Born of a middle class family on Chandrila, James Ardin (30 BBY - 10 ABY) grew to be the most revered leader of the Empire since Emperor Palpatine. A man that lived his life with honor, Ardin was respected by even his worst enemies for his abilities. A patient man who was part politician and part warrior, Ardin played as large a part as any in making the galaxy what it is today.
At a young age James knew he was destined for a military career. The day he became old enough he joined the Empire as a member of the fighter corps. He proved to be a competent pilot, but a better leader. He served in the corps for two years before a sim accident with Walter Sames fried some of the nerve synapses. They were easily repaired but his reflexes would never be what they were, and he was transferred into Imperial Intelligence where he served in the diplomatic services. He served there as a officer where he picked up the importance of information, cunning, deception and patience. It was here where he excelled at managing an Intelligence Division and where he was first noticed by Imperial Command, and the Emperor.
Aleady having proven his ability to lead, and with experience in the academy and as a Commander in the fighter corps, he was moved to Naval Command, where he was given the Captainship of the newly commissioned Imperial Star Destroyer Vengeance. He was alowed to choose the crew of his ship, and the command staff of his support ships. He assembled a team of men that would all affect the galaxy in one profound way or another. He chose Kyle Marion as his first officer, Byron Chamberlain and Banner Ton to captain his support ships, and Commander Walter Sames to lead his fighter squadrons. The Vengeance served at Yavin when the rebels were routed after the Death Star was destroyed. The task force continued to excel and was part of the withdrawing fleet at the Battle of Endor.
However, between these two battles Ardin was granted a rare pleasure, a meeting in person with Emperor Palpatine on Coruscant. It was certainly something he did not expect. He met not only with the Emperor, but with Darth Vader, Mara Jade, and a strange blue skinned alien; Grand Admiral Thrawn. Even more shocking to him was the reason for the meeting: his brother. Delth Ardin had been in special training for Imperial Special Services and unbeknownst to James was discovered as a force sensitive. The Emperor wanted James there when his brother was brought before him. It confused James but he would not deny the Emperor.
What played out before them would cause ripples in the future of the galaxy. Delth was revealed to be Damascus' son, a bastard from James mother. Damascus was castrated by Lord Vader for the act, and the Emperor sealed Delth's force power out of fear of his future strength as Damascus' kin. Delth was given the codename Red Viper, and assigned to James as his protector and assassin. It was James' charge to watch him and keep him safe until the Emperor required his power. James wasn't sure why Thrawn was there other than to meet him, but later he would find out.
Holding the Empire
James returned to his command with his brother as his protector. After the Battle of Endor the Empire almost split, with two strong factions emerging behind Esran Croft and Imperial Intelligence, and Anasara Bansari. James Ardin took the middle ground, and held the the moderate faction in check. After Croft and Bansari destroyed one another, he put the Empire back together under his leadership. He reluctantly, only after the behest of the Moffs, created the title of Regent and became the defacto head of the Empire and Supreme Commander of the Navy. He refused the rank of Grand Admiral, stating on multiple occassions that only the Emperor could grant such a rank. However, Ardin did order the building of the Super Star Destroyer Cleansing from the wreckage of the Rhea, and made it his command ship.
The Empire, though united was still weaker. Warlords stripped ships away from the fleet making the Empire vulnerable to an ever expanding and confident New Republic. Forced to retreat to the Core and Perlemian, Ardin was forced to cede worlds due to the political and military realities of the Empire. During this time he abandoned much of the wanton waste and cruelty of the Palpatine regime, and reformed many of the old ways to create a more functional and effective government and navy.
After Ysanne Isaard was forced to cede Coruscant to the New Republic Ardin concluded a treaty that finally ended the ongoing war between the two governments. Many of the Imperial hardliners did not appreciate Ardin's willingness to cede territory, but they were unwilling to realize how badly inferior the navy had become in comparison to the Republic. This period of stability was necessary to rebuild the Imperial fleet up to modern specs. The manner in which Ardin fought the war also gave his enemies confidence that any ceasefire and territorial agreement would actually be honored.
However, contrary to outside perception it was not the only reason. A few days before the treaty was ratified with the New Republic he recieved a secret communication from someone claiming to be Emperor Palpatine. After various verfication procedures, Ardin confirmed it was indeed a clone of the Emperor resurrected in the deep core on Byss. He was however, not ready to reveal himself with the Empire in the state it was in. He gave Ardin special orders to take the Cleansing and his fleet to set up fortifications in the unknown regions. Ardin was given the reason, a defense against an unknown threat that would someday soon pose a serious threat to the galaxy. He also promoted Ardin to the rank of Grand Admiral.
A New Threat
So James Ardin abdicated the Regency, handing it to Admirals Ferval and Gandel and dissapeared into the unknown regions. He stayed there for the better part of a year, during which Ferval and Gandel used rogue forces to reactivate the war against the Republic. In the unknown regions Ardin rendezvoused with Grand Admiral Thrawn and the two set up a defense perimeter that would handle this upcoming invasion. The two respected one another, and worked well together.
While away, chaos erupted in the galaxy. The New Republic, unable to control their newly acquired territory, and the Empire without their leader, terrorists and rogue corporations and organizations began to prey on the innocent. The main antagonist in this mess was a terrorist known as "Krayt Dragon Tainer." Gandel and Ferval also began to fight the New Republic once again, using tactics that Ardin never would have approved of. Two events prompted Ardin's return, the first being Ferval's insanity. Ferval had made Bilbringi all but uninhabitable by his biological weapon experiments. The second was the capture of the terrorist Tainer.
Ardin returned with a big idea. He planned on using the trial to unite the galaxy to meet the coming threat only he knew of. Unfortunately others had different ideas. The Corellians, who were a target of Gandel and Ferval, sent assassins to try and kill the Imperial Regent. Security was tight, and the plan would have been foiled if not for the actions of newly appointed Intelligence Director Damascus. His people allowed the assassins access to the Cleansing where they managed to kill the Regent before the trial was concluded.
Ardin died at the age of 40, and was given a Grand Admiral's funeral.
However, it would not be the last the galaxy would see of him. Unbeknownst to Ardin, Thrawn had him cloned shortly after their initial meeting on Coruscant. When the time was right, after coordinating with Byron Chamberlain, Thrawn reactivated the clone and led a coup against Damascus. Ardin was killed in the attempt, but so was Damascus, and Ardin was able to name Thrawn his successor before his death - and settle things with his brother.
James Ardin would be seen again in dreams and vision by his brother Delth. Part of his spirit may actually be trapped inside his brother, due to the rift in the force that was discovered on the wreck of the Super Star Destroyer Cleansing. His spirit was seen helping Delth defeat GAIT in the nether regions of the force during the final battle at Chil'A'Chin.
His legacy lives today through his step-brother Delth. James Ardin is studied thoroughly at the naval academy, and is looked upon as the ideal officer of the Galactic Empire. A statue of Ardin is located prominently in the Capital of Chandrila, the place of his birth. The Strike Cruiser issued to Delth Ardin, The Ardin, is named in honor of James.