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Prince Harold Duval was a member of the Imperial Family. The son of Emperor Hengist Duval and Anthea Viola Lampeter, Harold was the heir apparent to the Imperial throne until December 3300, when Hengist removed him from the line of succession by decreeing him not of sound mind due to his hedonistic lifestyle and reputation as a feckless playboy.[1][2] Harold's eldest child is Aisling Duval,[3] who he fathered with entertainer Imogen "Eccentrica" Gabrielini out of wedlock. Imogen died of an aneurysm caused by a drug overdose shortly after giving birth to Aisling and marrying Harold in 3276.[4] In his later years, Harold frequented a famous fly-fishing resort on Garuda in the Delta Phoenicis system.[5]

On September 14, 3306, Prince Harold was assassinated aboard his personal transport while traveling from Capitol to Cemiess by a member of the Neo-Marlinist Liberation Army.[6] His state funeral was held on September 24, and his body was interred in the Hall of Martyrs beneath the Imperial Palace on October 8.[7]

Timeline

11 MAR 3308

  • Emperor Arissa 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.[8]

14 FEB 3308

  • The Affiliated Counter-Terrorism unit has unveiled a secret cabal of Imperial senators who masterminded the NMLA's terrorist activity. The information was obtained after ACT successfully penetrated the NMLA's dark-comms network. Captain Saskia Landau provided this summary to the media: "Senators Gereon, Jourdain, Nerva, Scordato and Torquatus were at the heart of a powerful conspiracy to permanently remove the position of Emperor. They called themselves the Lords of Restoration, based on their aim to restore executive power to the Senate. The NMLA became their terroristic agents, weaponised to assassinate the Duvals and other obstacles. Its members were militarised at Darkwater training camps and provided with sophisticated equipment by corrupt Imperial Intelligence agents. But the Lords could never fully control the terrorist figurehead Theta Seven, whose attacks against non-Imperial starports were not part of their original plan. Marlinism was also exploited as a political lever. The hope was that, compared to this democratic ideology, citizens would view a senator-led Empire as a moderate compromise once the Imperial Family was gone. While this led to the establishment of the Marlinist Colonies, the Lords' later attempts to influence those systems via puppet politicians did not succeed. Following the assassinations of Prince Harold and other Duvals, the Lords abducted Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval in January 3307. She was kidnapped en route to a secure location, with Senator Nerva falsifying confirmation of her safe arrival. This allowed the Lords to engineer communications with the Senate via a virtual doppelganger, which were accepted as genuine since they were verified by Imperial Intelligence agents." ACT is working closely with Imperial security agencies to identify all those who collaborated with the Lords of Restoration.[9]

20 JAN 3308

  • Princess Aisling Duval has discussed growing concerns over Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval's lack of public engagements in recent months. In an interview with The Imperial Herald, she said: "Chancellor Blaine 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."[10]

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?"[11]

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.[12]

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.[13]

19 MAR 3307

  • Private investigators Erik Gunnarson and Francesca Wolfe review the Neo-Marlinist Liberation Army.
    Gunnarson: "We don't usually get involved with political cases, but it's hard to ignore the largest terrorist attack in history. The NMLA is a radical offshoot of Marlinism, a democratic movement named after the Republic of Achenar's original ruler, Marlin Duval. Most are peaceful protester types, but Neo-Marlinists want to overthrow the government by permanently removing the Imperial Family. What nobody knows is how the NMLA went from minor troublemakers to interstellar terrorists. The starport bombings last September came from nowhere, and their assassins have killed many Imperial bigwigs including Prince Harold Duval. Smart money was on them being funded by Empire's enemies, but now the NMLA treat the Alliance and Federation as equal targets. Hitting all three superpower capitals was a hugely symbolic gesture, and should have been impossible. How did they bypass security and plant explosives without detection? Who the hell are these people? Even Wallglass doesn't have a clue. But we won't stop searching."
    Wolfe: "Despite my enquiries – and some unauthorised snooping – there's no trace of the rumoured NMLA bomb factory in LTT 1935. But it did once exist, because the Empire captured its occupants. Not that they'll admit it. 'There is no such place as Serene Harbour', right? Well, I've been to R CrA Sector AF-A d42 3b and seen it myself. It's bleak. Hope-crushing. And yet the NMLA prisoners listed as Theta Group escaped, broken out by what seems like Imperial Intelligence double-agents. That genuinely scares me. If the NMLA can worm inside the most shadowy security organisation in known space, they could be anywhere. And none of us are safe."[14]

