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alscon

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Welcome all returning readAARs, and welcome to all new ones - Stellaris offers a good chance to pick up the megacampaign somewhere along the way, after all ;).

With Libra released, I finally decided not to wait for the inevitable hotfix, hoping it will go well enough to go on - for part 3 of this megacampaign!

What can one expect from this AAR? Well, no longer one chapter per ruler - I'll likely try and keep the style of the previous two parts though, centred around some events of this world, history-book-ish. Though I might also experiment with portraying a chapter or two from a direct observer's experience. Who knows? :cool:

I didn't choose to make it interactive in the end and have played through early game so far, but once we've reached the game state, I encourage citizens to give their opinion on how to proceed further, how to shape the Empire.



Either way, here's the screen with the relevant empire information:​
wiDn2xI.jpg

Now, how did we get here? No, there's no need to read part 1 and 2 (though I'd welcome that, of course!), here's an introductory chapter, the compact history so far:



History of Gothia so far


Gothia began as the county of Cherson, Byzantine vassal at the nomad border, in 869. With no support from the Basileus, count Philaretos, struggling with Paulician heretics, became a Catholic. The Goths suffered under nomadic raids until the so-called Endless Crusade (932-977), at the end of which Saint Kyrillos was named the first king of Gothia.


Returning under Byzantine vassalage, Kyrillos' successor Theudis II kept pushing the border to the east, before failing to free the Gothic crown from Constantinople, a feat achieved by Theudis III in 1051 – before Kyrillos II, with Gothia struck by the Black Death, had to swear fealty to the Mongols twenty years later.


After a series of assassinations of Great Khans, Theudis VI (secretly grandmaster of the assassins) proclaimed Gothia's renewed independence in 1169, then led the Sixth Crusade to victory against the Mongols, becoming emperor in 1173. Gothic emperors kept advancing eastward under the so-called Eastern Supremacy, granted by pope Nikolaus II, granting the Goths dominion over all land east of the empire in the name of Catholicism.


Gothic power in the medieval period peaked with Theudis VIII, most well-known as the War Saint, at the end of the 14th century. Often called the greatest strategist of all time, Theudis VIII established the steppe empire as a true superpower, placing his cousin on the Egyptian throne in a crusade, dismantling the great Indian Somavamsi empire, also conquering Byzantium, Arabia and China, placing his children on these thrones. He died during a punitive expedition against the rebellious Nepalese tributary, establishing “bringing Theudis' Chest” as an idiom for the worst possible news, as the invincible emperor sent the maharaja a chest filled with the ashes of his army.


The War Saint's successors couldn't keep their influence over the other realms, and the rivalry with Byzantium would not only renew but last until the Miracle Crisis in the mid-21st century. Kyrillos V and Theudis IX would conquer the falling Qi empire of China and incorporate it into Gothia in the 16th century, with the former establishing the Goths' ruthless policies in conquered and colonized land for the future – the Goths not only spread their faith with fire and sword, also their culture.


Adrianos Americ discovered Australia in 1502 and became the first European to willingly reach the continent of the former invaders of Europe – the Aztecs – in 1505, coining the name America. The Goths would eventually colonize and conquer the whole of Australia (Kyrillia) and North America.


With draconic laws and extreme militarization under Theudis X, the Villain, Gothia's extermination of different cultures took a new level of organized genocide, and despite the defeat against a combined Francian-Byzantine attack in the Melting War of 1685-1690, the empire with its vast eastern lands recovered swiftly.


After the death of Basileus Witiges II in 1777, Liuva I, whose absolute throne came out even more secure after the St.Kyrillos Day Massacre of 1759 – a revolt of Cherson's starving poor – claimed the Byzantine throne for himself in 1780, and his son Leon the Absolute crushed the Jangladeshi revolution in 1784.


Gothia seemed poised to take over the world militarily, but both Leon and his son Theudis XII found fairly early deaths, and Sergia IV, the Pacifist, enforced some sort of Pax Gothica in the industrializing world. Theudis XIII reignited Gothic-Byzantine tensions, and as the Greeks flocked to republicanism, the assassination of emperor Kyrillos VIII the 13th October 1900 by extremist Greek republican Pavlos Samaras ended up causing the Great War.


This war engulfed the entire world and lasted until the 14th July 1922, leaving a lasting impact on the world, divided between the Gothic, autocratic side (“the Imperials”) and the side of the newly-proclaimed, democratic Byzantine Republic (“the Allies”) - nations on both sides drifted more towards the leading ideology of their faction, perhaps with the exception of England, becoming communist.


With fascist Sviþjoð clamouring for England's destruction, another Great War seemed likely in the 1940s, but was narrowly averted, mostly due to the reluctance of Empress Valeria of Gothia. Born after her father's assassination, Valeria the War Princess wouldn't back the Swedish plans without a very good reason – and in 1950, England's demonstration of their new nuclear weaponry ended the Swedish ambitions. The world's powers nearly all gained nuclear weapons over the next decade.


The 5th August 2061, the Miracle Crisis shook the world, which had kept mostly peaceful due to the nuclear deterrent. Former Gothic top agent and hacker turned terrorist Roderic Chertans and his organization, Miracle, had gained control over Earth's nuclear arsenal and sent an ultimatum, backed by the annihilation of London – swear fealty to Gothia until Saint Kyrillos Day or be eradicated.


Under great upheaval, most governments ended up giving in, with the exceptions of Ajuraan (nuked on the fourth day as they attempted to take back their nuclear bases), the Mayan Confederation (accepting their fate as end of the cycle) and Kikondija (without a functioning government). Chertans lived for more than six decades longer, and with Miracle's threat still looming, the empire of Gothia, led by widely loved monarch couple Cixila the Beautiful and her husband, the last Francian emperor Folbert, managed to create a stable world government, widely referred to only as “the Empire” over time. In order to elevate themselves over the empires of the past and to symbolize that they were no longer just emperors of the Goths, Cixila introduced the title of High Empress, rulers of the entire planet.


