Macavity116

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Yeah, that wasn't clear. I assumed that since the characters knew about After Everything this took place after after everything.

But also, in that one, wasn't it stated that Earth was relatively new to the galaxy when they joined in the big destruction Armageddon war thing that Jericho ended? were humans kidnapped from Earth ala Stargate SG-1 or Traveller or whatever and spread to other worlds?

Your guess was right: Faith in Chaos is the second part of the story, chronologically. The reason for that isn't going to be revealed for a while, though. Wait a few chapters and you'll see what's up. The "connection" between the two stories will be fleshed out more as Faith in Chaos goes on. Mami, Eteka, and Tantomile only knew about After Everything while they're answering comments. I thought it would make comment-responses a little more streamlined. I'll tweak their ignorance levels going forward; make their answers conform to cannon. ;)

As for the Humans, yes, they fully joined the Second Hyperspace War long after it started. They became a full-fledged star nation in 2036 A.D.

*The Snowskins are a tribe of people who lived on Partoga 400 years ago, same species as the Partogans themselves. Both groups appeared on the planet quite suddenly about 500 years ago. No one knows how either group got there, and for a very long time, neither group knew they'd been transplanted. The Snowskins were wiped out in their entirety by both the explosion of the Unnamed Mountain and subsequent Wars of the Famine 413 years before Faith in Chaos. (687 years before After Everything)

Did Blake just say he was gonna lobotomize us!?
:eek:
 

Macavity116

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Since the Partogans were Polynesians, what group of people were the Snowskins?

Also, how did you get your game to be in 1928?

Oh hey, you caught that detail! Nice! As for the Snowskins, they *were* a cross/section of southern Japanese people groups from Shikoku and Kyushu, to be exact.

I edited an INI file called: "00_defines" and set the start year to 1860. That way I could reshape the galaxy to what I needed for the story. (Empire placement, tech levels, wars, etc)
 

Macavity116

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What are some of the main species in the galaxy at this point?

First, there are the species/people I created:

The Kingdom of Partoga, a nation of unwittingly transplanted humans. At this point it has 7 Vassal States: Ninigai, Waioku, Aiarua, Vaopolu, Asalele, Paku Nui, and the Mangaia*. All of which are populated by the Levakians, a race of lion-like mammalians. The Levakians are the most populous species in the Galaxy, outnumbering the Partogans 6 to 1. The Levakian species evolved naturally on Partoga and lived there long before the Partogans and Snowskins showed up.

Note* The Kingdom of The Mangaia occupies the southern half of the Partogan Homeworld and won't appear on the galactic map.

There's also the Vanians: a narcissistic and self-centered species whose entire civilization was born when one of them discovered his own reflection. The Amadii are flightless birds who run the Confederation of Cuunbar. They are a Migratory Flock and are happy just about anywhere. The Repubic of Kelta is a small, Life-Seeded society that runs a heavily theocratic state.

The Micore Empire is a machine empire. The actual Micore people are horrifically xenophobic and refuse to leave their homeworld. They've delegated an army of droids to operate and defend their empire.

The United States of Assuria is a democracy. The Democratic Republic of Assuria is not. They occupy the northern reaches of the galaxy and claim to be the rightful government of the whole thing. Neither acknowledges the other outside of battle.

Then, all of the playable races from Homeworld and Homeworld2 are here:

The Hiigarans have only just recovered their Homeworld and are nowhere near the height of their strength right now.

The Taiidan Empire has just broken up. The Republican and Imperialist Factions are still fighting over the remains of the empire.

The Vaygr and Turanic Raiders are both Bandit Kingdoms and will attack just about anyone these days.

And there's also some Pre-made empires in the galaxy as well to fill out the map, such as


The Blorg Commonality
Sycldari Confederacy
Voor Technocracy
Kel-Azan Republic

Oh, and the Zujdari Mosaic is here as well. (From a game called "The Bureau: XCOM Declassified") Their role in the story is mostly to help tie After Everything to Faith in Chaos. The Sol System is currently inside their space.

This is what the Galaxy will look like at the beginning of Chapter 2.1 (no spoilers here)
y4m4JK4XOJHOXn3GTCea_s9gxwhnX9nC5Tl7yUuBqkRbZ2oJzzfl1OC-EC4Nbt_wOOygocXN89TR-gtMmQLvS-Nhn2IaEYjtVVGyLFx-rb89HvDrHxOOb1dy1TObceA8tI_-E5jljYqdzpRta7GOOtAz7yYvl9AXy_wkw5qPGIv4OIY3Hkvr7woDLAtQHLU_EmMwGhTxIZebQLr2E88cn44vg


Nearly the entire Galaxy is participating in the Taiidan War in some shape or form. The nondemocratic Assuria, Partoga and her Vassals, the Vaygr, and the Turanic Raiders are allied to the Imperialist Taiidani; while the Hiigarans, democratic Assurians, Blorg, Vanians, Amadii, Sycldari, Voor, Kel-Azan, and Zudjari are currently allied to the Republican Taiidani.

This is how the war looks from Partoga's point of view:

y4mrnPKenS1E0thNs1w8zfejLa5GX__FOBIodfVhmR7WCAu_VJkVoR4LtqbI9pKj3L5nAU1FvkP7RivVuZ9tFE4bZQ3yDqB1LX_YmlsSTa_E3Ld5_MM0NlRos8YUardzI4OsZHojKIOAuQngxDdd5j4OBASY9ZFEHU6VrV_52kEvDQyegJT4HSHkdMsUmaeNcSIngZUP3DWTMqgK4w2D3V2aA

 
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Kylia Quilor

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seems like the Republic has the more racially diverse faction, what with all of Partoga's vassals being one race.

Do the Partogan people remember living anywhere else before they arrived on Partoga, or were the memories of the first arrivals blank in some form?
 

Macavity116

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seems like the Republic has the more racially diverse faction, what with all of Partoga's vassals being one race.

Do the Partogan people remember living anywhere else before they arrived on Partoga, or were the memories of the first arrivals blank in some form?

The Imperialist/Partogan alliance is very much at a disadvantage in this war. What the map doesn't show is that all of the regional superpowers (Partoga, Blorg, both Taiidans, and Assuria) are connected to each other by a large network of activated Jump Gates. There's a Gate in Micore space, and the Micore have open borders with both the Hiigarans and Republican Taiidan, so Partoga is currently living at the end of a gun.

What memories remain of the "Days Before the Famine" are few in number and of very poor quality. Unfortunately, the entire population suffered something akin to "collective brain drain" during the Wars of the Famine. Most of the Tohunga (chiefs, storytellers, historians, priests, etc.) sided with the Last King and they died alongside him when Queen Miranda the Great rose to power. Generally, any notion that the Partogans may not be native to Partoga is considered to be anti-Partogan propaganda created by... certain "unsavory" elements within the Levakian population. (A future chapter will elaborate on this.)
 

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Could you tell us some of the history of Partoga up until this point? It seems really interesting.

Also, do the Homeworld races in this game use human portraits? I read that they were humanoids in the Homeworld games, but I was wondering how much they resembled humans from Earth and Partoga.
 

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I don't see the Kadath from the simulation on the map. Are they a Fallen Empire type Empire? That purple bit north of the Imperial Taiidan?
 

Macavity116

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Could you tell us some of the history of Partoga up until this point? It seems really interesting.

Also, do the Homeworld races in this game use human portraits? I read that they were humanoids in the Homeworld games, but I was wondering how much they resembled humans from Earth and Partoga.

I really wanted to use Human portraits for the Homeworld races, but I ran into some kind of bug that caused the HW and HW2 races to not spawn properly whenever human portraits were used. I ended up using various Humanoid portraits instead.

Taiidan are using the Orc portaits, Hiigarans are using the... what the heck are these things?! Elves? Vulcans?

y4m-jNK7GHEitHs9w4r6Ef5otuq79O0CUH_5ykNQt9OsY9aJb9s6CqwdfQ6_AvxEKNqDjOtfOSpVrobx9zehE90xo4BS6F4SwUqo9fr2_8PmRujBX_DP-6K3_X5VdP37UcyrWZrx3VrzGHDIqEf2atXdKsc7eMhpQrcjVas5SiaPtN8QTXHvPPQXkCOV_zRHvB481Ng0k3uAaRgldkJOxsWEA


Anyhow, yeah. In Homeworld lore, intelligent life was seeded throughout the Galaxy by the now-extinct Progenitor Empire. I was planning to go further down that road by having the Humans, Partogans, and Hiigarans all use the same portraits. Didn't work out that way.

As for a history of Partoga, certainly! I'll do that as a separate post following this one. There's nearly 400 years to unpack.

I don't see the Kadath from the simulation on the map. Are they a Fallen Empire type Empire? That purple bit north of the Imperial Taiidan?

Story-wise, the Kadeshi don't have their own empire anymore. Their space was partitioned (Poland-style) between Partoga, the Turanic Raiders, and Micore Empire. They're in an "army-without-a-state" situation by the time the story starts. On the map, the Gardens of Kadesh would be that nebula in Southern Partoga.
 

