Master of Orion 3 backstory
- 1 Center One
- 2 The Exodus
- 3 The Speed of Light
- 4 The Antaran Outlook
- 5 First Contact
- 6 The Dawn of the Orion Sector
- 7 The Elders Civil War
- 8 The Long Night
- 9 The Antaran Hegemony is forged
- 10 The Ichthytosian Experiment
- 11 The Etherean Project
- 12 The new Masters of Orion
- 13 The Pax Humanica
- 14 The Fall of the Pax Humanica
- 15 The Antaran Menace
- 16 Antaran domestic politics
- 17 Retribution
- 18 Batles at Orion and Antares
- 19 The Calm before the Storm
- 20 The Antaran War
- 21 Post-War Analysis
- 22 The Orion Dark Age
- 23 Collapse of the Antaran Hegemony
- 24 The End of Antaran rule
- 25 The first meeting of the Orion Senate
- 26 Mrrshan Diplomacy
- 27 The New Orions are born
- 28 The New Orions take charge
- 29 The New Orions strike back
- 30 The Orion Sector rises again...
- 31 Who threatens the Orions?
- 32 Enter the Harvesters
Center One[edit | edit source]
The native name of this system is lost to time, and now is remembered only by the cold moniker “Center One.” Situated in the Galactic Core near an unstable wormhole nexus, Center One gave rise to a unique civilization, a combination of the system’s original inhabitants and numerous visitors from other systems who, trapped by the unpredictable effects of the nexus, chose to stay there rather than gamble with its capricious nature. In this way, Center One’s original civilization blossomed into a multi-species culture, diverse in ideas, sciences, beliefs, and language.
The wormhole nexus was a curious affair, a single point that orbited Center One’s star (often referred to as Solarus, “the first sun”) in a highly elliptical orbit. That point served as the endpoint for many other wormholes throughout the galaxy. However, traveling through that point led not to a fixed destination, but rather to ever-changing locations that even the most advanced calculating machines of the time could not predict with any accuracy. All that was known for certain was that nothing that entered or left the nexus ever returned from whence it came.
The presence of the nexus accelerated the natural aging process of Solarus, but at such a slow rate as to go unnoticed by local astrophysicists. Only when Center One’ s ruling factions determined that the best solution to eliminating |criminals and undesirable elements from their society was by sending them on a one-way trip through the nexus did the sun’ s degeneration become evident. Thousands of massive “exile” ships were dispatched in this manner, carrying with them the undesirables of Center One society and enough resources to keep them alive and well until they landed, theoretically. But this increase in usage of the wormhole nexus led to its own increased instability, and through that, the destabilization of Solarus itself to the point where it began its final countdown to nova a few billion years early. With barely a century to spare, Center One’s civilization faced total annihilation.
The government sponsored several programs to create giant colony ships capable of carrying its people to safety through the wormhole nexus, ironically following the outcasts that they themselves had deemed “undesirable.” Other independent factions worked on their own to create similar ships. Dozens were launched before Center One finally vanished in its sun’s death cry.
Though future historians would often speculate on the precise location of Center One, more pressing events put such studies on hold until they became nothing more than fodder for authors of speculative fiction.
Historical Notes[edit | edit source]
One of the unique achievements of the Center One civilization was the establishment of a calendar based not only on the revolution of its primary planet around Solarus, but on the position of the wormhole nexus as well. As a result of this, Center One “ cycles” were of variable length, from one to two Human years in duration. The mathematical formula for calculating the length of these cycles was extremely precise and allowed for the determination of cyclical lengths thousands of cycles in advance. For the purpose of historical consistency, this record will use 1 GC (Galactic Cycle) as the year that the Center One star went nova. 0 GC is the year prior to that, and years before then are measured in negative GC.
One of the many species that inhabited the Center One system was less heterogeneous than most. This group occupied a terraformed moon and interacted little with the rest of Center One society. They were, however, extremely intelligent and equally militant, providing the system with a local defense force and occasionally participating in large-scale research projects, including studies of the wormhole nexus. This species would one day be called Antarans. They themselves were the creation of another, older race that had deliberately sent them to Center One for reasons yet unknown...
The Exodus[edit | edit source]
It is estimated that over a hundred million people left Center One before its destruction, whether willingly or unwillingly. Those forced out by governmental relocation programs were known as the Exiles, while those who went in the evacuation ships were remembered as the traveler tribes, or just Travelers. The journeys of the Travelers became the stuff of legends among the tribes, even as the tribulations of the Exiles became their mythologies. Not everyone who left Center One made it to safety; many colony ships were lost before ever finding safe haven, and many others started colonies that failed and faded away.
The Exiles were fortunate, in a sense. They were sent through the wormhole before its instability grew to dangerously erratic levels, and were deposited within a concentrated area of space on the other side of the Galactic Core. Some were even lucky enough to end up in the same systems together. Regardless, they took several centuries to establish themselves on a score of neighboring systems in the galactic core, and using slower-than-light (STL) drives and some stable wormholes managed to reunite and form a clannish empire. This organization of Exiles was government at its most basic, barely a step above anarchy, for they were all criminals, dissidents, rogues, and other unwanted members of Center One’s “elite” society. But they were united by their common situation, and they were hungry for revenge against those who had cast them out. It drove them to prosper as best as possible, and from there, build up a force that would one day strike back at their oppressors. They named the central star in their empire Mizar, after a mythological God of Vengeance, and called themselves the Mizara.
The Travelers were better equipped and prepared than the Exiles, and therefore when they settled on their new homeworlds, they were able to quickly establish colonies and secure their positions. However, as many of them passed through the wormhole toward the end of its life span (it was destroyed when Solarus finally went nova), the random distribution pattern of the nexus scattered them much farther apart than the Mizara were. Further, the majority of them ended up in one of the galaxy’s spiral arms, where the lower stellar density slowed down exploration of local space.
During the centuries that the Mizara were building their empire and their forces, the Travelers were ever-so-slowly developing their home systems and probing neighboring stars for signs of life.
Among the many Travelers, the two most notable examples were the scientific elitists who settled in the Orion star system, known as the Orions, and the militant isolationists who settled in the Antares star system, known as the Antarans. Both of these groups were fortunate enough to colonize extremely rich and fertile worlds that allowed them to expand and develop far more rapidly than most of the other Travelers. To the Antarans’ advantage, they were closer to the Galactic Core, and thus had several star systems within close reach for expansion. To the Orions’ advantage, their original population included some of the best scientists and engineers from Center One, and this gave them the technological edge over the other Travelers.
Several other Travelers also developed at an excellent pace, having chosen similarly bountiful systems in the lower galactic arm to colonize. Together the Orions, the Antarans, the Dubhei, the Shaula’a, the Bellatricians, the Meissans, the Alioth, the Mintakans, and the Saiph would shape galactic history.
The Speed of Light[edit | edit source]
The one thing inhibiting the expansion of all the Travelers and Exiles was light speed. Up until then, even with the great advances from Center One’s civilization and additional discoveries made by the tribes’ scientists, exceeding the speed of light and traveling through hyperspace remained a mystery. Slower-than-light travel made colonization and expansion difficult, for it took many months just to travel within their own systems, much less to neighboring stars. Here the Mizara had the advantage, for even with STL travel, the stellar density in the core was such that neighboring stars were rarely more than one or two cycles distant at high sub-light speeds. Thus they were able to expand quickly, discover their neighbors who had been similarly exiled, and band together. Not so for the other Travelers, who frequently had to travel at least four to six cycles to find any nearby star systems at all, much less any suitable for colonization.
This slow tempo of expansion affected the way their civilizations viewed the timing and pacing of cultural advancement. They developed an incremental approach to societal evolution, avoiding rapid cultural shifts and socio-political upheaval by improving their civilizations gradually.
But science marched inexorably onward, and soon the remaining Travelers discovered the secrets of faster-than-light travel and the use of hyperspace. This led to a rapid drive for expansion and colonization among all the Travelers, who were eager to spread out into the stars and find their lost brothers, wherever they might be. However, for centuries the Travelers expanded alone, finding no traces of those who had left Center One with them. Some found the remains of failed Traveler groups; others discovered primitive species who were nowhere near as advanced as they themselves were.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
The “Social Incrementalism” theory is based largely on what was discovered about other STL empires of this period that developed but did not survive. Common among their ruins was a pattern of rapid technological advancements that ended abruptly amid relics of warfare and civil breakdown. The hypothesis was that, because their cultural development was more transitory than long-term, each of these civilizations “went nova” and burned itself out after a bright but brief period of time.
It was fortunate that, during the time of FTL expansion, the Mizara had not yet discovered the secrets to FTL travel. This is not surprising, for the majority of the original population of the fragmented Mizara colonies consisted of the extreme lower class of society, not the most brilliant of scientists and engineers. As a result, their scientific progress was considerably slower and weaker than that of the other Travelers.
The Antaran Outlook[edit | edit source]
The Antarans, during this time, created a series of ultra-fast deep space probes to do remote exploration around their sector. Launching thousands of probes out into space, they searched for signs of habitable worlds, alien life, and their Traveler brethren. They focused heavily on probing the Galactic Core and its dense stellar population, looking for more worlds to colonize; they even searched for the remains of Center One. Now that they were away from the stifling Center One system, expansion became the primary objective on the Antarans’ agenda. Their bellicose nature gradually led them to develop into a very rigid but efficient military dictatorship. As they expanded their borders, their innate sense of superiority coupled with their encountering nothing but the most primitive of life forms led them to an arrogant belief in their own “manifest destiny” — it was clear that the galaxy was theirs for the taking.
This belief took a solid slap in the face around 1390 GC, however, when one of their probes accidentally passed through a mono-directional wormhole and ended up on the other side of the Galactic Core, in the middle of Mizara territory, and more accurately, in the middle of a Mizara war fleet. The probe transmitted several moments of footage that shocked the Antaran Central Command: thousands of unidentified but well-armed ships patrolling a heavily populated system. Brief scans of the ships showed weapons technology comparable to that of the Antarans themselves. The probe was destroyed quickly, but the Antarans had seen enough: someone else was out there, and they were not to be trifled with.