High Emperor Theudis XIV vanished on the Americ's maiden voyage – Earth's first FTL-capable vessel – in 2195. His daughter Riccilo, destined for the throne, decided to retire to a convent when her father was proclaimed dead, after leading the regency for two years. Thus, High Emperor Kyrillos X rules Earth now, widely known as the Decadent for his legendarily debaucherous parties.


Petronas Thaticos (*804 - † 25th Apr, 870) (reigned 1 year)
Philaretos the Heretic (*844 - †16th Dec, 888) (reigned 18 years)

Cixila I the Builder (*882 - † 10th July, 932) (reigned 43 years)

Theudis I, the Dove (*908 - † 16th March, 944) (reigned 11 years)

Kyrillos I, the Young/ the Lionheart/ the Castellan/ Saint Kyrillos the Myrrh-Streaming (*10th May, 941 - † 1st July, 994) (reigned 50 years)

Theudis II, the Great/ the Broken (*15th February, 977 - † 24th October, 1031) (reigned 36 years)

Theudis III, the Hunter (*18th September, 1012 - † 19th June, 1068) (reigned 37 years)

Kyrillos II, the Shrewd (*9th October, 1036 - † 1st September, 1096) (reigned 26 years)

Theudis IV, the Quarrelsome (* 16th September, 1061 - † 16th June, 1106) (reigned 10 years)

Theudis V, the Bold (* 12th September, 1089 - † 25th July, 1125) (reigned 19 years)

Regency under Margarita the Fratricide until 1135

Kyrillos III, the Crusader/ the Mad
(*27th May, 1123 - † 5th April, 1155) (reigned 29 years)

Theudis VI, the Sword of the Lord/ the Scourge of the Mongols (*24th June, 1142 - † 20th October, 1215) (reigned 60 years)

Liuvigoto the Noble (*13th September, 1188 - † 17th March, 1256) (reigned 40 years)

Achila the Fool (*17th January, 1212 - † 2nd March, 1257) (reigned <1 year)

Aikaterine I, the Holy/ the Halved (*19th September, 1230 - † 20th June, 1300) (reigned 43 years)

Theudis VII, the Strange (*20th November, 1256 - †11th January, 1303) (reigned 2 years)

Theudis VIII, the Cleansing Flame/ the War Saint/ Horseman of Conquest/ the Angel of Death/ the Blazing Demon (*8th August, 1327 - † 14th October, 1401) (reigned 39 years)

Sergia I, the Daughter of Satan/ the Fearless (*11th January, 1286 - † 8th March, 1362) (reigned 58 years)

Sergia II, the Young (*6th April, 1395 - † 24th July, 1409) (“reigned” 8 years)

Valeria I, the Saintly (*23rd February, 1392 - † 7th March, 1444) (reigned 34 years)

Sergia III, the Matricide/ the Gilded Peacock (*3rd January, 1421 - † 21st October, 1468) (reigned 24 years)

Kyrillos IV, the Lawful (*4th March, 1446 - † 11th September, 1498) (reigned 29 years)

Kyrillos V, the Zealot/ Ironfist (* 8th August, 1477 - † 12th December, 1539) (reigned 41 years)

Theudis IX, the Long (* 2nd January 1524 - 9th December, 1602) (reigned 62 years)

Kyrillos VI, the Old Boy (* 6th November 1540 - 1st January, 1612) (reigned 9 years)

Theudis X, the Villain (* 8th May 1593 - 20th May, 1658) (reigned 46 years)

Kyrillos VII, the Radiant (* 3rd March, 1633 - 1st November, 1682) (reigned 24 years)

Regency of Maria the Molten (1st November, 1682 - 16th April, 1696)

Theudis XI, the Frozen (* 16th April, 1680 - † 24th April, 1722) (reigned 26 years)

Regency of Aikaterine the Avenger (24th April, 1722 - 21st January, 1733)

Liuva I, the Ruthless (* 21st January, 1717 - † 1st August, 1781) (reigned 69 years, 11 years of regency)

Leon I, the Absolute (* 27th April, 1753 - † 18th March, 1794) (reigned 12 years)

Theudis XII, the Stone (* 15th May, 1778 - † 1st October, 1810) (reigned 16 years)

Sergia IV, the Pacifist (*1st February, 1800 - † 22nd March, 1880) (reigned 69 years)

Theudis XIII, the Arrogant (*30th July, 1842 - † 31st August, 1895) (reigned 15 years)

Kyrillos VIII, the Weak (*21st June, 1882 - † 13th October, 1900) (reigned 5 years)

Regency of Aikaterine, the Angel of Vengeance (13th October, 1900 - 25th December, 1916)

Valeria II, the War Princess (*25th December, 1900 - † 12th September, 1990) (reigned 79 years)

Kyrillos IX, the Humble (*2nd April, 1943 - † 14th September, 2020) (reigned 30 years)

Liuva II, the Lucky (*20th March, 2002 - † 30th October, 2077) (reigned 57 years)

Cixila II, the Beautiful (*17th May, 2050 - † 3rd January, 2140) (reigned 62 years)

Sergia V, the Star (*6th May, 2092 - † 1st March, 2159) (reigned 19 years)

Theudis XIV, the Lost (*2nd November, 2130 - † 31st December, 2197) (reigned 41 years)
And current monarch is Kyrillos X, the Decadent (*3rd March, 2158)

... and for those interested, here are the game settings:
DY6c0tv.jpg

7SgXxBe.jpg



Earth and the development of FTL-travel


There's some kind of network covering the galaxy. This discovery made FTL-travel possible. Where that network comes from – if it's of natural or divine origins or created by some highly-advanced aliens – will likely remain a mystery. But humanity managed to harness the hyperlanes, manage to travel vast distances in a flash. Although it would only link a few hundred systems of the galaxy at most, the void was in reach. The lead of the team who made it possible, Helena Chintis, described the technology as “literally cheating the laws of physics” – the hyperdrive doesn't bend space-time and actually doesn't cause FTL-speeds either, at least not directly. It manages two things: place the ship into a parallel dimension and shield it from said dimension. This place, which the team called “the Shroud”, is utterly alien – and it holds the hyperlanes. A short burst of acceleration of the ship's normal thrusters is enough to accelerate it to impossible speeds, leading it to reach the end of the lane in an instant, where the drive disengages and sends the ship back into the normal dimension.