Kylia Quilor

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I usually consider them Elves-Lite, at least compared to the much more Elfy portraits from Elves of Stellaris (and Paradox needs to fix that issue that makes custom portraits not work *now* thank you very much)

Easy to imagine life from the same base could end up looking superficially different like that.

What are the traits of some of the races? All the same, or varying?
 

Macavity116

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What are the traits of some of the races? All the same, or varying?

While I did set up predetermined traits for every race, I would let the AI do its thing for 5-6 years at a time during the gap between 1860 and 1928 to make the Galaxy look a little more "alive" in future screenshots. A bunch of empires went straight for genetic modification, but I did add a single trait to one species that's crucial to the future story. (Bet you can guess it;))

y4mVktP3O5mrB81CFmf-pyE0If2d0ZsWVJRR8JpUGJK9AVsaRLLQWsK0RqVF-0IEwB4Ll42bufjdy6uLiXgDRenrgojienn-JTALhjPQfJcAybRqfNRlwHlv8YBGNtzhzb29wMOSsHEhaKK9eOtG2-TE1f1E_2XWFQPi_Lzb6KNfHaRKypB5CNVWowFk1XVf_jNfYCSTzB6FtIeaQrUZyBaNg

One Levakian Pop = 900,000 lions
One Partogan Pop = 300,000 people

Due to the way I spawned the Vassal states, their populations are listed separately from the ones generated by the "Syncretic Evolution trait."

Each Group of Levakians represents the population of a Vassal State: -top to bottom-
  • The Mangaia (Kingdom of Partoga)
  • Paku Nui
  • Asalele
  • Aiarua
  • Vaopolu
  • Waioku
  • Ninigai
 

Kylia Quilor

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I'm familiar with that annoying problem how the same species can get listed multiply like that. Has to do with homeworld - because very technically, they're each slightly different races (they are 100% for their nominal homeoworld and 80% for others of the same type, etc)
 
An Abridged History of Partoga and Levakia

Macavity116

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Could you tell us some of the history of Partoga up until this point? It seems really interesting.

I didn't forget about you. Here you go, enjoy!

==========================

A Very Brief History of the Kingdoms of Partoga and Levakia

Section 1 and 9: BEGINNING OF THE 115th CYCLE (Circa 1400 AD)

In a time before time the Sentient lions of Levakia were just beginning to unlock the secrets of steam power. Small cities arose on the Supercontinent of Levakia, and brave seafarers had navigated the broken islands of E-Ena. Traveling far to the west, the Little Continent was discovered, along with the big delicious game animals it played host to. Many brave lions and lionesses, whose names are long since lost, traveled to the new continent and established the first Levakian colony on a new world. It seemed as though the Levakian people stood on the precipice of a wonderous new era.

One morning, late in the summer, the entire Western Hemisphere of the planet was treated to its first (and only) solar eclipse. Since the planet doesn’t have a natural moon, the sudden darkening of the sky was taken as a sign that the entire world was about to end. Whole prides fled the cities and returned to the forests and mountains, terrified of whatever the Dark Sunlight would bring.

Eventually, the eclipse ended. Lions all across the world began to emerge from their hiding places and return to their old territories. The Levakian continent had not been visited by the Daytime Darkness, so there was very little panic or apprehension. On the newly discovered Western continent, however, there was much to fear.

As the sunlight returned, Levakian colonists spotted roving bands of hairless apes. The newcomers draped their bodies with strange cloth and spoke in strange tongues.

First contact was peaceful, if not tense. The hairless apes were clearly terrified of the Levakians and kept as far away from any lion settlement as they could. While the newcomers tried to find a place to live on the western continent, they were struck by a schism.

After a brief conflict that doesn’t really qualify as a war (hardly anyone died) The newcomers split into two tribes. The tribe of pale-skinned apes settled on the western coast of the Little Continent. The tribe of brown-skinned apes left the continent entirely, choosing to live on the broken islands of E-Ena. For years, the brown-skinned apes lived close to Levakians. Eventually, the lions began to make more serious efforts to establish relations with the newcomers. Those in favor of Second Contact were primarily Gifted Lions.

The Gift (Levakia’s term for “Psionic powers”) is extremely prevalent amongst the Levakian population. Lions who develop the Gift (read: mental powers) are held in the highest regard in Levakian society and are treated with the same level of respect that newcomers treated their Tohunga (priests) with.

Gifted Lions (now called “Witches” in modern day) began to travel to the islands of the brown-skinned newcomers. The Gift itself is rare, and only presents itself to the wisest of lions, so their travels and journeys were met with celebration and approval from most Levakians. Eventually, the effects of living in close proximity to a Gifted One took hold. The newcomer’s minds were opened to those of the Gifted Lions, overcoming the language barrier between lion and newcomer. At last, the brown-skinned newcomers could converse with the lions.

As years went by, the brown-skinned newcomers slowly assimilated into Levakian culture. Constant exposure to the Gift caused more and more of their children to be born with white hair and purple eyes, the features which normally signified a Gifted Lion. Sadly, no newcomer ever showed signs of having received the Gift.

When asked to identify themselves, the brown-skinned newcomers used a name for their tribe that was unpronounceable in the Levakian language. The greatest Levakian scholars toiled for days to give the newcomers a name that could be spoken in both tongues. Finally they came up with a simple word that meant "people" in both languages:

Partogan.

Soon, the Partogans revealed a mystery to the Levakians. None of their people had realized that they had been transported to another world until first verbal contact with Gifted Lions. Despite the best efforts of both Gifted Lions and Partogan Tohunga, there was still a significant majority of Partogans who refused to believe that they were on another world. They insisted that “talking beasts” had somehow made their way to a place called “Ao.”

Section 2: Riri Nui and the Wars of the Famine (1480-1515 A.D.)

Partogans and Levakians lived happily together for decades. While the Partogans continued to be assimilated into Levakia (which was undergoing an industrial revolution at the time) the white-skinned newcomers (dubbed “Snowskins” by a Partogan Tohunga) continued to be aloof and mysterious.

After hundreds of translated interviews, historians agreed that the Partogans and Snowskins had never seen one another before their sudden transport to the Little Continent. The Snowskins spoke a language the Partogans didn’t understand, and were uninterested in living or working with talking lions.

The Snowskins built a kingdom upon the Little Continent. Ruled by a male who styled himself as “King,” the Levakians saw this as a threat. Sensing war on the horizon, Levakian society quickly reorganized itself to meet the danger. The greatest huntress of all was found and elevated to the rank of “Empress of Levakia” and charged with building an army of lions to meet the Snowskins. But on a cold winter morning, everything changed.

The tallest mountain on the Little Continent exploded.

*Historian’s note: The explosion of Riri Nui is the single most important moment in Partogan history. Their calendar counts the number of years since the disaster occurred. The explosive power Riri Nui unleashed is roughly equal to the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora on Earth. On Earth, Riri Nui would have been given a Volcanic Explosivity Index number of Seven. (7)

The Snowskin’s kingdom was annihilated on the first day. Then the ashfall began across the Levakian continent. The sun was hidden and day became night for a month. Ash and dust fell on the Levakian continent continuously for days. Hundreds of thousands perished. By the time the skies cleared again over a year later, millions were dead. Modern-day historians estimate that between 44 and 45 percent of the total Sentient population perished during this period.

Even though the skies were clear, ash and toxic fumes continued to blow across the Silver Sea and land in Levakia. Fields withered away, game animals and livestock died, and famine was followed by death, which in turn brought disease to the survivors. Many feared the continent would soon be uninhabitable. Thousands of boats ferried the survivors across the broken islands of E-Ena and onto the shores of the Western Continent.

A small number of Snowskins had survived. During the few months between the return of the sunlight and the arrival of the Partogan/Levakian refugees, the Snowskins had scoured the land for any and all food and water. The Snowskin King hid his massive stockpile of food inside a fortress along the southern ridge of Archer’s Canyon, a great gorge that split one side of the continent like a wound.

Despair took the refugees. The Snowskins had picked the land clean. No crops or seeds remained. Farmfields were saturated with ash and pumicite. Every animal had been slaughtered or herded inside the walls of the Snowskin fortress. The refugees had only the food and drink they’d brought with them from Levakia. When it ran out, everyone outside the walls of the Snowskin fortress would die.

One Partogan refused to give up hope. A teenage girl named Whetu Kealoha famously broke into a Snowskin arsenal in the city of Candon. She emerged, clad in Snowskin “Sam-oo-righ" armor and carrying a sword. She declared to a crowd of refugees that she would raid the Snowskin fortress and bring back food for her fellow refugees. When she asked for volunteers to help her, the mob became an army. Because the Levakian Empress was too badly injured to join the hunt, she legitimized Whetu’s crusade by declaring her to be “Queen of the Partogans.”

The Wars of the Famine lasted just two weeks and had only four battles. The Refugee Army, with Queen Kealoha at its head, surged across the land, moving from East to West and fighting with the sunrise at their backs. The Refugee Army wiped out what little of the Snowskin army remained. Finally, they encircled the Snowskin fortress at Archer’s Canyon. The King knew he simply needed to hide inside of the walls and wait for Whetu’s army to starve to death.

There are no two historians in the Galaxy who can agree on what actually happened during the Battle of Archer’s Canyon. The event itself is shrouded in myth and legend.