This discovery would alter their outlook forevermore. Fearful and envious of an unknown civilization that might challenge their claim to the galaxy, the Antaran leaders instituted sweeping policy changes that affected every aspect of their society, increasing their internal security and espionage forces, pumping massive energies into research, and making sure that the entire empire was under direct and absolute control of the Antaran Central Command. This new outlook would remain with the Antarans for millennia to come.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
This attitude of the Antarans was preprogrammed into their instincts by the race that engineered them. Again, the true purpose for this remains a mystery...
First Contact[edit | edit source]
The exact date that the Travelers first met each other is now lost to history; the Orions believe their encounter with the Dubhei was the earliest, but studies of Antaran military records indicate that the Antarans may actually have found and killed at least two Traveler groups many years before. Most records from this early time period have been lost, and so it may never be certain when the Travelers were reunited. Regardless of historical inaccuracies, the relative proximity of seven of the original Travelers led to a broad reunion over the course of a century of exploration somewhere around 1600 GC.
The legends of the reunion of the Travelers were many, all epic tales of a glorious first contact and the incredulity and joy of finding each other after so many centuries apart. As is often the case, the truth was nothing like the rosy picture painted by mythology. Fifteen centuries of separate evolutionary, cultural and social development had rendered the Travelers completely unrecognizable to each other. It took over a century for researchers to gather enough data from linguistic similarities and historical records to realize that they all were descended from the original Travelers who had left Center One. With the confirmation of this discovery, the progeny of Center One felt that they were the ones destined to shape the galaxy’s future. As they met and related old tales and exchanged ideas, they began calling themselves “Elder Civilizations,” for none of them had found any evidence of anyone above and beyond them. None save the Antarans, at least... but they held their secrets to themselves, for even with the joy of reunion, the meetings between Elder Civilizations were not always friendly affairs.
Centuries of separation had neutralized the once heterogeneous nature of Center One’s civilization. Now, the different Tribes viewed each other with a little more suspicion, a little more unease than before. Questions hung unspoken in their meeting halls: Who was the stronger? Who had more technology? Who had better worlds? Who was a threat? Their differences became food for suspicion, and mutual coexistence became a more and more distant concept with each passing cycle.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
The seven tribes that occupied a significant portion of the lower spiral arm of the galaxy were the Orions, the Antarans, the Alioth, the Meissans, the Dubhei, the Mintakans, and the Saiph. The Shaulas and the Bellatricians had indeed been killed or assimilated by the Antarans during their expansions many years earlier. Only three other Traveler tribes survived the exodus from Center One: the Polarids, the Denebi, and the Tarazedi. The Polarids developed an empire very quickly on another edge of the galactic core, and would soon encounter the Mizara. The Denebi and the Tarazedi ended up on the opposite side of the galaxy. Their story will be told another day...
The Dawn of the Orion Sector[edit | edit source]
In a bold, long-term experiment, the Orions sought to resolve this conflict by studying its effects among more primitive species. Within their territory were many worlds already occupied by native life forms, some of which were already sentient. Subtle genetic manipulation of these races allowed them to evolve and develop at accelerated rates, and the Orions observed these base cultures and their histories in an effort to gain insight into their own dilemma. In this manner, the Orions manipulated and studied dozens of primitive societies within their sector, trying to duplicate the conflict the Elder Civilizations faced in myriad small-scale scenarios. Though it is unknown whether such research ever produced any results that the Orions wanted, the experiments did give rise to the races that would one day call themselves Mrrshan, Bulrathi, Klackon, Psilon, and Alkari.
Genetic engineering was not a new technology, but it had frequently been relegated to smaller duties such as agricultural enhancements, medical research or biological warfare. This was a new step, and it was a step that would be taken again, in ever-increasing strides.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
It is interesting to note that all of the races who were experimented on by the Orions eventually developed religious or mythological stories of ancient and powerful god-like beings descending from the sky in chariots or ships of fire. The Orions’ presence did not go unnoticed, and in the end, these stories became their legacy. Some of these legends would one day drive the young Orion races to claim that they were the true heirs to the Orion throne.
The Humans were also thought to be a remnant of this experiment, although the Humans would vehemently deny such an insulting view of their origin, believing instead in their own divine creation. They are, however, the result of another experiment...
The Elders Civil War[edit | edit source]
With the distrust and suspicion that was growing among the Elder Civilizations, the concept of peaceful coexistence grew increasingly distant as the shadow of war loomed large over their region of the galaxy. Despite the establishment of embassies within every empire, diplomacy itself was often strained and tense at best. Skirmishes at borders became more and more frequent, espionage was rampant, and war machines sprang to life at every corner.
The Elder Civilizations gradually polarized into two distinct factions — the Orion League, led by the technologically advanced Orions, and the Central Entente, led by the militaristic Antarans. The Antarans chose their allies carefully, inviting the Alioth and the Meissans to ally with them. All of their empires had borders on or near the galactic core, which would, the Antarans hoped, eventually give them a clear and easy path of access to combat the lurking menace within. With the Orion League occupying larger portions of the spiral arm, the Antarans also reckoned that the Orions would eventually have nowhere to expand except into the wall that would be Antaran space, and the Antarans had every intention of making that wall unbreakable. The two factions were sitting on a powder keg, and the fuse was terribly small.
A border skirmish between the Alioth and the Dubhei in 2103 GC provided the spark to light that fuse, and they soon escalated hostilities from brushfire war to limited war to all-out galactic warfare. Each faction was called upon to support its ally, and within scant cycles all the Elder Civilizations were involved in a galactic civil war, the likes of which has never been seen since. Whole planets, suns, and star systems were annihilated as the battles raged, claiming billions and billions of lives. Fleets of ships dashed themselves against each other in brutal contests for territory. The Elder Civilizations lit the galaxy on fire with their immense and bloody conflict.
Throughout the war, Orion diplomats sought to lessen the hostilities, even as their scientists studied the primitive races within their sector for clues on what could be done to stop the war. But the Antarans were determined to see it through, driving their forces to fight with fanatic zeal, believing that victory would make them stronger, and grant them the territory and resources they would need for a war in the galactic core. For 400 cycles, the seven Elder Civilizations strove to exterminate one another. But ultimately, the outcome of the war was decided not by soldiers, but by scientists.
The Trinity Project provided the Orions with what they felt was the most bloodless and direct solution to the war. Using principles learned from the recently discovered field of Trans-Dimensional Physics, the Orions theorized that they could “imprison” the Antarans in an other-dimensional space akin to the “space” contained within wormholes or hyperspace. The idea was that the entire Antaran Sector could be enveloped in a bubble that would then be transported into another dimension and thus isolated from the universe. The Orion scientists were not entirely certain where that would be, but they all agreed that anywhere was better than where they were: leading the Central Entente in a war that was costing hundreds of millions of lives a year. Various experiments with objects of different sizes seemed to demonstrate success, and the power of a device needed to envelop an entire sector would not be beyond the capacity of a well-protected doom star, and so the plan to transport the Antaran sector was approved by the Orion League leaders.
Antaran intelligence, however, was extremely pervasive, and soon infiltrated even the top-secret labs where the Trinity Project had been finalized. Too late the Antaran Central Command received the transmissions from their spies; too late they realized that the Orions did indeed have a means of stopping them. The Antaran Supreme Commander was issuing orders to his fleets to evacuate the sector when the doom star Trinity reached the heart of the Antaran Sector and activated the dimensional encapsulator.
In a heartbeat, the entire Antaran Sector vanished from space, never to be seen again.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
Orion scientists often wondered what exactly happened to the Trinity at that moment; it was never verified whether the ship was destroyed with the use of the encapsulator, whether it went into other-dimensional space with the Antaran Sector, or whether it remained behind as a derelict within the dead zone left behind by the Antaran Sector...
The Long Night[edit | edit source]
With their strongest ally neutralized, the other civilizations in the Central Entente soon caved in to the overwhelming power of the Orion League. The Orions, now clearly the dominant civilization, dictated the terms of surrender, and in 2539 GC formed the short-lived Orion Federation, setting up an elaborate throne for the first (and only) Orion Dynastic Chancellor on their homeworld.
Not long after the end of the Elders Civil War, the grim aftereffects of the Orions’ experiments in Trans-Dimensional Physics came to light. Radiating out from the center of the Antaran Sector (now nothing more than a vast empty region of space that explorers called the Dark Zone) came a wave of disruptive energy that completely destabilized all hyperspace travel. One by one the Elder Civilizations’ empires were swallowed up by the hyperspace flux, paralyzing their ships and isolating many of their worlds. Some systems that relied on interstellar commerce for food and supplies starved and collapsed. Others, cut off from their original homeworlds, were forced to become their own independent empires.
The Orion Federation turned on the Orions, blaming them and their Trinity Project for the hyperspace flux, and demanding that they undo the Antarans’ imprisonment. Unfortunately, the Orion scientists had not worked out a means of retrieving anything stored in other-dimensional space, and thus had no idea as to how to either undo the Antarans’ prison or repair the damage done to hyperspace. They worked desperately to find a solution, even as, one by one, the Elder Civilizations’ communications channels were cut off by the hyperspace flux, their last words frequently damning the Orions for their destruction. The people of Orion blamed their leaders for the disruption of hyperspace, and protested against them with increasing fervor. In a final act of desperation, the Chancellor ordered the preparation of a research task force, loaded with the best equipment available, and dispatched the scientific community en masse to research a solution to the hyperspace flux away from the increasingly unstable Orion system. The task force was placed under the command of the Chancellor’ s sole heir in an effort to protect the Orion lineage should the Chancellor himself be slain in an upcoming revolution.
The Orion system itself was defended by a lone battlecruiser, later known as the Guardian of Orion, which the military high command had equipped with top-of-the-line weaponry and the most advanced cybernetic AI and self-support mechanisms available. As predicted, the people of Orion rose up against the government, and the revolution that followed (assisted by the detonation of numerous biological warheads) drove the population down to the point of no return. Within a few thousand cycles, the people of Orion were no more.
This hyperspace flux would ebb and flow for nearly 15,000 Galactic Cycles, with occasional periods of calmness that would allow for FTL travel. But, always, the flux would return...
