed support for Utopia's offer to host a Galactic Summit for all three superpowers. Aegis was jointly formed by the Alliance, Empire and Federation to study the Thargoids, and develop new methods of monitoring and combating their forces. Professor Alba Tesreau, head of research at Aegis, gave this statement: "Humanity's focus on petty internal conflicts has blinded us to the existential threat of the Thargoids. Their recent horrific attacks should be a wake-up call to the fact that defunding has crippled Aegis's ability to offer protection. We strongly entreat our founders to come together and channel resources toward Aegis, and particularly into research. There can be no hope of coexistence with this alien species unless we increase our understanding of them." No official responses to Utopia's proposal have been made as yet. However, Prime Minister Edmund Mahon, Princess Aisling Duval and Shadow President Felicia Winters have all signalled broad approval of the idea. There are reports that many congressmen, councillors and senators are pressuring their respective leaders to attend the diplomatic conference. Simguru Pranav Antal has confirmed that the governments of independent systems will also be welcome to send delegates to the Galactic Summit. However, Utopia's primary aim is to provide neutral territory for the Alliance, Empire and Federation to debate policies.
16 NOV 3306
Princess Aisling Duval's request for her cousin, Imperator Hadrian Augustus Duval, to be accepted into the Imperial Family has been denied. EmperorArissa Lavigny-Duval's decision was delivered to the Senate by ChancellorAnders Blaine: "Her Majesty acknowledges that Hadrian is a Duval by blood, and offers royal pardons to him and his followers for previous crimes against the Empire. However, she does not bestow upon him the title of prince, nor offer any formal position within the Imperial Family." Aisling Duval and Hadrian Duval both expressed disappointment, but agreed to accept the decree. The Senate has now ratified the Treaty of Paresa, which removes Nova Imperium's outlaw status in return for accepting Emperor Arissa's rule and contributing to operations against the NMLA. The Imperial Herald's political journalist Cassia Carvalho commented: "This surprisingly even-handed judgement is widely seen as bowing to pressure from the Senate, where there is much loyalty to Aisling Duval. Some interpret it as atonement – or regaining political goodwill – for the purge of Nova Imperium in 3305, which included the execution of several senators. The image this projects is of an Empire coming together against the greater threat posed by Neo-Marlinists. But there is speculation that an alliance between the two youngest Duvals may one day challenge the Emperor for the throne."
10 NOV 3306
Imperator Hadrian Augustus Duval has recovered from an assassination attempt and signalled a new direction for Nova Imperium. Princess Aisling Duval provided advanced medical care for Imperator Duval after a near-fatal attack by NMLA assassins. Following a period of discussion, she told the media: "At this time of crisis we need allies more than ever, and my cousin's royal heritage should not be denied. I have therefore formally requested sovereign consent for him to be accepted into the Imperial Family as Prince Hadrian." Hadrian Duval broadcast this message from Dyson City: "I owe my life to Aisling, but life without purpose means nothing, and the Duvals' purpose has always been to protect the Empire. I seek to adopt my birthright and help defend our traditional ways of life. However, many of us see disturbing parallels between the brutal purge of Nova Imperium's followers in 3305 and the current crusade against the Marlinists. I call upon those in power not to repeat this mistake – the NMLA is the common enemy we must unite against." Many senators publicly agreed that the Empire must heal past divisions to focus on the Neo-Marlinist threat. Others have voiced concerns at the repercussions of Emperor Hengist's illegitimate grandson becoming an heir to the throne. As yet, Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval has not responded.
02 NOV 3306
Princess Aisling Duval has provided lifesaving aid to Imperator Hadrian Augustus Duval, who was severely wounded by NMLA terrorists. The INV Achenar's Courage, transported her to the Paresa system where she offered protection against further assassination attempts. Hadrian Duval was transferred to the Majestic-class Interdictor's medical bay, surrounded by both his Praetorian Guard and Imperial troops. He received advanced treatment including Vitadynenanomeds, and is no longer in critical condition. This unorthodox intervention has drawn both criticism and praise from senators and public alike. Nova Imperium is outlawed for sedition due to its isolationist policies, and its leader is not recognised by the Imperial Family. However, a non-aggression pact was agreed between Aisling and Hadrian in 3305. A defiant Aisling Duval told The Imperial Herald: "I recently lost one member of my family to these extremists. I am not about to lose another. Regardless of politics, Hadrian is my cousin, and there are precious few Duvals left alive." Nova Imperium's head of security, Praetor Leo Magnus, commented: "I am confident that our Imperator would have survived, but we do appreciate Her Highness's assistance. It remains a mystery how the NMLA could come so close to succeeding, but my investigations continue."