Some people say that Whetu had the Gift, and that she employed her Psionics to tear the walls of the Snowskin fortress as though it were made of paper. Others think that the Unnamed Mountain (formerly known as Riri Nui) exploded a second time, attempting to kill both tribes at once, but succeeding only in breaking the fortress walls. There is also a legend that at the last possible second, a teenaged Snowskin girl turned traitor and held the main gate open while the Refugees surged through. Nonetheless, the Refugee Army somehow managed to get inside and storm the fortress.

It was genocide. The Snowskins were butchered by the Partogan/Levakian Refugees. None survived. Many witnesses claim to have seen Queen Kealoha and the Snowskin King meeting face-to-face on the ramparts during the heat of battle. However, it is impossible to know for certain what happened to either leader because neither of their bodies were found.

Section 3: Rise of the Church of the Mountain and the Golden Age of the Queen (1515-1865 A.D.)

The Battle of Archer’s Canyon came too late to save the Levakian way of life. The Empress had starved to death before the first caravans of food could arrive. The refugees were leaderless and in mourning over the loss of Queen Kealoha. Aimlessly, the survivors began to spread out across the continent, trying to make a new life for themselves in this grim new world.

*Historian’s note: For hundreds of years, even up to modern day, there are still scattered reports of a solitary teenaged Snowskin girl being sighted in Partogan territory. However, no Partogan has ever lived past the age of 120. Any report of such a sighting after the year 60 should be discredited.

Perhaps because its location near the sea was so advantageous, many Partogans began to settle in the ruins of the old Snowskin city. Renamed “Partoga” by its new inhabitants, the city would spend every morning caught in the shadow of the Mountain that had once destroyed it. Jokingly at first, then with grim seriousness, many Partogans took to worshipping the Unnamed Mountain. At the end of every year, Partogans and Levakians alike would thank the Mountain for a bountiful harvest and beg it to spare their lives for another year.

It took several decades for this religious movement to coalesce into what we now know as the Church of the Mountain, but in the interim, the first signs of a new central government began to appear. In the Partogan year 30, (1545 A.D.) thousands made an impromptu pilgrimage to Archer’s Canyon to mark the anniversary of the great battle there.

No one knows who started the idea of building a new central government in Queen Kealoha’s honor, but there are scattered rumors that a lone teenaged Snowskin girl may have been present, whispering ideas into the heads of impressionable students.

Historian's note: The above claim is absurd.

The very first National Assembly convened later that year. Made up of Partogans and Levakians from all over the continent, they built a new unitary government. The Kingdom would be divided up into principalities. Each Principality would be ruled by an authoritarian Prince or Princess. These rulers would be appointed by the Queen, who would serve as the head of government. The National Assembly decided to elect the new Monarch in honor of Queen Kealoha, who (according to myth) refused to accept the title of “Queen” until her friends and supporters voted amongst themselves to give it to her. The Assembly would elect someone who was roughly the same age Kealoha had been when she had taken up the sword. (Between 10 and 15 years old) And so it was that 15-year-old Kotu Aranui became the second Queen of Partoga.

Kotu was a student of Snowskin history before her election. During her exploration of Snowskin ruins, she had found a book written in a strange language that was slightly similar to Snowskin, yet it was a new language entirely. The book was filled with accounts and names of a third tribe no one had ever seen. Kotu started a new tradition. To ensure that the memory of both the Snowskins and the Forgotten Tribe would never die out, each new Queen of Partoga would choose a Royal Name from the Book of the Forgotten.

Kotu renamed herself “Sophie” and retroactively renamed Queen Kealoha to “Miranda the Great.”

Shortly after the new Monarchy was established, the Levakians tried to restore their own monarchial government. Queen Sophie deployed the first Partogan Army to stamp out this little rebellion before it could get started. However, she forgave the rebel leaders for their crimes and gave them their freedom on the condition that they respect Partogan dominance from that day forward. Awed by her restraint, many now call this ruler: “Sophie the Merciful.”

For nearly two hundred years, Partogan civilization continued to grow and strengthen, while the Levakians backtracked and fell from grace. Living in great sprawling shantytowns like Enzor and The Mangaia, life for a Levakian was nasty, brutish, and short as they tried in vain to eke out a place for themselves in a world that was becoming increasingly Partogan.

Queen Sophie was succeeded by Sarah, formerly known as Aperiria. Sarah oversaw the dawning of the age of steam power and guided Partoga into a technological revolution, leaving the Levakians even further behind.

After Sarah died in 151 (1666 A.D.) Anne the Builder was elected. Under her reign, Partoga City grew in to the Megalopolis it is today, stretching as far north as Archer’s Canyon and as far south as the Rahkshian Jungle. Half of the Little Continent was now Partoga City. As such, the entire landmass was renamed: “Partoga”

All this time, the Church of the Mountain had grown larger, wealthier, and stronger. Fear of the Mountain’s wrath was what put people into pews and tithes into pockets. Some Partogans quietly feared that the Priests of the Mountain had the power to bring Riri Nui's wrath down upon anyone who disobeyed the Church. Church leadership did nothing to dispel this notion. Doctrine issued by Church leaders was taken just as seriously as Royal Decrees. Sometimes, the two would even collaborate, such as with the National Dress Code. (Commanded by the Church, upheld by the Queen)

The nature of the Church-Queen relationship changed radically in 183. (1698 A.D.) Queen Anne the Builder had passed away after a bout of illness and the Royal Election was held, as was the tradition. The 13-year-old daughter of a businessman was elected Queen. She took the name “Emily” and almost immediately started ignoring the commands of the Church. Believing that the Church was subordinate to the Queen, Emily fired her religious advisors and forced them to leave the palace.

A few hours later, the most elite soldiers of the Royal Armed Forces, the Green Guard, stormed the Royal Palace. They found Queen Emily and killed her on sight. There is a famous photograph which depicts the body of Queen Emily being thrown down the Grand Staircase by a teenaged Snowskin girl wearing a Green Guard uniform.

Historian's note: While that photograph is one of the most well-known and highly regarded examples of Partogan photojournalism, there is a unanimous opinion among analysts and historians that the image itself was doctored. While the identity of the soldier in the picture is unknown to this day, we can be certain she was not a Snowskin, as they had all died out over a hundred years beforehand.

During the second Royal Election in as many months, armed Green Guard soldiers monitored the voting very closely. The candidate put forward by the Church of the Mountain won in a landslide, and Queen Ihiko changed her name to “Karan.”

Queen Karan the Scientist ruled for nearly 70 years and brought Partoga into the electric age, but missed out on the dawning of the digital one by few years. After Karan passed away her successor, Queen Carol the Pious, struggled to keep the Church of the Mountain intact as people’s lives were slowly taken over by touchscreens, movie streaming, and instant virtual mail.

Partoga’s technological advancements weren’t entirely indigenous. Explorers and adventurers had ventured back to the Levakian continent (which was still dead at the time) and salvaged a great deal of Levakian technology. Two hundred years ago, the Levakians had been the most advanced people on the planet. Now they lived in tin shacks with no electricity or running water, unwanted and ignored by the Partogans.

Queen Madeline the First inherited Carol’s problems. She did her best but was overwhelmed and died of stress-induced illness at the age of 47.

Queen Phoebe fared better, helping Partogans find a balance between their fast-paced, technologically enhanced lives, and the slow, thoughtful ways of the Church. Under her rule, an age-old tradition was cemented into law:

For over a century, many young Partogan children had taken to climbing the Unnamed Mountain and visiting its Crater Lake as a way of proving their strength to classmates. Under the guidance of the Church of the Mountain, Queen Phoebe declared the Crater Lake to be a Holy Site, and that every Partogan youngster must visit the lake in a “Rite of Passage.”

The Church took full advantage of this. Providing both physical and spiritual assistance to children who made the climb, the Church reduced Mountainside fatalities from thousands-per-year to dozens-per-year. Its membership also swelled to record levels.

Queen Lucy the Seafarer was a relic from a bygone time, yet it was under her reign that Partoga reached the stars. Spending far more time in her boat on the Silver Sea than behind a desk, Lucy governed from the waves. She encouraged Partogans and Levakians alike to attempt to colonize the desolate Levakian continent as practice for colonial efforts on other planets.

Thanks to generous subsidies from Queen Lucy, Partoga’s fledgling space program grew into a juggernaut of industry. Intrepid explorers had gotten no further than low Partogan orbit, but plans were made for the exploration and colonization of the neighboring planets Waitiri, Kiwa, and Rehua. Wannabe colonists and explorers viewed the three worlds through telescopes intensely, plotting out what they’d do with the land when they got there.

At the same time, plans were being made for the Levakians. The rampant urbanization of Partoga had gotten to the point where lion settlements were viewed a nuisance. Levakians were treated more and more like unwanted wildlife than as a Sentient species.

*Historian’s note: No attempts were made to keep track of the Levakian population during this time period. However, we do have reason to believe that their numbers were dwindling, as there are fewer and fewer reports of Gifted Lions during this time.