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
Although the Orions in the Orion system eventually died out, other pockets of Orions survived, isolated from the rest of the sector by the hyperspace flux. The same fate befell most of the other Elder Civilizations. As for the Orion Research Fleet, they were never heard from again, although traces of them have been found on many planets throughout the sector. The Dynastic Chancellor’s heir was also lost to time, leading to speculation as to whether he might have founded a new colony, named a new heir to follow him, or, as popular legend suggests, infused his own genetic material into developing local races, giving rise to the belief that any of the local Orion races could unknowingly be harboring an heir to the true Orion throne...
The Antaran Hegemony is forged[edit | edit source]
A small handful of Antaran systems remained outside of the transdimensional prison, cut off from each other and from Antaran Central Command. They worked hard to overcome the limitations of STL travel and find each other in an effort to rebuild the Antaran empire. The confederation of systems around the Dark Zone became known as the Antaran Federation, and over the millennia, they gradually shifted their focus to internal development, building up their planets and establishing defensive (albeit powerful) fleets to protect themselves.
The Antarans trapped within the trans-dimensional prison, however, were free to plan and prepare without interruption. Strangely enough, hyperspace travel was completely normal within the bubble itself, and thus the integrity of the Antaran Empire was preserved. Furthermore, the Antarans had received most of the data on Trans-Dimensional Physics from their spies, and therefore had time to study the research in an attempt to free themselves. And finally, they could build up their systems to the height of efficiency and power, devoting their time to perfecting their environments and leaping ahead in research and technology without wasting time on conflict, for no one could enter their prison any more than they could leave it.
Around 6000 GC, the Antarans finally managed to engineer a breach in the trans-dimensional prison. Using a device they aptly named the “Trans-Dimensional Portal,” they could theoretically send material (specifically, warships) from their dimension into the galaxy with minimal difficulty. The first prototype TDP was set up in an uninhabited system populated only by asteroids and tiny barren worlds (Antaran Central Command was slightly concerned that opening a dimensional field within their own dimensional prison could have disastrous consequences, and thus placed the portal as far from inhabited systems as possible). A specially prepared task force consisting of ships equipped with Dimensional Drives (another experimental device that would, in theory, permit the ships to return to the same TDP they had launched from) awaited the opening of the portal. The portal opened without incident, much to the relief of Antaran Central Command, and the Antaran task force that passed through appeared quite unexpectedly in the middle of the thriving Antaran Federation, much to everyone’s surprise.
The reunion was not pleasant, to say the least; almost 4,000 cycles of divergent evolutionary paths had taken their toll, and the two groups of Antarans were completely unrecognizable to each other. Federation forces engaged the invading fleet and beat them back; this prompted Antaran Central Command to dispatch a larger fleet the second time. This war continued for several cycles until Federation researchers discovered that their enemies were, in fact, Antarans like themselves. This discovery led to a cease-fire as each side weighed its options. Finally, they settled on a truce, reuniting as two different Antaran states under one banner, and the Antaran Hegemony was born.
Further research allowed the Antarans to refine the TDP system, increase the efficiency of hyperdrives, and even undo the dimensional prison completely. But the forward-thinking Antaran leaders now looked on the prison more as a fortress protecting them from all outside forces, both Orion and otherwise. Only the TDPs would grant access to the Antaran Sector, and the Hegemony controlled them all. To protect their breakthroughs in Dimensional Physics, all their ships equipped with Dimensional Drives were also equipped with a Quantum Detonator, designed to self-destruct the ship should it take sufficient damage and thus prevent their capture by enemy forces.
Though hyperspace travel was still unstable outside of the trans-dimensional prison, the Antarans built a number of TDPs to grant them access to a limited radius around the Dark Zone (a range equivalent to the diameter of the spherical dimensional prison; this limit was a side effect of the Long Night and, fortunately for other races in the sector, prevented the Antarans from raiding everyone into extinction). They launched raids into nearby systems once held by the Saiph and the Dubhei, former Orion League members, stealing their resources and technologies and blasting whatever empires had developed into atoms. By eliminating those potential threats, they knew they would be able to concentrate even more on the Mizara one day.
The Antaran Hegemony then took more aggressive steps to improve their standing. Genetic manipulation was to be the next great weapon in their arsenal, and they practiced on numerous developing races within their own and the neighboring sectors. Two of the most noteworthy species that the Antarans “created” were the Ichthytosians and the Ethereans; however, it is suspected that dozens of other local worlds were visited by Antaran genetic engineers and adjusted via similar experiments.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
It was during this time that the Antarans made tremendous strides in the fields of Trans-Dimensional Physics, Wormhole Physics, and Genetic Manipulation. These particular subjects would later aid them in the domination of their corner of the galaxy.
The Ichthytosian Experiment[edit | edit source]
The purpose of the Ichthytosian experiment was to breed aggressive front-line soldiers to be used in upcoming conflicts as disposable shock troops. A rapid acceleration of the evolution of an aquatic species, tinged with the amplification of aggressive behavioral modifiers, gave rise to the Ichthytosians on the oceanic world of Trilar. The Ichthytosians were, unfortunately, not at all what the Antarans wanted — they became very creative, peaceful, artistic creatures who sought to develop their own culture rather than fight. This century-long endeavor was dismissed as failure in 6311 GC, and the newly evolved Ichthytosians were left alone on Trilar.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
Historical Note: Ironically, had the Antarans waited another two centuries, they would have seen the perfect manifestation of their goals. The Ichthytosians advanced swiftly, achieving many advanced technological breakthroughs, and then went through a brutal civil war that destroyed everything they had created in their rapid rise to sentience and power. This War of the Depths lasted for over a century, and in the end, the ruling faction exiled the rebels to the surface of Trilar, a punishment worse than death for the aquatic species. The rebels, trapped in aquadomes built on the few land masses Trilar possessed, felt that there was only one way to escape their eternal imprisonment: evolve from an aquatic species into an amphibian one. The exiles used many radical, dangerous and often untested bioengineering processes to try and change themselves into amphibians. Finally, after a century of lethal experimentation, they succeeded, and the first Saurians were made. They called themselves the Sakkra, and their goals were what the Antarans had programmed them for: conquest and domination. The Sakkra built several colony ships and left Trilar, seeking a new world to call home. This home would be Sssla, located deep within the Orion Sector.
The Saurian experiments did not all end in death. One group of volunteers survived the testing, but instead of changing from aquatic to amphibian, they became something even more ambiguous and amorphous, beings without true form, but capable of replicating other forms that they encountered. The researchers were horrified by the things, and cast the whole lot of them out into space to drift and vanish. These metashifters, trapped in suspended animation, traveled for a long time before their ship piloted itself to a distant habitable world. Once free, they suffered a cultural depression (rejected by those who were themselves rejected from their home; what was their place in the universe?) that led to a psychological shift to vindictiveness: if this was how they were seen, then they would make sure that they earned that reputation. They developed their shapeshifting abilities to mimic any creature flawlessly, mimicking bodies and voices with impeccable precision. Thus was born the Darlok Empire, one of the most feared and mistrusted races in the Orion Sector.
The Etherean Project[edit | edit source]
The Antarans targeted native life forms within the imprisoned Antaran Sector for the Etherean project, which was supposed to engineer a slave race that could harvest resources from gas giants. Once again, the century-long project failed to give the Antarans the satisfactory results that they wanted — the Ethereans were not the ideal manufacturers that they should have been, and chose to simply float through the gas worlds and develop at their own pace. The Antarans were tempted to exterminate the lot, but that was seen as too much effort for a species that would not offer much of a challenge or threat anytime soon. The Etherean herds were left to their own devices. However, when the Antarans developed the technology to terraform gas giants into usable worlds, the Ethereans took action, stealing an old dimensional portal and throwing themselves through it. They emerged in the Orion Sector, in 6599 GC, took up residence in several gas giants, and continued on with their peaceful development and evolution.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
Historical Note: There are no more Ethereans left in the Antaran Sector. The success of the gas giant terraforming project was such that the Hegemony ordered every available gas giant converted to a more usable form. The last herd of Antaran Ethereans were wiped out in 9641 GC. Those who fled to the Orion Sector eventually split into two separate races, the Eoladi and the Imsaeis, and colonized many of the Orion Sector’s gas giants during the Long Night. Their violent opposition to gas giant terraforming technology led them to launch sabotage operations against the local Orion races when they too came upon this knowledge at the end of the second Orion civil war.
The new Masters of Orion[edit | edit source]
Circa 8200 GC, during an exceptionally long period of hyperspace stability, several young races in the Orion Sector discovered the basic concepts of FTL technology. Interestingly, most of these races were by-products of genetic manipulations, with the exception of the Meklars and the Silicoids. As they branched out, they came into contact with one another, and much as had happened before, differences became suspicions, and suspicions became hostilities, and hostilities became warfare. Despite the establishment of a centralized political body that they called The Orion Senate (named after the mysterious Orion star system at the center of the sector, which no ship had ever explored due to the presence of a powerful but unidentifiable battleship that protected the system), the young local Orion races soon found themselves enmeshed in a brutal and bloody war for territory within a small region of space around Orion itself (their view of the Orion “sector” was significantly smaller than what the sector’s area had been at the height of the Orion League’ s power). The 300-cycle long conflict was eventually ended by the Humans, who had, through shady diplomacy and brute force, managed to subdue their galactic neighbors one by one until they all stood grudgingly behind them and elected them to the Presidency of the Senate.
The Pax Humanica[edit | edit source]
The Humans united the Orion Sector under the banner of the Pax Humanica, preaching the onset of an “age of enlightenment,” in an effort to bring about a harmony among all peoples. This led to many positive effects — a focus on making all colonies self-supporting so as not to rely on hyperspace and FTL-transported supplies, the promotion of trade within the boundaries of the Pax Humanica, and a devotion to culture and the arts that led to many great works being created by all races.
