When 17-year-old Alex Leonov took the throne in TE 321, it was necessary for him to build up a power base virtually from nothing. His grandfather had been disliked as an Emperor, and now various factions sought to ignore Alex and take over the government on their own.
One of his steppingstones was his staunchest supporter, 17-year-old Betty Sanceau. By Companioning her and elevating her instantly to the status of Empress Consort, Alex secured the support of the Sancea factions in the Imperial Council. Betty that year bore the Heir, Jef Leonov.
Another of Alex's ploys was aimed at Jean Carroll (b. TE 279), who as Carroll Family rep to the Council commanded all the intricate web of generations-old Carroll alliances. Alex could not elevate Jean Carroll's status any more -- in Imperial hierarchy and in fact she stood just below the Imperial Family itself. So he bought Carroll support with the only coin he had: he agreed to Companion his firstborn daughter to Bob Carroll (b. 312), son of Jean Carroll and Dave Engelbach.
Jef, of course, was male; it was not until 326 that the bargain was closed, with the birth of Alex's daughter Anna Leonov.
About TE 333 things were going bad. The Patalanian Union was expanding and the Empire's economy tightening under the war effort. Along with economic and political moves, Alex took very drastic measures to boost morale with both troops and the Civil Service. Imperial biotechs did simple genetics and bred in vitro a daughter from 8-year-old Anna and 22-year-old Bob Carroll. The daughter, Laura Carroll, was born in 334 and hailed as Heir Presumptive.
One question remained. Why a granddaughter, why not a child for Jef? The Carroll alliance had to be preserved at all costs, and this action cemented that bond even more.
The real reason, however, lies with the Emperor's disenchantment with his son. And that story is tied up with the rise of the Hoister Family.
At age 17, after a very successful five-year hitch in the Imperial Navy, Rick Hoister retired as Captain (of the destroyer INS Native Pride) and took up his political career. Not only was he Rick Hoister, he was also Rickard Schmidt of theSchmidt Foundation, and he immediately took the Foundation's seat in the Imperial Council. His sister Reena took the Schmidt Family seat.
The whole Family joined in on Rick's drive for -- eventually -- the Throne...when they had the time. The W-group, who joined the Navy at age 12, very soon made Captains and by 334 each had reached the rank of Commodore while Winifred was being considered for Rear Admiral (of the Frit Wing). The others had risen...or were rising...to comparable positions in their own fields, with products/services mostly being distributed through the Schmidt Foundation's multitrillion dollar network of businesses. Kuchta Genetics, Cranford Sociotechnics, Alee Artificial Intelligence, and many other Hoister corporations were rising in importance.
It wasUlric Hoister, however, who was the chief thorn in Emperor Alex's side. In 332 Ulric was on Terra doing research on ancient weapons (purely for his own enjoyment). With holos and computer simulations he staged a re-creation of the Battle of Gaugamela on the original soil; there he met Jef Leonov at the victory celebration where the Emperor played the part of Alexander. Ulric left the celebration to teach tumbling to a delighted 11-year-old Jef. Ulric was hired a tenday later to teach self-defense to both Jef and Anna; he became fast friends with Jef and a few months later they became lovers. Jef did not "fall under the pernicious Schmidt/Hoister influence," as some historians contend; he did however become sympathetic to the Hoisters and Alex feared (perhaps rightly) that the Hositers would use Jef's sympathy to bring themselves and their growing influence closer to the Throne. Ulric had a drop of Imperial blood -- so did virtually everyone else -- and Jef refused to father a Carroll Heir. So Alex sidestepped Jef and allowed Laura Carroll to be born.
All through the reign of Anna Leonov, it was assumed (and decided by Imperial Council Act) that Laura Carroll would be the next Empress. But there was always a minority coalition that favored Laura's aunt Dana. In TE 360 when Laura finally did inherit -- following a long series of illnesses on her mother's part -- many people wanted Dana instead. It was feared that the Carroll family was too powerful.
As it was, Carroll power turned out to be a good thing. For the Empire needed a Council and Empress who were in accord during the trying time that followed the defeat at Karphos.