Industrious businessmen such as Matapiko Mihaka developed plans to relocate (forcibly or otherwise) the entire Levakian population to another planet once the technology had been developed, allowing the entire homeworld to be exploited by Partogans. The meetings to develop Partoga’s first interstellar colony ship often devolved into shouting matches because the engineers couldn’t decide if it should carry Partogan Explorers or Levakian Exiles. There are stories that a teenaged Snowskin girl was also present at some of these meetings, deliberately goading people into fighting.

*Historians's note: The above claim is so ridiculous that it brings shame to the profession.

Section 4: Interstellar Empire (1865-1928 A.D.)

There are no records of Levakian dissent or civil disobedience during the pre-FTL days of Partoga. Most historians agree this is due to Queen Madeline the Second’s unusual choice to burn all records of her predecessor’s reign. However, countless interviews and innumerable pieces of physical evidence confirm that very real resistance to Partogan rule started to materialize in the years leading up to First Contact with the Galactic Community.

Most resistance was localized to one area or another. Occasional car bombs, assassination attempts, riots, and other such events were too few and far in between to assume the existence of an organized rebellion. It’s much more likely that three centuries’ worth of abuses and deliberate neglect were starting to take their toll on the downtrodden lions, and the lions simply lashed out from some combination of anger, frustration, or despair.

On 13 Noema 375 (Circa November 1890 A.D.) Partogan Star Command launched an experimental spaceship carrying a prototype Hyperspace Module. The Hyperdrive test was a failure, and the ship vanished into deep space. Royal Star Command gave up all attempts to contact the vessel and its crew of three were declared dead.

Two days later, a Bentusi Trade Station appeared in high orbit above Partoga and offered to return both the lost ship and its crew, who were alive and hungry, but otherwise unhurt.

*Historian’s Note: The Bentusi are a race of nomadic traders who once dominated the Galaxy as a military Superpower about 4,000 years ago. Having since gone down the path of Pacifism, the Bentusi are harmless unless attacked first. The Bentusi Exchange peddles in information and technology. The general consensus among historians is that the Bentusi learned the Partogan language by purchasing the knowledge from the Micore Empire, who maintained an observation post above Partoga from 1840 until 1890 A.D.

Once the shock wore off, the Bentusi and Partogan government were able to have a very productive dialogue. Eventually, Queen Madeline II was able to purchase Hyperdrive technology from the Bentusi. As part of the exchange, she handed over design schematics for Fort Miranda, which was being built at the time.

*Historian’s Note: Levakian terrorist attacks against Partogans were very frequent during this era. Fort Miranda was designed to act as an “Emergency Relocation Center” for the Partogan Government in the event of a full-scale Uprising. Interestingly, Fort Miranda is built on top of the battlefield where Queen Miranda the Great vanquished the Snowskins.

Over the course of several months, Partoga was inducted into the Galactic Community by the Bentusi. Queen Madeline II gave her first speech to the Galactic Council General Assembly less than a year after First Contact, and Partoga would get a seat in the assembly soon after. Within a year of First Contact, Queen Madeline II was on the floor of the GCGA regularly, debating the future of the Galaxy alongside political powerhouses like Taiidani Emperor Riesstiu IV the Second, Blorg Archon Heidi Vestergaard, Vanian High Comissioner Atrata Sakati, and Zudjari Warlords like Origin and Axis.

As soon as commercial space travel became available to the Kingdom of Partoga, a mass exodus of Levakians commenced. Fleeing the Trecta system entirely, whole prides of lions would relocate to the Great Wastelands, an empty region of space claimed (but not controlled) by at least half a dozen empires. Queen Madeline II subsidized companies, businesses, and other ventures that aimed to remove Levakians from Partoga. The name "Partoga" means "land of the people" and by this point it now applied to the city, the Continent, the planet, and the entire Kingdom. During this time, a small number of lions had crossed the Silver Sea and were living on the Levakian Continent once more. Queen Madeline II authorized local security forces to evict those lions forcefully so that the buildings could be given over to their new Partogan owners.

Lightyears away from Partoga, Levakian society underwent a renaissance. Gifted Lions came out of hiding, strong males battled for territory, and the first Levakian political movement in nearly 400 years started taking shape. A group of young lions came together and started building a unitary Levakian government. This new government was a copy of the Partogan one, except the constituent Principalities were called Kingdoms and ruled by Kings. The head of the new Levakian government would be an Empress.

Seeing the danger coming, Queen Madeline II dispatched the Green Guard. She followed the example set by Sophie the Merciful so long ago and offered the Levakians a choice: The new Levakian government would be allowed to exist so long as it remained a Vassal of Partoga. The lions accepted and the Kingdom of the Mangaia was founded. Its territory comprised of the entire southern hemisphere of Partoga itself, splitting the homeworld in half and placing a clear line between Partogan and Levakian lands. Several planets in the outermost reaches of Partogan space were also given over to the Mangaia government.

Every Levakian was expected to live in territory controlled by the Mangaia government. Lions who wanted to go into Partogan territory for any reason needed a permit. Without one, they could be arrested for vagrancy. Although the terms were harsh, many lions took this agreement as a victory, the first step in a long and arduous road to something much... much... greater.

In 408 (1923 A.D.) the Galaxy was rocked by a series of traumatic events. The Kushan Exiles flagrantly violated the Hiigara-Taiidan Peace Treaty by conducting an illegal Hyperspace test. The Taiidan Empire responded to the senseless Kushan aggression by destroying their planet, killing some 300 million Kushan Exiles and earning the unjust condemnation of nearly the entire Galactic Community. Only Partoga and the Democratic Republic of Assuria came to the heroic defense of Emperor Riesstiu IV the Second’s decision to protect the Galaxy by burning Kharak.

Moving too fast to intercept, the Kushan Mothership and its fleet passed through the Great Wastelands, fighting their way past the Turanic Raiders, before bypassing Partogan space entirely by going through the Gardens of Kadesh. Before the Galaxy had time to react, the Kushan war criminal known as “Karan Sjet” had led her fleet to the doorstep of Hiigara. Partogan ships were scrambled to help, but before they could arrive, the barbarian Sjet and her allies had slain the Taiidan Emperor in battle.

The Battle of Hiigara was but the starting gun to a much wider war. The Taiidan Empire collapsed on itself. Queen Madeline II sent over 70% of the Partogan military into Taiidan space to help the Imperialist faction fight against the traitorous Republicans and their Kushan/New Hiigaran allies. The Republicans also received help from other Galactic powers such as the Blorg Commonality and the United States of Assuria.

The conflict dragged on and became a lengthy, protracted war. Battle after battle sapped Partogan manpower. Desperate for warm bodies, the Partogan Royal Army and Navy both lowered their minimum age requirements. By 413 (1928 A.D.), teenagers as young as 14 were being sent into battle against the Republican Taiidani.

Meanwhile, Queen Madeline II took advantage of the Taiidan Empire’s collapse to grow Partoga’s western borders. In an agreement with the automated representatives of the Micore Empire, the Gardens of Kadesh were divided between the two states, leaving only a small sliver of territory for the Kadeshi to live in unmolested. A subsequent invasion of this space by the Turanic Raiders was ignored, as were reports of a solitary teenage Snowskin girl fighting alongside the Turanic Raiders during the final Annexation of Kadeshi territory.

*Historian's note: The above reports are most likely Turanic propaganda designed to scare the Kadeshi, who by this point, probably had a basic knowledge of Partogan history.

Over 50 unoccupied star systems in the Outer Rim were seized, causing the Kingdom of Partoga to double in size. Very few of these planets were warm or temperate enough for a Partogan to live comfortably, however. Preliminary surveys done by science ships also revealed little in the way of usable resources. The region was worthless from an economic standpoint, but Madeline II was unwilling to let another empire take the region.

The new Outer Rim territories were given over to the Levakian government. Predictably, Levakian terror attacks and agitation declined radically overnight. Although during this time many urban legends sprung up, telling about a teenaged Snowskin girl wandering the streets of the Mangaia at night, singing lullabies to lions.

*Historian's note: This moronic claim doesn't deserve a response.

The Levakian Empress divided the Outer Rim territories into six new Kingdoms: Ninigai, Aiarua, Paku Nui, Waioku, Vaopolu, and Asalele. All six of the new Levakian Kings swore fealty to the Levakian Empress, who in turn, swore vassalage to the Partogan Queen.

Queen Madeline II died of a stroke in 410. (1925 A.D.) Queen Marie the Scholar was elected to succeed Madeline II in the late summer of the same year, but her reign has been characterized by misfortune and disaster. Only 10 years old on her coronation day, Marie had more hospital visits than any previous Monarch, averaging one hospital visit every five days during her reign. Her title of “the Scholar” comes from a famous newspaper photo of the young Queen, showing her sitting upright in a hospital bed, surrounded by books, papers and reports from government officials.

Many analysts claim that Partoga went into a decline immediately after Marie took over. Levakian nationalists made louder and louder calls for concessions from the Partogan government. The Royal Navy suffered multiple serious defeats and was actively training children for frontline combat less than two years into her reign. Meanwhile, the Galactic Council Security Council voted to censure the Partogan representatives after they heroically spoke out in defense of what the GCSC mistakenly called “The Kharakan Genocide.”

