20090526

Emperor Dirk Fodon

Emperor of the Terran Empire 302 - 321

b. 17 June 260
d. 15 July 321

Dirk Fodon was the second child of Emperor Philip Lütken and Mary Fodon. His childhood was spent on the Fodon estates on Torbet with his mother, father, and sister Ellen.

Dirk was a morose and taciturn boy who did not make friends easily. He was small for his age, and was tormented by other children. At the same time, his tremendous native intelligence and solemn demeanor always gained him allies among adults.

Dirk was 15 when his father was named Emperor and the family moved to Terra and into the Palace. He studied at Harvard and Cambridge, achieving a Master's Degree in Economics in 284.

When Ellen ascended to the Throne in 286, Dirk was 26. The following year, 287, she named him Imperial Exchequer, giving him full authority over the Treasury. Despite his best efforts, lingering effects of the economic slump of 275-280 continued to drain the Treasury and return little. About TE 295, Dirk began arguing for the reintroduction of taxation to put the Empire on a solid financial footing. In this he appears to have been under the influence of his main advisors, the Goldberg school of economists based at Cambridge. The Empress resisted Dirk's advice, and the Treasury continued to dwindle.

Ellen died in 302, and immediately her daughter, Joan, refused the Throne. There were two major candidates: Joan's son Alex Leonov (b. 275, age 27), and Dirk (age 42). The disputed succession went into the Imperial Council, and it wasn't long before a decision was made. By a landslide vote, the Throne was awarded to Dirk.

It was apparent almost at once that Dirk was not a laissez-faire Emperor. In his first hundred days, he issued Imperial Orders that limited the power of the Imperial Council, extended the authority of the Department of Colonization, and reintroduced taxation. Every Imperial planet was assessed annually for a certain amount; while developed worlds paid enormous sums, the burden fell heaviest on Colonies. In many cases, Colonies found their Imperial debt doubled or even tripled. Worlds which had been within years of paying off their debts suddenly found themselves decades behind. The Imperial Navy was dispatched to convince many recalcitrant planets to pay up. When several Fleet Admirals protested, Dirk dismissed them and replaced them with officers loyal to him.

The Galaxy seethed, and finally on 3 May 304, the Province of Patala formally seceded from the Empire, becoming the Patalanian Union. The Provost, Kasia Sayyid Contenau, took the title of "President" and a council of Idara and renegade Navy personnel organized themselves as the Presidium.

Dirk's Navy responded at once, but the forces of Patala were strong enough to force a stalemate. The Pax Terranica, which had been proclaimed by Maj Thovold 117 years earlier, came to an end. Struggles with the Patalanian Union would dominate the rest of the Empire's history.

Although Dirk's reforms put the Treasury on a firm footing and ensured the survival of the Empire as a political entity, they were greatly resented and led to deep divisions in the ranks of the Idara. For the first time since Maj Thovold's reign, credible and powerful opposition began to show itself in the Imperial Council.

In September 304, Alex Leonov and Maria Adelhardt had a son, also named Alex and known as Alex Minor. The boy was raised at the Palace under Dirk's supervision, serving as a hostage to ensure that Alex Major (the Heir) would behave.

The next decade saw continual increase in Dirk's power and his tyranny. When his body began to show signs of deterioration from stress, he was fitted with various implants until, by 310 he was a virtual cyborg.

Intrigue against Dirk Fodon was widespread; in the last decade of his reign, no less than eight separate assassination plots have been identified. In 315, when one of these plots was uncovered and traced to the upper echelons of the Department of Colonization, Dirk had the leaders executed and severely curtailed the powers and perogatives of the Department.

The last six years of Dirk's reign, from 315 to 321, were popularly referred to as "the years of terror," due to Dirk's increasing paranoia, tightened surveillence, and unpredictable executions as real or imagined plots were uncovered.

One of the most prominent plots against Dirk was led by his own nephew, Alex Major, and involved the Church of Meletia and various high-level members of the Imperial Council. In 320, Alex Major filed with the High Court a secret declaration of refusal of the Throne, in favor of his son, Alex Minor. It is suspected that this refusal was filed to satisfy Alex Major's co-conspirators that he was not in the conspiracy simply to build his own power.

Before Alex and his fellows could strike, however, Dirk uncovered their plot -- then died, apparently of natural causes (autopsies showed massive cerebral hemhorrages) on 15 July 321. Alex Minor took the Throne and was confirmed in the Imperial Council with only token dissent.


copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers
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