The negatives to these developments included a lack of focus on scientific research, a reduced drive for expansion, with population control methods strictly enforced, and a tyrannical policy of insisting that all conformed to the “utopian” views of the Pax Humanica. The fascistic Humans ruled the Orion Sector with zero tolerance for aberrant behavior, monitoring and controlling the citizenry with brute-squad tactics. As a result, though the Pax lasted for almost 10,000 cycles, the civilizations within the Orion Sector did not expand much at all, whether territorially, militarily, or scientifically. A large part of this was due to the hyperspace flux that continued to hamper FTL travel, but the “artistic” progress toward a “utopian” society led to nothing but stagnation and Humanocentric socio-political elitism. Unbeknownst to them, the Antaran Hegemony was making constant strides forward in their ruthless goal to be masters of their domain. Even as the Pax Humanica restricted FTL travel due to the unsafe nature of hyperspace, the Antarans were studying ways of using wormholes to exceed hyperspace’ s limitations.
This stagnation might have continued were it not for the fact that the Long Night finally ended. Ironically, the Pax Humanica barely noticed, having limited FTL travel so much that very few ever used it at all. However, pirates and traders and merchants all gambled with hyperspace constantly, and soon realized that the disruptions were all but gone. Their discovery was kept secret for their own profit, but idle gossip and boasting soon filled the ears of both the Pax Humanica empires and others nearby. Those other civilizations bordering the Orion Sector had developed to the point where FTL travel became a possibility, and some, having heard about the Pax Humanica from various travelers, sought to colonize within their borders. Elerians, Gnolams, and Trilarians entered Orion space with the same intent that all the younger races once had: expansion of their empires.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
The Evon also appeared nearby at this time, deposited there by Mizara colony ships. The Mizara had eventually developed the technology needed to genetically manipulate and engineer local races within their space, even as the Orions and Antarans had done. The Mizara, however, engineered a race for the purpose of scouting the galaxy and searching for the “threat” of Center One descendants. Their function was to colonize and expand and explore the galaxy in the name of their “gods,” who had given them this divine mandate. Hundreds of colony ships loaded with Evon colonists and primitive technology (by Mizaran standards) were launched across the galaxy between 3000 GC and 3500 GC in search of habitable worlds to colonize. The Mizara could thus focus on expanding their local borders (still a gradual process due to the Long Night effect) and developing their own empire and resources for their great war: vengeance against Center One’ s descendants. When they expanded and came to a region of space that the Evon had dominated, it made it easier for them to assimilate that sector into their domain. When they came to a region of space where the Evon had been dominated, they knew that a potential threat existed there, and could concentrate more fully on securing that region through force.
Mizara and Polarid expansion in the Galactic Core had eventually brought them into contact with each other. The Polarids had, by some incredible stroke of luck, settled in a system with a wormhole nexus similar to that which had orbited Center One, but far more stable and reliable. As a result, the Polarids survived and prospered during the Long Night, for travel through wormholes was not blocked, and their home system contained over a dozen wormhole endpoints. They managed to expand into a sizeable empire, and advanced quickly in the field of Wormhole Physics. Upon making contact with the hostile Mizara around 3900 GC, they began amassing their forces in threatened systems while launching an immense intelligence gathering operation. The Polarids learned of how the Mizara were using the Evon as advance scouts, and proposed their own project, the construction of an “Evon Killer” race, in response. It took several tries to succeed, and the Polarids dispatched many of their failed versions through a one-way wormhole that they had created. The endpoint of that wormhole was deep in the Orion Sector, and those failed “Evon Killers” ended up colonizing the first planet they found. They called themselves Humans, and would one day use the cunning and ruthless instincts the Polarids had instilled in them to dominate the Orion Sector. The Polarids themselves finally succeeded in breeding what they felt was the ideal hunter-killer race, whom they called the Varakesh, and around 8500 GC began dispatching their own colonists throughout the galaxy on a search for the Evon.
The Fall of the Pax Humanica[edit | edit source]
Rumors and gossip by various raiders, merchants, and pirates brought up stories of huge empires beyond the Orion Sector, civilizations that had mastered interstellar travel and warfare, and many other dangers and riches that lay nearby. Soon these stories took root in the people and the old dreams returned: All the stars were there for the taking. One by one, the local Orion races resurrected their old space programs, and the revitalization of the Orion Sector was underway. This blatant rejection of the Pax Humanica’s enforced policies was met with strong resistance, but the Humans could not suppress the rediscovered dreams of the local Orion races. In addition, the new “threat” posed by previously unknown races — the Gnolams, who saw profit in this new territory; the Elerians, who sought to test their strength against their neighbors; and the Trilarians, whose homeworld now rested within the bounds of the dying Pax Humanica — challenged the authority of the Humans. By 17633 GC, the Pax Humanica was no more, as each individual race rejected the Senate’s stagnant policies and rose up to claim what was rightfully theirs. Not every race within the sector made itself known; hiding in secret within the Orion Sector’s gas giants were the Ethereans, who did not wish to be bothered by the other races’ warfare, and developing just beyond the bounds of the Pax Humanica were the Evon colonies.
As the local Orion races rose up and expanded their empires, they again faced conflict with their neighbors over borders and territories. The Orion Senate was convened to maintain diplomatic relations between the growing nations, and trade and discourse flourished even as war fleets were being built nearby.
The Antaran Menace[edit | edit source]
It was inevitable that the drive for territorial expansion would bring the local Orion races into conflict with one another again, and the drums of war were dusted off and sounded throughout the sector. Legends and tales from this war still remain within the historical archives of the local Orion races. Stories of the vast legions of Sakkra, “as numerous as the stars in the sky,” or the shadowy Darloks, “the hidden masters of chaos and dissent,” or the Mrrshan, “proud and noble warriors” were still remembered thousands of years after the war had ended. Regardless of the literary license taken with the war, it was still a vast and terrific undertaking for all the races involved. Each race arrogantly claimed that it was the rightful master of the Orion Sector, and each race fought to the death to prove themselves right. Though the Evon and the Ethereans did not participate in the conflict, they did observe it from the sidelines, the Evon to prepare, the Ethereans simply to await the potential discovery of gas giant terraforming and take counter-action in such an event.
One other race, however, made itself known during this time period. The first confirmed raid by the Antarans in the Orion Sector took place in 17863 GC. Numerous additional raids followed. At the time, they were seen as nothing more than mysterious raiders who attacked fleets and colonies, seemingly at random, and always destroying everything that they encountered. Their attacks soon came with increasing frequency and brutality, costing all races equally in ships and population. No race was spared a visit by the Antarans, and with each subsequent attack, the local Orion races grew a little more worried, a little more fearful: Who was it who was challenging them, where did they come from, and what did they want?
In the Senate, an intense study was conducted concerning the Antaran menace in 17878 GC. Its results were both disturbing and disheartening. The study correctly concluded that the Antarans were a very ancient race utilizing technologies both unknown and quite superior to those currently in use by the local Orion races. Worse, they were operating not from another sector (against which a counterstrike could be launched), but from another dimension. Somehow, a way would have to be found to invade their dimension if the Antarans were to be dealt with.
Antaran domestic politics[edit | edit source]
Despite Antaran pride in their overwhelming technological and military superiority to the rest of the galaxy, the Hegemony was not the invincible bastion of power it believed itself to be. It had been divided into two factions since its foundation. Those Antarans who had been trapped within the dimensional prison formed the military “expansionist” faction (ruled by the cabalistic Antaran Central Command), and they constantly pushed for the expansion of Hegemony borders and conquest of neighboring rivals. Opposing them was the “internalist” faction, which had originated with those Antarans who had thrived outside of the dimensional prison (the former Antaran Federation). Their policies were more often focused on internal development, research, and a defensive military presence.
Rivalry between the two factions was strong, and Antaran policies shifted constantly, depending on which group was in power at the time. Fortunately for the local Orion races, the two factions were occupied with other events when the Antarans re-discovered the Orion Sector. The end of the Long Night negated the limitation of the effective range of the Trans-Dimensional Portals, and as a result the Hegemony launched a program to re-chart the ancient space lanes of their region of the galaxy (the internalists hoping to gain new scientific and cartographic data, the expansionists hoping to discover new directions for conquest). They soon rediscovered their ancient allies, the Alioth and the Meissans, but both empires had long since forgotten the Antarans and had succeeded on their own devices. They reacted to initial Antaran attempts at communication with hostility, and so both Antaran factions agreed to spend their energy on conquering and assimilating the two rogue empires.
Lord Admiral Xyphys N’rom took the Green Fleet (the defensive armada of the internalists, patterned with the color for strength) and challenged the nearby Alioth, while Grand Admiral Therion V’raak took the Black Fleet (the pride of the externalists, patterned with the color for conquest) and engaged the more distant Meissans. The Alioth proved to be far less of a challenge than expected, and thus the Green Fleet was quick to secure their space and begin integrating their worlds into the Hegemony. The Green Fleet ships were gradually cycled back to the fleet command center of Kathar, safely hidden within the Antaran Sector, for refitting and repairs. It was from these withdrawn Green Fleet forces that raiders were dispatched to probe and harass the Orion Sector, where they expected to find their ancient enemy, the Orions. Information had to be gathered on their fate during the Long Night.
The raider squadrons were deliberately kept small to allow the Antarans a certain measure of deniability if the Orions proved to have somehow become far more advanced than the Antarans. It was much to their surprise that the Antarans were originally unable to find a trace of the Ancient Orion civilization. When they discovered the now indigenous races of Orion (from a respectfully safe distance; they were shooting at each other after all), Antaran paranoia and arrogance kept them from admitting that these puny civilizations were not, in fact, being actively manipulated by a secretive Orion civilization lurking nearby. Eventually, some digging around various ruins they found in the Orion Sector convinced them that these barbarian races were, in fact, all that remained of “the enemy.”
Although the situation was ripe, the Antarans could only send out raids against these Orion barbarians while their two fleets were engaged in serious actions against worthy opponents. Thus, the Antaran raiders met with only limited military success in the Orion Sector as they lacked the numbers and focus to act decisively. Nonetheless, the Antarans conducted far more raids into the Orion Sector than the local Orion races ever knew about. The Green Fleet, true to its “internalist” objectives, set out to find any Ancient Orion settlements left on worlds not yet occupied by these new “locals.” The Antarans absconded with untold secrets and treasures from the lost Orion ruins they discovered and looted, bringing these cultural and technological artifacts back to the Hegemony for further analysis.
