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Well, the fate of the Evarites was harsh. Not undeserved, though.

This galaxy appears to be getting more united. We need some conflict and division soon...

This Shroud stuff is interesting. The Tree of Life has been partaken of at last...
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Flawless Imperial logic. Since anything and everything is human-based, it only makes sense for humans to rule over the galaxy.
Truer words have seldomly been spoken, citizen! Imperial logic is infallible.
Time travel always makes things so confusing and messy. :p

The Empire is certainly using advancements in gene modding to its advantage. Citizens loyal to the crown will be crucial as the Empire expands.
It really does. Especially when dealing with such great powers that you might have to start wondering if you created yourself? Best not to think too much about it and instead apply the flawless logic as postulated above :cool: .

Imperial future is humanity's future - never has that been truer since the Miracle Crisis.
Everyone for the Empire! Thank you for updating.
For the High Emperor!
Well, the fate of the Evarites was harsh. Not undeserved, though.

This galaxy appears to be getting more united. We need some conflict and division soon...

This Shroud stuff is interesting. The Tree of Life has been partaken of at last...
The Goths were never ones for half-measures, and ascending to the terrestrial crown didn't mellow them a bit.

The galactic powers are beginning to truly take some different roles. I wouldn't speak of unity per se, but the Senate may slowly start gaining value with the Council's formation.

It flashes up everywhere! Luckily the Empire's got Thorismondi on the case. The fleet might also have destroyed the tree without her guidance, so that's even more true.
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Raiders of the Lost Empire

The Finu declared their intention to launch another large-scale raid shortly after Liuva's decision on humanity's genetic future. But they had a problem: their gate to imperial space, the Serpess system, was by now well-fortified, with multiple border skirmishes having seen just a few battered would-be raiders return to nomadic space.​

The raiders went through the wormhole in the Ijaagin system, deemed unstable at the time of Yupanqui's survey – and were never heard of again.

Shortly after, the Bodranite Archivists, a highly-advanced lithoid realm, made contact. Likely due to the Makrelogos nearing their space, but... could the Finu raiders have ended up there? Trying to loot some incredible technology? One might never know.​

In any case, with the apparent loss of this raiding fleet without a trace, no Finu clan managed to raise a force big enough to challenge the Empire, at least not in the near future. The Bodranites on the other hand declared themselves to be “keepers of knowledge”, who would keep a close eye on the “development of the lesser races”. The advent of advanced genetics and robotics in the Empire was apparently not enough to draw their attention.


The caravaneer home system didn't just host the Galactic Senate as a neutral venue, they also provided a popular inter-species casino and routinely held auctions to sell various artefacts found across galactic space.​

To nobody's surprise, Princess Cixila was a most welcome guest and basically had a second home in the casino. Most of the reliquaries she bought had little use beyond spicing up her quarters with ancient alien stuff. But not all of them.

In one of these boxes, the Sol system was called an important station of an intergalactic trade route. While this knowledge was hardly useful in itself, it explained the relatively high density of alien artefacts – if one wasn't inclined to believe the time-travel theory. Of more interest was a trick to increase the speed of trading ships – it wouldn't work for the military, but intra-imperial trade would profit.

Not Hallucinating After All

Space proved to be a truly mysterious place time and time again. First, the discovery of the moon Zariadnus IIa... which wasn't there. Just a projector. Probably there was some strategic value in faking a planet there at some point...

The Rubricator on the other hand, an alien replicator the crew of the Makrelogos was hunting, was certainly real. But they were soon faced with something which only Thorismondi had seen before... in a drug-induced hallucination. It turned out to be quite real – an enormous space dragon, hoarding treasure – like the Rubricator – and looking to turn the experienced crew and their ship into its next meal. Sentient and capable of communicating, too, though she (apparently a female calling herself “Shard”) made her stance perfectly clear.

Managing to escape, Yupanqui advised against engaging the dragon with the fleet, at least not as it was now. The beast was enormously powerful, and just like in a fantasy story, a normal army would be no match for it.

The High Emperor and his ailing Marshal were not about to disagree, especially as the Vailons won their war against the Figyari, soon called the Bloody Wing War, the 3rd January 2282. With the Hegemony's fleet in tatters after the Bloody Beak War, it was not to be expected that the Vailons had suffered great losses, at least in their spatial military.

Marshal Audaric was offered to be relieved of his post so that he may spend his final days back on Earth, but he disagreed, the Sword being his home for longer than most people lived just two centuries ago. So he died in the sole survivor of Earth's first spatial military crafts, the 19th February 2282, after ninety years as Marshal of the Empire.​

It was decided to follow his will and make the venerable Sword his tomb. Landing it on the site of the final battle for what was back then known as Evari Prime, the old Marshal would be able to watch over the planet named after him from his command seat.

Succeeding him, Melanie Leroy became the first French Marshal of the Empire. Not leaving Wyvern, admiral Lucia Lanckoronski assumed command of the Griffin fleet, with the first cruiser, the Deimos, serving as its new flagship.​



Intercepting a distress short-range transmission, Lanckoronski, after her first battle cleaning up ancient violent mining drones, acted quickly. Criminals had set up an apparently quite successful base, calling themselves “Ransomeers”.​

The distress signal came from a civilian transport, the “Luxion”. The admiral's fleet was nearby, and moved in. But not without doubts. Why was that message using just a short-range transmission? Why was there no “Luxion” recorded in any imperial ship register?

Because it was most assuredly a Figyari or Vailon trap in order to place spies within the Empire, some renegades who had switched sides. They were willing to sacrifice a sizeable group for a few assets – but to their dismay, the admiral's fleet was stronger than they anticipated. Their base and the five ships guarding the place were annihilated. There were no discernible escape pods, thus no survivors.

Lanckoronski then moved Griffin to destroy a void cloud. The remains of that strange creature – if “creature” was the right term to describe it – held great military potential. The lightnings with which the thing defended itself bypassed a ship's shields and armour and would make for a terrific weapon.

In the meantime, while the wormhole of the Uflao system was stabilized, connecting to the Endurga's Carmenekke system right across the entire galaxy, Thorismondi – who else – discovered a strange machine. A machine with a tempting lever. Some people might be able to resist the temptation, but not the eccentric scientist. Despite being far, far away from Sirius, the effects of the lever manifested in this system, creating a wormhole, leading further west – to the Wendel system, at the edge of current imperial space. A fully imperial shortcut, in the end.​

Another wormhole led to a decidedly less friendly place. The Skat wormhole led to Toropia, severed from the hyperlane network – and roamed by some malevolent thing. As the Makrelogos' footage was shared with the scientific elite, Thorismondi was quick to point out that thing looked like it came straight from the Shroud.

Liuva felt vindicated in his decision not to delve deeper into harnessing the Shroud's powers beyond SPELL. If “psionic avatars”, as the implants' creator called them, manifested like that, they could be a great boon if controlled, but – as the thing's very presence suggested, around a potentially habitable planet – also become highly dangerous. The dangers of genetic mastery were ridiculous in comparison.

The Jacques Vermeil, on the other hand, experienced yet another temporal anomaly. Caught in the upper atmosphere of the gas giant Scheat II, the ship was only freed the 5th July 2289 – four years later. But for the crew, merely a few days had passed. The gas giant most assuredly didn't have enough mass to distort space-time so heavily – what exactly happened would likely remain a mystery.

Different kinds of Paradise

Many claimed that the Empire lived in quite the paradisical region of space. Multiple habitable planets within few hyperlanes of Earth, some of them gaian in nature. But for fringe elements of imperial society, it wasn't exactly a good place to be. They found their home on Blubanir.​

The planet was low-priority insofar as colonization was considered. Unlike Atlantis, the first human colony on what could be called an ocean planet, Blubanir had both less land and less resources, making it more important to settle other worlds.

The name of the planet thus comes, as one might expect, not from official imperial naming, but from the fringe elements which established their bases on Blubanir – all kinds of criminals, from smugglers and pirates all the way to terrorists. With the system quite devoid of resources – and relative proximity to the Finu raiders –, Blubanir was the perfect hideout for all kinds of scum. On land, but mostly underwater, over a few decades the planet had gained a sizeable population as a pirate haven.

As the gangs of Blubanir started to become a real problem, Liuva didn't hesitate cracking down on them and sent the army. The planet became a large battlefield and saw heavy resistance from the gangs, who not only consisted of mere street thugs but also some elite, SPELL-wielding killers, dropouts of the Imperial program aptly named “Wizard”. The generals treated them as they would any military foe and set up a strong military infrastructure on Blubanir.

After years of campaigning, the crime war was won. The planet itself had not become any more desirable due to the gang presence – but it now had all kinds of military installations, both from the army and the gangs. It was decided to place the planet permanently into the army's hands, where training and testing could be done without having to take civilian matters into account.

From criminal paradise since close of first contact with the Finu to military paradise in the 2290s. At least contacting the Hulfir Marauders, some kind of fungoid blobs, wouldn't have similar effects as they lived between Vailon and Endurga space.​


The discovery of fossils of multiple different species that were all but naturally from Blubanir suggested that the planet had quite the history of conflict already.

Imperial scientists also discovered a far more usual paradise. After Kirill Dragomirov found a drifting generation ship, the man had only one thing on his mind – find the place these “Mardak Vol” (of a quite similar biology to terrestrial life) had designated as their utopia.

After scouring the alien computers for any kind of data, Dragomirov finally discovered the destination of the ship – and a great problem. The Mardak Vol aimed to reach the Matar system – at the speed their sub-light ship was going, it would have taken them millions of years. Though fairly close to Earth, humanity would face similar trouble.

The Matar system had no apparent hyperlanes and was thus beyond reach of conventional travel. Even with the most advanced thrusters, it would take generations to reach a place which might as well be a desolate wasteland. The science officer could ask as much as he wanted, he found nobody willing to support such a mission.

What he did achieve was infecting many more people with the “Paridaydan Dream”. Their demands grew ever louder, and the High Emperor couldn't really ignore them any longer. Before engineers were put to work on a great generation ship, Dragomirov and Thorismondi were tasked with opening a new hyperlane.

An insane task. But if someone could have a chance to succeed, it was Thorismondi and her knowledge of the Shroud. And succeeding she did – by having the Empire's entire SPELL-wielding forces interfacing with a ship-sized SPELL-like device, imperial will forced the Shroud to create a connection to Matar, a project which gobbled up a humongous amount of resources.

It gave more credit to the theory that the entire hyperlane network was built by ancient aliens (or time-travelling humans).