International pressure to abandon the Taiidan Empire continued mounting on Partoga. In 412 (1927 A.D.) the Blorg Commonality issued their first ever diplomatic insult, verbally assaulting Queen Marie and chastising her “misplaced loyalty” to the Imperialist Taiidani. There are also numerous unconfirmed reports of a teenage Snowskin girl fighting alongside rouge Levakians who had joined the enemy side.

*Historian's note: All of those reports can be attributed to hallucinations, post-traumatic shock, and Battle Madness.

Section 5: The Reign of Queen Kendra the Peacemaker (1928-1952 A.D.)

You can learn more about this part of Partogan history by reading new chapters of “Faith in Chaos” once they are posted.

Section 6: Subspace Echoes and the Run-Up to War (1952-2015 A.D.)

You can learn more about this part of Partogan history by reading new chapters of “Faith in Chaos” once they are posted.

Section 7: The Second Hyperspace War (2015-2036 A.D.)

Agamemnon and Astynome entered the Galaxy on September 11, 2015 and combat operations began immediately. Within a month, the Bio-Mechanical Virus known as the Beast had infected between 20,000 and 30,000 spaceships and was rapidly spreading throughout the Galaxy. Historians estimate that about 200 million Partogans were either killed or subverted by the Beast Virus during the first year of fighting alone.

Partoga’s location in the Galaxy granted the Kingdom some protection, but it didn’t last long. The Beast gained access to the Hyperspace Network in early 2016 and by the end of the year every Hyperspace Gate in the Galaxy had been infected and was passing the Virus onto any ship that entered the network. Partogan scientists were able to develop a vaccine that immunized all Partogan warships against the Beast during the fighting season of 2017, but by 2018, the Bio-Mechanical Virus had adapted, rendering the Beast immune to the vaccine.

This pattern repeated for nearly a decade. Every time Partoga or an ally developed a new Vaccine, the Beast would adapt and spread to another star cluster. By 2018, the first infected ships were being found in Partogan space.

By 2019, the Galactic Front Line was solidly inside Partogan territory. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and thousands of ships were poured into the battle each month, fighting the Beast to a stalemate, just as the Hiigarans and Vaygr had done on the other side of the Galaxy. With the Hyperspace Network compromised, Infected ships had infinite directions in which to spread the plague.

Asalele was the first Levakian planet to be infected. The Beast ran rampant through the dense urban centers. Between 1.2 and 1.5 Billion lions were converted into Beast materiel. Asalele was subsequently destroyed by a Taiidani Planet-Killer to avoid giving the plague a chance to spread.

By 2025, Queen Miranda II had authorized the destruction of 15 of her own planets in order to avoid giving the Beast a beachhead in Partogan territory. In 2027, the situation began to stabilize somewhat as a combined Hiigaran/Blorg/Vaygr/Taiidan/Micore armada managed to bog down a huge fleet of Infected ships at a conflict now known as the Siege of the Nanjim Star Cluster. This capital ship slug-fest would last for nearly 3 years and give the Galaxy a much-needed reprieve.

During the “lull” in the fighting, Queen Miranda II traveled to Hiigara and after much negotiation, created a military alliance geared specifically towards fighting the Beast.

The newly founded Triple Alliance consisted of the Kingdom of Partoga, the Levakian Confederation, and the Hiigaran Empire. All three nations contributed some 80,000 warships to a United Front and inflicted serious defeats on the Beast across multiple combat zones. The Triple Alliance also carried out the first Multi-Fleet Inoculation, creating the largest armada of Beast-Immune ships in the Galaxy. By 2030, the Beast was in full retreat on all fronts and for a few sweet months, there were more uninfected ships in the Galaxy than Infected ones.

This wasn’t to last. The Beast adapted once more, and by the beginning of 2031, it was fully immune to the Multi-Fleet Inoculation. Once again, every nation in the Galaxy was in retreat. The Blorg, Turanic Raiders, Amadii, and Assurians were wiped out during this time period, cutting the total population of the Galaxy by a third.

In 2035, the situation stabilized again and a new Galactic Front Line formed. In the Galactic South, an armed rebellion against the ADVENT Coalition had plunged the Sol system into a high-intensity civil war. This should have been a non-event, considering what else was happening, but it caught the attention of both Agamemnon and Astynome. The Fathership and Mothership of the Beast both stopped what they were doing and began flying towards Earth on Slower-Than-Light drives to avoid detection.

They were detected.

Queen Miranda II lead a massive Triple Alliance fleet to Earth and staged an intervention in the Earth War. The leaders of the human resistance movement (XCOM) were offered a bargain: Miranda II would help the humans to overthrow the ADVENT Coalition, but in return, Humanity as a whole needed to start pulling its weight in the Second Hyperspace War. XCOM Commander Laura Harper agreed to the demands, and Partogan soldiers began to land on Earth, fighting alongside human warriors and bringing destruction to the ADVENT Coalition. Within months of the intervention, the first human warships joined Partogan ones at the Galactic Front Line.

During the intervention, Partogan soldiers found a small tribe of humans who spoke a language that sounded similar to Partogan. Physical similarities between the Human and Partogan species were also noticed. Eventually, some Partogan soldiers reported that there was an entire nation of living, breathing Snowskins occupying a chain of islands on Earth.

If this discovery had been made during peacetime, it would have caused riots and chaos on the streets of Partoga City. Instead, the news was drowned out by the sound of air raid sirens and blocked out by shelter doors as the umpteenth squadron of Beast-infected bombers made an attack run on the city.

In the late months of 2035, it became blatantly obvious that Agamemnon and Astynome were interested in something on Earth. The Fathership and Mothership both approached Earth very slowly, gathering up a colossal armada of infected ships as they went. The Triple Alliance began gathering strength too. For the better part of a year, allied warships continued pouring into the Sol System. Word leaked out of the buildup, and soon, hundreds of thousands of battle-ready ships were entering the Sol System from all over the Galaxy.

The rumors going around were that all Sentient life was going to make an epic final stand against the Beast at Sol, but it was the humans who put that rumor to bed and replaced it with an even better story.

When the Partogan Royal Navy arrived at Earth in force, they discovered the human’s secret weapon: A Genetically Engineered Hybrid being that was half human and half... something else. The woman answered to the name of “Jericho” and was, without question, the most powerful Psionic in the entire Galaxy. This was undoubtedly the reason the Beast was closing on Earth. It wanted to pass the Infection onto Jericho, and potentially subvert a living weapon of mass destruction.

In dark corners of the cosmos, nervous combatants would dare to utter their last hopes in a hushed whisper:

“Jericho, the Hybrid Human. She’s the Chosen One, isn’t she?”

The Galaxy had never seen a cult of personality as powerful as the one Jericho drew around herself. tens of thousands of Partogans who had travelled to Earth as part of the Triple Alliance fleet now swore allegiance to Jericho and her band of warriors: the Stormbreakers. If things had gone differently, she would have been worshipped as a God.

Knowing she needed to meet Jericho face-to-face and plan out a proper military strategy with her, Queen Miranda II decided to go to Earth. However, the Queen was in poor physical health, having suffered a minor stress-induced heart attack a few weeks prior. The Queen decided to be cautious. When she departed for Sol, she took the entire National Assembly, plus four Queen Candidates, with her.

Upon arriving at Earth, Queen Miranda II dispatched an invitation to Jericho. Before Jericho could respond, a last-second armed conflict erupted on Earth, pitting Jericho and her Stormbreakers against a solitary teenaged Snowskin girl whose Psionic Powers managed to rival those of Jericho.

Historians never learned the name of the Snowskin who caused Jericho so much trouble on Earth. We do, however, know the code-name XCOM used to refer to her:

PARADOX

Once “Paradox” was captured and incarcerated, Jericho and Queen Miranda II finally sat down for their meeting a mere month before Agamemnon and Astynome were scheduled to arrive in the Sol System. Not only was Jericho present, but so were the leaders of every nation and military force that would participate in the final stand at Sol. Presidents, Generals, Kings, Warlords, Archons, High Comissioners, and all sorts of interstellar leaders were in the room. All witnesses who were there that day tell us that the meeting went well, and that a cohesive strategy to defend Earth was worked out. But before the anyone could agree to anything in writing, Queen Miranda II suffered a sudden heart attack and died in the conference room.

The Queen’s preparedness was a simultaneous boon and curse. Because the entire Partogan National Assembly was present on Earth along with four eligible Queen Candidates, a Royal election was held almost immediately. Unfortunately, a few hours before the voting started, “Paradox” escaped from custody and infiltrated the building where the National Assembly was meeting. Six Stormbreakers followed her inside.

While no violence occurred during the voting, multiple members of the National Assembly were approached and spoken to by “Paradox” and the Stormbreakers. “Paradox” was recaptured before voting ended. The general consensus of historians is that all seven humans interfered in the Royal Election and almost certainly changed the outcome. 12-year-old Kailani Kalili was the first girl in Partogan history to win a Royal Election with less than 90% of the vote. She became Queen Miranda the Third.

11 days later, Agamemnon and Astynome arrived in the Sol System at the head of a massive infected armada. “Paradox” escaped from custody one final time before the fighting started and was never seen again.