Until the Green Fleet’s victory over the Alioth could be completely consolidated, the Antarans had to play for time against their third front at Orion. And with the freaks of Orion busy killing each other, time was something the Antarans seemed to have plenty of.
Retribution[edit | edit source]
Caught between the proverbial Silicoid and a hard place, the local Orion races could not find a political or military solution to the Antaran menace that was growing in strength, with larger strike forces coming through every cycle. Once again, the answer would come from the scientific community.
In 17914 GC, the Psilons accidentally discovered an ancient Orion research laboratory on one of their colony worlds, and with some effort deciphered the technologies therein. Most important among those technologies was a prototype for an Orion version of a Trans-Dimensional Portal, designed to go from normal space into the hidden Antaran Sector. With this key piece of the puzzle, the Psilons realized that the local Orion races would soon be able to avenge their losses.
Knowing that they themselves did not have the military muscle to challenge the Antarans single-handedly, the Psilons wisely chose to trade the Trans-Dimensional Portal technology to all the local Orion races (profiting vastly from the exchanges), and soon TDP’ s were being constructed around every homeworld. The Psilons also studied the Antaran attack patterns and, using the new knowledge they had gleaned from the ancient Orions, determined that all the Antaran attacks were being launched from a single point in other-dimensional space. They hypothesized that that point would be the Antaran homeworld, and thus their best target. The local Orion races agreed, some of them even daring to send raiding parties through their portals to challenge the Antarans on their own turf.
The Antarans were barely concerned with such raids; there were always enough refitted Greet Fleet ships to destroy the Orion invaders long before they could threaten Kathar itself, and the Orions themselves proved to have technology insufficient to the task of actually hurting an Antaran world. The Antarans waited patiently, the Green Fleet finishing up with the Alioth Sector and the Black Fleet continuing the war against the Meissans.
The Antarans’ mistake was to miscalculate the sheer hatred the Orions had come to feel for them, a hatred that drove those races day and night in preparation for war with their greatest enemy ever.
Batles at Orion and Antares[edit | edit source]
The Orions eventually accepted the inevitable truth: only together could they defeat the Antarans, and then only with powers granted by ancient Orion technology. The Psilons had proven that where the ancient Orions had been, technological riches were not far away. And though it would be nearly impossible to predict where other Orion colonies may have been, there was one place in the sector where there was no doubt of past Orion presence: Orion itself. Protected by the seemingly omnipotent Guardian, the planet Orion had never been touched by the local Orion races.
An immense battle group was constructed and assembled, consisting of the best of ships from all races, and placed under the command of the legendary Human Admiral Parvenarius Dalan. Their plan was simple — defeat the Guardian, secure Orion. They knew full well, however, that neither task was as simple as that. The casualties taken by the Orion fleet were enormous, but in the end, the massive firepower they brought to bear on the Guardian won out.
With Orion secured, the second phase of the plan went into effect. Technologies taken from the Guardian and Orion itself were incorporated into the Orion fleets, and over several cycles a new battle group was constructed. Loknar, a mysterious stranger who greeted the landing parties when they arrived on Orion, helped the young Orion races understand the technologies they had discovered, and gave their leaders insight into the military mindset of the Antarans. And so, in the fateful cycle of 18012 GC, the local Orion races gathered another enormous fleet and entered a Trans-Dimensional Portal to challenge the Antaran homeworld.
The Antarans stationed at Kathar were, to be fair, quite surprised at the number of barbarian ships that suddenly entered their space, but they were not overly concerned. The majority of the Green Fleet ships were on duty and ready for action, pending a final inspection by a senior member of the Hegemony’s Defense Directorate and Lord Admiral N’rom himself. But the Orions had nearly evened out the technological edge, and fought with a singular unbending purpose: revenge. The Antarans at Kathar were completely annihilated, the planet bombarded, and every last Antaran vessel destroyed. The Orions still took heavy casualties, but the victory was theirs.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
Interracial unity in this endeavor led to many joint ventures for fleet construction. The Humans and Psilons united and shared their shipyards and materials jointly. Likewise, the three Saurian races cooperated in rebuilding their warships, and the Klackon-Tachidi unity exchanged shipbuilding techniques freely. The end result of this cooperation was a distinct similarity in ship designs among all the races within each species.
Perhaps the one positive venture initiated by the Orion Senate was a massive long-range exploration program to survey the sectors nearby, the Galactic Core, and even send probes to galaxies outside their own. The fate of these probes is unknown, but given what we know of the Antaran Hegemony, the galactic core probes were almost certainly destroyed long before reaching their destinations. The probes sent to other galaxies might still be operating, but there seems to be very little interest these days in re-establishing contact with them.
No one knows exactly who Loknar was, where he came from, or what he wanted. Conspiracy theorists of the time concocted thousands of possibilities, ranging from his being an advanced android, a lost Orion, an Antaran defector, something from another galaxy or sector of this galaxy, and more. But the most heated question that was later asked about Loknar was why he never mentioned that the local Orion races had not crushed Antares itself during the so-called “Battle at Antares”...
The false assumption made by the local Orion races regarding the destruction of the Antarans was understandable. The Antarans had wisely launched all of their Orion Sector incursions from the TDP at Kathar. Only Green Fleet ships were used for these incursions, which meant that the Orion races were completely unaware of the other armada the Antarans had at their disposal. Almost the entire Green Fleet had been destroyed in the battle, and therefore the Antarans had no more ships to spare for additional raids into the Orion Sector. The Orions chose not to investigate the creepy other-dimensional space of the Antaran Sector, and the Antarans played dead. None of the Orions realized that they had merely destroyed a single (albeit important) world in the Hegemony...
The Calm before the Storm[edit | edit source]
Three extremely critical events took place shortly after the Great War that, historians feel, played a major role in the weakening of the Orion Sector for the horrors to come.
The Meklars, cybernetic beings who had provided the Orion Sector with a powerful industrial base, went through a schism that split their populace in half. As technology appeared that made it possible for the Meklars to abandon all remnants of their organic selves and evolve into purely mechanical beings, the question arose: Should their society take that final, absolute step? The Meklar society was bitterly divided on the issue, and so, even as their scientists successfully prepared the first True Meklar, the ruling council narrowly voted in favor of the transformation. The Purification, as it was called by its protractors, was a lengthy process, and not all Meklars survived the transformation. Those who did not wish to undergo the Purification were granted colony ships and politely but firmly invited to leave Meklon forever. Those exiles settled on a distant world and called themselves the Cynoids.
The end of the Great War also saw an abundance of new technologies being shared among all the local Orion races. One such experiment caught the attention of Etherean spies — the terraforming of gas giant worlds. The Ethereans paid the Darloks huge sums to sabotage the various projects underway, but the Human-Psilon alliance nonetheless managed to succeed in “formatting” a test world, killing tens of millions of Ethereans. The gas giant dwellers retaliated, continuing to use covert methods while venturing out into the field of battle for the first time. It did not go well for them; the Ethereans lacked the mass production capabilities of the other races, and could not rebuild their fleets fast enough to stand against the Humans, the Psilons, and eventually the Sakkra and the Mrrshan as well. They withdrew, relying solely on Darlok-funded sabotage operations while reconsidering their options. The amount of energy, money, and resources spent during this war was almost incalculable, despite the minimal loss of life.
The Raas Rebellion was the nail in the Sakkra coffin. The belligerent Saurian race, ever desirous of revenge against the hated Trilarians, had continued to use genetic manipulation to better themselves even after they had left Trilar. Unfortunately, they did not have the same knack for it as the Antarans and Orions had, and more often than not their experiments were abominable failures. Two of their success stories were the Raas (12247 GC) and the Grendarl (14022 GC). The Raas were a strong and industrious race, and the Sakkra cloned them en masse and used them as slaves and low-class labor. The Grendarl, however, were a warrior race, pure and simple, possessed of a code of honor and discipline that served them well on the battlefields. The Sakkra granted them positions of power within the Saurian armed forces as shock troops, infantry instructors, and security. After the Great War, the Raas, having suffered in work camps building up new Sakkra colonies and fleets and gaining nothing but abuse from their masters, orchestrated a revolt that slew hundreds of thousands of Sakkra and threatened to overthrow the Sakkra leadership. The Sakkra ordered the Grendarl to fight for them, and the Grendarl reluctantly agreed. Though the rebellion was put down, all three sides took tremendous losses, and the Raas left Sssla to start a new world in freedom. The Grendarl, feeling that they had betrayed their honor in fighting against the Raas, voluntarily left Sssla as well and colonized their own homeworld.
The Antaran War[edit | edit source]
Following their defeat at the hands of the Orion barbarians and the glazing of Kathar, the Antarans correctly gambled that, since no further incursions were launched from the Orion Sector, the barbarians might believe they had destroyed the only Antaran world. Although Antaran politicians fumed and postured about avenging their ignominious defeat at Kathar, cooler military heads prevailed and a policy of ignoring the Orions was adopted. No raids or messages of any kind were allowed to go to the Orion Sector. Against their nature, the Antarans “played dead” and allowed the Orions time to form their own misconceptions.
With this policy, the Antarans turned all their energies to finishing their ongoing war with the Meissans, as well as establishing a new fleet command center at Naeimon. The few remnants of the Green Fleet finished securing the space around the Antaran Sector, including Alioth space and the sector occupied by the long-extinct Dubhei. By 18021 GC, Admiral V’raak came through again with a decisive victory against the Meissans, and with the end of that war the next two decades were spent garrisoning Meissan space and fully refitting their fleets. The borders of the Hegemony now extended well beyond the Antarans’ capacity to develop for centuries, and thus, as the Orion barbarians had done unto them, they too turned all of their resources toward a single goal — revenge.
In18051 GC, the Antarans returned to the Orion Sector, fueled by rage and powered by their completely refitted Black Fleet. The Antaran War was a far more brutal fight than even the Antarans expected, but their fanatical zeal ultimately carried them through as they hammered the Orion races into submission. The Orions fought valiantly, devoted wholeheartedly to their survival against an enemy thought dead, but they were still too fragmented and weakened after their own civil war and internal conflicts to put up the coordinated fight that they needed.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
The victory against the Meissans was due to a major breakthrough in Wormhole Physics. The Antarans spent many cycles researching wormholes, looking for a faster alternative to hyperspace travel, and found that there existed in normal space a number of linked pairs of locations, which they called “jump points.” Jump points were essentially places were fully stable wormholes weren’t quite able to form, but between which temporary, unstable pseudo-wormholes could be formed by the proper manipulation of space-time. Theses pseudo-wormholes were still not as efficient as natural stable wormholes, but they were definitely much faster than any hyperdrive ever developed.
