I suppose, in the end, it doesn't really matter.
Despite my long-held sense of pacifism - or if not pacifism, then at least a conviction that conflict and violence are to be resorted to only in extremis - the rise of populist jingoism in the form of 'Nova Imperium' had me convinced, for a time, that something would eventually need to be done beyond the harsh words of... well, of all too few members of the Imperial Senate. Too many Senators have stood in support of the so-called 'Imperator', Kaeso Mordanticus, and malleable nobody, Hadrian Jansen - uncritically quoted by GalNet sources under his assumed name of 'Hadrian Duval'. Too many Senators implicitly, explicitly in some cases, back the latter's obviously fallacious claim to the throne.
The Empire, it seems clear, is fated to repeat that oft taught, but never learnt, lesson of human history: peace and prosperity must always be fiercely guarded. There will always be someone waiting to exploit any complacency, to stoke any sense of discontent and disenfranchisement until it becomes a fire of anger and cruelty - a fire the scheming powermonger can then use to burn away the rights and freedoms of the people and subject them to fascist rule. History shows us this happening time and time and time again: the ancient empire of the Romans, in whose image our own state was moulded; the European crises on Earth in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries; the American crisis of the early 21st; and so on and on for another thousand years and more.
And we never learn. We always drop our guard.
And it's that, probably more than anything else, that's settled my course. I will not fight. Not yet. Tomorrow, the Distant Worlds 2 expedition sets off for Beagle Point - a 130,000 light-year round trip. It will be challenging. It will be dangerous. There will be considerable attrition along the way, I have no doubt. It's something that only the best-prepared commanders might hope to survive.
I am not at all well prepared. I've rarely been more than 2,000 light-years from my homeworld of Halki, and only for very brief, short-range survey flights have I ever even left the Bubble. But I intend to join the expedition.
If I return, then I'll see what's become of the Empire. And if Nova Imperium, or some fascistic offshoot, remains in power, then I will commit myself to the fight to bring them down - bringing the entire Empire down with them, if need be.
But if I don't return - if the gods, or the Cosmos itself, decide I'm not needed in such a venture - then... Well, in the end, it doesn't really matter.