|Succeeded by||Paulo III|
Oldest surviving issue of Styryx. To Gavin fell the management of the Solomani Rim War (990 to 1002), already set into motion by his father. Born in 946, proclaimed emperor by the Moot in 989, died in 1031.
History & Background (Biography)
Gavin, tenth Emperor of the Alkhalikoi Dynasty, forty-first Emperor of the Third Imperium, was born in 946, the first-born of the eleven legitimate children of Emperor Styryx. He was a studious and serious-minded young boy, who always tried to live up to the expectations of his mercurial father and kindly, if somewhat distant, mother.
Prince Gavin was never comfortable with the demanding expectations of his station in life: he felt that he just didn’t have the raw intelligence, will to power, and political/social skills needed to keep the Imperial Court in line after his father died. Feeling the need to uphold his duty, he joined the Imperial Navy in 965. Prince Gavin was not a particularly clever Imperial officer, but he was conscientious, personally brave, and hard-working. His pointed refusal to allow endless political temptations to distract him from his naval duties brought favour from the Admiralty, but were seen as shirking crucial political and dynastic duties ‘in order to play the spaceman-hero’ by his father. After discussing this conflict within the Alkhalikoi dynastic circle, Prince Gavin formally declared his preference to have his second-born sister, Elizabeth, inherit the Imperial Mandate in 968. (Note: the position is not automatically inherited, but conferred by the Imperial Moot.)
Princess Elizabeth, with her raw ambition and fierce intelligence, had a personality more suited to ruling trillions of sophonts than the highly conventional and conformist Gavin. Despite this, Princess Elizabeth, like Prince Gavin, did not receive the title ‘Grand Prince/Princess’ that denotes the formal successor of the Emperor.
The dynastic heads decided to let Gavin fulfill his naval service to the Imperium as he and his superior officers saw fit. Eventually, when his sister was raised to Empress – after the insubordinate Solomani Autonomous Region was brought to heel, as planned – Prince Gavin would work as her right-hand man, either as a senior commander of the Imperial Navy or as a very powerful Imperial field agent, ensuring that what the Empress commands is actually done. While his sister would work with the powerful interests that form the framework of Imperial Rule, Gavin would put ‘blood in the game’, making sure that the Imperium (and especially the men of the Imperial Navy) sees that House Alkhalikoi is not afraid to fight and die with them, in the cold and in the dark.
When the Third Frontier War broke out in 979, Lt. Cmdr. Prince Gavin was serving on board the 300,000- dton, TL E Diaspora-class battlecruiser Iusea, operating with the major Imperial fleets guarding Corridor Sector. To show their support for the war, the Prince was transferred to Regina Subsector Fleet, operating in the old Alkhalikoi stomping grounds of the Spinward Marches. After several months doing morale work, the Prince was posted on the Starrise, a 30,000-dton, TL D Timarin-class battle rider, serving honourably during the Third Frontier War. This Frontier War was mainly focused on commerce raiding, with the occasional thrust by Zhodani cruisers deep into Imperial space. The Starrise had a difficult time of it: while the ship herself performed well, her battle tender was destroyed in 980, stranding the Starrise and her sister battle riders in Menorb system for several months.
In 983, Prince Gavin was transferred to Querion Subsector, where the intensity of the fighting was second only to Jewel Subsector. Promoted to Commander and given command of the Nilexxoniri, the Prince led strike teams in counter-attacks against Zhodani re-supply points and bases. Named after named after a famous naval officer of the Sylean Federation era, the TL D, 80,000-dton Lorimar-class strike carrier was well suited to the task. Eventually, word of a senior Imperial noble commanding a warship in battle reached the Zhodani High Command, who decided to make an example of the Nilexxoniri. They managed to lure the Nilexxoniri to attack a Zhodani field repair point orbiting the small gas giant of Fia Ekadr at Atsa (Spinward Marches 0307), a Zhodani system in Chronor Subsector. At 103-983 Imperial, the 4th Querion Penetration Squadron – including the Nilexxoniri – entered the system to strike the wounded Zho starships gathered there. But as they neared victory, a Zhodani battleship fleet emerged from the thick atmosphere of Fia Ekadr to kill the Imperial squadron. One battleship was destroyed and another gravely wounded in the close fighting, but all four strike carriers (and many of their escort ships, generally destroyers) were lost in the battle. Commander Gavin expected to die with his ship, but was persuaded to abandon ship with his crew.