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."[15]

21 DEC 3306

  • As independent colonies are set up for Marlinist refugees, there has been a lull in terrorist strikes from the Neo-Marlinist Liberation Army (NMLA). In recent months, the paramilitary group launched multiple attacks across the Empire. Starports and administrative buildings were bombed and dozens of individuals assassinated, including Prince Harold and more distant members of the Duval family. However, the number of incidents has fallen drastically following successful operations by the Imperial Internal Security Service: "After the Federal Security Service identified NMLA members aboard the emigrants' megaships, these were transferred to us for interrogation. We obtained information that enabled us to shut down many terrorist cells, although there is evidence that the NMLA's network remains widespread." In related news, hundreds of thousands of Marlinist refugees are preparing to occupy new colony systems established by the Sirius Corporation. Mass transportation will take place early next year, overseen by Safeguard Interstellar. The Empire, Federation and Sirius Gov have all agreed that the settlements will remain fully independent. The refugee population has already begun to determine its future social structure, based on the principles of Marlinism. A transitional parliament has been formed by community leaders such as Dr Jenna Fairfax, Aaron Whyte and Amrita Ross. Democratic elections for a representative government will take place once the Marlinist Colonies are operational.[16]

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."[17]

30 SEP 3306

  • Senator Denton Patreus has mobilised Imperial military forces in response to terrorist acts committed by the Neo-Marlinist Liberation Army (NMLA). The Empire has declared martial law and a lockdown in Ackwada, Beatis, Chana and Nahuatl, where the republican ideals of Marlinism are known to be popular. Imperial Army troops have replaced local security forces, and potential NMLA sympathisers are being arrested for interrogation. Senator Patreus received applause in the Imperial Senate when he vowed: "There will be justice for the murder of Prince Harold Duval and justice for those citizens who perished in flames. The Marlinists will pay dearly for these atrocities!" In related news, the Imperial Internal Security Service issued a report regarding the NMLA's recent attacks on starports: "Forensic results confirm that much of the station damage was caused by Thargoid caustic enzymes. Fragments indicate that the bombs were of advanced design but definitely man-made, not Thargoid in origin. Their payloads were identical in composition to enzyme missile rack warheads. Our deduction is that the portable explosives were smuggled onto all four starports, then remotely detonated as one coordinated strike. We are interviewing station personnel and analysing recent traffic to identify any patterns."[18]

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. Emperor Arissa 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 Minister Edmund Mahon and Federal President Zachary 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.[7]

21 SEP 3306

  • The Imperial Herald has published an obituary of Prince Harold Duval, who was assassinated by NMLA terrorists. "Born in 3230 to Emperor Hengist, 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."[19]

17 SEP 3306

  • Imperial news sources have confirmed that Prince Harold Duval was assassinated by NMLA terrorists while travelling incognito to the Cemiess system. Emperor Arissa 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 Senator Denton Patreus.[20]

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 Emperor Hengist, 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."[6]

09 AUG 3301

  • In respect of the assassination of Emperor Hengist 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.[21]

24 JUL 3301

  • Meet the Powers - Aisling Duval. 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.[3]

27 DEC 3300

  • For the first time Aisling Duval revealed a little of the state of mind of her father Harold, on "Late Night with Aaron Smith". He is no longer considered by many as heir to the throne, following the Emperor's formal declaration that he is not of sound mind. "My father is a kind man. A gentle man. A thoughtful man. He has always loved parties, and some have criticised him for that. It has perhaps taken its toll on him too. He is only seventy, but does look a lot older now I'll admit, but that hasn't taken away his kindness. His father has always disliked him, and that is something I can't understand. I suppose it is fair to say they dislike each other. I'm sure many of the things Harold said and did in his earlier years were to annoy Hengist, but rebelling against a parent is not such unusual behaviour for a youngster. Taking away his throne though is a spiteful act." It is clear from the social media response to her comments that she has avoided the question of his sanity. More importantly it makes her claim to the throne more tenuous.[22]