Leading theory of the Americ's disappearance was an unstable trajectory through the hyperlane towards Alpha Centauri, shooting out of the lane and reappearing in the normal dimension somewhere in no-man's-land . The moment it activated the hyperdrive was the last time it was seen, and if it “fell out” of the lane, nobody would likely ever hear of it again, stranded lightyears away from Earth. And with no way to communicate with the homeland, as one of the Americ's problems was the lack of communication.


As the new drives were installed in the next science ship, the Liuvigoto the Noble, it came with Athanaricos Kelant's absolute breakthrough – miniature wormhole comm systems. Kelant's invention would make long-scale communications a piece of cake. No longer would messages “only” travel at the speed of light, but be instantaneous. Kelant theorized that some sort of gateway might be created at some point, but that would necessitate far, far more energy than available. As of now, the system created miniature wormholes, only big enough to send a few waves of information through, with a central hub in Tana as destination, from where it could either be connected to Earth's network or anywhere else with the system. The system's abilities were impressively inaugurated with a networked play of the popular strategy game “Conqueror's Cross VII”, in which the Io, Haumea and Mars stations could play without a second of lag (Mars won, honouring their name, using the Goths' abilities to full effect to prevail over Io's Mongols and Haumea's Byzantines, leading to the head of Io station famously ragequitting while shouting “Those cataphracts are riding cheat codes - and we are the Mongols, so that means something!”).


The presence of the hyperlane network was seen by some as a sign that there where aliens somewhere out there. One of the theories postulated a highly-advanced species as creators of the network, after all. Others still pointed out that while the presence of aliens somewhere in the galaxy, or the very least the universe, was likely due to the sheer number of planets – but that humanity might make contact with another species was drastically reduced with the hyperlanes' limited accessibility. That life evolved in a few hundred systems was far less probable than in millions upon millions of systems.


Still, the military was insisting that they would be ready. While many questioned the continued importance of the army after Earth's unification – protests against the military fairly commonplace –, the dominance of Gothic culture and the inseparable unity of Imperial Crown and Imperial Army meant that it was still highly present. The military often served as additional police force, with the actual police with very little manpower. Supporters of the military were always quick to point at the ever-present terrorist threat as well: Miracle's success in enforcing their ideals proved that terror could lead to change if the methods are only radical enough, and thus there were a multitude of organizations who took many pages out of Chertans' book to try and enforce their ideals, which the military and its intelligence service tried to prevent.


Theoderic Audaric, Marshal of the Imperial Forces, thus remained second only to the emperor in importance, no matter what the prime minister might say about that. His aloof stance towards the protesters – completely ignoring them save for his usual comment that any unauthorized approach of a select number of locations provokes the use of lethal force – together with his regular sunny disposition, unexpected for the military man, made him highly popular, enough to leave a mark in language – people no longer just drew a line, they “made an Audaric”.​
Where drawing a line means simply passing a limit – with more or less reactions before it is passed already – making an Audaric turns it up to eleven, with complete indifference before and extreme reactions afterwards. Mostly within the Gothic people, it was absorbed into the culture. People made Audarics everywhere, always well-aware that it was a clear limit. Videos went viral of the Audaric threshold being crossed – like the one where the serial escalation of crossing a meek young girl's Audaric of not being served tomatoes by her mother leads to an entire town being levelled, with the Marshal himself appearing at the end, shaking his head in disbelief and saying “don't cross me”.


The iconic Marshal had just ceremoniously launched Earth's first FTL-capable space warships – the Sword, Lance and Bow. Terrorists and pirates didn't peacefully remain on Earth and had already raided transports from the mining stations across the solar system. They wouldn't stop in other systems, and the armed forces had to be ready to patrol there as well.


The three ships were classified as “corvettes”. Audaric lamented a few facts: firstly, that naval terms were to be used in spaceflight (for lack of a Gothic naval tradition – why not invent new terms), and secondly, that they could only build such “small” ships (despite their firepower being enough to carve through any vessel), but he defended the classification with the explanation of the military's engineers – the ships' engines could not be built bigger without overheating, the hyperdrive would take too much energy and be unable to shield a bigger ship from the Veil's weird physics. But it was only a matter of research until this barrier might be lifted. Sure, it sounds less impressive when your flagship is a mere corvette, but galleys of the antiquity would also be dwarfed by modern battleships, after all. And the ship's names would reflect it.


Humanity was reaching for the stars – at least some of them.
EEBHpv6.jpg
 
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Michaelangelo

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And so it begins. I think the aliens out there better watch out now that humanity is reaching for the stars.
 
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NarcomancerPL

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"The Empire" is pretty nice name. It fits Gothic history and their belief of superiority both culturally and religiously. But maybe meeting another space civilization may push them to change the name later on who knows? ;)
 
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jak7139

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I'm excited for this!
 
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Midnite Duke

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Instead of corvettes, why couldn't they be mustangs or chargers? The Empire is perfect as it implies that Gothia is all and all is Gothia. I will be with you for the voyage to the stars. Thank you for updating
 
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generalis Julius Caesar

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Wunderbar, I was looking forward to this starting.
 
