by Max Barry

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The New Imperial Order of
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Grand Admiral Aldaine

Rosaria Aldaine


Grand Admiral Rosaria Aldaine


Title:

  • Grand Admiral of the Imperial Navy


Life:

  • 685 AA - present

Tenure:

  • 722 AA - present

Age:

  • 41

Biography


"There is no problem that cannot be solved with better tactics and better firepower."


Grand Admiral Rosaria Aldaine is the present Grand Admiral of the New Imperial Order of Iciarosí spaceborne navy. By all accounts a competent commander and excellent tactician, she was appointed as Grand Admiral in 722 AA and has occupied the position since.

Life

Childhood

Rosaria Aldaine was born in the Iciarosian city of Anthem in 683 AA, to a poor family. Despite her circumstances and that of her family, however, government-paid education allowed her to enroll in good schools, where she proved to be an intelligent student. Her parents also began to realise that she was a good athlete, and with some nudging in the right direction, Rosaria eventually joined her schoolís team for Skirmish (a competitive variant of paintball-esque gunfights). An aggressively team-focused game, Skirmish demanded both teamwork and leadership to pull off, which Rosaria provided in spades. In inter-school Skirmish events her team was the most feared in her area, and in provincial competitions they would often be ranked in the top three in the province.

The nature of the sport pulled Rosariaís team very close together, turning them into a family of sorts, and by their graduation they had decided to stick together and play competitively. Their infamy earned them a sponsorship from a local company fairly quickly, and they moved on to participate in several mid-sized competitions, gaining more notoriety and earning them more sponsorships, before vying for the grand prize: victory in the planet-wide Anthem Games.

Adulthood and Revenge

Their chance came in the Anthem Games of 708 AA, where they entered as a new but highly rated team. However, in their opening match, the Games were disrupted by a terrorist attack, comprising the detonation of a dozen homemade bombs. This demolished part of the stadium and killed both Rosariaís parents and two members of her Skirmish team. Rosaria, who had been close to all four of them, was devastated, but this devastation soon turned to white-hot rage when the Iciarosian police announced that their investigation had not been able to identify any suspects.

Driven by grief and fury, Rosaria set about conducting her own investigation, her team (who were themselves heartbroken) rallying faithfully behind her. She called in every favour and made as any new ones as she was able; soon, she had a wealth of information on her hands. Her contact with law enforcement had indicated that, indeed, clues were too scarce to go on, but that certain details about the recovered bombs suggested the materials may have partially originated from off-planet, in the planetary territories of one of Iciarosí extraterrestrial protectorates. Armed with this knowledge, Rosaria and her crew began to investigate in ways the police could not - as members of their neighbourhood and province, as professional athletes seeking sponsorships, and as regular people on ever-ubiquitous social media.

Though it took a long while (during which time the crime rates in their province began to steadily climb), they managed to compile a list of suspects, which grew smaller as they persisted. Eventually, the suspects on their list narrowed from any off-planet migrants and sympathisers to foreign values to a very short list of ten people. Rosaria and her teammates drew up cover stories and plausible motivations, and split across various cities to interact with these ten people. They learned their personalities, financial situations, and most importantly were able to take looks around their houses. Some of her teammates, who had gone a little further in cultivating relationships with these suspects, confirmed that there was scattered evidence of shady dealings - mostly the occasional almost-illegal item, like weapon parts, and the fact that they were spending far beyond what their means should have been, given their occupations. A few even verbally admitted to related crimes, only confirming Rosariaís suspicions. The big picture, at this point, seemed to be that these people were being secretly funded by one of Iciarosí disgruntled protectorates, Orial, to cause chaos within Iciaros and hopefully weaken it to allow Orial to gain independence unharassed.