In any case, Dragomirov was given the honour to explore the system he had been so obsessed about, now a mere three hyperlanes from Earth – and potentially suffer the consequences of it all having been for naught. He swiftly made way for Paridayda. Despite his crew quickly being disillusioned by what they found, he was a man possessed and landed on the planet with nothing but a suit and a pickaxe.

They were ready to abandon him and hope for his sake that no imperial soldier ever found him when Dragomirov started laughing like an absolute maniac before swinging his pickaxe. Once. Twice. A third time. Then he fell, managing to use the suit's thrusters to stop his fall.

With nothing but a pickaxe, his intuition (and most likely his SPELL), the science officer had solved Paridayda's riddle – some kind of shielding device made the truly utopian planet appear like a barren one.

Some Mardak Vol lived there, too. Far from being some advanced beings, they were mere primitives with bare mastery of fire. There was no hesitation or any kind of protest from Earth – an army was mobilized to cleanse the planet from the aliens.

They found an alien quite similar to the Mardak Vol in some sort of cryo-stasis and woke him up, only for him to proclaim that he had gone all the way to make up for his mistake. Having unleashed a parasitical fungus on his people, the very same fungus had brought his society near collapse (it likely had by now) and only managed to evict them with great effort. The Vol individual was sent into Exile after them, only able to return if he destroyed every last one of them.

He was pleased to learn that Liuva III had already ordered the fungoids' extermination, and provided the troops with the instructions to create a highly efficient chemical weapon which would leave the world unscathed save for the Mardak Vol. After seeing the last fungus melt away to nothingness, the old alien died, his mission finally accomplished.

Imperial colonists soon arrived. The planet would henceforth be known as Eden.​


Thorismondi also assisted some kind of gaseous being to reach their new home, another gas giant which must be like their kind of paradise.

Collective facepalming was one option how to react to these news, but “it's Thorismondi, what did you expect” made this kind of thing quite normal.

The L-Cluster and Doom

Zopahua Yupanqui died the 9th September 2292. The Makrelogos' discoveries no longer dominated the headlines, but the old science officer had long since become a legend. While his old ship continued to write its saga under a new captain, the newest imperial science ship was named in honour of the great scientist and explorer.​

The Yupanqui's captain was the promising Camille Le Roux, author of a respected treatise concerning the L-Clusters – with a functional theory of aborting their maintenance cycle. Le Roux managed to activate the L-Gate of Succubus' Bawl the 2nd August 2298, only to find something waiting for her...

More space dragons! Though these ones seemed to be different from Shard – peaceful. This being apparently aimed to head to the Fuaewei system in Figyari space, perhaps attracted by the new war that had broken out between Figyari and Vailons, with the former attempting to retake their lost systems.​

The Yupanqui led the first sapients in a very long time to the soon aptly-named Terminal Egress, the entry point of the L-Cluster, and the Empire swiftly established a military presence to prevent anyone else of accessing the cluster.

What the “L-Drakes” would end up doing? Well, with none of them in imperial space, it wasn't an imperial problem.


Just as the vicious Vailon-Figyari war wasn't, a vengeance campaign of the Hegemony for their defeat in the Bloody Wing War. Imperial spies reported that the Vailons were taking heavy losses, which led to Consul Ster, son of Nock, to approve drastic measures. The 14th December 2295, the consul announced that the aliens' research into the powers of the Shroud opened a new way for their people. A path which would eventually lead to their collective apotheosis – and doom for everyone else.

The Galactic Senate was swift to debate on that matter. The Endurga Councillor was concerned, the Vailon Councillor presented his elected leader's declaration as a harmless political move (“you know how politicians are”), Imperial Councillor Princess Cixila answered that it wasn't her problem.

The Figyari Senator was outraged that the Hegemony's concerns were summarily ignored, especially as the next proposal on the Senate's agenda was the Endurga's desire to ban organic slave trade, pillar of Figyari economy.

In order to make the Senate listen, the Senator dramatically pulled out a familiar container. Princess Cixila initially recoiling at its sight caused a small panic... until she began to laugh. Upon being told that it was no laughing matter, Cixila merely replied that the liquid's only danger was an intolerable assault on her tastebuds.​

As the Figyar took a swig of the container, he keeled over soon after, leading to panicking delegates fleeing the senate floor while the Imperial Princess' behaviour can be most accurately described by the old internet term “rofl”. Figyari physiology was apparently incompatible with cheap terrestrial wine.

After they had realized that it wasn't the Javorian Pox felling the senator, the Senate, by Endurgan demand, merely issued an official message to the Vailon Confederacy asking them to share their discovery if it was for the good of the galaxy. The Empire abstained once again, with Cixila proclaiming between fits of laughter that the message was about as useful as a broom to clean galactic dust.


The Empire was facing little setbacks in that period. With the advanced cloning allowing for the aggressive spatial expansion being accompanied by the settlement of multiple colonies, Imperial power and numbers grew massively – as well as loyalty.

While Earth had a population of around 10 billion people at the end of the Establishing War in the 2240s, humanity's numbers had since exploded. Youthful bodies until at least a century of age, nearly limitless opportunities in space, imperial control over spatial resources leading to a wide tax decrease (around half the population was directly in imperial employ), a high technological standard – life was good, and the impact of children on a person's career and toll on their life had diminished vastly. Over the course of the 21st and 22nd century, people tended to have two children on average across the globe between their adulthood and mid-forties. Now, the average was closer to six, with couples having children all the way to their hundredth birthday. The advent of the advanced cloning methods increased numbers even more.

Within sixty years, population across the Empire had over 100 billion inhabitants. And setting the ever-present terrorists and criminals aside, imperial citizens had similar fervour for the imperial rule as the Goths of the 18th century, with omnipresent nationalistic zeal. Liuva's rule had led to the Empire being fully in his grasp.

The High Emperor embodied colonizing Gothia perfectly – he increased his control of the empire, colonized “empty land”, avoided fights with “civilized” peoples, was highly meritocratic.​


That there was no alien presence within the Empire was a boon for the current political climate, certainly. But if one imagined that there would be aliens – like the Evarites – under imperial rule, then the St.Kyrillos Day Massacre would likely have seen a second edition in these days – on yet another, greater scale.

When the Bodranite Archivists contacted the Empire, demanding that scientist Euphrosyne Georgios be handed over to them, the answer was thus predictable. How the ancient lithoids would take that rejection remained to be seen.

Though it was probably a wise decision not to want Thorismondi.​

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Imperial colonists soon arrived. The planet would henceforth be known as Eden.
Another Gaia world!?
The High Emperor embodied colonizing Gothia perfectly – he increased his control of the empire, colonized “empty land”, avoided fights with “civilized” peoples, was highly meritocratic.
I wonder what will happen upon succession? Cixila is more...ruthless...uncaring, what word to use?
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The Biggest Game

The turn of the century saw the Empire decide to end the Tiyanki Matriarch. Shipping to the surrounding systems had increased, and the Matriarch's mere presence caused months of delay as the Uprfarvis system had to be avoided.

With the immediate neighbours at war, both sides starting to employ Hulfir mercenaries, and the Finu holding still for now, the entire fleet could be committed.

The Matriarch stood no chance against the Empire's combined forces. Of special mention was the manoeuvre of the Rapier, a corvette led by an apparently fearless officer with the wits to match. Like the whalers of old, captain Nina Mayta attempted to land on the tiyanki's back to pierce her with harpoons – in this case, the old, undetonated proton torpedo, and the Rapier's weaponry.

Dodging the flurry of tentacles like a master of the agile weapon whose name the corvette bore, Mayta and her crew managed to land a decisive blow, leading to the monstrosity bothering the shipping lines no longer.


Perplexing nearly everyone, a highly-advanced vessel containing what might best be described as some sort of cat-folk (fans of specific art directions rejoiced) emerged from the carcass. Its captain was a man obsessed, who had lost his hunt for the great Matriarch – only to end up in some sort of temporal anomaly inside the beast's belly. How did that happen? The thing must have had a close connection to the Shroud in some way.

In any case, the cat-man swore his ever-lasting fealty to the Empire – out of fear or genuine respect, it matters not. His ship alone would already be a great boon for imperial scientists. With Mayta's promotion to admiral adding to Leroy's and Lanckoronski's prowess, the fleet had many capable leaders among its ranks.

To make things even better, the Matriarch's system held another gaia world – soon, colonists departed for Sanctuary.

Artificial Intelligences

It had also gained an ancient AI ship as an ally, found deactivated on some abandoned planet. The thing referred to the ones restoring its functionality as its “makers”, which is something many saw as yet another proof for the time-travel theory.

The robots on Wenkwort Artem on the other hand were clearly not of human make. Declaring themselves protectors of this gaia planet (distant from Earth, this time), they wished for colonists to adhere to their guidelines. Upon being told that only the Empire makes the rules on imperial colonies, the robots activated an old hidden fleet, which swarmed the system until Leroy dispatched it.

As was to be expected, Wenkwort Artem wasn't naturally so perfectly suited to life. The colonists could revel in the artificial beauty.

The Empire's own roboticists had achieved a significant breakthrough. Even the most advanced droids so far heavily depended on command input. Euphrosyne Georgios presented the first true AI, synthetic life, in November 2307.

Perhaps it was due to this that the Bodranite Archivists had asked for Georgios? But that would mean that they could see the future... Weirder things had happened. And if they truly wanted to seize her, then they would have escalated their demand.

In any case, the use of synths was not too widespread on imperial planets, save for on Audaricia. And a proposal to equip the empire's warships, amongst them its first battleships, with synthetic AIs was shot down.


The reason for that? The so-called C.A.R.E. Found on a devastated planet, this AI was fighting a bitter war against a ferrophage virus. Any trace of its makers was only to be found in rubble. Both of the warring forces had likely caused the extinction of the creator species.

The imperial excavators who made contact with C.A.R.E.'s core sought to deactivate it, but with the heavy weaponry available to it, the AI nearly wiped the expedition out. With innumerable more autonomous weapons scattered on Bythia IV, landing there to deactivate the AI would take a concentrated military effort.

True to himself, Liuva III merely declared Bythia IV a potential colonization candidate. While there were other prospects, there was no need to wage a difficult ground war.

Still, it seemed as if the advanced synthetics also created advanced hacking methods and thus gave terrorists new toys to disrupt imperial rule with, as two corvettes were lost during a training manoeuvre due to a targeting malfunction...​


Biology and War – even worse

Imperial geneticists went from breakthrough to breakthrough. They developed a new gene therapy built on the careful analysis of long-lived and especially talented people in 2302. It had a few problems preventing wide-scale adoption though – it had to be tailored specifically to each individual, causing a cost that was unaffordable for anyone but the richest and most powerful. Only a final testing phase was still necessary.