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alscon

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Glad to have your support in space as well!

And so it begins. I think the aliens out there better watch out now that humanity is reaching for the stars.
If anything goes to the military's plans, they'll have to.
"The Empire" is pretty nice name. It fits Gothic history and their belief of superiority both culturally and religiously. But maybe meeting another space civilization may push them to change the name later on who knows? ;)
Clearly the only way to solve this is to force any other empire to kneel to the High Emperor. ;)
I'm excited for this!
:)
Instead of corvettes, why couldn't they be mustangs or chargers? The Empire is perfect as it implies that Gothia is all and all is Gothia. I will be with you for the voyage to the stars. Thank you for updating
Even if Gothia had a good cavalry in the past... the steppe nomads are more associated with horses, so that would never get past the leaders :p.

I see the Empire as more of a compromise, but of course Goths would never dispute your point of view.
Wunderbar, I was looking forward to this starting.
Then here's to the first chapter!
 
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2200-2210


The Americ's Mystery

Kyrillos X, the Decadent (*3rd March, 2158) might have mostly been known for his excesses. But like his Marshal, he was popular amongst the people. General consensus was that instead of oppressing anyone, he'd rather throw an extravagant orgy. A hungover Kyrillos was often spotted at the gates of the St. Helena Monastery in the Caucasus, asking for Sister Sergia... jokes abound that the Empire was actually ruled by a nun. It would be more surprising if it wasn't what the regular succession had envisioned.


In any case, Takumi Fujita, the man entrusted with the Liuvigoto's expedition to Alpha Centauri, began his survey of the planets in the system with no problem at all. The latest innovations made the Liuvigoto the Noble a vessel able to withstand the dangers of space – be it radiation or hyperlanetravel – with ease, and the Philippos Makrelogos, named after the captain of the expedition which made the first world circumnavigation (in 1584) was soon built with the same blueprints.

While it didn't take long for the public to lose interest in Fujita's daily reports (to the joy of many, always headed by a haiku), it was vigorously renewed the 1st November 2200:


Finding a debris field

who knows what we shall find here

was it the Americ's end?



The debris surrounded Alpha Centauri B. Aliens? Or the remains of the Americ? Was it perhaps somewhere within that field, damaged, but not destroyed – with the crew still alive?

Speculation ran wild as Fujita's team scanned the vast field of debris. The 9th September 2201, he finally made his report. No, it wasn't the Americ. What he discovered was the first clearly alien artefact – an atomic clock of uncertain age. According to the crew, in 42 years and 3 days... something would happen.

That was dangerously close. In the vastness of space, in the neighbouring system of Sol, there was a clock that counted down to a date that was, in galactic terms, an instant away. Whoever left it there... did they use the hyperlanes? How long ago did they deposit the clock – or was it thrown out in whatever created the debris field? That also enforces the question – did they visit Earth? In any case, it was something Kyrillos could approach in his usual way. It was clearly not a weapon. So just jot the date down somewhere. No need to do anything else.


The second moment of hope in Fujita's expedition came the 20th November 2201, as the team surveyed the moon Alpha Centauri IIa. Something moved there. Did the Americ crash down on this molten planet?

Jokers with dark humour quickly pointed out that perhaps it was Theudis XIV rather than regent Maria who deserved the epithet of “the Molten”. A video of Kyrillos' reaction to this joke – let's remember that it concerns his father – became widely memed as he erupted in endless laughter. As someone who was quick to share the latest joke about himself, the High Emperor's preference for self-deprecating and gallows humour earned him a few sympathy points. But again, hopes of finding the lost monarch's expedition were unfounded – it was a geothermal installation, likely left by the people who created the atomic clock, which caused the movement on the planet.

The Americ's final destination would remain a mystery.





Aliens


On Audaric's suggestion, Kyrillos X had named Zopahua Yupanqui captain of the Philippos Makrelogos. People who were quick to condemn space exploration as merely an expansion of Gothic power in order to end up overwhelming the other peoples of Earth were to be proven entirely wrong, with an Incan scientist leading a ship named after a Byzantine explorer. And where Fujita merely found a clock, Yupanqui's discovery was of a far greater scale – the 9th September 2201, his team unearthed a sort of holographic library on Minelauva I.​

Despite being over a million years old, the contents of the library were obviously built to last, preserved despite or rather thanks to the ceaseless lava flow around it. Something that couldn't be said about most of Earth's architecture, if any. What would still stand a million years from now? Either way, the “Irassian Concordat”, six-limbed mammalians, apparently ruled this part of the galaxy, before being wiped out by a plague. Did these beings leave the artefacts found in the Alpha Centauri system?


Or were their creators still around?


The Decadent declared that humanity should assume the worst. Not just that some kind of sentient, million-year-old killer virus could wipe them out; luckily, only the Makrelogos team had been in the library. If the creators of Alpha Centauri's objects were just a hyperlane away from Earth, who knows if they hadn't already made contact before. Perhaps they had even meddled in history – the early deaths of Leon the Absolute and Theudis the Stone in the late 18th /early 19th century, militaristic Gothic emperors who were poised to conquer the world, come to mind. Or those of of Jean the Sun Emperor of Francia and Kyrillos the Radiant in the 17th century, setting the stage for the Melting War. Huh. The Molten. That's where the circle of this discovery is closed.​

Seeing humanity leave the solar system must be threatening for these aliens. Should any extraterrestrial life be met close to Earth, it would therefore be met with force.


To put it in popular terms, Kyrillos made an Audaric a few hyperlanes from Earth to any alien.





First Contact

An Audaric that was swiftly crossed, as mere six years after reaching a different star system, the Liuvigoto's sensors found an obviously artificial vessel moving through space around Barnard's Star.


