Prologue: The Spread Of The Many Children of Earth
- Jul 15, 2018
7200 years ago, History tells us, Humanity left the cradle.
For thousands of years, tens of thousands of years, humanity had lived on one world, and one world only: Earth. A small, unimportant world, orbiting a small, unimportant star. But eventually, humanity left Earth. There is so much that has been lost or distorted over the centuries since, hidden in the darkest corners of some archive somewhere, or simply gone forever. The Colonial Wars, the fall of the First Empire, the Kishrath Wars, the Fall of the Second Empire - these wars, and a thousand crisis, plagues, disturbances and more, have all stolen so much of the details of our history from us. We know that mankind had great pioneers of space - Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin, great scientists, like Albert Einstein, Deepak Chopra, Marie Curie and Enrico Fermi. Great rulers and leaders - Elizabeth II, Augustus, Barack Obama. Great monsters and villains - Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin.
Or so some versions of the histories say. Others say other things, but that is all immaterial, ultimately.
Humanity spread across the stars. We know that humanity interacted with many aliens at the time, that the hyperspace lanes brought humanity into contact with strange races - few names survive to us. Some, do, however. Blorg, Chinorr, Maweer, Jehetma and Kel-Azaan. The details are lost or confused, but we know that humanity in the stars was dominated by the Commonwealth of Man and the United Nations of Earth - but over time, many smaller human nations were settled, free from these great powers.
It was in -3950 (or so - all dates are approximate for this period) that the great Colonial Unification Wars began - the United Nations of Earth and the Commonwealth of Man went to war to decide the future of humanity. Soon, all of mankind was drawn into the war, and it was a war that was costly not just to humanity. For the war left the other aliens without aid when the ancient empires that had come before went to war, what we know as 'The War in Heaven'. A great genocidal conflagration that passed humanity by, consumed as it was by self-destruction. Billions, maybe even trillions of humans died. Earth was turned into an unlivable rock, as was the Commonwealth's homeworld - the name lost to us now. In the end, neither the CoM or the UNE won, but instead, the Empire of Three Crowns, a union of several smaller monarchies. Through clever diplomacy, ruthless coups backed by master spies and simply having an intact fleet after decades of war, the Empire of Three Crowns, ruling from the world of Black Rose, united all humanity in the Empire of Man.
The age of The First Empire of Man, as it is known now, was the Golden Age for mankind. Technology ran free, and in the aftermath of the War in Heaven, there were no fallen Empires to police the lesser races. Humanity was one power among many, but unified, numerous and well-governed, humanity grew to dominate most aliens, to one degree or another.
The First Empire of Man is when the many genetically modified offshoots of humanity were made. Some were merely local changes to deal with hostile environments, but others were far more extensive, becoming whole new races of Man. Few remain today, but some have lasted the ages, even in great numbers. The long-lived Elvhen, the short, bearded Durgon - experts in Industry and finance, adapted for heavy gravity worlds. The hardy and warlike Orcs. The Psilons, victims of alien experimentation that left them even more inhuman than other offshoots but possessed of low-grade telepathy.
All good things must come to an end, however. The First Empire fell to a great combination - first, the alien Skreeth, long enemies of humanity, unleashed the tailored bioweapon on humanity known only as the Ravening in -2710. The Ravening consumed world after world, but eventually it was stopped on the world of Corris Prime. The world was bombaried to ash even after all infected had died, but quarantined for all time. There was to be no risk of a return of this great plague.Author's Note said:(Profligate and Universal are Traits from mods. Profligate gives you +30% Consumer Goods Upkeep and -10% Habitability. Orcs were adapted to Arid worlds, and less so to other ones, and their bodies consume more resources in all sorts of ways. Universal is a flat +5% from all jobs. The Psilon's low-grade telepathy lets them do collective tasks much easier and more efficiently.)
But soon, invasion by opportunistic aliens - led by the Skreeth - and ambitious local factions and governors tore at the weakened First Empire. For three hundred and six years, the First Empire fought desperately to live. The Skreeth were destroyed, as were several of humanity's alien allies. But this was all made worse by the changes in hyperspace - the Hyperspace lanes linking worlds began to change, shift. Some worlds were cut off from each other entirely, lost to all known space, others were connected in new and dangerous ways. Countless worlds and systems were lost, including the Sol System itself. The First Empire was doomed, but still it fought to the last against the Entropy of History. It was a beautiful, tragic struggle, immortalized in untold countless works of fiction.