The War in Heaven occurred on September 11, 2036 and the Second Hyperspace War ended immediately afterward. Approximately 150 billion Partogans died across the entire Galaxy during 21 years of war. When the sun rose on September 12th, only 5 million Partogans were still alive.

There are no historical records of what happened for the next 160 years.

Section 8: After Everything (2200-2203 A.D.)

You can learn more about this part of Partogan history by reading “After Everything.”

*Historian's note: Because so many Partogans died during the Second Hyperspace War, historical records of the conflict itself were very poorly maintained, if at all. By the time the historical record picks up again in 2200, the Partogans had forgotten a vast amount of information about the Galaxy, including both the identity and nature of the Beast, choosing to refer to the enemy as "Extragalactic Invaders" instead.

Section 9 and 1: END OF THE 115th CYCLE (2229 A.D.)

You can learn more about this part of Partogan history by reading the interludes of “Faith in Chaos” that occur in between the main chapters.


======================
And that, good reader, is the history of Partoga and Levakia in a nutshell. We now return to our regularly scheduled program. Chapter 1.2 of Faith in Chaos should be posted on Friday and subsequent chapters will be posted every 5 to 6 days.


SO IT IS, AND SO IT SHALL ALWAYS BE.
The Paradox said:
no, it won't.
 
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Kylia Quilor

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Okay so I hope this story explains the freaky teenager. :p

But some really excellent writing and world building.
 

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I would imagine via European traders - though if it was written in a language similar to that of the Snowskins, perhaps they got it from Chinese or Korean people (since Japanese was influence by Chinese as was Korean... if I remember my linguistics properly)
 

Macavity116

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What exactly were Agamemnon and Astynome?

A pair of planetoid-sized colony ships, built and launched by an alien race from a distant galaxy. Their mission was to colonize the Galaxy where this story is set. (imagine a situation like Mass Effect: Andromeda) While they were travelling through Hyperspace both ships unwittingly picked up an organism that turned out to be the Beast. Everybody aboard both ships was subverted and turned into Beast materiel. By the time the two colony ships arrived at their destination, they'd transformed into sentient spaceborne organisms that reproduced by passing on the Beast Virus to other ships.

Agamemnon was referred to as a "male" or "Fathership of the Beast" because it tended to speak in a male voice more frequently than a female one. The vast majority of the ship's bridge crew were male. The reverse is true for "Mothership" Astynome being "female."

perhaps they got it from Chinese or Korean people

You hit the nail on the head. The Book of the Forgotten was owned and used by a Chinese merchant before it ended up halfway across the Galaxy, hence the strange language that was similar to Japanese, but clearly something else.

When I created Partoga 13 years ago I never specified (to myself) if any of the Snowskins were Chinese or Koreans that got caught in the "dragnet" that went over southern Japan. I like to think that if any were, their numbers on Partoga would have been far too small to survive on their own. They would have assimilated into the Snowskin Kingdom.

In hindsight, why the heck was I building fictional worlds back then? I was a kid! Why wasn't I playing outside?!
 
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Chapter 1.2: The White Lioness

Macavity116

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So, I'm having a really, really good day. Let's do Chapter 1.2 a full day ahead of schedule!
======

Chapter 1.2
The White Lioness

March 18, 1928 A.D.
The Mangaia – Partogan Homeworld, Kingdom of Partoga


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Caption said:
The Partogan Homeworld, located just a few hyperlanes away from the Southern Border with the Micore Empire. The Northern half of the planet belongs to the Kingdom of Partoga. The Southern half belongs to the Kingdom of The Mangaia. --- Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t make the “Tidal Locked” Modifier go away. (A symptom of using Trappist-1 as the starting system) For story purposes, it’s not there. The other two modifiers remain in effect.

Carefully placed between the wide ocean and the dense Rahkshian Jungle, the city called Mangaia grew upwards instead of outward. Mighty skyscrapers dominated the area and threw whole sections of the city into semi-permanent darkness. Further away from the city center, massive urban complexes spotted the cityscape, each one consisting of hundreds of compact, low-rise building erected as close together as possible and conjoined by a network of staircases, skywalks, and covered bridges. The noise of industry and vehicles merged together into a dull roar that suppressed the crashing of ocean waves. A hazy layer of smog hung above it all, giving the city a sickly brown color.

In the middle of this densely packed metropolis was a palace. It was nowhere near as grand or audacious as the one in Partoga City, but it was clearly a palace nonetheless. It was the home of the Imperial Pride, a group who controlled the Gazania Throne. The leader of the Pride was Jemima, the Empress of Levakia.

The Grand Staircase leading away from the front entrance faced to the East, as did a great statue at the base of the steps. The statue contained a stone recreation of two people. The first was a Partogan woman in her middle years. With her right hand she raised a sword, pointing at the Eastern horizon.

The second stone individual was a fur-covered creature. This creature had two legs, two arms, and a head atop its shoulders, but this was where its resemblance to a Partogan ended. If it stood at full height, the creature would have been well over twice the height of the Partogan woman. Its body was that of an apex predator, built with massive paws, lethal claws, and a huge mane of wild hair that covered its neck and chest. The creature’s face was built to kill, with terrifying incisor teeth, a large, powerful jaw, long whiskers and big pointed ears.

This lion-like creature was a Levakian.

The stone Levakian was sitting on its haunches before the stone recreation of Queen Lucy the Seafarer, and she had placed her left hand firmly atop his head, much like someone would do to a pet. The complete and total subjugation of the Levakian race was not symbolized by the Queen’s sword or her hand atop the lion’s head. The greatest symbol of Partoga’s domination of the Levakian people was in the fact that the stone Partogan was facing East... towards Levakia... while her subject faced away from his ancestral homeland.

Anyone seeking to enter or leave the palace would have to walk past this statue and be reminded of who truly ruled this continent, this planet, and the surrounding star systems.

One of those beings had just woken up after sleeping late into the afternoon, far later than she’d actually intended. In a second-floor bedroom of the Mangaia palace, a ray of afternoon sunlight found its way into a window and woke the two princesses who had been curled up in deep sleep.

A young lioness named Tantomile roused reluctantly and gave a great yawn, stretching her limbs and arching her back. Leaving her older sister Coricopat to sleep in, Tantomile loped on all fours partway across the room before straightening up to open the door.

From a biological standpoint, bipedalism (the ability to walk on two feet) was an extremely recent development for the Levakian species. It had been bred into all Levakians through a highly aggressive eugenics program carried out by the Partogan government about 90 years ago. It had taken even more time for the Partogans to convert the Levakian’s front legs into a configuration that just barely passed as “arms.” Needless to say, Tantomile and all of her fellow Levakians were still feeling uncomfortable using their front paws to open doors. It would be several more generations before this discomfort fell away. Like most lions, Tantomile spent most of her time down on all fours and only stood upright if it was necessary, which seemed to be happening a lot more often as time went on.

Outside her bedroom, the Mangaia palace was silent. It had only been this way for a little while. A week ago, the seven other lionesses who made up the Imperial Pride had gone into the Rahkshian Jungle on a hunting expedition. They wouldn’t be back for another five days or so. Then, just two days ago, Tantomile had woken up to discover that her mother, the Levakian Empress Jemima, had abruptly left the palace and boarded a spaceship bound for Paku Nui in the Outer Rim.

“It’s an emergency meeting, your highness.” one of palace servants had said. “She’s responding to reports of a famine in Paku Nui and wanted to speak to King Emerdon directly. She didn’t have time to say goodbye, but she did leave instructions for you... ahem: ‘Don’t break anything.’ That’s all her Highness said.”

Realizing their mother had left them alone in the palace for at least two days, Tantomile and Coricopat immediately did what many adolescents would have done in that situation: They invited all of their friends over for a night and had thrown a massive party.

Coricopat, ever the social butterfly, had gone chattering and gossiping from one young lioness to the next. By the end of the first night, she’d formed a tight clique of friendly lionesses that looked like the beginnings of a new lion pride. Tantomile, meanwhile, was the more ambitious sister. She had hunted down and stuck up talks with lions who were already members of powerful prides. She traded hunting stories with the sons and daughters of pride leaders, and improved her already impressive knowledge of which prides were secure, which ones were in danger of being taken over by a strong young male, and which of those males were currently single.

Pacing the ballroom and surveying the damage left behind, Tantomile couldn’t remember if the palace servants had fled before or after a young male lion had climbed onto the crystal chandelier and brought it crashing down to the floor. He hadn’t done it for no reason. Korova, a powerful Mangaia lion, had been in the middle of a fight with another lion. With so many young, eligible lionesses at the party, such a thing was inevitable. Nothing spurs lions to fighting one another more effectively than the gaze of a lioness.

Tantomile slunk down the north wing of the palace and started pushing open the doors to the guest bedrooms. As she suspected, all of the party guests had finally left. All but one.

Sure, Korova had impressed all of the lionesses by outmaneuvering his opponent and causing a great deal of chaos, but at the end of the night, there were only two lionesses who Korova sought. Coricopat had gotten to him first, but Tantomile refused to let her keep Korova to herself. Eventually, the sisters had struck a truce: the two lionesses agreed to “share” him. No one ever asked Korova how he felt about being “shared” between two girlfriends. He just went along with it.