As a result, the Antarans almost completely abandoned hyperspace travel in favor of using jump lanes, the paths connecting jump points. Jump drives were developed for ships to make the necessary manipulations to open the pseudo-wormholes and to protect the ships from the chaotic gravity fluctuations attendant with such an event. In addition, as a result of jump drive research, improvements were made to standard hyperdrives that enabled speeds up to warp 11 and rendered traditional maneuver drives obsolete. While ships still could not travel at hyperspace speeds while within a system’s gravity well, they could nonetheless travel much faster than once thought possible.
Several other related technologies came into play with this breakthrough. Warp amplifiers affected the shape of the pseudo-wormholes’ frequently distorted interiors, making them smoother and thus accelerating travel between jump points. Jump gates were portals built at jump points that stabilized the jump points and allowed ships without jump drives to use jump lanes. Warp interdictors were based on studies of the interference that nebulae created in jump lanes, and were set up by the Antarans in case hostile forces ever used their own jump gates.
Post-War Analysis[edit | edit source]
To the Antarans, the only remarkable aspect of the war was its protracted length — it took all of 25 cycles to completely subjugate the sector. The barbarians fought with unexpected strength and fury, and did their share of damage to the Antaran forces, a fact that did not sit well with the Hegemony leadership. However, the Antarans could not have planned their attacks any better, and most studies agree that they achieved maximum efficiency through the proper combination of intelligence, tactics, and technology, thus minimizing the overall duration and cost of the war for the Hegemony.
The first phase of the war was the intelligence-gathering process. Using mercenary spies, the Antarans learned almost everything they needed from data stolen from the Orion Senate proceedings. That, combined with other information taken from various governmental and military installations, gave the Antarans the understanding of the Orion races’ weaknesses, and they took maximum advantage of that information.
Using an off-the-shelf virus they had developed during their war with the Meissans, the Antarans poisoned the Elerians with what became known as the “Mind Worm” plague. Not actually a plague, it was more of a viral parasite that attacked the telepathic centers of the Elerian females and ate away at that part of their brains. When the Elerian Queen herself was infected by the plague (considered by the Elerians as a fate worse than death), other royal families saw an opportunity, and a struggle for the crown erupted. This, in conjunction with a few gender riots that the Antarans orchestrated among the “common” male population, led to a global civil war, and the Elerians therefore never brought their entire strength to bear against the Antarans.
The Mrrshan pride in their combat skills became their undoing. Therion challenged the Mrrshan fleet in several engagements, feigning defeat at key systems and beating a path of retreat away from the Mrrshan homeworld of Fieras. The Mrrshan pursued his ships, eager to capture an Antaran fleet commander, and when they were far enough from their own power base, a reserve Black Fleet task force cut into the poorly protected Mrrshan systems and annihilated dozens of their colonies while sweeping forward to meet Therion. Cut off and pinned, the Mrrshan fleet went down in a blaze of glory at the battle of Tholan VI.
The Bulrathi pulled out of the Orion alliance late in the war, as their soldiers, feared even by the Antarans, were being left behind on worlds decimated by Antaran forces. The Bulrathi shock troops were often the last line of defense against besieging Antarans, and as the Orion Senate withdrew its troops and equipment back more and more frequently, the Bulrathi marines were abandoned, with no hope of rescue. The Antarans fueled the Bulrathi’s anger by showing them images of their troops being tortured to death by Antaran soldiers. When the Bulrathi quit and ordered all their soldiers to withdraw back to Ursa, several worlds that were barely holding out against the Antarans collapsed, resulting in a final shift of the war’s momentum in favor of the Antarans.
Several other key actions — the deliberate collapsing of the Gnolam financial system, a forcing of hostilities between the Sakkra and the Trilarians, and the use of a liquid firebomb that flowed through and incinerated the Klackon hives among them — further served to weaken the Orion power base and simplify the Antarans’ endeavor. In addition, not all of the Orion races participated in the battles; the Meklars were still freeing themselves from “the prisons of the flesh,” and the Cynoids had left the sector. The Ethereans, still recovering from their failed war against the other Orions, sat out and refused to help their neighbors (although, in the end, they were treated no better than anyone else by the Antarans). The Evon surprised the Antarans, fighting from the outer limits of the Orion Sector, but even their substantial forces were not enough to defeat the entire Black Fleet.
As the war progressed and the Orion fleets suffered ever-increasing losses, many worlds simply built up their planetary defenses in an effort to withstand a siege long enough for a miracle to happen. However, even these “fortress” worlds were not strong enough to hold off the Antaran warships. Therion ordered the first dozen or so destroyed without mercy or warning. After that, the Antaran fleets began offering terms before laying siege to the Orion worlds. A recording of Therion’s cold, gravelly voice would dominate the planet’ s airwaves: “You will surrender unconditionally. We will collect hostages and we will draft workers and soldiers from your world to serve us. They will not be returned. Their behavior will determine the fate of those they leave behind. Monitoring stations will be placed over your world to insure compliance. Accept this or we will begin to destroy your world in one millicycle. ” Approximately 12 hours later, the matter was closed and the planet’s fate settled — one way or another.
In the earlier stages of the war, many worlds rejected the Antarans’ terms outright, choosing to fight to the death rather than surrender. However, a failure to gain any kind of forward momentum against the Antaran invaders soon ground into the spirits of the Orion people, and one by one the Orion worlds began to give in. By the early 18060’s, the Antarans were conquering entire systems in the Orion Sector without firing a shot. Even the proud warrior races like the Mrrshan, the Elerians, and the Sakkra saw their own colonies bow their heads in submission. Ultimately, only the Sol system remained as a bastion against the overwhelming tide of Antaran power. In 18066 GC, the Black Fleet met the Human armada (supplemented by every renegade warship from the other Orion races) in the skies above Earth, and although the Orions fought with all the fury of a cornered animal, the outcome was never truly in doubt. Four millicycles later, Therion’s voice sounded across Sol, and the Humans surrendered.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
The Mind Worm parasite was a precursor to several experiments by Antaran geneticists to develop a more universal parasite they could use against all of their enemies. This project, code-named “Harvester,” would one day succeed beyond the Antarans’ wildest dreams. Or nightmares.
The Third Orion-Antaran War saw some of the most brutal and vicious ground fighting the sector had ever known. Nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons were employed more and more frequently in efforts to achieve even minor local tactical advantages. The cavalier use of these “dirty” weapons rendered several worlds uninhabitable for centuries afterward. The horrific memories of these vile forms of warfare would be etched into the cultural psyche of the Orion civilizations for millennia.
The Orion Dark Age[edit | edit source]
As was the Antarans’ practice, indigenous races in conquered sectors were generally “squeezed” into extinction. They systematically stripped the Orion races of all technology and research capabilities, relocated their populations to their home systems, besieged them with orbital monitors, ghettoized them, and turned their worlds into work camps. The Antarans established their sector seat at Orion itself, and brutally managed the entire sector from there. They considered the creation of this new order in the Orion Sector to be their “Great Work,” circumventing the Orions’ experiments and bending them to the Antaran will, thus proving their superiority to their ancient enemy.
Although common Antaran practice would have seen the races worked to death, certain factors spared the Orion races from extinction. The Antarans’ old experiments, the Ichthytosians and the Ethereans, had progressed since their creation, and had certainly proven to be worth another look under the microscope. The other Orion races were also of similar interest, many of which were the creations of the ancient Orions and thus worth studying for clues as to what happened to the Orions themselves. Also, the more prudent Antarans felt that, should any Orions actually return, they may be more cordial to the Antarans if they found their experiments still in good hands.
Finally, there were the Evon. The Antarans could not trace their evolutionary path to the Orion Sector or the neighboring sectors, nor could they detect any recognizable genetic tampering. However, they had the same technology as the other Orion races, and thus proved to be a threat from another source. Though the Antarans did not connect them to the Mizara, they suspected that the Evon were the products of another civilization that might one day come looking for them.
During their reign of terror over the Orion Sector, the Antarans developed the Orion system and set up a TDP to facilitate transportation between the Antaran and the Orion Sectors. Jump lanes were also identified throughout the Orion Sector, and jump gates built to accelerate inter-system travel. Antaran colonies, military bases and research outposts were set up in various systems to establish a solid infrastructure and to maintain a close watch on their Orion conquests.
As Antaran geneticists studied the Orion races searching for clues to the ancient Orion mystery, they received permission to conduct experiments when necessary to assist their research. Soon these “experiments” consisted of wholesale genetic manipulation of entire populations, and no race was spared this final humiliating scourge. The Antarans altered the structures of every race in the sector in their quest for knowledge and their desire to manufacture better “living weapons.” These experiments were scientific nightmares; the research and breakthroughs they provided came at the cost of millions of Orion lives and the transformation of every organic race in the sector. Even after only 1,000 cycles, the Orion races are no longer what they once were. The evil that was inflicted upon them was so terrible that no one would ever speak of it again.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
The Antarans have always been secretive. Theirs was known as a “black hole” civilization where, the saying went, all knowledge was sucked in but no enlightenment ever shone out. This policy of total secrecy and paranoia is one of the cornerstones of their society that has helped set them above everyone else they have encountered.
During the Dark Age, many of the local Orion races developed myths and legends based on ancient tales of an heir to the Orion throne. Most of these stories depicted a messianic figure rising up to smite the Antaran overlords and restore the sector to its former glory. These stories gave the Orions hope for the future; however, with so many legends and tales surround the mythical heir, disagreement between the Orion races regarding the identity of the “true” heir would be yet another source of conflict within the sector...
