Story arcThe Emperor Hengist Duval has fallen gravely ill and the line of succession is unclear.
Having shunned the life extending drugs available to the nobility, and disinherited his son Harold for participating in drug excesses that have taken their toll, this has left the Emperor's grand daughter Aisling Duval without a clear line to the throne. While she does openly talk about her reformist views towards slavery, this is not welcome in many quarters.
In an attempt to provide a legitimate heir to the throne the Emperor is to marry his sweetheart and recognise their illegitimate daughter Arissa Lavigny. This is allowed by Imperial law, though the 30 day period before the wedding may be a challenge to the Emperor's ailing health.
The outspoken Senator Torval, whose riches are based on her slaver business interests, has openly criticised the attempts to ensure the throne remains within the Duval family. She has also supplied ships of the line to ensure the continued peace at the Sorbago system during a slave uprising.
Senator Patreus has embarked on his interests in the independent systems: supporting a rebellion that did not gain traction in Jera, and also calling in on the debts of Durius for arms provided by Patreus. That Patreus is popular is clear, and he has spoken out to say that succession should be determined by power and not family.
With the Sorbago slave uprising crushed, Torval has voiced support for the idea that power should be the basis for succession.
AnalysisThe Empire is faced with a choice of a drug addled son who has been declared "unsound of mind" along with his grand-daughter who openly talks of dismantling the practise of slavery within the Empire. Or the late attempts to shore up the claims of the daughter of a noble lady tumbled in the Emperor's youth.
The Emperor's failings in ensuring the continuity and strength of the Empire are there for all to see.
That the Senator's Patreus and Torval are openly critical shows the contempt that they hold for the Duval line, though their own power struggles driven by their business practices, as arms dealer and slaver, are also in plain sight.
Senator Patreus has stepped out as an early candidate to start a new dynasty within the Empire, as a popular choice, though whether he is able to step up and take the best interests of the Empire at heart (rather than his own business interests) has still to be seen.
It has been commented that a populist choice has more in common with the way that the Federation elects its leaders, falling far from the Empire's traditions.
Make no mistake, although the political manoeuvring in public appears to be gentle words, there is a sharp knife here ready to gut its victim after one wrong move. Who holds the knife, where it points, and who will push it bloody deep is still to be seen.
The fate of the Empire is at hand, and something as simple as naively believing in the Empire may still mean supporting the losing side.