So who am I? Well, I prefer to go by ‘Seph Iridan’ and that’s the name you’ll find on my pilot’s license. As a pilot, I consider myself independent, though I was born and raised Imperial. On occasion, I’ve flown missions for the Empire, Federation and… does the Alliance even offer missions to independents? Hmm. I’ve nothing against the Alliance anyway and would consider flying missions for them as well. I guess it can be said that I’ve focused a bit more on Imperial courier runs, but Imperial space is what I know best, after all. I’m not really a combat-pilot, so I don’t pick sides in battles or that sort of thing. Overall, I tend to favor small, fast ships, so data-courier jobs make up the majority of the ‘official business’ I’ve done thus far.
I don’t know – is that a denial of who and what I really am? I suppose I can’t deny being Imperial. Full disclosure: my full given name is Ariane Persephone Iridan. Technically I’m a member of the nobility – a princess on my homeworld, though not really a ‘capital-P’ Princess like the Duvals. My parents own and run a largish corporation that is based on Beta Octantis 3 and are among those responsible for the governance of that world. (They didn’t start the corporation personally – it was established by my mother’s family – it’s been around for a while.) So yes, I grew up blessed by the benefits of the Imperial caste system, though as an individual I don’t like or approve of all aspects of it. That’s a part of why I’m out here flying around in a starship rather than sitting back home in comfort and relative safety.
Politically, I like to think I’m an independent thinker. While I grew up in the Empire, I saw enough things to know that there’s a lot of room for improvement there. We have some good things, we have some not-so-good things. And that’s pretty much what I’d say of the Federation too. They have different things, some good, some also not-so-good. And the Alliance is pretty much the same tune. Maybe it’s not quite as bad – it’s a little younger, not quite as set or corrupt? Or is it? It’s hard to say sometimes. Politics seems a breeding ground for corruption, and I don’t know that will ever change. Human nature would have to change, and so far, it’s been centuries, even millenia, and that hasn’t happened yet.
So what do I stand for, what do I want? Ideally, I’d like to see peace between all of the powers. I’d like to see all of them work to improve upon themselves, do better for their people – all of their people – and work together. I may be Imperial, but I’m not a fanatic about it. In my mind it doesn’t need to be a contest of ‘us vs. them’ – I’d much rather see the powers making peace and cooperating for the good of all. I don’t claim to know all the answers, and I certainly don’t believe that my government or any government does. I just try to do the best I can to do and promote what I believe is right. That’s about all any of us can do, isn’t it? I guess that makes me an idealist at heart. Not such a bad thing, I suppose.
When I was young, I used to really look up to (I hate to say ‘idolize’ – that sounds so cringe-worthy) Princess Aisling Duval. We’re fairly close in age – I actually met her once when we were both still children, though I doubt she’d recall that. These days I guess I’m a bit more jaded, a little more cynical. I still approve of her anti-slavery stance and feel much of what she says is good in general. But after all I’ve read about Her Highness, I can’t say I feel quite as enthusiastic about her personally. I don’t know – it’s hard to say how much is real and how much is just media sensationalism. I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt, though much of what I’ve read – especially since leaving the core of Imperial space – well, it just paints her in a much less favorable light than my younger self ever envisioned. All in all, I’ll wait and see what her actions actually say about her in the future. Hopefully it will be something good.
My understanding of issues has deepened somewhat since those days too. Imperial Slavery is a good example. The Federation, I know, is quick to condemn any and all slavery. Generally speaking, I tend to agree with that stance – certainly just based on the basic definition of slavery. The situation is rarely as simple as basic definitions though. Much of what is termed, “Imperial Slavery” is a system of “indentured servitude.” That’s all kind of lumped together but covers a range of circumstances. The best arguments I’ve heard from the Imperial side in favor of the system are those that point out that it’s more about employing those who are poor and destitute in a manner where they can pay off their debts and work into a position where they can support themselves and then become regular, free citizens of the Empire. Certainly that’s the ideal, but the problem, as always, is that things hardly ever live up to the ideal. And when they don’t, the system, as it stands, makes it all too easy to take advantage of and even abuse those people. As always, the flaw is that the system gives one caste or group of people power over another, and anytime you do that, you’re just setting yourself up for trouble. Equality among the people only comes when power is equally distributed, and not many of those who actually are in power, in any system of government, are very fond of the idea of sharing it.