He fled the battle scene with the surviving elements of his squadron to Gyomar (Spinward Marches 0108). With the loss of the other senior commanders of the Penetration Squadron, Gavin became Squadron Commander. He successfully shepherd his surviving ships thru the Zhodani systems of Massina Subsector (Subsector-D of Foreven Sector), re-entering Imperial-held territory in Day 163, 983 Imperial. After being hailed as a hero, he was promoted to Captain, and transferred to the central Imperial Staff College on Capital (Core 2118) for additional training and education. He continuously pushed for the freedom of his captured crewmen, but they were only released with the general armistice at the end of the war, in 986 Imperial.
In the meantime, Princess Elizabeth grew in understanding the ‘deep structure’ of the Imperium: not just the money flows and corporate networks, but also the blood-bonds and network of shared interests. She found that ‘following the money’ is easy, compared to following the oaths, the unspoken understandings, the chains of favours and debts, the tangle of family, race, and species alliances, and brotherhoods both open and secret.
His father, never the most even-tempered of men, grew more erratic after the death of his beloved daughter Adela. His poor reactions during the Third Frontier War – and, more importantly, his refusal to learn from his errors, or listen to the advice of more experienced military men – led to a major loss of confidence among the Imperial military regarding Emperor Styryx's competence in managing a war. Even the carefully laid-down plans Styryx himself had planned out would crumble if High Command wouldn’t compensate for mistakes and surprises, or if the Imperial Army continued to be wilfully neglected. Eventually, the Emperor was forced to abdicate at gunpoint in his fresher, with everyone expecting the Princess Elizabeth to rise to the Iridium Throne.
To the astonishment of Charted Space, she made a moving speech that stressed her elder brother's better suitability to rule, his bravery in battle and his closeness with his spacers, sharing the hardships and the joys of naval life. The actual vote was delayed by a week due to her sudden change of heart; the Moot would have liked to delay a lot longer, but the need to have leadership in the still-secret planned war against the Solomani, coupled with the solid agreement of the Navy (still stinging over the abdication of Styryx), the grudging tolerance of the Army for Prince Gavin, and the lack of opposition by Imperial familial & corporate interests, let to a near-unanimous vote. The Moot stripped all noble authority and titles from Emperor Styryx - now just Styryx Hakon Alkhalikoi – and transferred them to his first-born son, Prince Gavin, in 989.
The known coup plotters and those who assisted them were eventually arrested by Emperor Gavin's orders, and tried for various High Crimes by Duchess Sintentirutho of Core subsector. The Duchess found some (not all) of their actions illegal, and they were sent to an Imperial Exile world to serve out their years of punishment. Duchess Sintentirutho also ordered the military personnel dishonourably discharged from the Imperial Services, but the implementation of this order has been delayed by strong disagreement within the Armed Services and the Nobility. As of 993, the conspirators retain their formal military ranks, although not their authority; the possibility that this order will be quietly rescinded remains.
Officially 'dead' to the Imperium, Styryx is imprisoned in a very comfortable guest suite within the Imperial Palace. He is isolated from his supporters and friends, both physically and electronically; those who do have contact with him are carefully screened for any signs of sympathy for the man. A clergyman of Styryx's (but not Gavin's) religion has been sworn to secrecy, and is permitted to visit the former Emperor once a month, to give counsel, provide certain religious rites and insure his good treatment. As far as is known, Styryx is resigned to his current state, and is focused on bringing peace and serenity to his soul as his priest advises.
Emperor Gavin in his coronation address stressed his willingness to fight against the "craven oath-breaking racists of the Solomani Sphere", and swore to reintegrate them into the Imperium, "regardless of the cost in blood and treasure". (These words would come back to give him great grief and heartache later.) He also insisted on the essential sameness of sophont life and consciousness, and, after giving several anecdotes on the distinct personalities of Imperial humans and nonhumans, announced that the Imperium would defend both alike, and treat both of equal worth.