Eventually, Tantomile found Korova in the last guest room she tried. He was awake and didn’t notice Tantomile pushing open the door because his head was stuck out the window. Korova seemed to be having a hurried conversation with someone standing in the palace courtyard. Tantomile didn’t interrupt. She took a moment to admire Korova’s form instead.

The two Levakians looked nothing alike. Korova was absolutely massive. Even when compared against your average male lion, Korova could only be described as a colossus! Nearly 2 Bios long and weighing almost 300 Kilograms, his shaggy brown mane made him look even bigger than he already was. Korova’s ears were almost completely hidden by the thick brown fur of his mane, and his paws were bigger than a Partogan’s head. Everything about Korova was just... big.

By comparison, Tantomile looked like a domestic housecat. Sleeker and more lightwieght, she had a coat of pure white fur with no spots or stripes, soft and smooth from a lifetime of daily grooming. She also had deep purple eyes that caused most other lions to do a double-take when they saw them. Normally, the combination of white fur and purple eyes signified a Gifted Lion. However, Tantomile had never exhibited the faintest trace of Psionic aptitude. At just 19 months old, she was far too young to be Gifted Lion. Mental powers would only manifest in an adult lion, usually around the age 3 years. The lack of powers hadn’t stopped Tantomile from becoming a force to be reckoned with, though.

Since the dawn of civilization, lionesses had always been the hunters and warriors of Levakian society, and Tantomile was no exception. She was lean and muscular; her massive teeth were sharp and lethal to anything in her path. Many wild Kikanalo had met their doom in her jaws. Once, Tantomile had even killed a Partogan man during a barfight by crushing his chest in her teeth. Tantomile’s mother, the Empress Jemima, had gotten her out of trouble that day, but every now and then, Tantomile would lick her chops and gleefully remember the taste of Partogan blood.

When she’d seen her fill of Korova, Tantomile reached out and touched his shoulder with her paw. Korova startled and gasped, jumping up and hitting his head on the top of the windowsill. Whoever was standing in the courtyard sprinted away before Tantomile could get a good look. Instead, she looked at Korova and was about to give him a greeting when she saw the fearful look on his face.

“Korova, what’s wrong?” Tantomile asked, “Did I scare you?”

Korova’s eyes darted from Tantomile to the window and back again.

“You didn’t,” he said, “That was my friend, or rather the news he just told me.”

Tantomile’s ears swiveled as she picked up the sound of heavy paws thudding away from the window. Korova crossed the room in one stride and approached Tantomile. She tried to nuzzle him affectionately but Korova raised his head just out of her reach. He wanted to talk. She didn’t. Resigned to starting the morning with some bad news, Tantomile laid down on the carpeted floor and gave a huge yawn.

“Alright. What’s the bad news?” she asked,

Korova either wouldn’t or couldn’t relax. While Tantomile stretched out on the floor, blinking her purple eyes slowly up at him, Korova began to pace up and down the length of the guest room.

“That lion, he’s an old friend of mine. Name’s Sadala.” Korova started, “He just told me that her Highness the Empress is on her way back. She should be back in the city sometime tonight.”

Tantomile rolled over, belly up and legs in the air, and started scratching her back on the floor. It felt so good that she started to make a deep growling noise that some Levakians could pass off as “purring.” With the top of her head pressed to the floor, she had to angle her ears to keep listening to Korova.

“Alright,” Tantomile sighed from the floor. “That gives us a few hours to clean up the mess from the party, unless you’re going to scram or something.”

Korova stopped pacing and looked at Tantomile.

“That’s not the important part.”

Tantomile rolled over again and sat up. She’d noticed how grim and serious the tone of Korova’s voice had become. He sat down across from her.

“Sadala said King Emerdon left Paku Nui an hour before Jemima did. He’s also on the way here.”

Okay, that was actual bad news. Time to sit up.

Emerdon had become King of Paku Nui long before Tantomile had been born. She had met him only once and had come away disturbed by just how ambitious he was. King Emerdon craved power, but seemed to be cursed with eternal dissatisfaction with any gains he made. Out of all seven Levakian Kings, Emerdon had carried out more Pride Takeovers than any other King.

In a society of lions, the phrase “Pride Takeover” meant everything the name implied: A male lion forces his way into a pride and supplants its leader, often by fighting and/or killing them. While minor prides experienced Takeovers all the time, the ruling prides were left alone... for obvious reasons. It had been decades since the last time a ruling pride had experienced a Takeover.

A pulse of fear flickered through Tantomile’s body.

“He wouldn’t!” she gasped. “Everyone knows that King Mirringo is a really savage fighter. Emerdon’s gonna get himself killed!”

Korova cocked his head to one side.

“That’s why my friend was just here.” he said. “He can’t find King Mirringo. I think he left the city.



Tantomile and Korova went up the Princess’ bedroom and roused Coricopat. Tantomile’s older sister looked nothing like her. Coricopat had unkempt brown fur, yellow eyes, and a worn face that bore scars left over from a fight with another lion. She took the news of Mirringo’s absence grimly.

“Sounds like he’s just giving up and letting Emerdon have the Mangaia.” Coricopat commented, “Doesn’t think he can take Emerdon in a fight, that’s my guess.”

Despite being female, Coricopat’s voice was significantly deeper than Tantomile’s, to the point where she could be mistaken for a male if one closed their eyes while she was talking.

The three lions began to patrol the courtyard of the Mangaia palace, taking in some sunlight and arguing with one another over how Emerdon’s possible takeover of The Mangaia would affect Levakian politics. While Korova and Coricopat raised their voices and roared at one another (as lions do when they antagonize each other) Tantomile turned her eyes to an Imperial Guard standing on the far side of the courtyard.

The bronze lion guarding the rear entrance to the palace locked eyes with Tantomile, then held his slugthrower rifle in front of him, pretending to inspect the weapon and running his paw along the stock.

This was a signal that Tantomile recognized: This guard was one of her Thralls, a lion who had sworn to support Tantomile in the event of a succession dispute. Coricopat had her own Thralls as well, but none of them were close enough to make eye contact at the moment. Korova was no one’s Thrall, but that could change if Jemima died without naming an heir.

If.

Making sure to keep a line of sight to her Thrall, Tantomile sprinted across the courtyard on all fours to catch up with her sister and Korova. They were still arguing about Emerdon.

“Paku Nui is a star cluster!” Coricopat was saying, “The Mangaia is a hemisphere on just one planet! The change in scale is way too big for any one lion to handle.”

“Moving from a big territory to a small one won’t make him a micromanager,” Korova countered. “It might be a nice change... a change... wait a second.”

Coricopat and Tantomile both stared at Korova. He looked like he’d just been struck by a powerful thought.

“Why...” Korova said quietly, “Why would Emerdon try to take over a Kingdom that’s smaller than the one he’s already ruling?”

Korova had a good point. Emerdon’s ambitions were practically public knowledge. He wanted personal aggrandizement, fortunes, political power, and numerous cubs to continue his bloodline. Taking over The Mangaia would give him none of those things.

And then the idea slowly started to work its way into the trio. Tantomile said it aloud:

“He’s not going for The Mangaia. He wants the big prize... Our mother... The Imperial Pride.”

Neither Coricopat nor Korova disputed her claim. They both knew she was right.

The evidence was circumstantial at best, but overpowering all the same. Emerdon had waited until both the Empress of Levakia and the King of The Mangaia were too far away to properly defend the palace... waited for the perfect moment to strike.

Coricopat swayed on her feet. She wasn’t taking this well.

“How can we know?” she asked, her voice trembling. “He... he could be coming here for any other reason, right? Maybe he’s going to the shipyard? Maybe he wants to see Mirringo but doesn’t know he’s gone? Who said this has to be a Takeover?!”

“If it were anyone else, you’d have a point.” Tantomile replied, “But in Emerdon’s case, it makes sense. I’m really starting to think this is the real thing.”

She turned to Korova; a dark look came over him. Tantomile knew that he was imagining himself in Emerdon’s place, mentally planning out a Takeover of the Imperial Pride. Korova was old enough to have either witnessed or attempted a Takeover of his own. He would speak from experience.

“Yeah, this is definitely a Takeover attempt. He’s doing everything right,” Korova said his thoughts aloud. “Strike when the King is old, weak, or away. Sweep the territory... shadow the strongest female... separate her from the cubs... kill the cubs... then take the females.”

He pointed to Coricopat.

“You’re what? Two-and-a-half? Three years old? You’ll be Emerdon’s next wife.” Korova then pointed to Tantomile. “You’re definitely less than 18 months old, Tantomile. I’m sorry, but if this is a real Takeover then Emerdon’s gonna kill you.

Tantomile flattened her ears and showed her teeth.

“I’m sorry,” Korova added, “Takeovers always go that way. If you aren’t going to have his cubs, then he's got no reason to keep you around.”

Tantomile unsheathed her claws and growled,

“I know how a Takeover works!” she snapped, “What do we do now that we know he's coming!?”

Coricopat and Tantomile both looked at their shared boyfriend. Korova furrowed his brow in thought.