But I digress. I do tend to get off on tangents now and then. This is supposed to be about me. Well, I haven’t always been a pilot. Originally, I thought all I really wanted to do in my life was be a dancer. For a time, I was. In spirit, I still am, and I do try to keep in shape and practice now and then. But as a profession, not so much anymore. I started very young and, at risk of sounding boastful, was quite good. I won a spot in a regular troupe and performed under the stage name of Alcyone Argentis – perhaps you even saw one of my shows if you enjoy ballet? No? Ah well. We toured mostly in Imperial space, though we did venture a bit into the Federation worlds and had one big showing in Sol. That’s the only time I’ve (thus far) actually been to the Sol system and visited the ancestral home of humanity. I do hope to gain enough standing with the Federal Navy to get a permit so I can visit again sometime. It seemed quite a beautiful system, and there’s so much I never had the chance to see on that one brief visit.
Though I’ve always loved to dance, after a time, I found myself wondering if perhaps there wasn’t something more. I was doing something I loved, seeing different worlds – it was all a dream come true, but there’s always something more, isn’t there? While I’d visited a number of worlds, it was always on a strict itinerary. With practice, set up, the actual performances – life with the troupe didn’t really provide a lot of free time to just explore. I’d always been interested in astronomy, a lover of mysteries, wondering what’s out there – a bit of a romantic, I guess. When I was a girl I read astronomy magazines as much as I played with dolls and – well, no, not as much as I practiced dancing. That really did take up a lot of my time. Still, it was a significant interest. One wall of my bedroom was filled by a mural of the Pleiades, a star cluster I’d always admired for those big blue stars. (Thus the ‘Alcyone’ stage name – one of the seven sisters.) The fact that my mother works in astrophysics and astronomy probably had something to do with that too.
So, after having my 15 minutes in the spotlight, as they say, I decided to return home and further my education. I did well in my studies, though I never did actually complete a doctorate or any post-graduate degrees in anything. A lot of my efforts went toward earning my pilot’s license. I was happy enough to let my family fund my education, but after that, I set out on my own. I was looking for a certain degree of freedom, and for that, I really didn’t want to be beholden to my family all the time. I learned to fly in the standard Sidewinder like the vast majority of people I’ve ever met in the Pilot’s Federation. From there, I made a little money (and had some saved up from dancing) and bought a nice Cobra MkIII that I dubbed the Star Dancer, which served me well for a time.
While the Cobra is a nice ship, my thoughts turned to crossing greater distances and exploring further afield. The Asp Explorer seemed the obvious choice as an upgrade, but at that point in my life, the cost was a bit daunting. I did some research and found a solution in a ship that had just recently began production – the Dolphin. The stock Dolphin comes configured for passenger hauling, which at first led me to overlook it. But after a second look, I found that once you remove the passenger cabin, there’s plenty of space for all of the scanners and exploration gear, and with an upgraded frame shift drive, the ship has a very nice jump range. The Diamondback Explorer jumps further, but it actually lacks a bit of the internal capacity that the Dolphin has. And maybe it’s my Imperial sense of aesthetics, but I find I much prefer the look of the Dolphin. (It also has very nice accomodations for the pilot, even after removing the cabins meant for passengers, so I get some good living space for those long trips.) Thus, I came to own my beloved Wave Dancer, the ship I still prefer to fly most of the time, to this day. I’ve since made enough money to buy several other ships that fill different purposes, but the Wave Dancer is home.
Imagine my surprise when the first sightings of aliens – those flower-like ships we now know are Thargoids – were reported as occurring in and around the Pleiades cluster. I’d already planned to fly down and see the Seven Sisters for myself someday, but with my curiosity piqued by an alien presence as well, it was the obvious place to go. That curiosity and desire to learn more about the mysterious aliens led to my signing on with Canonn and now, at this point in time, I’d say the Pleiades are more home to me and the Wave Rider than any other part of the galaxy.