20 OCT 3306
The Empire has formally demanded that the Federation extradites all Marlinist political refugees that have fled into their space. Hundreds of thousands of believers in the republican ideology evacuated their homes following anti-terrorism lockdowns. The Imperial blockade in Ackwada prevented ten megaships from escaping, but others carrying huge numbers of Marlinists have appeared in the Federal systems Charunder, Ennead, HIP 36081, LTT 1935, LTT 3607 and Thetis. Many smaller vessels are also thought to have spread far and wide. Imperial Ambassador Imogen Luciana sent the formal request: "The Federation is harbouring potential criminals who are connected to the NMLA terrorists. We insist that they are detained and returned to us to face justice." Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester, who was once engaged to Princess Aisling Duval, provided an official response: "There is no extradition treaty for unconvicted citizens, and these people have claimed political asylum. I have requested that Congress grant them sanctuary within the Federation, and that we offer protection to all Marlinists seeking to escape discrimination by the Empire." Although there is no indication that Marlinist emigrants have set course for Alliance space, Prime MinisterEdmund Mahon confirmed that they will be welcomed. Some independent systems are also offering assistance, while others have warned that any influx of refugees will be resisted.
01 OCT 3306
*Pilots Federation ALERT: For the attention of all Commanders* Memorial preparations complete. A request by the Empire to honour the passing of Prince Harold Duval with rare items has received an impressive response, earning the gratitude of the Imperial Family. Shipments of Ngadandari Fire Opals, Esuseku Caviar, Lavian Brandy and Kamitra Cigars were transported to the memorial ceremony at the Imperial Palace on Capitol. The body of the Prince will remain in state for another week, prior to reaching its final resting place within the Hall of Martyrs. Pilots who delivered these commodities can now collect their rewards at Oterma Station in the Baal system. Achenar system permits will be processed and automatically allocated by the 3rd of October 3306. In recognition of this achievement, Gutamaya Corporation ships will be available at a 20% discount from the 2nd of October 3306 to the 9th of October 3306. Princess Aisling Duval told the media: "I wish to thank everyone for their kindness during this difficult time. I've taken much comfort from knowing that my father will never be forgotten. For now, I want to make it clear that all efforts to eliminate the brutal terrorists responsible for his death have my full support. I urge every citizen to reject the destructive dogma of Marlinism and work together for a stronger Empire."
24 SEP 3306
*Pilots Federation ALERT: For the attention of all Commanders* Rare commodities required by the Empire in the Baal system. The state funeral of Prince Harold Duval has begun on Capitol. An official week of mourning has been declared throughout the Empire. EmperorArissa Lavigny-Duval opened the ceremony, delivering a eulogy for her half-brother. Princess Aisling Duval, Harold's daughter, was also in attendance but was too emotional to address the huge crowds. Messages of condolence from across the galaxy were on holographic display, including from Alliance Prime MinisterEdmund Mahon and Federal PresidentZachary Hudson. Even Hadrian Duval, the exiled leader of Nova Imperium, paid respects to his late uncle. The body of the Prince, contained within a jewelled transparent casket, was paraded through the city by a company of Imperial Guard. It will remain in state for two weeks prior to internment in the Hall of Martyrs. The Imperial Palace will host a memorial ceremony to honour Harold Duval, for which rare commodities have been requested before Thursday 1st October. Ngadandari Fire Opals, Esuseku Caviar, Lavian Brandy and Kamitra Cigars should be delivered to Oterma Station in the Baal system, where the White Templars will transport them to Capitol after security vetting. Commanders of the Pilots Federation will be assigned an Achenar system permit alongside financial rewards. To further encourage participation, Gutamaya Corporation will apply a discount of up to 25% for all ship purchases according to the amount of rare items provided.
21 SEP 3306
The Imperial Herald has published an obituary of Prince Harold Duval, who was assassinated by NMLA terrorists. "Born in 3230 to EmperorHengist, Harold Duval reacted against his father's puritan lifestyle by filling his days with partying and debauchery, becoming the black sheep of the Duval family. It was probably accidental that Harold had a child with entertainer Imogen Gabrielini, but they married shortly before her narcotics-related death. His daughter, Princess Aisling Duval, has always spoken warmly of her loving father. Emperor Hengist eventually decreed that his son was not fit for the throne, despite being his only heir. Harold never contested this, perhaps relieved to allow half-sister Arissa Lavigny-Duval to take his place. In recent years Harold became a recluse on Capitol, suffering ill-health from a lifetime of excesses. But a father's protective instinct motivated him to travel to Aisling's home system after it was attacked. Tragically, despite always renouncing power, merely being a Duval made him a target to those same republican terrorists. As the Empire mourns Prince Harold, suspicions arise that the NMLA were aided by inside knowledge of his ship's itinerary and security, throwing an uneasy shadow over the legacy of this eccentric, endearing man."
17 SEP 3306
Imperial news sources have confirmed that Prince Harold Duval was assassinated by NMLA terrorists while travelling incognito to the Cemiess system. EmperorArissa Lavigny-Duval broadcast this address: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Prince Harold. A state funeral at the Hall of Martyrs is being arranged and there will be a period of mourning, as is customary for esteemed members of the Imperial Family. There will be opportunities for all citizens to honour Harold's memory in an appropriate manner." Princess Aisling Duval, Harold's daughter, appeared uncharacteristically distressed when she gave a brief statement to the media: "It's a huge loss to us all that… I'm sorry… I can't believe this has happened. He can't be gone! I used to have some sympathy for the Marlinists, but now they… they took him from us. They took my daddy." The NMLA also attacked starports in the Cemiess, Gabjaujis, LHS 4031 and Rabh systems. The Empire is now on heightened alert, and the Senate has approved new counter-terrorism initiatives proposed by SenatorDenton Patreus.
