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Lady Astrid Minerva-Duval, born Astrid Minerva, is a commander and the wife of Hadrian Augustus Duval of the Imperial Family. Astrid fought alongside Nova Imperium's forces during the Battle of Paresa in 3305, then formally joined the group and later became Hadrian's consort. Astrid and Hadrian wed on April 5, 3307; the ceremony was private and took place at an undisclosed location for security purposes, as the Neo-Marlinist Liberation Army had made an attempt on the Imperator's life several months earlier. Through the marriage, Commander Astrid Minerva was elevated to Imperial nobility and granted the official title of Lady Astrid Minerva-Duval.

On April 26, 3307, Lady Astrid was identified as a top agent of the NMLA in a leaked statement made by Landgrave Arastin Delacroix of the Neo-Marlinist Order of Mudhrid to the Affiliated Counter-Terrorism unit. According to the statement, Astrid had recruited Hadrian to the NMLA in 3306 and persuaded him to assist the NMLA for the sake of hastening his ascension to the Imperial Throne. After a thorough investigation, Lady Astrid's name was cleared on May 21 when ACT reported that the allegations against her and her husband could not be authenticated, and the matter was put to rest on February 21, 3308 when ACT confirmed that the Lords of Restoration, the true masterminds behind the NMLA, had manipulated Delacroix with a virtual doppelganger of Hadrian in an attempt to undermine public trust in the Imperial Family.

Lady Astrid and Imperator Hadrian announced through the Paresa News Network on September 21, 3307 that they were expecting their first child. Their son, Hector Mordanticus Duval, was born on December 2, 3307.

Timeline

21 FEB 3308

  • ACT has released details about a plan by the Lords of Restoration to frame Hadrian Augustus Duval as the leader of the NMLA. The information was extracted from the NMLA's Omega Grid network and published by Captain Saskia Landau: "It was Senator Ursula Torquatus who devised a scheme to undermine the Imperial Family and turn citizens against them by 'exposing' a Duval as the NMLA mastermind. Hadrian Duval was seen as the logical choice since many viewed him as an extremist through his prior association with Nova Imperium, though Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval officially pardoned him in 3306. The Lords of Restoration used a virtual doppelganger of the Emperor, indistinguishable from authentic transmissions, to convince the Senate that she was communicating from a safe location. A similar doppelganger was developed to replicate Hadrian and was used to send orders to NMLA allies such as the Landgrave of Mudhrid. This is how they planted evidence, discovered in April 3307, that Hadrian had converted to Neo-Marlinism and was determined to wipe out all other Duvals. Yet, despite triggering an unsuccessful Federal attack in the Paresa system, the accusation was not verified or widely believed. Months later, the Lords of Restoration tried to kill Hadrian and Lady Astrid before their son Hector could be born, fearing the continuation of the Duval dynasty. But other senators moved the family to a secure location, beyond the reach of their agents." Hadrian Duval has publicly thanked ACT for uncovering this information and officially absolving him of all suspicion in this matter.[1]

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?"[2]

31 DEC 3307

  • The last in a series that reviews the events of the past year, by noted historian Sima Kalhana.
    "October brought further controversy for the Federation, when a diplomatic conference in the Delta Pavonis system was revealed to be a honey trap designed to capture Yuri Grom. Only a rush of support for EG Union allowed their ruler to escape, causing political embarrassment for President Hudson. There was more corporate drama when Zemina Torval relinquished her long-held majority sharehold of Mastopolos Mining, fuelling rumours of a family rift with her cousins. Torval Mining Ltd became a fully independent corporation run by her daughter Constantia. The Colonia Bridge project officially started the first of two phases this year which would see the construction of 56 megaships between the Alcor and Colonia systems. Brewer Corporation enjoyed great public support for improving this travel corridor along the 22,000 light year journey, and revealed plans to enhance it further in the new year. Hadrian Duval, his wife Lady Astrid and their unborn child were the specific targets of another starport bombing by the NMLA. It proved unsuccessful, but did result in the Imperial Senate offering them protection in order to secure the Duval bloodline. It also led to a manhunt for Theta Seven, the galaxy's most wanted terrorist. In November, Orion University claimed that the dredger occupied by the Scriveners Clan was legally their property, but the nomadic descendants of its original crew refused to give up their home. The stand-off caught the public attention, with some supporting the clan's right to independence and others keen to discover what their Knowledge Core contained. Ultimately the Scriveners retained their freedom, sailing off into the void with their secrets intact. Many were shocked when Admiral Tanner, Aegis's military chief, went rogue and tried to force access to a starport controlled by Salvation's allies. His conviction that the anti-xeno superweapons were responsible for provoking the Thargoids was, however, not enough to win the day. The NMLA threw everything they had at the Mudhrid system in an attempt to rescue Theta Seven, who was hiding among the Far God cult to avoid capture. But the terrorists were crushed by ACT and a coalition of ships, with Theta Seven martyring himself by destroying the hijacked megaship Sacrosanct. A happier event in December was the birth of Hector Duval, son and heir of Hadrian and Lady Astrid. There were celebrations across the Empire, but also questions asked about the future of the Duval dynasty and if the child might one day inherit the Imperial throne. The year ended as it had begun, with Thargoid vessels swarming into nebula systems. But with incursions steadily increasing over recent months, there were fears that this time they might prove unstoppable. Salvation's superweapons were once again deployed to halt the aliens' progress, but will they be enough to prevent the Thargoids from threatening humanity in 3308?"[3]