While the Liuvigoto was protected by the vastness of space in the system, the Marshal assumed command of the fleet and set off with Sword, Lance, Spear, Axe and Bow to fend off the threat. The thing retreated swiftly. Was it just a scout?


Audaric set off in pursuit, and found humanity's fears confirmed in the Sirius system – there was an alien base. The 21st April 2206, humanity's first space battle began. The base was armed and ready against the five corvettes, and the fire ceased only after the Axe and the Lance were destroyed. The Marshal's forces had prevailed, but whatever had defended the station, their remains couldn't be studied as the damage to the station spaced them, disappearing without a trace. Only the station itself might have offered some second-hand knowledge about its builders – but with all the air gone, there wasn't much knowledge to be gained, other than that the alien – if of a humanoid build – had to be around 3m tall to operate the commands.​


TFDYJEe.jpg


These builders were stronger than feared, likely with more experience in spaceflight. Fujita's daily message from the 19th May 2206, during the exploration of Barnard's Star, was cut off by the image of what might best be approximately called a unit of rock dragons blasting their way into the ship.


The crew of the Liuvigoto was captured without the feed being cut – revealing the ensuing butchery as the unfortunate scientists were vivisected, fully aware.


An attempt to do onto the boulder dragons what they had done onto Fujita and his crew ended in complete disaster as it coincided with their counterattack on the Sirius base, with the small unit wiped out by a fleet of at least 17 corvettes.​


VNR7iSj.jpg


Soon after, the lithoids – for they were apparently really a rock-based lifeform – sent a message through the wrecked Liuvigoto the Noble's comm system. They had managed to translate Gothic into their language and devised a technology to transfer their words – rather a hum of a wavelength inaudible to humans, which may be felt more than heard – into comprehensible, gleeful gloating.

Apparently, they were some sort of robber merchant corporation, calling themselves the “Evarite Manufacturing”. Hostilities would cease – for now at least, until humanity was fully evaluated. The debt accrued by the destruction of the Sirius station was considered repaid with the Liuvigoto.


The Empire's worst fears weren't entirely realized, but it wasn't far away. The Evarites clearly had spent more time spacefaring and held greater resources. The fleet seen moving to Sirius alone counted 17 ships against the Empire's remaining 3.​

Still, there was hope. Audaric had managed to disable the Sirius station and gained valuable insight doing so, confirming that the rock dragons' advantage in weapons technology – if there was any – wasn't that great. With a confirmed alien threat and not just theoretical danger, the military would be assigned more resources.

The Marshal planned to fortify Barnard's Star and build up the fleet. The assault on Sirius taught valuable lessons concerning space battle, and a station, with no need for a hyperdrive, could be equipped with heavier weapons. If the Evarites truly were some kind of robber corp, then they would try to move cost-efficiently and do the bare minimum they needed to win – and that was the Empire's greatest advantage.

And there was no greater drive to innovate than an existential threat. While humanity may still not stand fully united behind the Empire, not being alone in the galaxy ignited the desire of coming out top – both as a means to protect oneself and of exerting influence over the aliens, whose treatment of Fujita and his crew made them easy to hate.



It also had a clear effect on the Decadent. Suddenly, the High Emperor was no longer the unchallenged master of humanity's fate – either he had to take a guiding role, or the people and the military would soon clamour for Audaric, or at least Crown Prince Liuva, to take the throne. Kyrillos X chose the former. The unceasing stream of party guests and drugs into the Imperial Palace... ceased. His visits to his sister, now Mother Sergia, decreased as he began to truly rule himself.​

The Decadent was sobering up, and now appeared perpetually annoyed as he addressed the world. He had many reasons to hat the aliens. The Liuvigoto and her crew. Their smug message. Perhaps historical revanchism. The clear threat they posed. But if not for his people, then at least he intended to make the Evarites pay for a headache which could be the stuff of legends. He made a comparison with the early Gothic history – faced with far superior raiding neighbours, it was Gothia which prevailed. Humanity shall do so again – only this time, without the backing of a crusade.


9SgSPrL.jpg





Chertans' Shadow


The Empire's leadership suddenly found itself fully backed in its foreign policy – basically as soon as it returned into existence – by even the most disgruntled parts. The Evarites literally had hearts of stone, and the short reprieve earned as they established communications must be some kind of ritual mocking before moving in for the annihilation of the enemy. Who knows, perhaps the shareholders of the Manufacturers need the reprieve to capitalize on their stocks. To comprehend the aliens, at least that swiftly, was a lost cause. They already laid claim to the solar system.​

When Yupanqui discovered a vault on Ferragon I, containing the scans of a lost alien species' brains, no chances would be taken. If the aliens bet on finding a kind soul who might give them a new body after their planet had been rendered inhospitable by meteorite impacts, then they had read too many fairy tales. The Makrelogos' crew was instructed to bring the databanks somewhere they could set them on fire.



And so the Gothic history of genocide was carried to space. Against the already dead. With the full approval of all peoples of Earth.



The data-aliens' discovery even awoke a new fear. They weren't more advanced than humanity, for then they could have sought a new home amongst the stars. Yet they had still managed to create something that might theoretically offer them a second chance at life.​

Then what about Roderic Chertans, Earth's most reviled man? The one who many believed was already some kind of AI at the end of his transmissions? Surely with Miracle's resources, if there was someone whose brain functions have been scanned enough for some kind of resurrection... it would be him. Miracle's headquarters were never officially found, either.

What a depressing thought it was that if humanity would disappear, then its worst criminal might be the only one with a future. Somewhere, sometime. In any case, the data-aliens were a welcome fodder for conspiracy theorists.


eXa1Zko.jpg




Gigantomania

The next discoveries once again proved how small and insignificant one might feel in the vastness of space. And how young human civilization was.