Collapse of the Antaran Hegemony[edit | edit source]
Around 19090 GC, the Antaran Hegemony suffered what seemed to be a massive population implosion that effectively collapsed its governmental structure. Within scant cycles, over 95% of the Antaran population vanished into nothingness. It did not appear to be an attack by an outside force, nor did it seem like an extremely virulent plague. And though the Orion races did not immediately see the sudden depopulation of the Hegemony, they soon noticed its effects, heard rumors from beyond, and started to wonder: What happened to the Antarans?
A popular tale among the Orion races is that the Antarans were finally defeated by their own methods of genetic manipulation and modification. Supposedly a method was discovered to transform Antarans into beings of pure energy that transcended physical limitations. What began as yet another “black hole” governmental evolution and genetics research project leaked out to Antaran society at large when a clique of scientists defected from their secretive traditions and established cults of followers who desired to submit themselves to this “cleansing” transformation. These rogue scientists were quickly denounced by Antaran officials and, even more quickly, went underground where they were soon sought out by Antarans from every level of society. This process gained popularity through notoriety, and the slow trickle of Antarans who wished to be “cleansed” soon grew in intensity, as the cults spread to every world in the Hegemony, and more and more Antarans volunteered to be transformed. High born and low, old and young, the smartest, the bravest, and the “common man”— all vanished into energy. By the time the cultists vanished, destroying their transformers in the process, barely one Antaran in 50 remained behind.
In a cosmos filled with irony, and after playing dice with the universe through their experiments for so long, the Antarans’ own number finally came up, and their own civilization brought to ruin by it.
But this tale is merely conjecture. The real reason for the rapid disappearance of the Antaran population is thought to be the greatest of the Antarans’ innumerable secrets. It has become the talk of the sector. And in a time and place where knowledge is power, learning the mysteries of the Antarans has set many planet-bound eyes to gaze once again at the stars.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
The Antarans were indeed done in by one of their research projects, but nothing as poetic as what the rumors pictured. The Harvester Project was the Antarans’ quest for a biological agent that would infect most life forms and either kill them or render them mentally docile and obedient. It was a major endeavor, with dozens of research labs working on various facets of the project. And, in the end, the Antarans succeeded in breeding a parasite that did exactly what they wanted it to.
Several versions of the Harvester parasite existed, but the most notable one was the smaller, virulent horror known as Harvester Gamma that killed all life forms indiscriminately, Antarans included. Somehow this Harvester was released from its containment into several Antaran colonies, and it spread like wildfire. Billions of Antarans died in madness and agony as the parasites devoured their brains and sought new hosts to consume. The Hegemony restricted TDP travel in an effort to protect their territories outside the dimensional barrier, but not soon enough. The only silver lining was the fact that, lacking fresh hosts, the Harvesters quickly starved to death. This, unfortunately, happened only after 98% of the population of the Antaran Sector had been slaughtered. Those few who survived the scourge banded together and left the Antaran Sector. Where they went is as yet unknown.
The Harvester plague devastated several other Antaran colonies outside of the Dark Zone, but the Orion Sector remained mostly unscathed. This would soon change, however.
The question of who released Harvester Gamma into the wild would also never be answered. Some suspected a disgruntled Antaran scientist; others suspect an accident at the lab; and some believe that Loknar returned to bring down the Antarans once and for all...
The End of Antaran rule[edit | edit source]
One of the Hegemony’s last mandates was the establishment of a new policy throughout Antaran territory: destroy every vestige of their civilization among its abandoned colonies and outposts so that no others could follow them or learn their secrets. True to their nature, the Antarans maintained their “black hole” philosophy right up the very end of its days as many enclaves of stored Antaran knowledge were destroyed, colonies abandoned and pulverized, and populations withdrawn to places unknown.
But not all of the Antaran population was gone. Although the depopulation effect completely emptied the Antaran Sector and several neighboring sectors, it was far less drastic in the more outlying areas of the Hegemony, including the Orion Sector. The Antarans in command at Orion, now suddenly cut off from any supplies and reinforcements from their home sector, had enough foresight to see the writing on the wall. They had just spent 1,000 cycles in brutal domination of the Orion races, exploiting, torturing, experimenting on, and slaughtering them. Now their positions were reversed: they themselves were severely weakened, and perhaps vulnerable to a resurgence by the Orion races. They needed to change their policies in order to maintain control over the sector.
Transforming themselves from tyrannical dictators to “enlightened” believers in representative rule, the Antarans in the Orion Sector rebuilt and reconvened the Orion Senate. Inviting those races whose homeworlds were fairly close to Orion itself (several jump lanes distant at most) and ignoring those on the outskirts of the sector (and beyond the now weakened range of the Antaran military forces in the sector), the Antarans announced the establishment of a new government in the Orion Sector. For the first time in a millennium the lights in the ancient Senate chamber burned brightly, and the voices of Orion and Antaran representatives filled the halls. Many of the Orion races were optimistic of such an event, willing to forget the horrors and atrocities of the Dark Age and focus instead on a newer and brighter future.
But not everyone was willing to forget the Antarans’ deplorable past.
The first meeting of the Orion Senate[edit | edit source]
It was a very delicate occasion when the invited representatives of all of the local Orion races convened once more in the Senate in 19097 GC. The Antaran presence was unmistakable — among the guards, packed in numerous seats among the delegates, and most noticeably occupying the highest seat of all, that of the President of the Orion Senate. Their pitiless features provided sharp contrast to the palpable optimism in the air that exuded from almost all the other members. The long oppressed indigenous Orion races brought their hopes to the Well of the Senate, and when the first session had ended, they had left them there in tatters.
The occasion began with enthusiasm among the Orion races. After centuries of Antaran-imposed isolationism, the Ambassadors from the local Orion races met each other with wide-eyed amazement: the stories their elders had told about the cosmopolitan nature of the Orion Sector were all true! The reunion of former allies and adversaries became a recounting of ancient history, of the 17000s, of something called the Pax Humanica, and of the horror stories of the Dark Age. While this reunion played out in the Senate’s Imperial Lounge, the Antaran representatives interacted little and seemed to be bored by the whole event.
Finally, the speeches warranted by the occasion began. Negotiations beforehand had decided that the Antarans would speak last to close the first session of the Senate. Canny negotiators to the end, the Humans arranged to open the meeting, with Ambassador Shain Alegna delivering a stirring oration on the “beginning of a bright new age for all Orions.” Her speech was applauded by all the delegates (with the notable exception of the Antarans), and was followed by several other salutatory addresses from the Ambassadors. That is, until the leader of the Mrrshan delegation stood in the Well.
Mrrshan Diplomacy[edit | edit source]
Ambassador Rrlenn looked resplendent in her meticulously pressed Mrrshan fleet officer’ s uniform (a fleet only recently commissioned by the Mrrshan to patrol against pirates under the new Antaran policy of replacing their own dwindling manpower with skilled local inhabitants). Her scarred face, partially hidden behind an eyepatch, was upheld in an aura of nobility. When she spoke, she bared fangs of utter contempt. Passionately, forcefully, and with a patrician’s rhetorical skill, she denounced the Antarans and their past deeds. Here was a warrior who had chosen the Senate to be today’s battleground, and her devastating verbal surprise attack on the Antarans had its impact.
The Antaran delegation remained expressionless as they listened to the entirety of her haranguing. As she closed, there was a long moment of silence, and then a Bulrathi officer demanded to be heard next. His blunt soldier’s berating of the Antarans underscored the fact that the Bulrathi stood united with the Mrrshan in their contempt of their treatment by the Antarans for the past millennium. The Elerian Senator, when she finally spoke, was clearly moved by the Mrrshan speech, and added her thoughts on the matter of Antaran atrocities committed against the local Orion races, citing their influence in the Elerian Gender Riots and the atrocious Mind Worm plague the Antarans had inflicted on their population during the Antaran War.
Though these three speeches were the most direct in their assault on past Antaran actions, other negative notes were heard in the speeches of the Gnolam, Alkari, and Darlok representatives. Throughout it all, the Antaran delegation sat unmoved, unflinching and, apparently, uncaring.
The New Orions are born[edit | edit source]
The President of the Senate rose to give the final speech of the Senate’s opening session. He declared that the Orion Sector was now no longer aligned with the Antaran Hegemony, and that they were establishing their independence then and there (interestingly, the huge ovation that announcement received still had no outward effect on the stoic Antaran delegation; they remained as expressionless as they had during the brutal diatribes given earlier in the session). To underscore this, he declared that they had adopted a new moniker, and would thereafter be known as the New Orions.
The speech went downhill from there. Ominously, it ended with an affirmation that the New Orions would remember the words spoken by the Mrrshan, Bulrathi, Elerian and other representatives, and that a formal reply would be forthcoming separately to each of their home worlds.
The New Orions take charge[edit | edit source]
The New Orions had, of course, been preparing for this step for several cycles already. Having heard nothing more from Antares since the policy regarding the destruction of all Antaran outposts, the New Orions decided that the Hegemony was no longer a functional entity, and thus ignored the command. Instead they raided whatever outposts they could find, pillaging their resources and withdrawing them to a core radius around Orion. Other equipment was left in place as is, including the “prison monitors,” those ships and satellites set in orbit around the homeworlds of the lesser races to keep them duly repressed and firmly under Antaran control. The New Orions had already begun making deals with their “locals” to share the manpower burdens required to help combat piracy in the Orion Sector. They felt that it was worth the risk to keep their prison monitors in place for the time being to help counter the increasing power being yielded to the locals.
But with the ominous words spoken during the first session of the Orion Senate, the New Orions realized that a revolt against their “New Order” was forthcoming, and they were worried. By 19098 GC, the Mrrshan had discovered the ease with which they could capture the prison monitors around their world, and quickly shared that information with the other sector races. Before the cycle was over, the Alkari, Darloks, and Elerians had also seized the monitors orbiting their homeworlds. Knowing that they were not yet ready to confront the rebellious locals, the New Orions cynically “granted as a gesture of goodwill” their remaining monitors to all of the Orion races that had not yet bothered to capture them.
The New Orions spent most of 19098 GC organizing their Great White and Great Crimson Fleets (being their new colors of leadership and strength) and fortifying their territory around Orion while the indigenous Orion races that were openly revolting prepared their own hasty defenses. The local Orion races did not know it, but the New Orions were afraid of them; had this knowledge gotten out, the following war might have gone much differently...