29 DEC 3307

  • Continuing a series of articles by historian Sima Kalhana that look at the most newsworthy events during the past year.
    "April 3307 saw the creation of the Federation's Proactive Detection Bureau in reaction to the Nine Martyrs bombings. This organisation monitored all public and private communications for evidence of terrorists, to prevent similar attacks in future. But its highly controversial nature would soon present the Federation with new challenges. ACT's investigation led them to the Neo-Marlinist Order of Mudhrid, which had helped deliver the caustic enzyme bombs to their nine targets. The faction's defeat was an early victory against the NMLA, but much of the organisation remained a mystery. When the 'ghost ship' Adamastor began receiving an encoded signal, this began an entire saga of mysteries. Its long-lost sister ship, the Hesperus, was soon located by pilots who had been recruited by an anonymous figure named Salvation. His interest in Azimuth Biochemicals, the 200 year old corporation that owned both vessels, would bring a strange twist to the ongoing Thargoid conflict. In May, Hadrian Duval was targeted by Federal forces after accusations that he was the mastermind behind the NMLA. The spectre of Empire-Federation war rose once again as Nova Imperium successfully defended itself, but ACT concluded that evidence had been falsified to implicate Hadrian and his new wife Lady Astrid. Aegis came under intense scrutiny when the megaship Alexandria, laden with newly collected Guardian artefacts, began attracting Thargoids in every system it jumped to. The Alexandria later vanished completely in hyperspace, and to this day remains missing presumed destroyed. The Alliance election finally took place at the end of May, having been delayed by three months due to the Galactic Summit. Councillor Nakato Kaine fought a spirited campaign, but Edmund Mahon was re-elected to serve a second term as prime minister. Supporters of Neo-Marlinism gained a voice in June, when Minister Aaron Whyte offered a peace deal with the Empire to prevent further terrorism. The idea of a political wing of the NMLA gained support from those fearing further bombings, but opened major rifts within the Marlinist Colonies. Salvation once again contacted pilots to track down survivors from the Hesperus. This led to the discovery of an ancient Guardian-Thargoid battleground, where Azimuth scientists had built a research base around their vessel Proteus. All were killed by unusual experiments into weaponising Guardian crystals. The Proactive Detection Bureau had been generally accepted by Federal citizens, but many claimed it was a violation of civil liberties. Halfway through the year, the Azaladshu Free faction took the bold step of seceding from the Federation, thus triggering the possibility of mass rebellion."[4]

02 DEC 3307

02 NOV 3307

  • The Empire has officially proclaimed Hadrian Augustus Duval and his wife Lady Astrid Minerva-Duval to be wards of the Senate. The offer of senatorial protection was made following an NMLA attempt to assassinate them and their unborn child by bombing Dyson City starport. Prior to being transported from the Paresa system to a secure location, Hadrian Duval sent this message: "Lady Astrid and I accepted this offer with enormous reluctance. Neither of us wish to abandon our home or loyal followers. Yet we feel it is a matter of duty to protect our family and ensure future generations of the Duval bloodline. Nova Imperium will henceforth be known as Nova Paresa. It will continue to serve as a staunch ally of the Empire, as per the Treaty of Paresa. To all those who fought for our cause over the years, I assure you that history will never forget us. Memento Mordanticus!" There has been public support for Praetor Leo Magnus to assume leadership of Nova Paresa. Hadrian Duval has endorsed his former head of security taking his place, but confirmed that the title of Imperator is now defunct. In related news, ACT stated that its investigation into the Dyson City attack has yielded results. Although details remain embargoed for security reasons, a significant breakthrough is expected to be announced soon.[6]

25 OCT 3307

  • The recent NMLA attack in the Paresa system has encouraged the Imperial Senate to reach out to Imperator Hadrian Duval. An official pronouncement was made by Senator Caspian Leopold: "A majority of us believe that preserving the Duval bloodline is paramount for the future of the Empire. Hadrian Duval is not officially a member of the Imperial Family but he is the grandson of Emperor Hengist, meaning his as-yet unborn child is also of royal lineage. The NMLA has already murdered many Duvals, including Prince Harold. Indeed, Hadrian himself barely survived an assassination attempt last year. It's clear that the Empire can provide greater security than he currently has, and it is our duty to do so. Therefore, we propose making both Hadrian and Lady Astrid wards of the Senate. They will be placed under the highest level of protection, at least until this grave threat has abated." Imperator Hadrian Duval is currently holding discussions with a delegation from the Senate. Political observers believe that their proposal may be conditional on him severing ties with Nova Imperium, an isolationist organisation that was once outlawed in the Empire. Independent newsfeeds have speculated that since the NMLA's terror campaign began, Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval has been under similar senatorial protection and performing her duties from a secure location.[7]