14 SEP 3306
Prince Harold Duval is dead after a targeted assassination attempt by the Neo-Marlinist Liberation Army. The Empire has imposed a media blackout on these events, and no official statement has been made. However, independent journalist Gwendolyn Nash published this on-the-scene report for Vox Galactica: "From interviewing multiple sources, we gather that a single assassin managed to infiltrate Harold Duval's personal transport. He was killed by shipboard guards but not before shooting the Prince at close range. The NMLA claimed responsibility for this attack in its latest propaganda broadcast, which referred to the Duval family as 'imperialist parasites'. The extremist group also demanded that 'Marlinists everywhere must rise up and demand a democratic Republic'. Harold Duval was famously declared unfit for the throne by EmperorHengist, and has been out of the public eye ever since. He rarely left Capitol but was making an unpublicised journey to visit his daughter Aisling Duval, presumably in response to the recent terrorist attack in the Cemiess system. It remains unknown how the NMLA knew of the Prince's itinerary, or managed to breach security on his ship."
10 SEP 3306
*Pilots Federation ALERT: For the attention of all Commanders* The Empire has broadcast this message across its emergency channels: "There have been multiple explosions within Mackenzie Relay station, in Princess Aisling Duval's home system of Cemiess. NMLA terrorists have claimed responsibility. In coordinated attacks they have also struck at Tsiolkovsky Terminal in the Gabjaujis system, Garrido Market in the LHS 4031 system, and Muller Terminal in the Rabh system. We urgently request assistance from the galactic community with repairing these starports and rescuing their populations." The Imperial Internal Security Service issued a bulletin regarding this current threat: "The Neo-Marlinist Liberation Army (NMLA) is a paramilitary force of political extremists, whose activities have been small-scale until now. Marlinism is a well-known ideology inspired by Marlin Duval, who established the Republic of Achenar in the 23rd century prior to it becoming the Empire. Many people in the fringe systems are Marlinists, who want to replace hereditary Emperors with representation by elected senators. Neo-Marlinism is a more radical conviction that only terror tactics will force such change. The NMLA's hatred of the Imperial Family explains why it has targeted starports under the Duval banner. But its use of portable military-grade explosives is unprecedented, suggesting an increase in resources."
20 JUL 3305
The anti-slavery charity Unchain has officially purchased the 4,000 Imperial slaves who were forcibly freed on Eotienses A 3. Princess Aisling Duval, the charity's patron, gave the following statement to the press: "The contracts of all those liberated against their will have been acquired by Unchain. They will be properly cared for while they work to build a new Unchain headquarters in Port Isabelle. This will allow them to pay off their debts and become free citizens once more." When pressed further by journalists, Princess Aisling offered a wry smile along with her explanation: "I'm well aware of the irony of an anti-slavery organisation hiring Imperial slaves. We do this only to prevent further suffering at Port Isabelle and undo some of the damage caused by Autonomy. Allow me to specify that this is a practical solution to a problem of the Empire's own making. The indentured servitude system may seem honourable, but – as recent events prove – it leaves people vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Unchain remains dedicated to replacing the barbaric practice of slavery with more civilised welfare and employment programmes."
27 JUN 3305
Anti-slavery charity Unchain has criticised the radical activist group Autonomy for liberating 4,000 Imperial slaves on Eotienses A 3. Princess Aisling Duval, the charity's patron, told the media: "I fully appreciate Garrett Kline's desire to free slaves, which I'm sure comes from a place of genuine empathy, but I feel I must condemn his methods. Autonomy's reckless actions have left thousands stranded in Port Isabelle without employment or protection. Unchain has run similar operations to give illegal slaves their freedom, but licensed Imperial slaves require more care. The manumission process must be managed legally by a registered organisation, and each individual's wellbeing ensured. You cannot simply set huge numbers of people loose as if they were zoo animals being released into the wild. My dream is that one day the Empire will abolish the indentured servitude system, and that every form of slavery will end. But until then, all emancipation efforts must operate within the law." The situation in Port Isabelle remains tense, with thousands of emancipated individuals still clustered around makeshift shelters and occupied public buildings, begging for food and credits.
19 APR 3305
Hadrian Augustus Duval has provided a statement regarding his recent communications with Princess Aisling Duval. The following announcement was broadcast on all Imperial media channels: "After much discussion, Princess Aisling and I have formally agreed to a non-aggression pact. While it would be premature for either side to consider the other an ally, we have pledged not to oppose each other or interfere with the activities of our respective supporters. I am grateful to my cousin for her courage in establishing contact. Although I stand firm on my previously stated beliefs, at Aisling's request I will review Nova Imperium's policies with an open mind. For now, I must remain a member of the Imperial family in exile."