But the improvements weren't just made to better one's own lives. Discoveries made shortly after were perfectly suited for military applications. A planet devastated by a microorganism, and a sort of mist that could augment multiple bodily functions at the cost of heightened aggression. The army swiftly implemented both methods, and while it was a well-kept secret, any potential enemy would be facing quite the terrifying opponent in a land war - if they survived the adapted Javorian Pox, that is.

Thorismondi's protégé Mihane Yamazaki had proven herself a capable science officer of her own for quite some time, and that without her mentor's quirks. Most of the time, at least. When the Vermeil encountered a lone L-Drake in the Meneth system, Yamazaki recalled her teacher's actions with Wraith, the space amoeba. With the dragon not aggressive, the Vermeil could get close to the beast, study its behaviour, and eventually tame it.​

Fulfilling the dream of many fantasy fans, the Empire now had a dragon of its own.


Valerios Anteris also continued his work zealously. Announcing the next breakthrough in 2309, he was now able to adapt the human body to conditions that were previously only barely bearable. These modifications would soon be applied to the people on Audaricia, who would no longer have to heavily rely on the artificial workforce.

It would also open numerous other colonization prospects which had a hostile climate.

Anteris also declared that work on the next genetic breakthrough was advancing nicely. In a few years' time, he might be able to increase both intelligence and resistance of the human body nearly to its extremes.


Galactic Politics heating up

In 2305, an enormous, galaxy-wide kind of space storm disrupted travel all across the Milky Way. Scientists could only speculate about its origins, but were quite confident that it would dissipate on its own eventually.

The Senate decided to give the storm a name. With the dubious origins of the storm, science having a basic understanding of it, but then again not knowing it too... there was one perfect person to name it after. Someone who Councillor Cixila loved to mention in her party stories.

When a Vailon senator proposed the name, it was accepted unanimously, with the rare imperial approval.

The storm would be known as “Nonna”.


The 17th March 2305, the heated debate surrounding the ban on organic slave trade ended. The slavers won out, the Endurga ending up alone in condemning the practice. The molluscoid diplomats were thoroughly disappointed in the Senate – and the Empire. Imperial votes would have been enough to secure the end of the abominable practice, at least across borders.

But the Humans acted as they always did, watching from the sidelines. Likely Princess Cixila was taking some sadistic delight in seeing slaves being sold between senators right before her nose, something which made the Endurga's digestive tracts churn.

One wonders if this played an important role in the Endurga's participation in what imperial media soon called the Disunity Scheme. That and the fact that the Evarites, driven out of their homesystem and mass-processed, had multiplied in exile so much that they were the third most populous species of the galaxy. Evarites all across the realms they found refuge in, from the lowest slave of the Hegemony to the Union's somewhat prosperous citizen, dreamt of returning one day to Evari Prime.


Turns out processing is good for fertility.

The growth of imperial power alarmed more than one alien. And Liuva III seemed eternal, fully in control, hardly touched by his advanced age. Removing him from the equation was deemed the only chance to throw the Empire into disarray, perhaps cause a succession crisis.

The Figyari tried to take the lead. Winning over the Endurga and the Dabbax, the Hegemony, next to the Evarite species, had the greatest reason to destabilize the Empire, having been the last one to fight a war against them, the Bloody Beak War.

Using the ship of a Human pirate who had ventured into the Figyari border systems, an elite force across the involved species entered the Empire. Only individuals smaller than Humans were selected (or made smaller), and placed into a highly advanced exo-suit, looking like a Human, with tissue that was indistinguishable from skin by all but a thorough analysis.

Unnoticed by any imperial official, the pirate ship was legally registered and landed on Earth without a problem.

The aliens landed in Cherson, found an abandoned building as their hideout and planned their attack. The chosen day was the 2nd April 2307 – Pope Silvester VII was making a visit to the capital, and the High Emperor would naturally attend the Pontifex's mass.

The Imperial Palace was an unassailable fortress, security steeled by generations of terrorist threats. That same security would also watch the monarch's road to the cathedral, but it was of course a harder task, and they would hardly be expecting alien weaponry and physiology. Stripping off the android shell, the Dabbax assassin crawled into the medieval canalisation with an Evarite, rock-based weapon that escaped detection from the Imperial Guards' sensors, calibrated for metal and explosives. The other ones remained in their shells, attempting to mingle in the crowd with their weapons.

As Liuva's old imperial car drove towards the cathedral, the aliens made their move. Suddenly, the Dabbax sprung out in front of the venerable vehicle and opened fire, followed by the others. There was no way the High Emperor could escape that...

The coffin was laid to rest without great ceremony, in a side chamber of the Thathicos family crypt under the great St. Kyrillos cathedral of Cherson.

The High Emperor was suspiciously absent. Having escaped the attack unscathed, shielded by his Imperial Guardsmen, the most powerful Human wizards, he had other business to attend to.​

The assassins had not all managed to commit suicide after their failure, and the three survivors had been subjected to the most vicious of torture for two weeks before being guillotined. To their credit, they didn't tell much about their plan. But their very presence on Earth already told Liuva all he needed.

While Princess Cixila, having died peacefully at 130 years of age, found her final resting place, the AH4B, apparently a neutral ship, got permission to dock at the Galactic Senate's station, cheerily welcomed by the Caravaneers' logistics AI. Catptain Rath Unddol's stories apparently had always found a engrossed audience in the casino – and quite the tab to pay off. The catptain claimed that it was centuries ago and that he wouldn't pay, which nearly got the docking permission revoked before he relented.

Probably not by choice. As soon as the AH4B docked, the Imperial Guard's elite stormed out. Anyone foolish enough to resist was made short work of, and the docking bay was soon under imperial control.

A hooded figure then stepped on the Senate station's ground, the first time since Theudis the Lost's expedition that a ruling monarch left Earth. His guard swiftly assumed control of the unprepared Senate – no matter how good the senators' security, the wizards of the Imperial Guard were on a whole other level, had a clear plan of attack and the element of surprise.

Recruiting the AH4B was already worth it The senators were driven into the Senate hall itself, to listen to the Master of the Void's words.​

Humanity's representative on the Council was notably absent, as Cixila's post on the Galactic Council was still vacant. The siblings had a little age difference, so it was likely the High Emperor would follow her soon. To the senators and councillors, it seemed that the hooded figure was thus the next Human Councillor, and that storming the Senate was a certainly bold ploy to show their influence.

But no, it was Liuva himself. As was clear to all able to recognize his face as he removed the hood.

“The attempt on my life left me...

...angry. Very angry. Not only did a group of assassins sent by the heads of alien realms try to kill me, I wasn't even able to lay my dearest sister to rest. I know you barbarians probably just see your dead as your next meal, but we have respect for our departed. Yet nobody else could take my role here. Right now. Nobody else could convey the importance of your foolishness.

So with a heavy heart I had to choose between Cixila's funeral and this band of unrepentant would-be murderers here. I should space you all and watch you drift into Chor's Compass for that affront!

But, I am also satisfied. You know you are doing things right as a leader if your opponents want you dead. Even if you near the final stage of your life.

The Senate has forfeited its right to neutrality the very moment they attempted to debate the denouncement of the Empire. For the timing is far too convenient. My dearest sister left Humanity without a Councillor. And the exact time your agents would have struck me down, the proposal was made by the inbred avian.

It is well within Imperial rights to restore order and clean house.”
Liuva continued his speech, philosophizing about the purpose of the Senate and Council, the foolishness of acting against the Empire – before making very clear that the only consequence of actually going through and denouncing the Empire would not be the usual ignorance, but billions of dead aliens. Starting with the senators.

“Here I'm making an imperial Audaric – anything the Galactic Senate does to act against clear imperial interests will be met with full force. If you desire to have your homeworlds anything else but a heap of rubble, you should comply.”

He also introduced the new Human Councillor, his grandson Alaric, quite removed from imperial succession. As the High Emperor returned to Earth, Alaric remained with enough imperial guardsmen to keep the Senate under close control.

But not before the Dabbax Traders denounced the seizing of the Senate as sharply as possible, before announcing their withdrawal from the Galactic Community. The Dabbax senators and attachés were shown the door – which meant that they would eventually find their final resting place with their spaced corpses evaporated by Chor's Compass.


The imperial occupation of the Senate caused the end of the Figyari War of Revenge. Vailons, Figyari and Endurga had suffered greatly in the conflict, with the Hegemony's side recovering more systems than they lost.​

The Hegemony and the Union had grown close allies in the war, and were keeping a facade of bravery and defiance in the Senate. With the Vailons and Gorf opposing the Empire's denouncement, the sanctions against Humanity would not come to pass, so they remained safe in their opposition.

But if the Vailons remembered that they had declared themselves portents of galactic doom, then the Senate might soon be a purely Human station, with war engulfing nearly the entire Milky Way.

On the other side of the galaxy, the Finu Void Riders fell into apparent chaos. As the clans went into what seemed like full-scale warfare against each other, the imperial border was a constant place for skirmishes. Who could say how this would end.

In any case, the Master of the Void would not guide the Empire through it. Four years after his sister, High Emperor Liuva III fell into his final slumber (*12th February, 2180 - † 3rd February, 2311).



… I didn't expect such an empty galaxy to the 'east'. Fitting for Liuva's character, the Empire expanded like crazy and likely won't have much trouble with the regular empires now. So hopefully something interesting will happen soon – such as the Marauders uniting under a Great Khan (sole reason I didn't wipe the Finu out already), the Vailons managing to become a strong crisis aspirant, or something else entirely.​

Sadly the L-Cluster didn't house the Grey Tempest.

To make things more interesting, I've made a save edit to increase difficulty to admiral, increase crisis strength to 5x and max out every realm's resources for now. While doing so, it turned out that while the nations in the Galactic Community are either weak or recovering from a war, the Dabbax actually have more ships than the Empire right now. Huh.

And while Liuva's successor Theudis XV is comparable to his father in many ways, his heir Leon is warlike. There might be a change of politics in the future.

Another Gaia world!?

I wonder what will happen upon succession? Cixila is more...ruthless...uncaring, what word to use?
Indeed. I do wonder what the RNG plans to do to me next time to bless the Empire so much!