The 2nd April 2210, Alexandra Chimar, lead of the newest science ship, the Adrianos Americ II, reached a structure bigger than the Sol station itself. The design of the structure shared quite a few similarities to Kelant's comms tech – and indeed, it was most likely capable of bending space to allow instantaneous travel to a fixed endpoint. A wormhole generator, a gateway of sorts. Even active! … But it lacked a key. Without the key, no vessel would be able to pass through. At least the destination could be determined – a star cluster swiftly named the “L-Cluster”, with L for, you guessed it, “locked”, for no hyperlane seemed to reach that region beyond the Milky Way, so the sole access point would be the gateway.

Not long after, another gateway was discovered – but that one inactive, and likely connected to other such structures within the galaxy.



Chimar's first noteworthy discovery was soon dwarfed, quite literally, by the next surprise waiting for the Makrelogos. Entering the Uprfarvis system, sensors picked up a great amount of debris spread across vast distances. Perhaps the site of an old battle? Indeed.​

But a battle with a foe that was still there. Some kind of moon-sized... living being was feeding on Uprfarvis' gas giants. Apparently, that monster was quite territorial and either impervious to most weapon fire, quick to regenerate, or both. Being comparable to what Yupanqui had named the “tiyanki”, incredible ship-sized yet placid creatures, this must have been the mother of all tiyanki – only far more aggressive and truly enormous.

While the military dreamt of somehow controlling the beast and to sic it on the Evarites, the evidence in Uprfarvis' orbit pointed towards that not being a good idea. The doubts of the Makrelogos and its crew won out in the end, as no matter the moral justification, their service – alive – was deemed more useful than the high risk of a senseless sacrifice.

Kyrillos compared the Tiyanki Matriarch to himself. A peaceful being just doing its own thing, be it grazing on gas giants or partying – but when provoked, it is supremely dangerous.

The Evarite Manufacturers would feel the wrath of humanity.
 
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Michaelangelo

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Humanity's first encounter with alien life did not go so smoothly. At least it gives them justification for their xenophobia. The impending clash between the Empire and the Evarite Manufacturers should be an interesting one.
 
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jak7139

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I like the style of writing in this first chapter.

The Evarites will surely pay for their atrocities against humanity.
 
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alscon

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Humanity's first encounter with alien life did not go so smoothly. At least it gives them justification for their xenophobia. The impending clash between the Empire and the Evarite Manufacturers should be an interesting one.
It could certainly have gone better than to be dissected and forced to retreat against a far superior fleet. Conflict is inevitable.
I like the style of writing in this first chapter.

The Evarites will surely pay for their atrocities against humanity.
Glad to read that. It works better than I expected, I don't think I need to deviate from the style of the previous eras.

Judgement will be passed on one of the species involved.
There is someone bigger, badder, deadlier than Gothia. Humankind must be on alert. Thank you for updating
I'm just glad first contact wasn't with a fallen empire - that would have ended badly, to say the least. The Evarites are bad enough as is.
Glad to have you!
 
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2210-2230



The Survival War


Despite the best efforts of spies and hackers, the aliens still clung on to the Liuvigoto's wreckage as a way of communicating with the Empire, though at least they had been unable to replicate Kelant's tech. The Evarite shareholders' assembly used that direct line the 2nd March 2214. To declare war. With the explicit goal of “conducting a takeover of the competition” – conquering Earth.​


NdLa5AY.jpg



Audaric proclaimed that the military was ready. Even if it didn't get a hold of the alien superweapon Chimar had pursued. All that could be extracted from the so-called Xvan Labs was footage of the labs' destruction. Her following discovery of a planet covered entirely in self-replicating nanites made it likely that whatever weapon developed in the labs was one of these – a well-known apocalyptic scenario, where a never-ending stream of replicating machines covers the entire planet. Was it weaponized on Suyo II?

Had it still been there – would the Empire have hesitated to deploy it through a stealth mission on Evari Prime? Hypothetical questions.





What mattered now was to fend off the Evarites' attack. The Barnard's Star base was not fully fortified yet, but strong enough. The fleet was expanded to 20 ships. It could be better, but Audaric liked humanity's chances. The aliens were the attackers, so either they would have to attack Barnard's Star or the war would consist of both realms staring at each other across the hyperlane. As a robber corp, the Evarites had no choice in the matter, for their shareholders would tear them apart if they just had the fleet's expenses for nothing. Or so the Marshal hoped, anyway.

The fleet would wait just outside of sensor range, then fall into the flank of the aliens as they engaged the starbase. The advantage of instantaneous comms would be invaluable in this conflict.



The 4th January 2215 would likely be the day of reckoning. If the Evarites took Barnard's Star, then they would be at Earth's doorstep – with the fleet likely in tatters and only Sol station as last line of defence.

In the end, it wasn't the day of reckoning. The Evarite fleet counted 20 ships, and retreated swiftly after Audaric's arrival into the Shroud – only one vessel ended up destroyed. That couldn't have been their full force – after repairs to Barnard's Star where finished, the fleet went back into ambushing position.




It took longer than expected for the Evarites' return. Exactly two years. This time, 29 ships mounted an assault. If the aliens had any ability to learn, then admiral Dend Adrum must have expected the Empire's fleet to fall into his back again. But perhaps he didn't expect the station to have more firepower, or two more corvettes in the Imperial fleet. In any case, the 4th January 2215 saw five Evarite ships destroyed for no human losses – so Audaric pressed the advantage.



The battle for Sirius the 14th July 2217 was hard-fought. The heavily defended station shot down eight Imperial vessels, but it did fall in the end. Repairs were finished in time and the station manned again for the 22nd September 2218, when the Evarites were unable to retake Sirius.


d844GEf.jpg




The Imperial advance on the Evarites' home system was then swiftly cut short, with the Marshal quickly realizing that the fleet wasn't able to fight off both their remaining fleet and their starbase. His retreat the 23rd March 2219 was followed by the next alien attempt against Sirius – ending in a great victory for the Empire the 5th August 2219, with half the attacking fleet in tatters.