13 APR 3305
News of a meeting between Princess Aisling Duval and Imperator Hadrian Augustus Duval has caused controversy throughout the Empire. Political journalist Cassia Carvalho reviewed the situation: "Princess Aisling is surely aware that contacting Hadrian Duval was a politically risky move. Senator Zemina Torval has wasted no time in branding the princess 'an ideological traitor' for associating with isolationists. Family connections aside, Hadrian's traditionalist views do not align with Aisling's progressive approach. But he is young and inexperienced, with policies inherited from the extremist Imperator Mordanticus. Perhaps Aisling hopes that, by learning to adapt, this long-lost member of the Duval family may yet play a part on the galactic stage."
05 APR 3305
Princess Aisling Duval has revealed that she recently visited Imperator Hadrian Augustus Duval, leader of the isolationist group Nova Imperium. The Imperial Herald published her statement: "For some time, I have regretted my initial dismissal of Hadrian. Had I known that Arissa intended to carry out such a brutal purge of his followers, my approach would have been different. Although he has been labelled an enemy of the Empire, I found myself unable to ignore this new member of the Duval family, and so requested a meeting in the Paresa system. Another reason to make contact was to verify his claim to be Emperor Hengist's grandson. All the genetic tests were conclusive – Hadrian is indeed my cousin by blood. We have now opened a dialogue to see if there can ever be common ground between us. Perhaps together we can heal divisions within the Empire."
21 DEC 3304
Princess Aisling Duval has publicly rejected the isolationist group Nova Imperium and its figurehead, Hadrian Duval: "These extremists cause only division. Hadrian may well be the grandson of Hengist Duval, but that hardly makes him suited to the throne. Arissa has been silent for too long – she must act quickly to resolve this volatile situation." SenatorZemina Torval responded: "Much to my surprise, I find myself in agreement with Princess Duval. The notion of an independent pilot becoming ruler of the Empire is preposterous. I am confident that the Emperor will respond accordingly." Despite this united front, Senator Pal Vespasian stated: "Many senators are willing to recognise Hadrian Duval as Emperor-in-waiting. Nova Imperium is now a legitimate political movement with several million supporters. The only way the Empire will survive is by accepting the Imperator's proposals."
29 AUG 3304
The date of Princess Aisling Duval's wedding to Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester passes without comment from either party. Entertainment journalist Solomon Helios commented: "Public reaction to the cancelled wedding has ranged from outrage to delight. Jasmina Halsey expressed regret at a 'lost opportunity for long-term peace', while Senator Zemina Torval called it 'the mercy killing of a catastrophically bad idea'. With no word from the Imperial Palace or the White House, it's easy to imagine both Emperor Arissa and President Hudson breathing sighs of relief. But the silence from Aisling Duval and Jordan Rochester rings loudest. What might they be feeling? Was their relationship terminated against their wishes? Did it ever really exist? Naturally I invited the princess to tell her story, but her previous openness is apparently a thing of the past. The Rochester family is also shying away from the media. Jarl Toredo, whose alleged affair with Aisling apparently derailed the marriage, has vanished from public sight. Was this a tragic love triangle, or just a political chess game? We may never know. But what's certain is that, before long, Aisling Duval will put these failures behind her and be back in the spotlight where she belongs."
22 AUG 3304
CongressmanIsolde Rochester announces the cancellation of the wedding of her son Jordan and Princess Aisling Duval. The announcement follows anti-slavery campaigner Jarl Toredo's confession that he and Aisling Duval were romantically involved for several months. Toredo also claimed that the planned marriage was purely a political matter. The cancellation was confirmed by the Imperial Palace on Emerald, but there has been no direct response from Princess Duval or Ambassador Rochester. Political journalist Cassia Carvalho of The Imperial Herald commented: "The fact that this news comes from Isolde Rochester gives weight to Jarl Toredo's claims. If the marriage was a political scheme, that may explain why the Rochester family matriarch is the one to call it off, no longer trusting Princess Duval to play her part. Or perhaps this is simply the reaction of a mother, enraged at her future daughter-in-law's infidelity. Had the marriage taken place, would it have initiated an era of Federal-Imperial cooperation, or triggered a new wave of conflict? It seems we will never know."
17 AUG 3304
Jarl Toredo disclosed to entertainment journalist Solomon Helios his reasons for resigning from Unchain. According to Helios, "Following Jarl Toredo's resignation from Unchain, I offered to tell his side of the story. Although he declined a formal interview, he did disclose that he could no longer bear working alongside Princess Duval. He admitted that he has been romantically involved with the princess since their first meeting several months ago. It seems they both felt it wise to keep the relationship a secret. According to Toredo, the princess claimed not to have any romantic feelings for Ambassador Rochester, and insisted that the marriage was merely a means to advance her political plans. Initially Toredo accepted this, but it seems that after her engagement the princess became unreachable. Toredo says that his and Aisling's love has been sidelined by her political schemes. Quite simply, he feels betrayed." Princess Aisling firmly denied the accusations: "I am shocked that my good friend Solomon could believe such lies. It's obvious that Mr Toredo is being used by those who want rekindle the hostility between the Empire and the Federation. My relationship with Jordan Rochester is entirely genuine."