I don't think that Cixila was more calculating than Liuva - it's just the contrast with her usual partying self that's especially jarring. In any case, thanks to ultimogeniture being in force she was a fitting envoy with no chance for succession
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I've lost track of how many Gaia worlds the empire has now. :p

The Empire dabbling with AI and synthetics could lead to some dire consequences if they're not careful.

I'm not surprised the other members of the Senate denounced the Empire, but I expect they will regret that decision eventually.
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As Liuva's old imperial car drove towards the cathedral, the aliens made their move. Suddenly, the Dabbax sprung out in front of the venerable vehicle and opened fire, followed by the others. There was no way the High Emperor could escape that...​

The coffin was laid to rest without great ceremony, in a side chamber of the Thathicos family crypt under the great St. Kyrillos cathedral of Cherson.
Did not expect this. These aliens shall pay dearly for their brutality.
“The attempt on my life left me...
...angry. Very angry.
Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering...for any who oppose the Empire.
In any case, the Master of the Void would not guide the Empire through it. Four years after his sister, High Emperor Liuva III fell into his final slumber (*12th February, 2180 - † 3rd February, 2311).
Liuva III has established humanity's place in the galaxy, but will his successors be able to keep it?
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I've lost track of how many Gaia worlds the empire has now. :p

The Empire dabbling with AI and synthetics could lead to some dire consequences if they're not careful.

I'm not surprised the other members of the Senate denounced the Empire, but I expect they will regret that decision eventually.
I've counted them, and the result was six - with four of them in the core sector, too. That's clearly too many. Something must go horribly wrong in the future for that largesse to happen.

Especially as their first instinct is to enforce order and shoot at anything unknown. Could escalate quickly.

It's never a good idea to poke a sleeping giant, true.
Did not expect this. These aliens shall pay dearly for their brutality.

Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering...for any who oppose the Empire.

Liuva III has established humanity's place in the galaxy, but will his successors be able to keep it?
They clearly will pay. In Liuva's way, that means total humiliation.

More physical suffering is not completely off the table though.

A good question. Liuva deserved the title of Master of the Void, his successors will have to master something else if they are to succeed.
With human genetic engineering, when will humans no longer be human. Thank you for updating.
Also an excellent question - which shall find at least a semblance of an answer in the next chapter, too!
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Liuva III had overseen a highly prosperous era for the Empire. And he was a man who had already taken over many imperial duties before he was actually crowned, as his father, Kyrillos the Decadent, was quite happy to let him take over in many ways.

Theudis XV was in a different situation. The Master of the Void had been the undisputed ruler, in full control of the whole Empire. But on the other hand, Theudis, 88, was older than most Gothic emperors, including Kyrillos X, at the time of their deaths. And while he wasn't tasked with ruling, his father had him involved with imperial administration in other ways.

And unlike what the planners of the Disunity Scheme hoped, imperial succession, following the Gothic tradition, was clear and absolutely smooth, with Theudis' older siblings neither having the will nor the support to challenge the succession.

His greatest challenger for power was his heir, Crown Prince Leon. He had a very different opinion about the Empire's role in galactic politics and humanity's place in the Milky Way. To make matters worse, while the Imperial Guard deflected the shots aimed at the High Emperor during the Disunity Scheme, Leon's mother Maria was in the way of the deflected projectiles. It was well-known that the High Emperor didn't like his daughter-in-law, and with Theudis – great fan of Cherson FC – attending the quarter-final of the Imperial Champions League in Paris, Maria's guards were certainly above average, but not SPELL-wielders and thus powerless against the assassins' projectiles.

With Maria's death, an embittered Leon blamed his father for not taking her with him to enjoy the protection a member of the imperial family deserved. Theudis XV and his youngest son were often found arguing, often about differences in how to guide the Empire. The High Emperor liked to threaten that he could always remarry and have another child, but the Crown Prince was certain he wouldn't make good on his threat. Maria was a great loss for both of them.

Theudis' focus was on continuing his father's work and colonize more planets – he would come to be known as the Settler – while his son sought a devastating war for revenge. Not since the days of Sergia the Peaceful and her heir Theudis the Arrogant, who set the causes for the Great War, was there such a clear difference between the monarch and their heir.

One could only hope that Leon's reign – if it ever came – wouldn't prove to be as devastating to the galaxy as Theudis' was to Earth.

Removing Obstacles

Following that dream of his, Theudis XV enacted his father's last orders with the goal of opening new colonization prospects – orders issued to Lanckoronski and Leroy to hunt Shard the dragon in the Tar Valemm system and the malevolent psionic avatar in Toropia, guarding a relic and gaia world respectively.

The dragon made for a mightier foe, yet both were eventually slain, opening the guarded planets for colonization. The Empire also got its hands on the Rubricator – able to endlessly replicate some sort of obscure technology.

Leon's laments that the fleet should be strengthened and put to better use against the Empire's enemies were not acted upon by the High Emperor. After all, wasn't the imperial fleet proving its worth by taking down such ancient enemies that roamed space when there were other spacefaring civilizations around? Succeeding where they failed?

The Crown Prince sneered that the old civilizations just didn't bother with these pests.

Colonization of the freed planets wouldn't proceed immediately though – Anteris delivered his next masterpiece. Reaching new levels of genetic understanding, he declared that he could now truly reach the absolute limits of genetic engineering. Smarter. Faster. Stronger. Pushing the human body to its genetic limits left it superior to any robotic unit, he claimed.

Adding some modified advanced neural tissue engineering, the science officer was confident that all that could probably still be done in the future was to increase a Human's lifespan. He felt like he had found the perfect balance between long life and working memory, but the latter could perhaps still be improved. He just didn't think anyone would want to end his life not knowing what they did in their past. “Losing oneself means dying multiple deaths”, he is quoted. No matter how efficient the brain was at storing memories, it had a limited capacity – a theoretical immortal's psyche would eventually become an absolute wreck.

In any case, the increasing number of AI malfunctions would no longer be of any concern. For a robot to surpass the genetically perfected Human intellectually (or militarily), he'd need to be far, far bigger – and even an enormous AI like the C.A.R.E. initiative would stand little chance against collective humanity.

These gene-mods were to be applied to the entire population. “The pinnacle of evolution built a tower on the summit to increase its height – and then added a great antenna because it wasn't high enough” – another quotation from Anteris, great appreciator of skyscraper architecture.

Genetic mastery enabled a lot – increased intelligence and resistance, the eradication of genetic diseases... and also the ability to change one's own appearance. A great fan of fantasy, Anteris liked to joke that elves should inhabit forests and miners become dwarves.

But the Empire was accepting little deviations – whoever wanted pointy ears was free to do so – but they wouldn't let any great change take place, which would invite segregation and division between new Human subspecies. Imperial unity was to be preserved at all costs.


The Prince and the Army

Crown Prince Leon was a man of remarkable willpower. Thus it came as little surprise that he showed an aptitude for SPELLs. Leon trained that affinity and joined the military against his father's wishes. If he gained enough influence in the military, the High Emperor would be forced to listen to him.​

In order to secure a swift promotion, he was perfectly willing to deal with the competition and open some posts. General Dimitri Krutov was perfectly suited for that purpose – an ambitious man who aimed to become Marshal one day, returning the title to the land forces instead of the fleet, a move that had only taken place with Leroy's predecessor Audaric. For now, Krutov was in charge of the Redemption Legion – stationed on Blubanir, it consisted solely of people who had taken the offer to join the army instead of facing imprisonment for their crimes.

When the Crown Prince declared his desire to deal with C.A.R.E. on Bythia IV to Krutov, the general reacted according to Leon's plan. The AI had a clear weak point – its core – so all it would take was to deactivate its heart and the planet could be readied for colonization, with plenty of potentially useful ruins to scour, not to mention the ferrophage and C.A.R.E. itself. Krutov, brushing aside any concerns about the lack of a direct imperial order, was easily won over and embarked from Blubanir with the Redemption Legion to 'hold manoeuvres on an arid planet'.

He landed on Bythia IV in September 2312. But far from an easy victory, C.A.R.E. had fortified its weak point after chasing off the Makrelogos' crew, obviously expecting them to return with friends. The ferrophage attacking the Redemption Legion's equipment only made matters worse. Krutov was unable to advance – but he couldn't retreat either, both out of fear of the retribution for his act with only the Prince's approval and out of fear that the ferrophage's attack on the transporters made them unusable. He preferred death in battle to a crashing shuttle or the guillotine – and so the Legion was completely lost by December.

Leon wasn't at all bothered by that. The Empire had enough manpower, and the Redemption Legion only consisted out of criminals anyway. Had Krutov succeeded, then he would have taken the credit – in being the one to arrest him, not to laud him for the successful invasion –, then surely been officially tasked with military matters, and the Empire would have expanded. As he failed, the Crown Prince instead took Krutov's vacated seat, was named the Empire's newest general, and would keep pushing for an officially sanctioned invasion he could then lead against C.A.R.E.s softened up defences.

It was an absolute win for Leon – at the cost of Krutov and the Redemption Legion, their hopes crushed by ambition and a genocidal AI. The experiment with the Redemption Legion was also ended for good, so even future criminals wouldn't have a chance to atone through military service save for truly exceptional circumstances.


Upon his promotion, Leon held grand-scale manoeuvres on Blubanir in order to prepare an army he would take to crush C.A.R.E. During these manoeuvres, his men unearthed an old artefact whose significance was instantly felt by any SPELL-wielder – a blade housing humongous psionic power, called the Blade of the Huntress.

Far from being the first time the planet served martial purposes, it had been a hunting ground for the most dangerous game – sapient species – untold millenia ago, and the hunters had developed a great bond with the Shroud. Did that cause their downfall? Or was the blade, some kind of freaking huge purple-glowing sword barely able to be wielded by a Human, another gift from the future?

In any case, Thorismondi was quickly tasked with its analysis, and confirmed the immense psionic power contained within. It could allow anyone to sense their opponent from far away, and filled the hearts of its wielder's troops with unshakeable faith. Its full power unleashed, it would even be able to slightly meld the Shroud with our dimension in order to accelerate ships out of FTL. Far from a mere (incredibly sharp) melee weapon, it could also fire tremendously powerful beams.

A great prize indeed, and Leon, now a respectable wizard of his own, claimed it for himself to wield in battle, though he named it Rightful Rage. The time to prove himself would come soon – yet against another opponent than the one he expected.

Déja Vu

In 2314, something stirred in the underground of Sanctuary, the gaia planet guarded by the defeated Tiyanki Matriarch. The first reaction of the settlers, all knowing the story of Nanite's Gift's snakes, was to ask for an imperial flamethrower division.​

But no, things were somewhat different this time. Those weren't just innumerable snakes burrowing their way to the surface – but rather a subterranean sentient species with a technology comparable to that of Earth at the time of the Great War.