The Manufacturers would need time to rebuild. A perfect opportunity. Especially as the fleet had just been refitted with more powerful weaponry, railguns packing a bigger punch and blue-shifted lasers. The Sword was now the unofficial flagship, being the sole survivor of the battles, and Audaric, refusing to leave the vessel, would lead the assault on Evari from the Sword's bridge.

eh2midy.jpg




It began the 7th March 2221, with admiral Jil Nyle – Adrum clearly having been fired – attempting to prevent Imperial advance into the heart of the system right at the hyperlane's exit. The improved firepower paid off. Losing two ships out of 17, the Imperial fleet took out eight of the Evarites' 16, clearing the path to Evari's starbase, taken the 2nd May. Orbital bombardment of Evari Prime began.


The defensive war now entered a second phase – the enemy fleet shattered, Kyrillos proclaimed that the war would be taken to their home planet to end the Evarite threat and complete the revenge. It would certainly be a dish served cold – Evari Prime orbits Evari quite at the edge of the goldilocks zone and is widely covered in what would resemble an Earthen tundra – though colder.


Sotiria Iolans would lead the charge. An interplanetary invasion was a new experience for the Empire – horrifyingly difficult logistics, then taking the fight to an enemy who would have a very clear advantage in numbers while also having both terrain and climate on their side – even gravity and air, which would hardly be the same as on Earth. The fleet would provide support, but 15 corvettes can hardly cover an entire planet.


Audaric focused fire on structures that seemed to be important for the war effort and the government. Crippling the Manufacturers' ability to strike back was the fleet's goal, while the army would need to move in in force later. Having managed to mobilize around a million soldiers, Iolans landed in a zone heavily covered by orbital fire, a place that might have been the capital area. As the army was certainly impressive, but also surely not enough to conquer a whole planet, the invading force's task was to establish a sizeable presence, take over the region to create a foothold for further advances.


The troops were deployed quickly, but then immediately came under assault. As “rock dragons”, the Evarites didn't move like humans. Didn't act like humans. Didn't fight like humans. Some assailants came out of the ground, or perhaps they were just mistaken for the ground. The craters left by the orbital fire soon served as cover for the assaulted attackers, while masses of Evarite soldiers attacked the invaders. There seemed to be no end to them.


In hindsight, that should have been expected. Robber corporation or not, this was the Evarites' homeland, and they would defend it with everything they had. Iolans' army dealt severe damage, but even landing another invasion force under Kyriakos Ferac couldn't overcome the odds.


Ferac managed to retreat with battered remains of his invasion force, while Iolans and her army made their last stand against the Evarite hordes. Resuming orbital strikes after her fall, the human cost of the failed invasion was certainly high, but nothing compared to the Evarite one.​


fAO5ync.jpg


Still, Audaric and Ferac convinced Kyrillos X that there would need to be a change of tactics. Better preparation. Sending more units a million strong to Evari Prime would lead to the same result, until the Evarites would be fully broken. But was that a cost humanity was ready to pay?

Clearly not. Turning Evari Prime into a mass grave any more than it already was would serve no purpose. The next invasion force would need to be specially trained to fight on the rock dragons' homeworld, putting the experience gained at high blood cost to good use. The High Emperor relented.


The Evarites attempted to sue for peace for a while now. The 25th May 2225, the Survival War came to an end. Earth mourned the brave soldiers who died far away from home. Evari Prime on the other hand – not the sole planet with an Evarite presence – was a battlefield, a third of it covered with ruins. The Imperial fleet was stronger than before, the Evarite one was reduced to a few ships.

Thus it was unsurprising that Kyrillos' demands for the peace were fulfilled without long negotiations. Sirius would fall to the Empire. If there was anyone still alive from those who had conducted the raid on the Liuvigoto the Noble, they would need to be delivered into his custody – as would the wreck of Earth's first successful science ship. The Manufacturers would have to send hostages from their elite to Cherson – Earth on the other hand would send no hostage to Evari Prime. Reparations were to be paid – as the Evarites merely saw gold as a delicacy, in space-resistant alloys.

And the High Emperor made himself perfectly clear – this was only to be a ten-year ceasefire.


The raiders of the Liuvigoto, as it happens, were all still alive and hailed as heroes. As soon as they were delivered into human hands, a disastrous investment for the Manufacturers' shareholders, their reputation was at an all-time low. Long reviled by humanity, now even their fellow rocks viewed them as the cause for the widespread damage to their homes.​

Making the knowledge about Evarite physiology – mostly gained through the exchange of weapon fire – widely available, Kyrillos offered a high prime for whoever developed a special pyre for the lithoids' execution. Ironically, it was Pierre Guillotin, a French engineer with rock in his name who won the prize. Guillotin's pyre created temperatures high enough not just to set the boulder dragons on fire, it would melt them – slowly, from the bottom to the top. It would likely even work on humans in a similar way, which was frankly a terrifying concept.

The raiders were the first to be publicly guillotined in front of St. Kyrillos Cathedral in Cherson. As the lithoids melted, what must have been screams of excruciating pain had quite relaxing effects on the public, the inaudible sonic waves nearly massaging the human body. It was unclear where the Evarites' torment would end, but the High Emperor was insistent on savouring it even past the end. The melted lithoids, now nothing else but an amalgam of minerals, were then poured into a form...

Solidifying, they would become a model of the Liuvigoto the Noble, to be exposed in Cherson's museum of space exploration.

5rICknv.jpg






The Veil

While the Survival War raged on, space exploration continued. Most peculiar was Ferragon III – a planet which seemed to shift between dimensions, alternating between a presence in this one and the Shroud, every three months.​

That couldn't be natural. Some advanced alien species – not the Evarites – must have done... something... to the planet to put it into this state. Though it is more likely that these aliens wanted to achieve the non-Shroud state of the planet – a world with a very regular climate and soil, perfectly suited to life as humanity knows it.

