Elm Caden is a Shard of the Empress, an operative who works outside the military hierarchies and carries the authority of the Throne.
Although he hails from the city of Galloi on the affluent world Damastion, and was born into a wealthy family, Caden comes from what could be considered a broken home. His father Modim was killed in combat at the end of the Perseus Conflict, and his brother Lau — born shortly after their father's death — now spends his days looking after their ailing mother, Chia.
Like most Shards, Caden was identified early on in life as a potential candidate for the programme. After selection he was essentially adopted by the Imperial Court, and his family started to receive a stipend from the Imperial Combine when he left to attend the Imperial War College.
As a Shard, Caden is afforded extraordinary latitude. He has traveled farther even than many in the Imperial Navy, and seen things few others ever will. His missions are varied, and his many strange, fascinating, and horrifying experiences have made him a reserved and perceptive person.
Caden values core principles such as loyalty and dedication. He appreciates people who are genuine and forthright, even if they do not share his views.
He is honest with others — insofar as he is able — and treats others as he would have them treat him. He is pensive and often thinks things through in great detail, which can lead others to see him as being aloof. This is not the case; although he is hardly the most outgoing person in the galaxy, he is good-humoured and sociable. He can however often be impatient and quick to form his views.
Caden despises two-faced people and the dishonest. He cannot stand deceit, and his big red button is pressed by people or organisations using misinformation or outright lies to advance their own agenda. Caden has a solid set of ethical principles and understands that moral perspectives may be different depending on circumstances or social contexts. He is frustrated when others fail to share this understanding.
Caden believes that people should "do their best to be their best". That living should be done for others and for society, not just for selfish ends. He cannot abide sloth, gluttony, or unbridled hatred. He has no religious views.
As a Shard, Caden tends to simply accept the political landscape of the Empire. He views those citizens who are disgruntled with it as being malcontents and complainers, believing they only need to understand in order to accept. He is somewhat naïve in this respect.
Elm Caden was educated at the School of Galloi, Eastern District, where it quickly became obvious that he was capable of understanding matters well outside the mandated curriculum. He was identified early on as being an exceptional case, and by the age of fourteen had already been offered a full scholarship at the Imperial War College on Kelvestyr. Although reluctant at first, due to his family situation, he was pressed to accept by none other than the Proconsul of Damastion.
At the War College he exceeded all expectations and became one of the most successful students of his generation. He was encouraged to apply to the Shard Academy, and supported by the entire faculty.
Caden essentially reports to the Empress. He idolises her, and this is possibly as a surrogate mother figure. He will go wherever he is sent, regardless of the risks. He is not easily convinced that her decisions or orders could be questionable.
Caden is not a part of the chain of command of any of the three major agencies, and as such he has a fairly insular working relationship with Rendir Throam. As a newcomer, Euryce Eilentes can sometimes remind him that there is life outside their unit.
Caden takes his job very seriously, to the point that he almost sees the Imperial mandate as being synonymous with his own.