15 OCT 3307

  • The Neo-Marlinist Liberation Army has taken responsibility for the attack on Dyson City starport in the Paresa system. The primary targets were Imperator Hadrian Duval and his wife Lady Astrid Minerva-Duval, who is pregnant with his child. Although they survived, the bombing left many thousands dead and injured. The following message was sent across NMLA propaganda channels: "As long as a single Duval is left alive, the Republic of Achenar cannot be rebuilt. It is our duty to extinguish that entire line and free our people from Imperial oppression." Praetor Leo Magnus gave a statement on behalf of ACT: "It is significant that this latest broadcast is not from Theta Seven, the NMLA's mouthpiece and de facto leader. We believe that Theta Group – the team of weaponsmiths that built the caustic enzyme bombs – has split in two. According to the communications we intercepted, Theta Seven and half of his followers went into hiding after the attacks against the Marlinist Colonies in July. The others continued their terror campaign and were responsible for this latest atrocity. ACT is currently pursuing leads and hopes to learn more soon." Nova Imperium has repeated a call for pilots to help rescue survivors from Dyson City in the Paresa system.[8]

14 OCT 3307

  • *Pilots Federation ALERT*
    Explosions have struck Dyson City starport in the Paresa system, home of Hadrian Duval's organisation Nova Imperium. The starport suffered severe structural damage plus the corrosive effects of caustic enzymes, characteristic of the customised weapons used by the NMLA. Initial reports state that over fifteen thousand people have been killed and a similar number injured. The following statement was issued by Praetor Leo Magnus, the former head of security for Nova Imperium who was seconded to ACT: "Shortly before this attack, my team intercepted a communication between suspected Neo-Marlinist supporters. This referred to an imminent attempt to kill Imperator Hadrian Duval, Lady Astrid Minerva-Duval and their unborn child. I immediately ordered the Praetorian Guard to move the Imperator's family off-station, which was achieved minutes before the bombs detonated. I am pleased to report that they survived this brutal attack, but unfortunately the remaining population could not have been evacuated in time." A state of emergency has been declared in the Paresa system, with an urgent request for independent pilots to assist with rescuing survivors from Dyson City starport. The Empire confirmed that as per the Treaty of Paresa, it will provide military and medical support to Nova Imperium. ACT is performing investigations to learn more about the attack.[9]

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 Emperor Arissa 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]

21 MAY 3307

  • Evidence that Imperator Hadrian Augustus Duval masterminded the NMLA terror campaign cannot be authenticated, according to ACT. Inspector Mara Klatt, one of ACT’s joint leaders, delivered this report: "We have rigorously analysed data provided by the Landgrave of Mudhrid that contains detailed instructions from Hadrian Duval. The content undoubtedly arranges the starport bombings, but its source is inconclusive. It now seems highly plausible that his identity was faked by the NMLA." Hadrian Duval made an announcement via the Paresa News Network: "There can no longer be any doubt that the NMLA planted a false trail in order to incriminate us. They aim to slay every Duval and demolish Imperial traditions, a goal that the Federation is clearly happy to support. Lady Astrid and I are deeply grateful to the Nova Navy, and all the other pilots who helped to defend our honour." The Federal Diplomatic Corps confirmed that the League of Mandu, which was defeated by Nova Imperium, will withdraw from the Paresa system but made no reference to ACT's report. Praetor Leo Magnus, head of security for Nova Imperium and a former IISS officer, has been seconded to ACT. He will serve as a replacement for the deceased Captain Niamh Seutonia.[11]

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.[12]

26 APR 3307

  • Imperator Hadrian Augustus Duval of Nova Imperium is the mastermind behind the NMLA, according to classified information leaked from within ACT. Independent journalist Flint 'Firemaker' Lafosse published the details on the Rewired network: "Hadrian Duval: the illegitimate embarrassment of the Imperial Family, or their secret terrorist nemesis? That's the story being told by survivors from the Neo-Marlinist Order of Mudhrid, who gave up their secrets to save their own skins. According to my source, Landgrave Delacroix confessed to ACT that his faction transported enzyme bombs and Nova Imperium assassins to their targets on the direct orders of Hadrian Duval, who promised rewards and political power in return. Delacroix also revealed that Hadrian was converted to Neo-Marlinism a year ago by his consort Astrid Minerva, a top NMLA agent. She convinced him that becoming Emperor would be much easier if all the other Duvals were dead! As for the NMLA's attempt on Hadrian's life last October, that was faked in order to gain the Imperial Family's trust. Just another false flag operation – which, as we truth-seekers know, can be found everywhere." As yet this information has not been verified, and its source remains anonymous. There has been no comment from either ACT or Nova Imperium.[13]

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.[14]

References

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