08 AUG 3304
Co-CEO Jarl Toredo unexpectedly resigned from Unchain, with Princess Aisling Duval remaining CEO. Observers speculated that the recent assassination attempt against the Princess may have caused Toredo to regret aligning himself with her, or that there was substance to rumors that he was a rival for Aisling's affection and her engagement to Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester caused a falling-out. Princess Aisling did not comment on Toredo's departure.
02 AUG 3304
An assassination attempt against Princess Aisling Duval was foiled by the Imperial Internal Security Service during a fundraiser being held in the Zhao system for Unchain. IISS Captain Takio Diomedes stated that the Princess's personal security detail had detected and disabled a number of explosive charges that had been placed at key locations in the event centre. The investigation into the explosives' origin was ongoing. Princess Aisling did not address the incident and continued her fundraising duties for Unchain.
18 JUL 3304
Princess Aisling Duval discusses her forthcoming marriage in an exclusive interview with entertainment journalist Solomon Helios. The princess addresses many topics, including the impact of the announcement of her engagement, her relationship with Ambassador Rochester, Senator Zemina Torval's criticism, and her hopes for the future of her marriage: "Jordan and I see this marriage as an opportunity for change. Imagine a galaxy where both superpowers work hand in hand, and support each other in times of hardship. Now that's a true marriage."
13 JUL 3304
The wedding of Princess Aisling Duval and Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester is scheduled for August 25, 3304 at the Imperial Palace on Emerald, Cemiess. An official proclamation was published in both The Federal Times and The Imperial Herald: "Her Imperial Highness Princess Aisling Duval and the honourable Ambassador Jordan Rochester are pleased to announce the occasion of their wedding on Saturday 25th August 3304 at the Imperial Palace on Emerald in the Cemiess system. Invitations have been extended to representatives of every strata of society. An honour guard of vessels from both the Federal Navy and the Imperial Navy will be in attendance. The couple's wish is for all citizens of the galaxy to join together in celebration of their union."
06 JUL 3304
Responding to public interest in Princess Aisling Duval's fiancé, Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester, political journalist Cassia Carvalho compiled a profile of Jordan and the Rochester family for The Imperial Herald.
27 JUN 3304
Reactions from the galactic community to the announcement of Aisling Duval and Jordan Rochester's marriage ranged from joy to cordial congratulations to outrage.
22 JUN 3304
Princess Aisling Duval announces that she and Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester plan to marry: "It's no secret that Jordan and I grew close during his official visit. The time has come to let you know that we are to be husband and wife. I'm aware that some will see this as unorthodox, even controversial, but love knows no borders. It's our wish that our marriage will build lasting bridges between the Empire and the Federation."
13 JUN 3304
Princess Aisling Duval's charity Stop Slavery Stupid merged with Jarl Toredo's independent charity Universal Liberty. The unified organisation was rebranded Unchain. Toredo issued a statement on the merger: "There's no shortage of poverty and suffering within the Empire, however much some may try to hide it. Few have the courage to face the truth, but Princess Duval has been an inspiration. So I'm very pleased that we're joining forces with her campaign to end slavery. I was born into slavery. My parents were still slaves when they died. It is for them, and for all human beings treated as less than human, that we demand legal slavery be abolished. I'm proud to be part of Unchain, which will spread our message across the Empire."
06 JUN 3304
Solomon Helios reports that Princess Aisling hosted an exclusive diplomatic function the previous weekend, and Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester was the guest of honor. Senator Caspian Leopold also made an unofficial visit to Emerald the following day.
25 MAY 3304
Entertainment journalist Solomon Helios speculates on Princess Aisling Duval's love life. Aisling had dated Senator Denton Patreus three years earlier, but ended that relationship, presumably concluding that Patreus was primarily interested in the Imperial throne. Recently, Aisling has been spotted in the company of three potential suitors: the wealthy and influential Senator Caspian Leopold, anti-slavery firebrand Jarl Toredo, and Federal Ambassador Jordan Rochester.
12 APR 3304
More prominent figures across the galaxy, including Imperial Senator Pal Vespasian and Commodore Riri McAllister of the ADF voice support for Princess Duval's criticism of Aegis. Chief Editor Jast Fernández said "We know that Aisling is widely seen as the stereotypical heiress – materially prosperous but intellectually deficient – but could this have been a public mask that she is now discarding? Or perhaps the young princess is finally maturing, and developing some genuine critical faculty?"
05 APR 3304
Aisling Duval criticizes Aegis. In a public interview, Princess Aisling Duval levelled criticism at Aegis in relation to the ongoing Thargoid conflict. "The people are scared," she said. "They fear that their way of life – their very existence – might vanish unless more is done to protect them. I’m not convinced Aegis is capable of doing so. The Empire has invested heavily in the organisation. Are we sure the other powers have done the same? It has taken far too long for Aegis to determine why the Thargoids are attacking, and it’s not clear what their strategy is now. If we are to trust them to defend humanity, we need to see more obvious progress."