Confident that they had found the culprits, Rosaria began the next phase of her plan. Talking to the one whom she suspected of being the ringleader, she persuaded him to move to the nearby semi-autonomous territory of Cylesia, a province moderately exempted by Iciaros from national law and allowed to handle its own internal affairs. Rosariaís proposition, largely founded on the wide-ranging corporate freedoms in Cylesia, convinced the ringleader to move there and set up a company - a company Rosaria knew he would use to acquire arms-dealing licenses (which were very easy to get in Cylesia, compared to the rest of Iciaros) and have access to weapons that would further Orialís goal.

However, Cylesia was also known for its very poor individual protections, which Rosaria counted on. Prior to her persuasion, she had herself founded a company in Cylesia and acquired a license to hire armed guards, as well as moved herself and her team to Cylesia. Once the ringleader brought himself and his associates into Cylesia to perpetrate their crimes, Rosaria was ready and waiting to act.

She watched closely until the ringleader committed a minor offence - a tax offence, caused mostly by their unfamiliarity with Cylesian tax laws - and then she and her team swooped in. Armed with the best weapons they could acquire, they put their Skirmish skills to work and easily stormed the ringleaderís facilities, something they were allowed to do in Cylesia against criminals for the purposes of bringing them into custody. Having detained them all, they held them in makeshift prisons (detention of suspects pending lawful arrest was also legal in Cylesia) while informing Cylesian authorities of their minor tax infraction. The authorities, being very corporation-friendly, did not quickly follow up on the report; this, too, was a part of Rosariaís plan.

Over the next few weeks, she set about inflicting the worst kinds of torture and mutilation imaginable on their victims, the payback she had been long awaiting since the Anthem Games. By the time even a single tax inspector arrived in response to the report, all of Rosariaís suspects had been subjected to almost every method of torture history had thought up, from tamer sensory deprivation and solitary confinement to waterboarding, de-nailing, branding, foot-roasting, and castration, amongst many, many more. Thanks to the Cylesian penal code, which only outlawed torture when government officials were involved (in compliance with World Assembly rules, to which Iciaros was a party) all of this was legal when inflicted by private citizens uninvolved with the government, provided it was inflicted on criminals, whether presently convicted or otherwise, who had committed prior crimes for which they would be convicted. Rosaria produced tapes of all the confessions they had made under torture, which she turned over to the Cylesian authorities.

Confession under duress, which was legally acceptable in Cylesia, led to their conviction of a wide range of crimes committed while on Cylesian soil. Meanwhile, the Iciarosian authorities, while prohibited by universal judicial practice from using confessions under duress as evidence, were finally able to pinpoint their suspects and obtain warrants to search all their properties, which they did, and they found enough evidence to sentence them all to life imprisonment at the minimum.

Military Career

Rosaria, however, was not satisfied. She had not yet taken down the people in Orial, then led by Bishop-Protector Orius, who had funded the local terrorists. For various evidential and political reasons, Iciaros chose not to single out and condemn Orial over its actions, but what her victims had told her convinced Rosaria that this was not the end of it and that Orialís long-term plan was to claw back their independence at all costs. Rosaria thus joined the Iciarosian interstellar Navy, fully expecting a conflict to one day begin and resolving to be there when it happened.

By this time, her teammates, who were in varying states of shame, shock, and disgust at the extent of her torture, had finally left her campaign of vengeance and returned to their lives as professional Skirmishers. Though they attempted to convince Rosaria to stop and turn back to Skirmish, she would not be deterred, and they eventually abandoned her to her lone crusade.

Rosaria worked hard during her time in the Navy, moving first up through the marine corps and then switching to a command position. As part of her leadership obligations, she enrolled part-time in Iciarosí Leadership Talent Development Programme, which taught her few leadership skills she did not already know (and much about the obligations of leadership she initially ignored). Over time, her command expertise and dogged determination moved her up in command to progressively larger and larger battleships. Ultimately, more than a decade after her actions in Cylesia, she was promoted by then-Empress-Valkyria Azalea to the position of Grand Admiral of the Imperial Navy in 722 AA, following the retirement of her predecessor.

