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Altharra was born on the Valcarian world of Antar, the second son of Zirlig, a lawyer, and Casid. He went to school on Valcaria, entering the military academy at Bylpraas, and received a commission as a lieutenant in the space navy.

Showing early promise, he was placed in command of a small fleet at the siege of Kintan, where his role in breaking the siege and forcing the withdrawal of the Vodran commander earned him favorable reports to the Republic Command. He was promoted to captain, and appointed commander of the 3rd Fleet in the Garenta Region. Although imprisoned because of a former association with the brother of the deposed instigator of the Dynasty of Terror, he was released through the influence of the political governor of Kintan.

Altharra was then appointed to the governmental planning section of the Committee of Public Safety, and given second command, and later command, of the 1st Fleet, charged with the protection of the Valcarian home system. The same year, called upon to defend key politicians in the Republic against the attack of a mob of traitorous Vodran sympathizers, he quickly and easily dispersed the group. He was appointed by the Directory to command the Hyjaren Armada the following year. Before departing on this campaign, he married Frelin, widow of the famed politician Garinga who had been assassinated three years previous.

Having been promoted over the heads of older officers, his unbroken run of victories over the Vodran established his credibility as a commander, while his concern for his previously ill-equipped troops won their loyalty. During one land-based skirmish, he fought alongside his troops. Despite conflicts with the Directory over his ambitious strategic initiatives, he was allowed to take all of the Hyjaren Region, capturing dozens of worlds and enslaving billions of people.

The Directory approved his campaign to capture the Klossic Region, as a launching point for an attack on Vodran interests in the adjacent Ywush Region. Altharra's Ywush Armada arrived in the Klossic Region the following year. He defeated the Klossic forces, but lost most of his fleet to the Vodran at the Battle of Lintab. There was then a lengthy stalemate, with the victorious Valcarian forces penned into the Klossic Region by the Vodran. However, after learning of the increasingly serious situation in the core systems, now facing Vodran forces on multiple fronts, Altharra abandoned his armada in the Klossic Region, evaded the blockade, and returned to Valcaria almost alone. There he became part of the plot to replace the Directory, leading to the Coup of Vhros. He assumed the role of Prime Director and, with the visible support of the military, effectively became a dictator.

His first priority was the defense of the core systems of the Valcarian Republic against the combined Vodran forces. He reorganized his military forces, defeating the Vodran in successive battles, pushing them back out of Valcarian space.

Having been made Prime Director for life, he took an active part in reorganizing Valcarian law (the Imperial Code), and achieved popular appeal by returning the Valcarians to economic stability. When hostilities recommenced he began preparations for the invasion into Vodran territory. After foiling a traitorous plot to kidnap him, he was proclaimed Emperor and crowned at the Imperial Grand Palace.

Altharra's conduct of the wars was characterized by his enormous personal energy and his ability to maneuver and concentrate his forces rapidly. The high regard in which his troops held him was due in no small measure to his conspicuous personal courage. But while he remained pre-eminent in Valcarian space, his plans to invade the Vodran remained thwarted by a powerful space navy, and his fleet was destroyed at Dretsin, though his great nemesis, Kiramil, was killed in the battle.

Both sides backed off for a while to try to rebuild their forces. While the Vodran were hard pressed to recover quickly, the Valcarians moved into the Par'tha Expanse and suddenly had a huge new reserve of natural resources and raw materials. Within three years Altharra had rebuilt his forces enough to invade the Vodran and wipe them out.

To this day Altharra remains Emperor of the Valcarians, and those regions under their sway, due to his military prowess and his personal charisma.