25 JAN 3304
Aisling Duval's anti-slavery campaign in Guuguyni is a success. In an official statement, the princess says, "I am immeasurably grateful to those who supported this campaign. You have saved hundreds of people from a life of misery."
18 JAN 3304
Aisling Duval announced plans to fund a peacekeeping operation in the Guuguyni system. The operation's primary purpose is to neutralise an illegal slave-trading ring in the region.
28 OCT 3303
A number of the galaxy’s most powerful figures have commented on the current galactic landscape, addressing issues such as the return of Thargoids and the recent discovery of outposts formerly occupied by the Intergalactic Naval Reserve Arm. At a society event in the Cubeo system, Princess Aisling Duval said: “I read the INRA records, and frankly I was sickened. How could they treat living creatures that way? I’ve heard of governments inventing threats to support their military programmes. Maybe that’s what the INRA was. A smokescreen.”
27 OCT 3303
Aisling Duval commented on the discovery of multiple abandoned Intergalactic Naval Reserve Arm outposts, saying she was sickened by the way INRA experimented with weapons on live Thargoids, and further claiming that INRA may have exaggerated the Thargoid threat to garner support for its military programme.
04 MAY 3303
Terrorist Salomé Killed. Imperial dispatches have confirmed that Commander Salomé, also known as Kahina Tijani Loren, was killed in the Arumclaw system on the 29th of April by a bounty hunter known as ‘Besieger’. “She was a force of evil who attempted to sow the seeds of conflict among those who strive for peace,” said Princess Aisling Duval. “Her warmongering is at an end, and the galaxy is now a safer place. It’s just a shame that so many innocent lives were lost before she was brought down.”
25 NOV 3302
Prisoner Convoy Destroyed. A prisoner convoy has been interdicted and destroyed in the Daibo system while en route to Koontz Asylum. It has been confirmed that the convoy was carrying various political dissidents, convicted murderers and terrorists. Among them was the infamous Kahina Loren, recently found guilty of the attempted assassination of Admiral Denton Patreus. Plans to hold a memorial service for Loren in the Prism system have already generated angry responses. Princess Aisling Duval was quoted as saying, "A service for her? She was a murderer and a convicted felon! Her name should be struck from the record and never spoken again."
16 MAR 3302
When the dissident organisation known as Emperor's Dawn was first brought to public attention, a number of high-profile Imperials were discovered to have connections to the group. One of them was Damon Clarke, a prominent industrialist and a member of Princess Aisling Duval's inner circle. According to a report published by the Imperial Herald, one of Clarke's companies had previously sold weapons to Emperor's Dawn, and the revelation plunged Clarke into scandal. The prominent patron denied all knowledge of the transaction, but his declarations of innocence were undermined when he fled Imperial space. From that point on, no further information regarding Clarke's whereabouts or actions was released to the public. But now an undisclosed source, which claims to be close to the Imperial Internal Security Service, has shared news of Clarke's fate. A section of the anonymous message is reprinted below: "As you know, Clarke fled Imperial space when his connection to Emperor's Dawn was discovered. But he didn't get far. The IISS caught up with him in Apathaam and brought him back to Achenar. Clarke was looking at a death sentence, but the IISS offered him a deal: give up his contacts in Emperor's Dawn in exchange for a more lenient sentence. Clarke jumped at the offer, and gave up everyone he knew. His information earned him a commuted sentence: house arrest at his home on Capitol. He even got to keep his car. A pretty good deal. So time passes and Emperor's Dawn gets its ass handed to it by the Empire. But a few of Clarke's former contacts survive, and they're none too happy about him selling them down the river. With IISS agents stationed at Clarke's home, it wasn't easy for them to get to him, but in the end they succeeded. Poisoned his food, I gather. Nasty way to go." The Imperial Internal Security Service has declined to comment on the matter.
Agents of the Imperial Guard and IISS arrested several members of Chancellor Anders Blaine's staff. Blaine said that Princess Aisling Duval's accusation that his staff had links to Emperor's Dawn were true, that members of his staff had been involved in slander against her, and that he took all responsibility and apologised.
02 OCT 3301
Little has been heard from Princess Aisling Duval since it was revealed that one of her key advisors, PatronDamon Clarke, was connected to Emperor's Dawn. She has reportedly cooperated with both the Senate and IISS investigations into the allegations, and has vehemently denied any prior knowledge of the link. That changed this morning with the shattering announcement of her own investigation's findings. In a statement, Princess Aisling revealed that some of ChancellorAnders Blaine's past advisors were connected to the same members of Emperor's Dawn as Patron Damon Clarke. She also highlighted that while Patron Clarke's connection to Emperor's Dawn was historic, those within the Chancellor's team were more recent. She concluded by listing the names of those implicated. Princess Aisling Duval has not yet released evidence of the connections. Chancellor Anders Blaine denied all knowledge of any connection, and refused to comment further.
28 SEP 3301
The Imperial Herald's report of connections between Princess Aisling Duval's office and Emperor's Dawn had a severe impact on her rating, and may have had an impact on her standing with the Senate.