Involvement in the Soul Crisis

Main Article: The Soul Crisis

Shortly after her appointment, Rosariaís predictions of inevitable conflict were proven true. Towards the end of 722 AA, the Soul Crisis began, an initially diplomatic issue between Iciaros and Orial that rapidly degenerated into Orialís leader Orius slaughtering his own people to fuel the power of his newly-acquired soul magic. Rosaria immediately scrambled the Navy and, with some light ships already in orbit of Orial, ordered an engagement. However, Empress-Valkyria Azalea vetoed her order, instead ordering the ships to aid the evacuation of Orialian civilians fleeing the massacre. Rosaria, acting against her orders, directed her ships to conduct an orbital strike on Oriusí location. However, the strike failed to kill him, and instead sent him into hiding while his animated soul-golems continued the massacre on his behalf.

Disappointed with Rosariaís insubordination, the Empress-Valkyria arranged a private meeting with her. Expecting to be chewed out, what instead followed was a surprisingly friendly and honest meeting that made Rosaria see her sovereign in a new light. Rather than force her back into line, Azalea wanted to understand why she did what she did, and to engage her as a person rather than a subordinate. They conversed frankly about Rosariaís quest for revenge, which often attracted disgust or shock from others, but with which Azalea seemed entirely comfortable. Being able to discuss what she was doing for the first time with no judgement weakened the solid walls of hate that Rosaria had built up around herself. Azalea assured her that, though she would have her revenge by the end of the Crisis, she would soon need to find a new purpose once her decades-long crusade drew to its end, a suggestion that got Rosaria thinking, for the first time, of her life after her vengeance.

For the remainder of the Soul Crisis, Rosaria discharged her duties loyally and to the best of her abilities. Most of the Iciarosian military command, alongside future Empress Andromeda Ceriss, credit Rosaria with drawing up the final master plan that decisively ended the Crisis, and Rosaria herself gave the command for the combined orbital strike that put down Orius and ended her mission for revenge, albeit with the necessary death of Empress-Valkyria Azalea. Rosaria did not take her death well, but was able to move on, forging a friendship with her successor, Empress Ceriss, and continuing to serve as Grand Admiral.

Post-Crisis

After the Soul Crisis, Rosaria accepted an offer by an author to write the story of her life. The published book took Iciaros by storm and formed the basis of most of the contents of this biography. Despite being the subject of both severe criticism and admiration, Rosaria seemed not to care very much, and to the present day she continues about her normal duties as if nothing had happened.

In recent times, rumour has it that she has reconnected with her old Skirmish team, who had since semi-retired, and they now keep in touch.

Public Perception

Despite Rosariaís various achievements and title as Grand Admiral, much of the perception around her concerns her personality as extracted from her biography. It is generally accepted that she suffers from a mild to moderate form of medical psychopathy, manifesting primarily in impaired empathy and a lack of fear and other stress-related responses. Though it is generally expected of Iciarosian leaders to be logical rather than emotional, Rosaria takes this to the extreme, according no real weight to anything (even human lives) in pursuit of her chosen goal. This is somewhat ameliorated, however, by her deference to the Empress and the advice of her contemporaries, who have directed her objectives to be more in line with the national ethos.

As a person, Rosaria is incredibly vindictive, callous, and uncaring to anyone she has not deemed worthy of her respect, though she can put on a fairly convincing veneer of friendliness. She can also be easily bored and impatient when nothing is going on, though when she switches to focus mode she can become more patient than death itself, if it means she can inflict said death on whoever is the target of her ire.

Offsetting these negative qualities, however, is her perceptiveness, creativity, and quick-wittedness, alongside competence and expertise in naval and air-to-surface combat. While she is just as well-studied and experienced as those with her time in the military, she displays a penchant for tactical innovation that can break established norms in combat. She also has a record of defeating her contemporaries in various contests through the exploitation of their psychological weaknesses and ways of thinking, a habit carried over from her Skirmish days when, far in advance of any match, she would closely study her potential rival leaders and plan to counter their teamsí predicted fighting styles.

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