However, he also spoke of the two secret threats to the Imperium. One threat was the corruption and treason the Solomani Party was spreading throughout the Imperium; the other was the insidious breakdown of trust and brotherhood sponsored by 'twisted psionic powers' spreading in the body of the Imperium. "The Imperium will drive out both the rimward poison of the mind and the spinward rot of the spirit, regaining both health and unity!" As such, the Emperor directed the Ministry of Justice to imprison all active members of the Solomani Party, and aggressively move to crush all psionic activity within the Imperium. (Word of Zhodani treatment of Imperial prisoners during the Third Frontier War has only hardened the Emperor’s opinion on the matter.)
'Ending psionic activity' is typically done by various forms of lobotomy, be it with subtle TL 14 electrochemical methods or crude TL 6 ice picks through the forehead. The Emperor strongly favours the Rule of Law; evidence of psionic activity must be able to stand in an open court of Imperial Law, and the use of lethal force is restricted to cases when there is an imminent threat to Imperial security, lethal resistance is shown against Imperial officers, or a serious threat to civilians exists. Emperor Gavin is quickly gaining a reputation as a no-nonsense Emperor, who does not suffer fools gladly. He does have a gentler, even gallant side, finding the 'collateral damage' of war intensely repulsive and quickly sticking up for the 'ordinary citizen' and the 'underdog' aliens within a primarily human culture. As the Imperium is in a middle of a difficult and grinding war, the Emperor makes it his business to know everything – everything – involved in the war, from Solomani economic planning to Imperial small arms, from the names and a thumbnail description of every Imperial Marine Colonel in the field to the religious beliefs and secular ideologies of the senior Solomani leadership. He reserves operational decisions to the commanders at the spot, but he encourages them to 'dump the deadwood' – especially within the officer corps. In his free time – measured in minutes per day – he makes a quick and dirty review of Noble reports from across Imperial space.
The Emperor is considering the appointment of a new Archduke of Sol, temporarily granting him the traditional Archducal powers to unify and rationalize military leadership across the enormous Theatre of Operations, while shortening communication lines to a point closer to the front, perhaps in Sufren (Diaspora 2004). However, Emperor Gavin worries of playing into the hands of a new Emperor of the Flag; after all, he himself was put in place by a coup. A victorious Grand Admiral could easily lead an unstoppable fleet – consisting of most of the Imperial Navy – to Capital, easily crushing any resistance he could try to put up. If any Archduke was to be appointed, it would have to be someone he could trust implicitly, yet also a man who's independently-minded, smart enough, and forceful enough to get the job done.
Emperor Gavin’s father, Styryx, was quite the player. Gavin has 44 known and verified half-siblings, and another five whose claims to paternity are still being verified. Standard procedure is to permit the half-siblings to live; so long as they formally renounce any claim to the throne before an Imperial Court (all surviving 44 bastards have done so).
As they are still Alkhalikoi, the Emperor – as Archon of House Alkhalikoi – keeps them under surveillance, granting them very minor bureaucratic positions and stipends amounting to no more than 10,000 Cr a year. So far, none has proven themselves worthy of even a knighthood, never mind elevation into the legitimate Alkhalikoi line. However, many people are unaware of just how little they are worth to the Emperor, and desperately curry favour with these individuals, thinking that they will get some kind of pull with the Emperor through them.
Gavin’s relationship with his six surviving siblings is fairly close. In a reversal of old family plans, Princess Elizabeth works as Emperor Gavin’s enforcer, and is the most connected and informed single individual within the Third Imperium – and in Charted Space. She is also a very wise councillor in her own right. Even though Gavin was formally Archon of House Alkhalikoi, almost all family decisions are actually made by Princess Elizabeth, who enjoys the unstinting support of Gavin.
Emperors of the Third Imperium
|Emperors of the Third Imperium|
|Cleon I • Cleon II • Artemsus • Martin I • Martin II • Cleon III • Porfiria • Anguistus • Martin III • Martin V • Nicholle • Cleon IV • Jerome • Jaqueline I • Olav • Ramon I • Constantus • Nicolai • George • Barracks Emperors • Cleon V • Joseph • Donald • Emdiri • Catharine • Ramon II • Jaqueline II • Usuti • Marava • Ivan • Martin VI • Gustus • Arbellatra • Zhakirov • Margaret I • Paulo I • Tomutov I • Paula II • Tomutova II • Margaret II • Styryx • Gavin • Paulo III • Strephon|