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Anastasia Romanova by the Grace of God holder of the Mandate, Empress of the United Colonies, Captain-Queen of the Romanov.
Empress Anastasia Romanova holds the Mandate to rule over all the scattered worlds of humanity. Hers is the power to command the empire; hers is the responsibility to guide and protect the whole human race.
To her, then, falls the duty of preserving the Empire in the face of rebellion. She inherits a civilization divided against itself. The great houses vie for power; the fringe worlds defy the Mandate; corruption and greed threaten everything she is sworn to defend. Her advisors and councilors are paralyzed by indecision and infighting, and consider her to be dangerously untried and inexperienced. They fear that the Mandate faces its darkest hour with a sheltered, innocent girl on the throne.
The Mandate is a fearful burden to those who must carry it, and the Empress is very young to be faced with it. She never expected to rule – she was third in line for the throne for most of her life. Her father, Nikolai, died suddenly and unexpectedly only weeks after the death of the presumed heir, her elder brother Nicholas. Her brother Andrei suffers from a hereditary genetic ailment that has blighted the Imperial line for generations, and could not bear the burden. She must hold the Mandate alone.
She was born for this. More, she was engineered for this. Her line is older than the Mandate, bred and augmented to rule and inspire – and to make the decisions that others dare not.
When the Grand Fleet was lost, she created the Corsairs – a fighting force led by disgraced former captains, soldiers whose fighting skills were eclipsed only by their moral failings. Others see her decision to hand over the reserve ships of the Mandate to these Corsairs as an act of madness, but she believes it is necessary to save her empire.
To her chosen captains, she gives the Scepters. These jewels are more than emblems of Imperial authority – they contain a living sample of her genetic code, allowing the bearer to access Imperial facilities and automated stations. Those reserves were the secret weapon of the Mandate, the last resort. For the Empress to entrust them to criminal Corsairs is a measure of her foresight – or her desperation.