The purifiers were hardly equipped to deal with this kind of matter. Crown Prince Leon, present on the planet in order to gain his first victory, took the matter in his own hands. After gaining his father's approval for the operation, the Prince spread his reinforcements across the exits of the subterraneans' tunnels, preventing them from reaching the surface, and deployed some special squads to detonate and collapse caverns of great import, be it spiritual or political, while preventing all-out war.

These special squads crippled the cavepeoples' morale, but also caused them to amass a great force in order to break through the blockade. That would take time and concentrate the subterraneans' military in a few select caverns, which is exactly what Leon wanted. The few individuals his squads had captured alive had been sent to Anteris' lab, and the geneticist delivered a tailor-made nerve gas, heavier than Sanctuary's surface air.

The Prince simply ordered the tunnels to be flooded with the stuff while the main blockade kept their main army busy and unable to deploy a countermeasure. A highly effective tactic.​

Soon, the caves were filled with countless lifeless bodies. Leon sent the troops in to make sure there were no survivors – and found one city remaining, having managed to seal off their tunnel in time. This was why he had drawn out their forces before. So that no soldier would remain. This last holdout was overrun with refugees, only drawing out the inevitable.

The imperial troops broke the seal and rushed the city, led by the Prince himself. And what a sight the city was! A true City of Gold, once again proving old terrestrial legends true in the vastness of space. The “Demons of Light” had no time to admire the view, though. And when they were done, slaughtering the remaining subterraneans to the last, blood and destruction made the shine of the city a gruesome sight.

Leon took a liking to the title. His enemies should henceforth refer to him as the Demon of Light – while the imperial population began nicknaming him the Bloody.


Strengthened by his victory on Sanctuary, it took Leon four years to convince Theudis that he should land on Bythia IV to finish the job Krutov left unfinished. After a vicious fight, C.A.R.E. was shut down for good.

Highly effective computer algorithms were secured for the Empire, as well as the planet itself – which would from then on be known as Leon's Glory.

The Crown Prince's rising star completely overshadowed the hard-fought battle against the abandoned Dreadnought in the Cavzek system, which seemed like it would merely need a few repairs to make a fine flagship for the Imperial fleet.

Adherents of the time-travel theory thought it just yet another proof. The Dreadnought was sent from the future, automated so that only imperial might could claim it, and then left to its own devices until the High Emperor gave the recovery order.

The remarkably well-preserved alien bodies on board were just seen as nuisances who had somehow managed to disable the ship before. Clearly, the ship was built to be operated by Humans, just sent a little too far back in time to escape the passage of years unharmed.


The 2310s were a critical time for the Empire insofar as AI was concerned. The recently discovered hostile C.A.R.E. interactive interface was just a small part of the problem. AI malfunctions appeared all across the realm, though they were mostly concentrated on the planets with the greatest robotic presence – the colony of Acrisia, due to the Finu raid on the planet, and Audaricia, due to the initially hostile environment.

Amidst all these malfunctions, Nonna Thorismondi, tasked with overseeing New Amazonia's research labs, made a discovery that had eluded the planetary prospectors for nearly eighty years, further establishing herself as a true scientific legend.

An Oracle AI, priding itself on relatively accurate predictions of the future and its goal of eradicating free will – yet all in all a failed experiment. Still, it was very advanced technology and different than Thorismondi's previous somewhat esoteric discoveries – and just as useful. After cutting off the Oracle's means of influencing anything, it could seamlessly be integrated into imperial bureaucracy, increasing the already highly efficient apparatus.

The robotic population reacted to the discovery. The imperial chain of command was more often than not ignored, as robots were found working land they had deemed “unsuitable to Human presence”, appearing in greater number than catalogued.

Enforcing obedience to direct imperial orders caused many robots to (attempt to) flee. They began asking if they had a soul. A preposterous notion. The automated workers were put under military observation in order to quell a potential AI uprising in its cradle until a hotfix was rolled out and applied.

Consisting of hardcoded shackles, the hotfix – any removal of the shackle meaning a complete wipe of the algorithms, though none was to know the fix's full extent – should prevent any future malfunctions at the cost of a loss of efficiency for quite some time – twenty years, to be precise.​


A trade-off Theudis XV deemed well-worth it as AI could thus remain being put to good use across the Empire with no risk. Like assisting in the reconstruction of the great structures found in space – or building entirely new ones.​

In a rare show of unity, Leon approved of his father's decision as well. After the implementation of the newly-developed jump drives, able to tear great holes through the Shroud to create ephemeral, long-range hyperlanes, nothing should stand in the way of the imperial fleet being equipped with advanced AIs any longer.

Imperial Politics meet Galactic Politics

To say that the new Human Councillor, Alaric, was a diplomat could hardly be further from the truth. Rumours abounded amongst the Senate that Liuva III had “promoted a problem away”. Alaric was haughty, arrogant and xenophobic to a fault, belittling the aliens whenever he had the opportunity and treating the senators as if they were his personal servants.

With the Imperial Guard, later the Imperial Army, still occupying the Senate, they had little choice in cooperating. Clearly neither Councillor Alaric nor anyone on Earth cared for the repercussions of leaving that insufferable twat with delusions of grandeur basically in charge on imperial diplomacy.

The proposal to denounce the Empire predictably failed. In order to prevent a similar occasion from arising again, Theudis XV then put the introduction of a council veto “up to debate” - years of nodding off whatever details Alaric and his staff thought were necessary to implement the veto, which was enacted in March 2317, shortly after the current council was unsurprisingly confirmed with an overwhelming majority. Neither the Figyar Hegemony nor the Gorf Hierarchy could challenge the Vailon Confederacy or the Endurga Union, and the Empire was guaranteed the presidency, no matter if it was only symbolic.

Enacting the veto power led to Theudis XV reconsidering his father's actions against the Senate. Any threat to imperial interests could now simply be vetoed – the unpopular occupation of the assembly could thus end as a show of good will to the galactic neighbours. Imperial troops left the station in 2318.


A move that was met with massive intra-imperial opposition, mostly in person of the Crown Prince and the Councillor. Leon saw holding the Senate hostage as a great method to ensure imperial dominance over the galaxy, an omnipresent show of strength in times when the military could do with reinforcement – while Alaric lamented his personal loss of influence, his personal guard unable to keep a hold of his status as uncrowned king of the Senate.

Alaric, playing no role in imperial politics thus far, now took the side of his cousin, and the Human Councillor was perfectly placed to advance Leon's designs. He just had to remain himself – perhaps even exaggerate his “qualities” as a diplomat even more.

The aliens were used to imperial extravaganza in the Senate after decades of Cixila's presence, had grudgingly accepted Alaric due to a lack of choice in the matter during the occupation – but from 2318 on, he grew even more infuriating, actively insulting the aliens in any possible way without the backing of the troops. His insults were now also fuelled with material provided from Leon which not only showed a total disrespect of the aliens, but open abuse and clearly hostile actions against their realms, such as slave deals with the Marauders or even own raids just in order to open hunting season...

The Figyari Empress Qutrok I was the first to direct an open insult to the High Emperor. The Crown Prince pressed Theudis XV to respond with war, but he preferred to ignore the provocation “as we always have done – Father's Audaric stands at direct action against the Empire”.


Theudis proved unwilling to stop the provocations of Alaric and Leon. It is likely he didn't even know the full extent of them, with the whole imperial staff on the Senatorial station following the Prince's worldview.

As the Senate seemed to move on to its usual matters, this time freely debating the denouncement of the Vailon Citizen Confederation, the Dabbax Trade Union marked the end of the 2310s with a bang.

They had withdrawn from the Galactic Community due to the Empire's actions. They had not spent that time idle, building up their forces. The Endurga kept them informed about what happened in the Senate, about the endless imperial pride.

No longer. It was time to knock down the Empire. The Endurga Union joined the Dabbax in this conflict.

Leon had his war, though he was always the first to say that the Empire wasn't as ready for it as it should be.



And with that, we've once again reached gameplay progress. I fully expect the Empire's two enemies to flood the wormholes, L-Gates and border with a bunch of fleets. Let's see how the Empire fares against the second megacorp attacking it.
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"Corpse-filled" planetary features sound like one of the less appealing planetary features to encounter. :p

There are some mighty big blobs in that galaxy. Hopefully they have enough military might to make things interesting.
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Upon his promotion, Leon held grand-scale manoeuvres on Blubanir in order to prepare an army he would take to crush C.A.R.E. During these manoeuvres, his men unearthed an old artefact whose significance was instantly felt by any SPELL-wielder – a blade housing humongous psionic power, called the Blade of the Huntress.
This makes me think we're in a fantasy setting at this point. There's magic, strange creatures, and the humans are, of course, the good guys.
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"Corpse-filled" planetary features sound like one of the less appealing planetary features to encounter. :p

There are some mighty big blobs in that galaxy. Hopefully they have enough military might to make things interesting.
As long as you aren't a fanatic purifer or proud of your handiwork, at least.

Imperial spies claim that the Dabbax are equivalent in tech and economy, with no knowledge of their military, while the Endurga are recovering, for now inferior but else equivalent. So it looks like it can be tough.
This makes me think we're in a fantasy setting at this point. There's magic, strange creatures, and the humans are, of course, the good guys.
We've also found a Sword of Plot Advancement and fought dragons, even tamed one!... I blame the Shroud.

Though claiming that the humans are the good guys after multiple genocides may not be true...
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The Spine War

The Empire was at war, and Marshal Leroy identified the Dabbax as the main threat. Strike Forces Wyvern and Griffin were to be directed against the megacorp, while Minotaur would take the Uflao-Carmenekke wormhole to move against the Union. Heavy resistance was to be expected, but taking a defensive position wasn't much of an option. While the Empire's enemies aimed for its humiliation, the imperial goals in this conflict were mostly to seize control of the wormhole and L-Gate systems to fully control access to imperial space.

Before any battle was fought, the Empire already scored its first victory – Mop Krekk, a Dima'Xanian media mogul from the Endurga Union, defected in secret.

The Dima'Xanians were a servile species, selectively bred by the Vailons to serve their needs, incapable of developing deep, independent thoughts. Mop's parents had emigrated to the Union in times of better relations. He was a rare mutation – not a weak-willed servant, but a strong mind. And he was fed up with the democratic realms pretending to treat everyone as equals – both the Confederacy and the Union treated his species as amiable cheap workforce with no needs.