Though the New Orions had rejected Antaran rule, they certainly had not changed their inner Antaran natures. Their strategy was to dominate the troublemakers by force and thus cow the rest into submitting to their “benevolent” leadership. They knew they had to strike quickly; the local Orion races were building up their fortifications and their fleets, and gaining strength with every passing day. Also, they had no idea what had happened within the Antaran Sector, and thus chose to prepare for either a retributive strike from Antares for their insubordination or an attack by a new enemy that had somehow defeated the Hegemony forces within the dimensional barrier. Therefore, they prepared for fighting on two fronts. The Great Crimson Fleet was assembled with a small number of the best ships and crews that New Orions could assemble. This fleet was held in reserve at Orion with a three-part mission. First, they were to oversee the construction of a brand-new Guardian ship. Second, they would be the first line of defense against an incursion from the Antaran Sector. And third, they were to launch raiding parties into the Antaran Sector through the TDP at Orion to steal supplies and equipment to shore up their power base, as well as to investigate the disappearance of the Antarans. This was a particularly hazardous assignment, as the TDP at Orion was suffering from severe lack of maintenance, and it was expected to break down completely from disrepair sometime soon.
The Great White Fleet, on the other hand, was put together out of “everything else” — police cutters, old transports, museum pieces, and the dregs of the New Orion Navy. With only a handful of true Antaran warships to provide it with a solid steel core, the Great White Fleet was forced to accept critical weaknesses in certain ship classes. Thus, anything that could make a hyperspace jump was fitted with whatever weapons could be slapped on and brought into the fleet. The Great White Fleet was put under the command of a loyal New Orion Grand Admiral named Kelath H’vei, whose specialties were training, discipline, and fanatical attack. By the end of 19098 GC, the Admiral had transformed a motley rag-tag group of scowls, derelicts, and impressed crew members into eight small, efficient task forces of rabid attack beasts.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
Rather than destroying the last vestiges of Antaran civilization during the time of their population implosion, the New Orions gathered the most valuable secrets and research projects they had and stored them in a hastily built Guardian ship. This Guardian, along with the Great Crimson Fleet, was designed to protect their positions of power in the Orion Sector and to insure their rule for cycles to come. The Great Crimson Fleet played an important role in securing the required components and technologies used in its construction.
The New Orions strike back[edit | edit source]
The ominous “formal reply” that the President of the Senate had promised to deliver to the dissenters’ homeworlds was delivered starting in the early part of 19099 GC by the Great White Fleet, and that reply was xenocide. Grand Admiral H’vei had orders to wipe out those civilizations who had spoken out against the New Orions, and he had honed the Great White Fleet to be the perfect instrument for the task. The fleet possessed a far superior technological base than what it was expected to encounter, and all its war game simulations projected no significant casualties during the upcoming campaigns (those few simulations that did project the actual casualty rate were disregarded as being statistical anomalies).
H’vei began his campaign with the Gnolams, whose pathetic show of resistance (accompanied by a laughable attempt to bribe the Admiral) served as little more than a useful training exercise for the fleet. With each cycle, another engagement drew to a close, as the Great White Fleet annihilated the Bulrathi next, then the Elerians, and then the Mrrshan. Their homeworlds were utterly devastated in a display that the New Orions thought would serve as an example to the other local races. All that remained of those once proud races were a smattering of refugees and whatever lost tribes and outposts they had, rumors say, managed to keep alive and hidden during the Dark Age.
After the completion of the Mrrshan engagement, H’vei took most of 19103 GC to repair and resupply his fleet. The attrition that the Great White Fleet had suffered was greater than original predictions had estimated, as the Elerians and the Mrrshan had fought with a surprising strength and tenacity that had not been expected. It was during that cycle that the Alkari and the Darloks managed to successfully evacuate large numbers of their people, as well as precious cultural artifacts, offworld and out into deep space. H’vei returned to his campaign with renewed vigor, destroying the remaining Darloks in 19104 GC and the Alkari in 19105 GC, thus completing the War of Example that the New Orions had intended. The Great White Fleet returned to Orion to await further orders.
While the idea of the Great White Fleet suffering attrition may seem surprising at first, a closer look at what was going on at the time would leave one asking not why did they suffer any attrition, but rather how did they escape with such light attrition. A popular Gnolam saying went, “The only thing more costly than a battle won is a battle lost.” Even if H’vei’s fleet had crushed its opponents with barely a scratch, it still expended resources to do so — missiles, crew supplies, basic maintenance, etc. All the things that get used and abused in battle and all the things that require adequate logistics were expended without a ready supply of replacements available.
Naturally, the New Orions kept that (like they kept most other) information to themselves, yet another closely guarded secret. They purposefully projected an aura of absolute military supremacy; however, the indigenous Orion races had secretly begun to question the New Orions’ combat readiness. Even as the local Orion races were building up their defenses and preparing to push out into the sector once more, the New Orions continued to let spoken and unspoken threats of xenocidal retribution hang in the air of the Senate as they struggled to reacquire sufficient military strength to effectively carry out such threats again. This questionable state of readiness of the New Orion Navy was yet another facet of the dangerous game the New Orions were playing.
Historical notes[edit | edit source]
Everyone knew that the Great White Fleet had suffered some attrition during their campaign of retribution. What was not known was the extent of those losses and the fact that they were almost irreplaceable because of the denuded population and industrial base of the New Orion empire itself. In truth, the ability of the Great White Fleet to project massive offensive power is gone.
The Orion Sector rises again...[edit | edit source]
The New Orions had made an example of their detractors, and their point was crystal-clear to the remaining civilizations in the Orion Sector. With hostilities finally at an end, the New Orions and the indigenous Orion races met in the Senate to debate, and occasionally even decide, on matters of sector-wide importance. One of the most important of such legislation was the NBC Ban of 19110 GC, being a simple ban on the use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. This item of the Lex Galactica was beneficial to both sides — the indigenous Orions wished to appear less threatening to the New Orions and keep civilian casualties to a minimum should another Orion Civil War be in their future, while the New Orions wished to keep their own limited population safe.
Although the Senate was a place for debate and communication, there was no doubt about who had the true power. The New Orions remained firmly in control over the part of the Orion Sector within the Senate’s military range (the Senatus Imperium Ultimum, a radius of several jumps from Orion). They played the ethnic Orions against each other, protected their positions of power within the Senate, and continued to offer the threat of military retribution when it served their interests to do so. Their influence remained strong, and their will frequently set the tone for policy throughout the sector, but the natives were getting restless. With the waxing indigenous races of Orion before them and the waning Antaran Hegemony behind them, the New Orions were sitting very uneasily on the fence between the two.
As the Senate brought the Orion Sector together once more, the reestablished contact enabled many of the indigenous Orion races to remember the past, times before the New Order, times before the Dark Age, when they were masters of the sector, and their empires spanned the skies. The embers of an Orion renaissance were beginning to glow again. And their questions drove them harder, faster, higher, for they knew that knowledge would give them power. How strong were the New Orions? What happened to the true Antarans themselves? What secrets lay buried in lost Antaran and Orion colonies? What of the stories of the Orion races’ glories during the legendary Pax Humanica? And was there something even before those ancient times?
Who threatens the Orions?[edit | edit source]
With the Antaran Sector silent and lifeless, the Orion Sector seems to stand alone, unchallenged by the rest of the galaxy and facing only its own internal strife. But this view is far from accurate.
The New Orions may have rejected Antaran ways, but they still remember their past. They know that there are other Elder Civilizations out there, somewhere, and beyond them, something else, deep in the Galactic Core, that is growing in power, slowly but surely. They know that they cannot fight that menace now, with Antaran power vanquished in an impossibly short time period. They need to rebuild, and the Orion Sector will be their fertile soil from which they plan to grow a new Hegemony.
The local Orion races see the immediate threat that the New Orions pose, and know that the Antarans have suffered some unidentified cataclysm. This is their one chance to fight their oppressors and return to independence and their expansion into the rest of the galaxy.
The Evon do not know of their Mizara masters; they only know of their divine mandate that tells them to expand and conquer in the name of their gods. But the Mizara are still out there, and there is no telling when they might come looking for their harbingers.
The Humans do not know that they are the failed and discarded remnants of an experiment to fight the Evon; they know only that the Evon make them uneasy. They also do not know that the final result of the Polarids’ “Evon Killer” project, the Varakesh, are nearby, and they are preparing for an incursion into the Orion Sector to hunt down the Evon and their allies.
And finally, there are the Harvesters.
Enter the Harvesters[edit | edit source]
Harvester Gamma was not the only successful outcome of the Harvester Project. Another Antaran lab had engineered a semi-sentient Harvester (code-named Harvester Zeta) which, though not as lethal and swift as Harvester Gamma, had other advantages that the Antarans found intriguing. Harvester Zeta was much larger than the tiny, easily transmitted worm bodies of Harvester Gamma; it was designed to attach itself externally to a host body and live off of their mass for months at a time. Furthermore, Harvester Zeta was both sentient and sentience-absorbing — it could drain, process, and use the memories of its host for its own purposes. And, lacking a host, Harvester Zeta could survive for a longer period of time, even being capable of propelling itself in search of another host body and using base telepathic signals to paralyze its victims.
Commander Minax Ch’therion was the chief research director of the Harvester Zeta facility, and had received confirmation from her superiors to manufacture an army of them for several test runs. However, the Harvester Gamma project then went amok, and Minax wisely isolated her facility until she could safely plan an escape. Eventually, once several hundred thousand units of her Harvesters were prepared, she loaded them up onto a military transport vessel and left for the Orion Sector. There she witnessed the treachery of the “New Orions” as they turned their backs on Antaran mandates and forged their own empire. Minax released the Harvesters onto a Human outpost and let them grow and multiply and learn. She knew that soon there would be a vast army of them, and that the Orion Sector would soon suffer for its insolence even as she assembled the perfect army to aid the true Antarans, wherever they might be.
Of course, the Harvesters themselves were sentient, and soon evolved enough to develop their own plans and strategies for their development, plans that were not entirely in line with Antaran doctrine. They called themselves the Ithkul, and saw the rest of the Orion Sector as their feeding ground.