Accepting the scholarship and leaving her home behind would be difficult. For much of her life, she had lived on Agria, an idyllic colony world established by her father. Ariel’s mother, the famed geneticist Dr. Talise Cogan, had divorced Bernard when he decided to found Agria on what was then a relatively barren fringe world. In the absence of her mother, Agria’s colonists had become like family to Ariel.
Agria also boasted a wide range of cutting-edge research and terraforming equipment due to its status as one of the Confederacy’s primary botanical reserves, a fact that Bernard used to discourage Ariel from accepting the Tarsonis scholarship. In his opinion, Agria had everything she would ever need to pursue her scientific career, and part of his original intent for founding the colony had been to create a better life for her. Nevertheless, after much soul-searching and a series of heated arguments with her father, Ariel decided to go to Tarsonis.
At Tarsonis University, Ariel earned a bioengineering doctorate in three years, drawing the attention of dozens of corporate headhunters. Despite the high-paying jobs they offered, Ariel turned them down. She had become disillusioned with the politicking and ruthlessness of her peers, who seemed all too eager to betray each other in order to succeed.
Ultimately what drove Ariel from Tarsonis was her mother, who at the time was working at a distinguished research facility on the planet. Even though she hadn’t seen Ariel in years, Talise still prioritized work over her daughter. For Ariel, her mother was a frightening vision of who she herself would become on Tarsonis – a crass intellectual who placed personal achievement above all else. When Ariel decided to return to Agria, Talise claimed she was simply running away from the “real” world, just as her father had. The words only reaffirmed Ariel’s decision: if Tarsonis was the real world, it was one she didn’t want to be a part of.
Ariel’s father never questioned why she chose to return, nor did he bear a grudge for her decision to leave in the first place. He was simply happy to have her back. With Bernard serving as the colony’s chairman, Ariel became his unofficial second-in-command. In the years that followed, Agria remained relatively safe and prosperous even during the chaos that raged throughout the Koprulu sector. When the Confederacy fell, the Terran Dominion kept Agria as a primary botanical center and even stationed a permanent defense force on the planet.
But since then, a number of bloody incidents has made Ariel question the priorities of this new government. Most recently, in 2503, a heavily armed group of pirates stormed Agria, intent on stealing the colony’s hi-tech scientific equipment. Dominion marines engaged the pirates to protect these valuable assets, but in the process the soldiers carelessly slaughtered colonists who were caught in the crossfire. Horrified by the killings, Ariel risked her life to save dozens of innocent bystanders trapped in areas of heavy fighting.
The pirates were eventually driven off the planet, but the event opened Ariel’s eyes to a chilling fact: the lives of Agria’s colonists were expendable to the Dominion. Ever wary that history might repeat itself, Ariel has personally dedicated herself to safeguarding the good people of Agria, who have come to the colony in search of a better future.