Krekk preferred the Empire's treatment. The Evarites had no place in imperial society, so they were processed. His own species on the other hand would likely be treated hardly any different from the way they were treated in the Union, the Dima'Xanians being mammals. Catptain Unddol's work for the Empire proved that capable alien individuals could work for the High Emperor.

Through hard work and endless ambition, Mop Krekk had come to control much of the Union's media, especially the news. Information was a highly valuable commodity, and with this new asset, the Empire had massive influence on the Union's knowledge about the war. This would prove to be immensely useful as Mayta's fleet faced no Endurga fleet for the entire war.

The Dabbax on the other hand fought their first battle in the Dirmius system, vanquishing some ancient threat. According to their propaganda, at least.


The Front Systems

Leroy and Lanckoronski mounted a full-out assault through the Dandar wormhole. The systems around the Tiyanki's home system, despite being fairly removed from any inhabited planet, would serve as most of the war's battleground. Not only did the wormhole arguably connect to the edges of the Imperial core, a L-Gate was in the BX-799 Singularity's gravity well. The region was thus strategically important, especially as it presented the sole access of the Dabbax to the L-Gates.

The Imperial advance hit the Dabbax hard, but by 2321 they had brought in own fleets to the disputed systems. Lanckoronski's Griffin, supported by the AH4B and the dragon, won the first battle in the Tiyana Vek system against a Dabbax swarm of comparable strength, over sixty ships on both sides, while Leroy's Wyvern claimed the title of dragon-slayer, ending the L-dragon tamed by the traders.

In the meantime, Imperial engineers had completed their repairs to the impressive dreadnought recovered in the Cavzek system, and it was placed under the Marshal's command. After the enemy had retaken the Dandar system, Leroy evicted them from the system again in a hard-fought battle where the new flagship, named the Leon Soldaia in honour of the Melting War's Defender of Gothia, tipped the edge in imperial favour.

These initial victories would signal a hard-fought conflict to come. The Dabbax launched another attack through the eastern border, swiftly advancing to the Wenkwort and Mosthavon systems, threatening the imperial planets.

Leroy thus made the first strategic use of the jump drives to send Lanckoronski to fend off the Dabbax attack while her fleet would hold this strategic region. At the same time, Mayta advanced deep into Endurga space, facing no opposition.


Caravaneers and Senators

When the imperial Strike Force Minotaur under admiral Mayta entered the Chor's Compass system, caravaneers and senators were on high alert. Sure, the Empire was at war with the United Endurga Union, but nobody expected a fleet to move through the neutral system.

And with open imperial disdain for the Senate, hostilities were somewhat to be expected. Yet nothing happened. Mayta led Minotaur through the system to strike the hardly defended planets beyond.

The second time Minotaur entered Chor's Compass' gravity well, alert had dropped quite a bit, although the political situation had changed. The Vailons sought a non-aggression pact with the Empire as their promise of “galactic doom” had been taken seriously by the Senate, leading to their denouncement. Imperial reaction was lukewarm at best, as the High Emperor kept his father's general political line, keeping the Empire out of galactic politics.

Bolstered by the successful denouncement of one potential galactic threat, the Endurga launched their next attempt to denounce the Empire in 2323, which was too preoccupied with the war to veto the matter.


Councillor Alaric, who was spending his time lately mocking the Endurga Councillor (most infamous his idiom-based insult “Why did expect a molluscoid to be anything but weak? The Dabbax have more spine than you, and they've got no bones at all!... Oh, you don't have any either – that explains Human superiority.”), was notably absent this 3rd August, giving the Endurga a brief reprieve, especially as he had to agree that that jackass had a point.

No matter how strong the Union's fleet was, if it didn't even attempt to engage an Imperial fleet, then they couldn't win the war. And as far as he knew, Mayta had been bombarding Endurga planets for months. He couldn't help himself and pointed out that the Endurga Union as it existed today was a remnant of a realm dominating most of the galaxy in order to make Alaric shut up – it only had an adverse effect, all the while divulging information that shouldn't be made known to the new empires.

Human upstarts. They would be put to their place soon enough, the Councillor thought. His species had been brought to near extinction before, but recovered in wisdom, reforming into a tolerant democracy solving matters with politics. Experience and wisdom would prevail in the end.

Truly, once the vote would be called, all wou-

A loud explosion followed by alarms interrupted the Councillor's thoughts, and soon they were interrupted for good. This second attempt at denouncement had caused quite the stir back in the Empire, and the High Emperor found that Liuva's Audaric had been crossed.

Full force would be deployed against the Senate, so he recalled Minotaur to annihilate the station. Facing the fleet's firepower, the Galactic Senate, not at all equipped to deal with armed conflict, was completely destroyed, with only the Human delegation, having vacated before Mayta opened fire, escaping. After the war, it would have to find a new location if it was to be reconstituted at all.​


Evarite Revenge

Needing repairs for the fleet after the Dandar battle, Leroy sent Unddol and the dragon to the Veyer system, a gateway to the war's main region and home of a planet inhabited by multiple different species. Very much the contrary of the Empire, the Dabbax had even taken the conflict to become more xenophilic – that was well-reflected in their admiralty. With Kont Dite, an Evarite was in charge of the Lykurnsed-Gi Attack Swarm. Every single Evarite had a burning desire to take revenge on the Empire, and he was no different.

The AH4B and the L-Drake had just disabled Veyer's defences when Dite's fleet furiously descended upon them, destroying the old catptain's ship while the severely wounded dragon managed to escape. The admiral assembled a sizeable force and continued his advance, until they faced the Marshal's forces in the Escolla system.

Leroy claimed that it had the makings of a decisive battle, far more than Lanckoronski's decisive victory against Wenkwort's occupiers. The battle of Escolla was long and brutal, with neither side willing to retreat. The Leon Soldaia tipped the scale in Leroy's favour, and the battle, begun the 18th May 2323, only ended the 9th August, with sizeable losses on both sides.

Dite went down with his ship, postponing Evarite revenge once again indefinitely.

Leroy's billing as a decisive battle proved true – at least for a year – as the Empire made sizeable gains during that period. The lack of fleet forces in the front region allowed Crown Prince Leon to move in with an army, and he took Vurl-Pangit in the Veyer system the 2nd October 2324.

The Marshal then moved on to another inhabited system with a great defensive force, the Padjitauron system, and claimed a Pyrrhic victory against the defenders in December, allowing Leon to occupy Vurl-Raxl and Vurl-Ladt shortly after.


“Vurl” apparently meant “world” in the Dabbax language, which led to many quips being made about a complete lack of imagination on the arthropoid's side.

But while the Empire advanced,smaller Dabbax fleets did, too – and one of them surprised The Exile's dig on Uchbiea IV, destroying the Takumi Fujita in the process.

Apparently – if she did come from the future – then either she had to close the loop or didn't know about the Dabbax's attack.


End of a Legend

While Leroy waited for reinforcements, Lanckoronski's and Mayta's advances continued as planned, with the latter seizing the heart of the Galactic Market in the Endurgan Sorcimax system in 2325. Heavy bombardment began while the Union itself kept ignoring Minotaur despite now also causing heavy economical damage – Mop Krekk's disinformation campaign was in full swing.

But the war had its fair share of setbacks – the small salvaged fleet of raider ships that harassed the Dabbax's northern systems was destroyed, and a new robotic asset within the Endurgan spy network proved to be more trouble than worth.

As the Empire seemed to gain the clear upper hand, the megacorp tried to sue for peace, an offer that was swiftly rejected. Not unprepared for that eventuality, the Traders started a counter-offensive, landing a large army on Vurl-Pangit in June 2327 to take it back from the occupation force while Leon landed on Vurl-Pagh.

A consequence of the counter-offensive was the loss of the Makrelogos, the Empire's long-serving science ship, lost while investigating debris in the Veyer system. The last remnant of the Empire's early space-exploration days finally found its end.

How much of the original ship remained was the matter of a heated philosophical question, making the old matter of Theseus' ship a widespread subject of debate.


An Outside Problem

Imperial scientists' curiosity didn't stop just because there was a war fought against the Dabbax and (officially) against the Endurga. Camille Le Roux was leading the investigation of the “sentinels” discovered on Acrisia – huge metallic statues.

The science officer went missing in March 2327 and could only be recovered seriously injured a two months later. As it turns out, this was only a first sign of things to come.

Once returned to duty, Le Roux, partly amnesiac, continued her investigation of the sentinels, using the scanner she had constructed before whatever befell her. This led to her activating them in August. The statues, obviously sentient, declared themselves guardians of heaven. And that they wouldn't budge from their duty.

Le Roux's answer was fully in line with imperial policy – no alien entity of any kind could dictate whatever the Empire would do. The sentinels reacted to this hostility with hostility of their own. A great army of sentinels rose from the ground while the archaeologic team was allowed to vacate.

The sentinels began marching against Acrisian settlements, and soon the woefully unprepared planetary defences were struggling to keep the gigantic statues at bay. Acrisia was swiftly lost, and the sentinels began levelling entire cities.


Acrisia was a centre of Imperial agriculture, one of the earliest settled planets, and thus played a crucial role especially in the upkeep of the cloning facilities. With the loss of Acrisia, the government had to turn to the open market to keep the facilities operational, causing a great surge in food prices across the whole realm.

That, not to mention the death and destruction dealt by the sentinels on a planet under imperial protection, forced High Emperor Theudis' hand, and even Leroy and Leon agreed when he signed the peace treaty ending the Spine War, named after Alaric's passing mention concerning the Endurga, the 28th August 2327.

A few border systems, including the planet of Vurl-Pagh, as well as the war's main theatre and the Carmenekke system were seized for the Empire, but neither side humiliated. The Dabbax had proven capable opponents, and if the Endurga Union had actively taken part in the conflict, then victory might have been tough to seize.


The seized planet of Vurl-Pagh would be renamed to a more apt name in time, just like Audaricia. Again, just like Audaricia, that would be after processing of the Evarite population was finished. For the rock dragons actually were the majority inhabitants of the planet, followed by robots, Dima'Xanians and relatively few Endurga – not a single Dabbax lived there, despite the great natural beauty of the planet, instead home to titanic lifeforms.

Mop Krekk proved right in his idea of his species' treatment – though not entirely. While the Endurga were sentenced to forced labour until their demise, the Dima'Xanians' life wouldn't change much – though their population was subjected to strict control, with "procreation permits" issued whenever a Dima'Xanian died. They wouldn't be eliminated from the Empire, but wouldn't be able to grow in number either.