26 DEC 3300

  • Commanders' assistance helped Imperial Senator Zemina Torval gain a crushing victory and 76% influence in the Sorbago system. Torval used the Mastopolus Mining Corporation as a front to acquire slaves and bolster her power base in the manoeuvring to succeed the ailing Emperor Hengist Duval. Senator Denton Patreus was dealt a bloody nose in the Jera system, with Commanders weighing in to ensure that the incumbent Jera Social Democrats remained in power despite Patreus's best efforts. The Emperor himself has been making quite an impact for such an allegedly frail man. Days after appearing in the Senate to pronounce his son and heir Harold 'not of sound mind', Hengist Duval announced his intention to marry his sweetheart from their younger years, Florence Lavigny. Even in his condition, the Emperor will be fully aware of the focus this throws on his and Florence's illegitimate daughter Arissa. The soon-to-be Princess Arissa immediately announced her intent to change her surname to Duval, seemingly putting her in pole position in the succession race. Undeterred by his defeat in Jera, Senator Patreus has declared all out war on the tiny feudal system of Durius for defaulting on massive loan payments to him. Commanders are taking this fresh opportunity to earn credits whilst influencing the wider battle for Imperial succession. Although support for the Durius government has risen slightly since Patreus's intervention, the outcome is still very much in the balance. The Federation are also active. After blockading Kappa Fornacis and then apparently sending Federal dropships in to bomb its Onionhead farms, President Halsey yesterday surprisingly sought to deny responsibility for the outrage - she suggested Admiral Vincent was acting without her authority.[23]

23 DEC 3300

  • Rumours are spreading that the Emperor's illness has taken a turn for the worse. Speeders carrying medical experts have been seen entering the palace, and inadvertently last night an Imperial aide confirmed that one wing of the Imperial Palace has been turned into a hospital. Critics of the Emperor have said that he should have taken genetic therapies long ago. With them he would have lived another fifty years, but the Emperor has always believed in clean living and avoided medications, drugs and narcotics. Those same critics also blamed him for his rebellious son's descent into debauchery during his early years as a response to his father's "puritanism" as Harold called it at the time. Others have pointed out that Harold would have rebelled whatever, and some say this rebellious nature explains Harold's stance on slavery.[24]

19 DEC 3300

  • The sick Emperor Hengist Duval has managed to appear in the Senate, albeit in a travel chair, to issue a decree. He decreed Harold, his son, not of sound mind. This gives some credence to the claim in the more scurrilous news feeds a year ago that Hengist once referred to his son in not very regal terms in private. "The little idiot is utterly bonkers. He couldn't find his own bottom with both hands." This was of course, denied. This decree, as commentators have been quick to point out, means there is no clear successor to the throne. Unusually the event was excluded from newscasts, but those present said he looked frail.[1]

06 DEC 3300

  • Arguably the most powerful person in the galaxy, Emperor Hengist Duval, is sick. He has ruled the Empire now for 67 years since his coronation in 3233 following the death of his father, Hesketh Duval. Emperor Hengist is only 118, born only a week before the death of his grandfather, Hender Saik Duval. Some say Hender's spirit had already transferred to Hengist at that time. The Duval Imperial line has been unbroken for almost a thousand years. There have been power struggles in the past, but the usurpers have been successfully dealt with behind closed doors. This time is different. Hengist has been not involved himself in politics for a long time, relying on his Chancellor, Senator Blaine and has taken a laissez faire attitude towards a handful of increasingly powerful and ambitious Senators whilst Harold, the current heir, quickly made a name for himself as a feckless playboy. The warlike Senator Denton Patreus, last seen trying to destabilise the Eranin system during the conflict surrounding its 30th Anniversary of Independence from the Federation, continues his manipulative power-broking in the galaxy at large. The preposterously rich Senator Zemina Torval is using her slaver corporation supporters and personal fleet of Majestic-class Interdictors to suppress revolts and to further her ambitions. Commentators expect others to show their hand, too. Much like in Imperial Rome on ancient Earth, Senators determine the tax rates of their supporters and both Patreus and Torval have become hugely popular back home as they have each used their huge wealth to lower taxation to zero. There is a real prospect of the next Emperor not being a Duval. And the bitter fight for succession is about to spill out into the open. Meanwhile, the Federation and Alliance of Independent Systems are watching with keen interest.[2]

References

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