“You’ve got two choices.” he said. “You can stay here and fight, try and hold out until Empress Jemima gets here... but my friend Sadala said Emerdon’s got a head start on her. I dunno how long you’d have to hold him off for. Otherwise... you can run. He wouldn’t chase you out of The Mangaia. Too much effort.”

Coricopat hesitated. Tantomile had an idea. She wheeled around and roared at her Thrall.

“HEY YOU!! GET MY MOM ON THE HYPERWAVE RELAY RIGHT NOW!!

“Yes, Princess!”

The Imperial Guard ran up the steps and back into the palace. Tantomile followed him with Korova and Coricopat close behind her. All the way up the steps, Coricopat muttered under her breath,

“This can’t be real, this isn’t happening, this can’t be real.”

In a large room with a high ceiling, the trio of lions found the spherical Hyperwave Relay revolving gently in its cradle while two lion operators tried to establish contact with Empress Jemima’s ship.



The Hyperwave Relay is simultaneously an affront to science, an anachronism in the course of history, a direct insult to the laws of physics, and the single most important communications tool an interstellar empire can possess. It allows for near-instantaneous communications with any other Hyperwave relay anywhere in the Galaxy.

This is impossible.

The “calling” relay initiates contact by beaming a Recognition signal directly into Hyperspace. The signal then permeates the entire Hyperlane Network and enters the old Hyperspace Gateway Network. At every possible exit point the Recognition signal enters normal space and radiates outwards in all directions at the speed of light.

This too, is impossible.

The “receiving” relay then detects the incoming Recognition signal and decodes from it the Normal Space coordinates of the “calling” relay. The “receiving” relay then opens up a miniscule Hyperspace entry point inside of its core mechanism. Radio waves are beamed directly into this Hyperspace entry point and exit a similar point in the “calling” relay. Both relays can then communicate with one another in real time by using Hyperspace as a go-between.

This is also impossible.

The adoption of Hyperspace-based communication soon caused a litany of temporal-related issues to crop up. As Hyperwave relays became more and more popular, hundreds of rapid-fire Causality violations caused dangerous fluctuations in the Galactic Stock Market. The Galactic Council remedied the situation by imposing a “Galactic Time Zone” system to minimize instances of involuntary time-travel and accidental timeline cancellations. Every star cluster in the Galaxy belongs to one “Time Zone” or another and the “Galactic Date Line” serves as a clear and unambiguous divide between the twin Galactic Arms.

This is patently impossible.

It took about thirty minutes to establish Faster-Than-Light communications with Empress Jemima, who was about 1,100 Light-years away and approaching a Hyperlane Entry Point at Slower-Than-Light speeds.

...

The Hyperwave operators gave Tantomile a tablet computer to hold. It was connected to the Hyperwave relay by a thick electrical cable. On the screen, Tantomile, Coricopat, and Korova saw the bridge of a Levakian warship and a middle-aged Lioness frantically waving to get their attention. When she saw her two daughters, the Empress of Levakia let out a sigh of relief.

“Tanty! Cori!” Empress Jemima gasped, “I’m so happy to see you. Who’s that lion?”

Korova slinked out of view, tail between his legs.

“No one important,” said Tantomile, “Look, Mom, we just heard that Emerdon is on his way here and that he might be doing a-”

“YES!” Jemima interrupted loudly, “Tanty, it’s a Takeover! Where are you? My lieutenant says your Recognition signal’s coming from the Mangaia Palace.”

“We’re in the palace.” answered Coricopat, “Mom, how do you know it’s a Takeover? What’s going on out there!?”

Jemima’s ears twitched, then the words came tumbling out.

“Listen, cubs: we don’t have a lot of time to talk. There’s a political faction out here in the Outer Rim that’s getting out of control. Best way to describe them is ‘militant nationalists,’ maybe you could call them separatists, but the name doesn’t matter. They’ve been taking advantage of the famine out here in Paku Nui to grow their support base. They’re planning to do something stupid and dangerous. I came out here to meet with their leaders, try and talk them out of their idiotic plan. Well, I was the damn idiot. They just stalled for time so Emerdon could head your way. We’re trying to catch up with him, but he’s got a half-day lead on us. He’s heading to The Mangaia right now with a ship full of huntresses. Thirty, maybe forty of them!”

Tantomile gasped, but her mother continued delivering bad news;

“There’s more: Emerdon isn’t the only one on the move. My huntresses are telling me there are Pride Takeovers happening all over Levakian space right now. Lots of old lions are being put out to pasture today. Cubs, you’re not safe! You need to get out of The Mangaia!”

Tantomile and Coricopat looked at one another.

“Where do you want us to go?” Coricopat asked, “Up north into Partoga?”

Jemima shook her head.

“If the Partogans think our government is unstable they’ll end our autonomy.” she responded, “Every last bit of our hard-fought freedom taken away. No, this is a Levakian problem and it needs to be solved by Levakians. You should both get out of the Kingdom entirely.”

“Out of the Kingdom!” Tantomile burst out, “Mom, you might as well exile us!”

“You can hide outside Partogan space until this is all over,” said Jemima seriously, “or you can take your chances with Emerdon and his huntresses when they catch you. There’s no way I can beat him to you, so you’ve got to take care of yourselves! Now look, I know you both have ships-”

Tantomile and Coricopat both gasped and flattened their ears. They thought they had managed to keep their personal spaceships a secret from their mother. Empress Jemima snapped at her daughters,

“There’s no time for that! I know you both have ships. Use them and get as far away from Partogan space as you can. Hide someplace in the Middle or Outer Rim. Go to Blorg, Amadiio, Assuria, I don’t care! Just get anywhere that’s not Partoga and lie low until this whole thing blows over. Keep your eyes on the news and do not contact me. It’ll be easier for me to protect you if I don’t know where you are. You’ll know when it’s safe to come back. Am I clear?”

“Yes.” said Tantomile, but Coricopat seemed to have frozen.

Jemima locked eyes on her oldest daughter.

“Coricopat! Do you understand me!?”

“Isn’t real.” Coricopat muttered. “This can’t be happening.”

On the screen, Empress Jemima looked around her. The sounds of a Hyperspace Alarm could be heard in the background. The Empress swore.

“CORICOPAT!” she yelled,

Tantomile decided to act.

“I’ll get her off-world, Mom.” she said. “I love you, I’ll keep watch for you!”

“Be safe.” were Jemima’s last words before the connection was cut. Coricopat suddenly recovered from her catatonic state.

“Wha-Where’s Mom?” she shook the blank tablet.

“By now, a radiation shelter.” said Tantomile. “Let’s go.”

Tantomile and Korova lead Coricopat out of the Hyperwave Relay room and all the way across the Palace. They were aiming for the big doorway that lead to the Grand Staircase outside. Once they got to the door, Coricopat finally regained the ability to walk unassisted. The shock seemed to be wearing off.

Coricopat pushed the palace door open. On the other side and at the bottom of the Grand Staircase lay The Mangaia, the city which served as the beating heart of Levakian society. The city which the two sisters now had to flee. While Coricopat looked helplessly at Korova, Tantomile turned to face the palace one last time. She opened her mouth wide and roared!

“TANTOMILE CALLS FOR HER PRIDE!”

The sound of her roar echoed across the palace grounds. As soon as they heard it, some fifty Imperial Guards, palace servants, and city workers abandoned their posts, exited the palace compound, and reported to Tantomile. Korova looked impressed as Tantomile’s loyalists came to her, but Coricopat gasped quietly;

“Why do you have more Thralls than me?!”

Once she had done a headcount of her loyal hunters and huntresses, Tantomile turned to her sister and shared boyfriend. She stepped forward and rubbed her head and face against Coricopat’s in an affectionate way, rumbling with a deep purr.

“I’m sorry, big sis.” she said, “but just in case... just in case, you know... it happens... this is where we’re gonna part ways. I love you, big sis, and I hope it doesn’t happen.”

With that final parting word, Tantomile beckoned her hunters and huntresses to follow. At the bottom of the Grand Staircase, crowds of Levakian citizens parted to let their youngest princess through, blissfully unaware of the reason why Tantomile and fifty other lions were running straight from the Palace to the spaceport. They also didn’t know why Coricopat did the same thing a few minutes later, escorted by about twenty lions.

As the sun reached its highest point in the sky and started to sink back down to the horizon below, two spacecraft rocketed away from the city of The Mangaia.

The first was a Blorg Marine Frigate. It had only one Mass Driver gun, but it made up for this by having an Infiltration Module, a structure designed to make it easier for the ship to do its actual job: deploy boarding parties. The docking ports bore signs of damage leftover from the ship’s recent theft. The bulbus frigate chassis had once been painted green and black, but now it shone yellow and orange against the blue afternoon sky.

The second spaceship was a Partogan Assault Frigate, its many Mass Driver guns looked like spikes in the afternoon light. The Assault Frigate took aim for a faint blue star in the Outer Rim and throttled its engines to full power, leaving the planet far behind. Like the first ship, it had been repainted. The green and red stripes of Partoga had been replaced with the yellow and orange colors of Levakia.

Yellow for the eyes of the lion. Orange for his fur.


 
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