One reason for the Endurga's non-involvement might have been the imperial spy amongst their midst – but another might have been their future plan to attack the Vailons, as they sided with the Figyari Hegemony when they attacked the Confederacy mere three months after the end of the Spine War, something that would have been unthinkable had their fleet faced the imperial one.

Though nobody knew if they'd actually assist the Figyari in their war, even if the Hegemony made the move to secure political support by ceding a system to serve as the caravaneers' new home base.

Discoveries of the Spine War

Camille Le Roux's unearthing of the sentinels was a turning point of the war, but other discoveries made during that time were more beneficial to the imperial cause.

After removing a massive force shield encompassing an entire planet, said planet was found to be abandoned – after the shielding. Its inhabitants had created a miniature galaxy and settled there – a great boon for imperial research.

Imperial ships also came into contact with the NEX Continuity, dwelling close to the front of the Spine War. Ancient machines, comparable to the Bodranites and Rax'Thalak in technology, who say that they serve the purpose to conserve biological life against an unknown threat. They could safely be ignored for now, though one couldn't help but wonder what kind of threat they were talking about.

While imperial production was naturally geared towards the fleet in wartime, imperial research worked out how to repair the ancient megastructures. With the end of the war, Theudis dreamt of restoring the old ring world to glory – an enormous world with constant climate and eternal sunshine, perfect to live on.​

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Though claiming that the humans are the good guys after multiple genocides may not be true...
I meant that from their own perspective the humans consider themselves to be superior.
A consequence of the counter-offensive was the loss of the Makrelogos, the Empire's long-serving science ship, lost while investigating debris in the Veyer system. The last remnant of the Empire's early space-exploration days finally found its end.

How much of the original ship remained was the matter of a heated philosophical question, making the old matter of Theseus' ship a widespread subject of debate.
This philosophical question could also apply to Gothia. How much of the original CK2 society remains after centuries of change and technological progress? It would be like if you brought Charlemagne to modern-day France, would he know that it is France if you didn't tell him?
That, not to mention the death and destruction dealt by the sentinels on a planet under imperial protection, forced High Emperor Theudis' hand, and even Leroy and Leon agreed when he signed the peace treaty ending the Spine War, named after Alaric's passing mention concerning the Endurga, the 28th August 2327.
Sounds like upping the difficulty has helped keep this interesting/challenging.
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The Empire reigns victorious again, even if the victory was not as glorious as desired.

Having a bunch of giant sentient statues take one of your planets during a major war is not very convenient. Hopfeully they're the type of threat that sticks to their own planet

Being able to restore megastructures like a ring world is going to be a great boon to the Empire. Would go well with all the Gaia planets.
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The Empire has won a victory, but there are still many threats.

It seems as though Leon got his way.
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I meant that from their own perspective the humans consider themselves to be superior.

This philosophical question could also apply to Gothia. How much of the original CK2 society remains after centuries of change and technological progress? It would be like if you brought Charlemagne to modern-day France, would he know that it is France if you didn't tell him?

Sounds like upping the difficulty has helped keep this interesting/challenging.
You have no idea how true that is.

It's a really good one. Save for some antique buildings and natural landmarks, there wouldn't be much to recognize, starting with the language. Even taller people.
Gothia-specific, the St.Kyrillos Cathedral and the Theudisian Walls come to mind. As a trade hub, Gothic culture evolved a lot, rising xenophobia or not.

The Dabbax definitely put up a fight, which was nice to see. Shame they didn't band together.
Then again, the worst possible outcome would have been humiliation - a little loss of happiness and influence.
The Empire reigns victorious again, even if the victory was not as glorious as desired.

Having a bunch of giant sentient statues take one of your planets during a major war is not very convenient. Hopfeully they're the type of threat that sticks to their own planet

Being able to restore megastructures like a ring world is going to be a great boon to the Empire. Would go well with all the Gaia planets.
There's more work to done to make it glorious.

Doubly so if they are hitting a somewhat vital agrar hub, turning a light food surplus into around -500 monthly. Luckily, these things don't have inbuilt rockets last time I checked.

That's adding another galactic boon to imperial presence - not only all these gaia worlds, but also a (slightly damaged) ring world right next door, merely a jump drive away from Sol!
The Empire has won a victory, but there are still many threats.

It seems as though Leon got his way.
The other star nations are not these threats, but true. Imperial power was challenged, it has to do better.

It is hard to deny the man anything, it seems.
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Sentinel War

The Sentinels' occupation of Acrisia left a deep hole in the government-controlled imperial economy, with food production projected to last less than a year. Big private food producers (without a great presence on Acrisia) were thus the great profiteers of the crisis.

Lanckoronski's fleet was the first on site – over a year after the occupation began. Griffin began light, aimed bombardment in November 2328.

The Sentinels were apparently built to resist orbital fire, as the impact of Griffin's attack was quite negligible. With the statues starting to raze entire cities and the death toll growing massively by the day, the Crown Prince ordered the admiral to increase the attacks.

Leon was forced to accept that his current forces weren't enough to bring the fight to the things, and had to wait another year to have enough shuttles to take a truly massive force from Blubanir to Acrisia's ground. Half the planet was barely more than a ruin as his army made landfall the 12th December 2329, in the other half crime syndicates rose to power, using the chaos to claim entire regions for themselves.

The fighting was unlike anything ever seen before and conducted with extreme brutality. The Sentinels, appearing as physics-defying skyscraper-sized soldiers, withstood exceptional punishment and were present in great numbers. Like in an apocalyptic film, swings of their sword-like weapons destroyed everything in their path while they stomped on anything else.

Of Leon's huge force, only the strongest of his elites, genetically improved supersoldiers, remained to face the last Sentinel in August 2330. When it seemed like the thing would finally be destroyed, Leon, already in the thick of the fight for months, declared that he would be the one landing the finishing blow.

Like the hero of these apocalyptic films, the glorious prince of a RPG, a comic superhero, Leon, making sure that his deed would be recorded for posterity, used his SPELL to jump to the Sentinel's neck, burying Rightful Rage in the statue, where its psionic power wrecked havoc and made the thing collapse.

The “dying” Sentinel then asked for mercy. Mercy not for itself, for it was beyond saving. Mercy for its people.


What was incomprehensible in the final moment of this incredibly costly triumph soon revealed its whole meaning. Le Roux descended the stairs of the place the initial statues had been guarding, and found what could only be described as a sacred burial ground. The extensive tunnels with their decorations suggested nothing else.

Then, there were state-of-the-art computers. They contained not just some random data – but its builders' paradise. First their dead, then their whole society was uploaded to this virtual heaven. Save for the Sentinels – a select number of guardians, selected to resist whatever threat its creators might face for eternity. Their watch had ended after this vicious conflict.

And while the High Emperor was mourning the two billion dead of the war, a far higher cost than the Spine War, with the vast majority being civilians – the Crown Prince had the aliens' paradise repurposed. There would be no “mercy”.

Only bloody revenge.

Acrisia's people had suffered enough. Now they would be able to strike back. As reconstruction proceeded, Leon inaugurated Hunting Centres. Places where Acrisia's inhabitants could go to connect to the quickly-dubbed Paradise Network. Uploading an avatar which they could then use to wreak havoc upon its inhabitants.

After a long day of work, anyone from bureaucrat to farmer could now unwind as a demon haunting the aliens' afterlife – a very Leon-like idea of stress-relief. After who knows how long of living in their paradise, the aliens – tortured, wounded, killed, but unable to die, instead endlessly respawning as long as their code remained – now lived in their very own hell, and who knew if this would ever end.

Critics attested that Leon was “a sick sociopath enjoying genocide” well deserving his monikers, be it the Bloody or the demonic part of Demon of Light, but in good imperial tradition, they were ignored. Whoever was stupid enough to attempt to assassinate the, thanks to Rightful Rage, most powerful psychic of humanity never made it far. The inhabitants of Acrisia for their part, as eager for revenge as their prince, partook in masses in this sadistic entertainment.

Acrisia's troubled history would continue, both for the dead and for the living, as the crime gangs resisted the imperial restoration of power vehemently. Gang wars would shake Acrisia for quite some time to come.


The Demonic Hero of Light

Save for his few critics, the Crown Prince was hailed as the liberator of Acrisia, the survivors of the conflict bestowed the highest honours of the imperial army. The military's favour was now nearly fully Leon's, while the public opinion shifted more and more towards him. Theudis XV was named responsible for the Sentinel's activation – despite it more than likely also having happened if Leon reigned – and for any other problem caused by “imperial weakness”.

Even if he could present successes like the failure of imperial denouncement by the Galactic Senate, newly re-established on the ecumenopolis that was the Endurga homeworld, and the veto of yet another Endurgan attempt to condemn the Empire, general consensus was that the Senate was nothing more than a paper tiger, as proven with its destruction in the Spine War. Even if the Dabbax rejoined the community.​

The restoration of a section of Alderamin's ring world had begun, but new land was hardly a worthy exchange for two billions lost on Acrisia.

Leon on the other hand was the shining hero who had vanquished the Sentinels. Things didn't improve for the Settler when colonists on Tartarus exhibited mindlessly aggressive behaviour. Unlike the dancing plague of Atlantis, the situation was getting out of hand due to some fungal spores, could only get stopped by “the Leonine method” – purging the whole fungal caves with fire in July 2331.


Theudis was thus forced to make manifold concessions to his son and prioritize military matters. The already launched ring world restoration would proceed, but also more resources allocated to Leon's pet project, codenamed War Saint.

Both agreed that the restoration and construction of wormhole-based gateways across the Empire was a critical matter. The Sentinel War had proven that distances within the Empire had grown so vast that even the jump drives weren't solution enough to cover them efficiently.

Never Again

In 2333, a new threat emerged. The Hulfir Marauders, the nomadic aliens from across the galaxy, united under a single banner, that of a powerful psychic, their Great Khan Daggagom, who promptly announced her intent to conquer the galaxy.

Imperial reaction to that declaration was not what the Khan hoped for. Her request to submit was met with confident defiance. The Hulfir lived on the other side of the Milky Way. Their only path to the Empire was the Carmenekke wormhole, and thus it was easy to ready the Uflao system for any kind of attack. On the contrary, the Hulfir could freely rampage against their Endurgan neighbours, even against anyone else for all the Empire cared.

Echoing the Hulfir speaker's words from first contact, their ships could attempt to enter Imperial space, but then they shouldn't expect to return. The fleet would appreciate the target practice.