The Makrelogos' crew was fascinated, and Yupanqui became obsessed with the idea of winning Ferragon III – or the Veil, as he called it – for human colonization. After six months of research, mostly comparing the hyperdrive to the planet, with extreme analysis of the shift itself, the crew had found a solution. Placing pulse devices at places critical to the shift, in theory the alternating pattern could be stopped forever, firmly placing the Veil into this dimension.


The experiment succeeded. In 2228, the first hopeful departed for the Veil, and the 6th July 2230, after two years and the movement of millions of settlers, Kyrillos proclaimed that humanity's first extrasolar colony was a success. Attractive to staunch Imperials as well as for those hoping for less government influence, The Veil promised not just eternal spring with 21° all year long (no matter if Earthen or Veiled), but also a wide world full of possibilities. Veterans of the Survival War who quit the military were granted land in exchange for their service, and they were quite glad that they wouldn't freeze somewhere on Evari Prime, landowner or not.​


FIpMtKH.jpg





Second Contact

Feeling vindicated in their stance towards aliens following the first contact with the Evarites and the Survival War, sighting a sleek UFO in the Tau Ceti system in 2227 put the Empire on high alert again. Science ships were escorted by military vessels, and an attempt was made to capture one of the aliens' ships to conduct an interrogation.


It failed. It was likely that the aliens had made similarly bad experiences with the Evarites as the Empire before and were thus cautious. What little was gained in the short encounter sufficed to translate the language of the aliens. It wasn't as, well, alien as the Evarite one.



Contact was established in 2230 with the United Figyar Hegemony. If one would make a comparison to Earth, they appeared to be some sort of avian species, at least organics instead of lithoids. On first sight, they shared some more similarities with the Empire – they were united behind a strong emperor and had quite clearly a martial culture. But the Figyar also had a social structure that was very much set in stone, with distinct elites and widespread slavery.​


fa2LyID.jpg


People began to look for a distinct name for the Empire to use within space. For apparently, the hyperlanes didn't connect just to random stars, and while one alien species might be called a coincidence, two of them made it likely to find some other ones in the Milky Way at some point. If there were multiple empires, like the Figyari one, then humanity needed to be distinct, so that one wouldn't need to ask “Which one?” after having saying that one represents “the Empire”.​

Kyrillos, returning a little to his old self after putting the Evarites to shame, couldn't be bothered to proclaim an official name. The Empire was perfectly fine. To any alien, one could present oneself as whatever – as long as it isn't disrespectful, which he trusted nobody would do.


KRYHa2w.jpg
 
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A wonderful war, with a glorious outcome.
 
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Pierre Guillotin, a French engineer with rock in his name who won the prize...The raiders were the first to be publicly guillotined in front of St. Kyrillos Cathedral in Cherson. As the lithoids melted, what must have been screams of excruciating pain had quite relaxing effects on the public,
A fitting name for Monsieur Guillotin on two counts.

Also quite a brutal way for the Evarites to go. Though I suppose most of humanity would say "They started it!" because of the fate of the Liuvigoto's crew.
 

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There is something incredibly twisted about melting down your enemies and turning them into statues. Would be like if someone taxidermied a human. Suppose it is fitting seeing as they dissected humans first so they got what was coming to them.

Discovering the Veil early on is a great boon. Nice to have a Gaia world to develop.
 
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The Evarites regret their intrusion upon humanity!

Also, this is the first time I've ever the Shroud as the reason for hyperspace - not the first time I've thought of it as an FTL method (it's in TTDoYIG's notes), but the first time I've seen it as the reason for the hyperlanes. Nice world building.
 
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A wonderful war, with a glorious outcome.
Citizen, the Empire is glad for your support.
A fitting name for Monsieur Guillotin on two counts.

Also quite a brutal way for the Evarites to go. Though I suppose most of humanity would say "They started it!" because of the fate of the Liuvigoto's crew.
Though one cannot exactly say that the contraption is meant to be a humane execution method in this case.

Oh, definitely. Sadly there had been enough vivisecting going on during the war, so one had to be inventive for a good revenge.
The Empire works as many groups dub themselves 'the People'. Rocks were hard to break. Thank you for the update.
Odds were high in this conflict - a loss would have meant annexation. Luckily, Barnard's Star held, and so the Empire lives another day.

I just imagine other species to simply refer to the Empire as the Humans. Or as the Empire, for the Figyari are nice enough to be led by an emperor, but be called a Hegemony. Perhaps there's no other empire around.
There is something incredibly twisted about melting down your enemies and turning them into statues. Would be like if someone taxidermied a human. Suppose it is fitting seeing as they dissected humans first so they got what was coming to them.

Discovering the Veil early on is a great boon. Nice to have a Gaia world to develop.
Oh, I agree. It's brutally twisted, and all that with a third of your homeworld in ruins from the war - the psychological impact on the Evarites is quite clear. Still, it was a clear violent rivalry from the start.

Humanity began colonization slowly compared to the Evarites, but a gaia world as a first colony - the Empire simply waited for the best start.
The Evarites regret their intrusion upon humanity!

Also, this is the first time I've ever the Shroud as the reason for hyperspace - not the first time I've thought of it as an FTL method (it's in TTDoYIG's notes), but the first time I've seen it as the reason for the hyperlanes. Nice world building.
Don't poke the Empire.

I've wanted to see the hyperlanes as something that wouldn't cause time shenanigans, and with the Shroud existing in the setting (and getting involved a few times already!), cheating by moving out of the known dimension seemed like the right thing to do. Glad you liked that :) .
Hyperlanes also provide a convenient explanation as to why only a few hundred star systems are within reach instead of a lot.
 
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