21 SEP 3301
At the start of the day's deliberations, ChancellorAnders Blaine declared that a Senate investigation into the claimed connection between Princess Aisling Duval's office and the insurgent group Emperor's Dawn was to be undertaken. The investigation will begin immediately, despite the Senate being in closed session until the succession is decided. In response, Aisling Duval stated that she would comply in any way she could with the investigation. She also said that her own security teams had discovered some alarming information that she would share with the investigation committee. Meanwhile, the hunt for PatronDamon Clarke continues. Several of his associates were arrested by the Internal Security Service in the early hours of the morning and subjected to questioning.
20 SEP 3301
As SenatorDenton Patreus prepared to enter the Senate to continue the deliberations over the succession, he issued an angry demand for a full senate investigation into the reported links between Emperor's Dawn and Princess Aisling Duval's office. "While I sympathise with the princesses' situation, having experienced a similar shock, I cannot allow that sympathy to influence my judgement. When a member of my household committed the most heinous of deeds, I submitted myself to the security services and gave them every access they needed. We cannot wait to act, and I call upon the senate to commence an immediate and full investigation into any links between Princess Aisling and Emperor's Dawn." After the initial flurry of information from the Imperial Herald, no new facts were released today. PatronDamon Clarke remains at large, and the considered opinion is that he has fled the Empire.
19 SEP 3301
Following yesterday's revelation of alleged links between Princess Aisling Duval's office and the Emperor's Dawn insurgency, Princess Aisling today issued a statement denying any knowledge of the connection. "It has come as a bitter surprise to me that any of my trusted advisors could have conducted business with the animals that murdered the Emperor. I will immediately undertake my own investigation into the matter, and root out any staff who are not truly loyal to the Empire." Popularity polls have shown a dramatic fall for the so-called 'People's Princess' as the Imperial Herald revealed more details of the alleged interactions with the terrorist group. PatronDamon Clarke remains unavailable for comment. A security officer based in Clarke's home system revealed, anonymously, that Clarke's whereabouts are unknown.
18 SEP 3301
In a devastating exposé released earlier today, the Imperial Herald has published details of alleged links between the secretive group backing Princess Aisling Duval and some of the funding sources for the Emperor's Dawn insurgency. While a direct connection between Princess Aisling and the insurgency is not alleged, there does appear to be a connection to senior members of the Princess's inner council. Most notable of these is the patron and industrialist Damon Clarke. The Herald has found evidence that D and C Shipping, Inc., one of Clarke's companies, apparently funded and organised weapon shipments to people now known to be members of Emperor's Dawn three years ago. It is not known at this time whether there has been any recent contact between Clarke's company and these individuals, or how this relates to the assassination of EmperorHengist Duval. Patron Damon Clarke was unavailable for comment, but a spokesman for the company said: "We are an interstellar shipping company, making thousands of shipments for clients each day. We are approved to transport weapons where such shipments are legal, and we occasionally do so. We do not comment on individual transactions. If a former client later became a terrorist, that is certainly abhorrent, but it is hardly the fault of D and C Shipping, Inc."
11 SEP 3301
At a charity event where several dozen slaves were freed, Aisling Duval spoke out about the succession, and claimed to be the natural heir. Her attempt to gloss over the legality of her claim sparked angry rebuttals from legal experts and the camps of the other likely candidates.
It seems peculiar that as the closest living relative of our beloved Emperor, I am not involved in the process of selecting his successor. It is even stranger that there is a process at all - after all, I am the natural heir.
Aisling Duval Reviews her Security. The personal security for Princess Aisling Duval is under review as yet another private conversation has been leaked to the press. Much of the audio is undistinguishable but at one stage Aisling can be heard saying: “Denton would never do something like this. He’s far too up tight and strait-laced. Besides, he’s a nobody now. That Lavigny bitch – she’ll get the sympathy vote from this and she knows it.” A spokeswoman for Princess Duval stated: “This is clearly a fake intended to discredit the princess. To think that someone would stoop to this type of low politics in our time of grief is repulsive.”
09 AUG 3301
In respect of the assassination of EmperorHengist Duval the planned article for this week has been moved to next week so that historian Sima Kalhana relates some of the key moments from his life. Emperor Hengist Duval was the 15th in the Imperial Duval bloodline to lead the Empire and he saw a great deal of change in his comparatively short reign. He was born in 3163, only a few days before the death of his grandfather Hender Saik Duval. Some claim that the spirit of Hender had already passed to Hengist such were the similarities in looks and manner noted in Hengist's later years. When his father, Hesketh Duval, died in 3233, Hengist assumed his place on the throne. The live broadcast of the coronation created an impression of a serene transition. However lurking beneath this appearance lay significant tensions. Most significant of which was the growing power of the Senate which had developed during the extended period of his father's illness. A parallel with the situation with Hengist's coma can be seen in recent months. At the start of his reign the cold war between the Empire and the Federation was starting to thaw, a process which continued for decades, although friction has recently resumed with the rise of certain powers like President Hudson and Senator Patreus. Hengist's reign witnessed a major technological advancement with the introduction of the new frame shift drive. This sped up travel between stars systems and even inside systems by an incredible margin. It created a more quickly shifting political, military and commercial landscape as reacting or causing changing became much easier. Hengist fell ill early in 3300, and he managed to continue light duties throughout the first half of the year. His sickness worsened as the year progressed and during this time he remained in seclusion with only rare visits to the Senate. At the turn of 3301 he slipped into a coma. Many expected him to not awaken from the coma and it was a great surprise when he recovered several months later. Near the close of 3300, Hengist decreed that his only legitimate child, Harold (who is Aisling Duval's unmarried father), was not of sound mind and so unfit for rule, and in any case had no legitimate children himself. Following this announcement Arissa Lavigny-Duval declared that she was the illegitimate child of Hengist. The Emperor supported this claim by announcing his forthcoming marriage with Arissa's mother, Florence Lavigny, and was expected to formally adopt Arissa and cement her claim to the throne. With his murder and the marriage not completed the succession to the Imperial throne is again not clear cut and many fear the potential instability this could cause to the Empire if not decided quickly after the Emperor's funeral.