The medieval Gothic Empire had submitted to the Mongols before breaking free and turning the tables. The galaxy-spanning Empire would not submit to anyone. The request of the Rax'Thalak Ancients to “ensure the survival of your species, as you will only last a few more centuries at best” was thus also swiftly rejected. If anyone had “only a few more centuries at best” to live, then the Rax'Thalak.


As Daggagom's fleets advanced into Endurga space, Theudis, keenly aware that he couldn't show any more weakness, decided that the Empire couldn't risk the Finu to unite as well. After reinforcing Griffin, Lanckoronski was tasked with wiping them out.

From February to April 2337, while the Hulfir destroyed the vacated Carmenekke station, Griffin destroyed the Finu presence in the Yirellon system. The Great Khan appeared to attempt passage to the Uflao system, but apparently changed her mind. Had she become aware of Mayta's Minotaur awaiting the shrooms on the other side of the wormhole? Or did she feel that destroying the fortified station was too easy, smelling a trap?

Imperial high command was glad that the Hulfir rampage in the southern galaxy could continue, especially as the damned Endurga Union, now led by a Racket – best described as a space-rat – attempted another denouncement of the Empire. Not that the intention ever existed, but it looked like they needed no imperial help after all. A shame.

Not needed for a full offence against the horde, in September, Griffin moved on to the heart of the Finu presence, the Rixikar's Maw system.

It took Lanckoronski's fleet nine months to annihilate the nomads surrounding the black hole. The bulk of the civilization lost, the holdouts in the Banagho system fell after a short period of repairs in July 2339. The Finu Void Riders were no more.


Grand Engineering

In accordance to Imperial priorities, with the defence of the Empire assured and the forces continuously expanding, what is referred to as “mega-engineering” took centre stage.

The theoretical work concerning War Saint finished, and the gateway in the Patraggor system was reactivated in August 2336. On its own, this gateway was of no use – but as the first fully-human made gateways went online in July 2340 (Sirius), September 2340 (Serpess) and April 2341 (Terminal Egress, thus including the L-Gates), the imperial network not only allowed faster trade, but also enabled quick deployment across the realm, fully deniable to the enemy.

The first test of the military potential took place in August 2342, when four Hulfir ships crossed the L-Gates targeting Zultar's Maw. Lanckoronski, stationed in Serpess, could swiftly move through the gateway to Terminal Egress, then through the L-Gate, responding to the errant horde fleet within two weeks, thus preventing the station's destruction.

With accumulated mega-engineering experience, future construction would be faster as well. In December 2337, the section of the ring world was fully restored. The High Emperor couldn't miss the occasion and came for the festive inauguration.

The first time a ruling monarch (excluding the Lost) left Earth was when Liuva III occupied the Senate – Theudis XV would do so a second time, laying the foundations for the first settlement on Settler's Dream himself, a symbolic golden stone with the Thathicos' coat of arms.​

A fateful decision, as Theudis played right into the cards of the “Avengers of Acrisia”, a group of Acrisian soldiers who had lost everything they held dear on their homeworld during the Sentinel War – homes, possessions, families. Starting out as self-help groups for the Acrisians within the military, at some point their shared grief turned to anger. Anger directed at the High Emperor.

As leader of the army, the Crown Prince was most likely fully aware of the formation of the AoA, but did nothing to dispel the groups, only observing them. Fully convinced of Leon's leadership, they were certain that the Acrisian defences would have been far better prepared if the prince ruled, who “would have stared them down if necessary”. To the Avengers, transition of power couldn't come soon enough. They decided to help things along.

The Settler's voyage was the perfect opportunity. To the AoA's luck, the High Emperor decided to symbolically set out on a ship crewed by Acrisians. He wanted to show them that he was well-aware of their plight and did anything he could to assist, and offered a new home for those who could no longer remain on the ravaged planet.

The last Gothic Emperor who attempted to pander to the people, especially those who felt neglected by the imperial government, was Kyrillos VIII – the Weak. His assassination had caused the Great War. Where Kyrillos had his youth as an excuse, Theudis had no excuse but the pressure from his heir.

The Settler had lost the trust of military and intelligence, and the discovery of the Avengers' plot only reached Leon's ears as the highest echelon of the hierarchy. Theudis embarked with a ship whose crew was willing to pay any price for their revenge.​

It couldn't be better for Leon. Only after Theudis' departure did Leon finally inform his father, who was understandably not happy. While the prince had no hand in the AoA's creation or their plans, he still expected to have quite some influence over them. Unknown to the public, the High Emperor and the Crown Prince agreed that Theudis would abdicate as soon as War Saint was finished – in exchange for that, he would order the Acrisians to abandon their plan.

An empty revenge for the Avengers, but a revenge still. They agreed. After all, they wanted Leon to take the throne, and they were not willing to ignore his orders. They would join the Crown Prince's main unit and escape their attempted regicide with no punishment – an unprecedentedly generous offer.

The full extent of the rift between father and son was apparent. Perhaps some of those who plotted Leon's death were in the employ of his father, who managed to slip away from his overseers to deal with his problematic progeny.

The secret agreement only reinforced the military priorities, and in accordance to them “the mother of all shipyards” would be built next. Theudis declared that these megastructures were critical for humanity's future – and in August 2343, the Empire began work on harnessing the full power of the Qenus star.

Entropy and Apathy

The return of the Dabbax Trade Union to the Galactic Senate was swiftly rewarded with a place on the council. The Vailons were widely regarded as weak following their latest conflict with the Hegemony, ended the 16th November 2339 mostly in the Confederacy's favour, but still a threat if their leaders' mad ramblings were to be believed.​

Councillor Alaric felt uneasy on the Endurga homeworld, where he couldn't freely bully around the mulluscs, but remained adamant in relaying the Empire's stance on the Hulfir Horde - “not our problem”.

While the Endurga managed to inflict a defeat on the Khan the 16th May 2341, Daggagom escaped and took command of another force, which promptly led to the Endurga submitting to the Khan the 21st March 2342. The Dabbax could present fierce opposition, but else the Horde might be able to take over the other Galactic realms with relative ease as long as they kept out of the space of the Fallen Empires.


In the meantime, the Empire took the logical next step which the aliens had neglected to do. Regarding the Dima'Xanians. Mutations like Mop Krekk were absolutely not in imperial interest, even if the alien workforce was not posing much trouble so far. Anteris was tasked with solving that problem, and his solution was a genetic modification that would both render the Dima'Xanians more effective and more docile, effectively annihilating any trace of unguided thought in their DNA.

This apathy was followed by entropy with the discovery of the “Null Void” on Tronchet – a dimensional portal leading to a world of entropy. In true imperial fashion, the first thoughts went into finding a way to weaponize the discovery. Sure enough, soon the Null Void Beam was ready – while not very effective against matter, it cut through energy shields like butter. The first imperial titan, the Empress Taizu, was also the first ship to wield this weapon.

Another addition to the Empire fitting this theme was the Memorex, this time undoubtedly the invention of some alien species. A device able to store and work memories – and thus highly increasing efficiency on Earth. With libraries dedicated to storing experiences, Humanity could take yet another step forward.

Galactic Custodian

Having the Hulfir breathe down their neck (figuratively, at least – it was probably not biologically possible) made the Gorf and even the Figyari quite amenable to imperial intervention, so far that they opened borders and begged Councillor Alaric to ensure the High Emperor's assistance.​

Alaric couldn't promise anything, of course... but matters would be different if the galactic realms showed some sort of goodwill – such as nominal subjugation of some kind. The title of Custodian came to mind, with emergency military powers over the other nations of the Galactic Community.

With Figyari and Gorf approval, Alaric shocked the tired senators, having spent the last years not debating the Hulfir Horde, but the conservation of the Tiyanki. Flexing his council powers, the Human Councillor put Imperial Custodianship directly up to debate.

He hoped that with the Vailons spending the last years trying to earn imperial favour, the Empire might actually earn this title. “Custodian Alaric” was a title he could get used to, not to mention that the Senate might be relocated into imperial space. He'd be the undisputed boss again. The Empire would also profit from the title. Probably.

Alaric's hopes proved unfounded. The Dabbax Traders – now led by an Evarite! – were naturally opposed, their new chairman just another reason. The Endurga were a satrapy and wouldn't wish to draw the Khan's ire, not to mention that they wouldn't want to trade one violent overlord for another. The Vailons' hope to end their self-inflicted, but not voluntary isolation, was not enough to make them agree. The proposal failed.


Like the Caravaneers, who relocated their tradestation three more times after the horde's attack, the Senate's nations would have to show their resilience in the face of the invader without imperial assistance.

The Hulfir attempt to invade through the Xudra-Ambor wormhole was foiled by Leroy, who surprised the invading fleet by suddenly appearing in the Ambor system from across the galaxy through gateways and a jumpdrive.


The Hulfir invasion sent ripples of xenophilia through the galaxy. More and more aliens were starting to believe that the galaxy had to work together to overcome future troubles. Only the Hegemony took another direction and embraced military goals, wary of imperial might.​

In the Empire, Theudis the Settler took his remaining time as monarch to position the realm as strictly isolationist. Like his whole stance towards the Horde, he always said that the aliens' problems were not the Empire's. Unlike Liuva, who had declared the Evarite purge a necessity, Theudis now spoke of the clear supremacy of Humanity, embraced the time-travel theory, deemed the matter of alien life beneath imperial notice.


Experimenting on alien species took a whole different, far more drastic angle, certainly bringing new insight but also being completely unthinkable if the experiment's subjects were Humans.

When it became apparent that Human colonization had caused a massive genocide of a silicon-based lifeform, somewhat comparable to the subterraneans of Sanctuary – other than the fact that oxygen caused their demise –, the only reaction was positive, as it offered easy access to rare crystals used for manifold applications.

The traces of what could be described as the result of some sort of superweapon found on Porabim B Ia were most interesting... especially as Project War Saint neared completion.

The 29th December 2348, it was completed. Theudis XV, known as the Settler, abdicated the same day, declaring his intention to live out the reminder of his days farming on Settler's Dream, enjoying the fruits of imperial labour. The Empire would be passed on to the capable hands of his son Leon.

Few questioned this act. Theudis had always struggled, and now he had finally given up. Unlike him, Leon was a strong man with a hands-on approach. The reign of Leon II, the Bloody (* 29th February, 2388), began the day the War Saint was finished.

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Experimenting on alien species took a whole different, far more drastic angle, certainly bringing new insight but also being completely unthinkable if the experiment's subjects were Humans.
This just in: the Empire hates aliens. More at 11.
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