29 JUL 3301
In an alleged secret recording of a conversation with one of her aides, Princess Aisling Duval questioned the convenience of the Emperor's recovery and the motives of Senator Anders Blaine and others close to the Emperor. An aide of Senator Blaine said an investigation would be carried out. Aisling Duval said the recording was clearly a fabrication and that she would never say "the despicable things portrayed in this horrid fantasy."
How is this possible? Am I not the most beloved person in the Empire? This is clear manoeuvring to make sure that Arissa becomes the heir. I can see her annoyingly haughty expression now. That Blaine thinks she will let him carry on doing what he wants.
In this new series, exclusive to GalNet, the popular political commentator Marcus Macmillan looks at some of the movers and shakers in 3301. In this first article he examines the life of the popular darling of Imperial politics: Princess Aisling Duval. Aisling Duval is Prince Harold's eldest child, but has gained a substantial following on her merits. She appears to be a canny operator, although many would argue that her advisors provide her with a veneer of acumen. She is young at only 25, and very visible in the media. Her claim to the throne is technically nullified by the fact that her parents were not married, but her claim is no weaker than some of the other contenders. The people's princess (as she is sometimes known) is extremely popular with many citizens, clients and patrons. She regularly appears on lightweight chat shows, but tends to avoid anything where she might have to face tough questions. At heart Aisling is a populist, taking many of her views from the public mood. She splits her time between managing her brand from Cemiess, and spending time with her father in Achenar. Her mother died of a drugs overdose when she was young which, combined with her father's unfortunate legacy from a hedonistic life, has left Aisling with a passion for helping those whose lives have taken a turn for the worse. Despite her youth, she enjoys considerable support from the people and also from elements who would benefit from shaking up Imperial society.
22 May 3301
The People’s Princess made an appearance in Cemiess late last night to attend the opening of Emerald’s newest art installation, ‘Prism’s Shades’, a multi-sensory experience that uses experimental light and sound projection technology to stimulate a series of empathic responses from its audience. Aisling dazzled crowds by dressing in a long-sleeved ruby red evening gown, adorned with painite sparkles. She accessorised with an equally stunning tinted visor, fashionably stamped with Aisling’s personal crest.
08 APR 3301
Stop Slavery Stupid and Aisling Duval lost the slavery public support challenge to Senator Zemina Torval's pro-Imperial slavery side. They managed to free 1,149,756 Imperial Slaves, but the Imperial Slavers Association received 2,387,567 Unregulated Slaves for retraining.
01 APR 3301
Stop Slavery Stupid and Aisling Duval's idealogical differences with Senator Zemina Torval came to a head with a public support challenge. Zemina Torval and the Imperial Society would buy unregulated slaves to turn them into Imperial slaves. Stop Slavery Stupid would accept donations of Imperial slaves with the intention of freeing them. If Aisling won, Torval would free all the slaves bought in the course of the challenge. If Torval won, Aisling would take on a personal contingent of Imperial Slaves for no less than one year.
06 MAR 3301
On the Empire’s most-watched reality stream show, Celebrity Pets, Aising Duval made a passionate outburst on the topic of Imperial slavery. She said that the animals on the show, and those in SenatorZemina Torval's personal zoo, were better treated than Imperial slaves. In support of her rhetoric, Stop Slavery Stupid announced a new temporary program of Imperial Slave emancipation and rehabilitation.
08 JAN 3301
Aisling appeared on the popular show “A fireside chat with Serena” and talked about her views on narcotics, and why they should be banned. Her mother died of narcotic use before Aisling was old enough to remember her. When asked about her father, she spoke out against Emperor Hengist Duval and the network cut the broadcast.
Oh Serena. He was led astray in his youth, but Dad is a lovely man, and would make a great Emperor if his controlling father wasn’t so spiteful.
Her father Harold Duval was declared "not sound of mind" by his father, Emperor Hengist Duval. This removed his claim to the throne, and hence Aisling's after him, meaning there was no clear successor.
18 DEC 3300
Appeared to speak for her father, the heir of the Emperor, against Imperial Slavery.
Progress is what the Empire needs to remain as the beacon of civilisation.