It took the final destruction of Black Rose in -2313 by a Colossus weapon at the hands of an alliance of renegade governors to finally end the First Empire... and then the victorious governors fought over that great Colossus, destroying it and nearly all human civilization in the process. Brought down to the local level, many planets starved and withered at the vine, either literally or metaphorically.
But mankind tries again. After every collapse on Earth, mankind rose again, and the same held true in the stars. After two thousand years of darkness, constant low-grade warfare and constantly shifting hyperspace currents, in the year -571, four star-Empires formed an alliance. It was at first merely an alliance of Xenophobia. The powerful Dwamak Empire was a threat to all four states, all populated by Humans or Human-branched races. The League of Argoss defeated the Dwamak, and even destroyed their homeworld in nuclear fire.
It was over the ashes of the Dwamak Homeworld that the League found a new mission - to rebuild the First Empire. To restore humanity to its greatest heights, to protect Mankind from the alien menace. It took centuries of war, of political and diplomatic dealmaking and massive expenditures of blood and treasure, but eventually, in 1, the Second Empire of Man was formed. The name was a misnomer - the royal family was a figurehead, selected based on supposed links to the dynasty of the First. All power was concentrated in the fractious Senate, and even more so, at the Sector level - the Second Empire was far more of a Confederacy.
But the Second Empire was also more Xenophobic. Any child of Humanity was welcome - any alien was not. Countless species were exterminated or driven into small, quarantined worlds or isolated corners of space. Some fled in generation ships beyond the reach of the Hyperspace Lanes, or did the same via wormhole or Jump drive, escaping into unmapped portions of the galaxy. But the Second Empire thrived, and by 418, all known space was controlled or dominated by the Second Empire, one way or another. That, of course, only meant the 3000 or so star systems connected by the hyperspace lanes known to man at the time, but still.
The Second Empire, strictly speaking, never did know absolute peace - there were always small grade brushfire wars and rebellions - but it did now general peace and it did know great prosperity. Lost technology was claimed, great megacorporations were founded, religions flourished, art and culture and so much more.
But even the Second Empire, mighty and secure and confident as it was had to come to an end. The Second Empire too, fell to a compounding of events. Its weakened political structure doomed it when the Kishrath invaded. An extragalactic menace, a consuming hivemind that could add all sentient life it captured to its collective, the originally insectoid Kishrath were a great diversity by the time they invaded the Second Empire in 1098.
The Second Empire should have been able to defeat the Kishrath. They had great armies, great fleets - and mighty hosts of machine soldiers even. But even as the Eastern Reaches were attacked and under threat, Senators and Governors in other parts of the Empire resisted providing aid, expending resources - the Empire was strong enough to defeat the Kishrath, after all. Why bother raising taxes, instituting conscription? Everyone claimed to need their local defense fleets for anti-piracy, rebellion suppression, maintaining overwatch on small, surviving alien powers.
Even as the East burned, the Empire dithered. Seeking to end the deadlock, generals launched a coup, destroying the Senate - and with it, all semblance of Unity. Even in the midst of invasion and the impending threat of Genocide, the regional governors, local planets, great interest groups and factions big and small remained focused on their own concerns. The Gynoids, the most numerous and strongest of humanity's machine soldiers - made, as the name suggested, to look like human women, they were nearly sentient each, all but fully AI. Impossible to assimilate, let loose by the collapsing government, the Gynoids conscripted worlds for resources, and forced the Kishrath back. But the rest of Humanity was now at war. First the generals against the governors, but then the generals began to bicker with each other, the governors accused each other of all holding back, wanting to let their allies bleed for them. It was is Entropy bred more Entropy.
Even the news of the final defeat of the Kishrath after the decade-long battle of Elteris Prime in 1131, which saw the hivemind's remnant survivors flee the galaxy and the Gynoids destroyed did nothing to end the fighting.
Everyone had an axe to grind against their neighbors. Even as everyone looked on, watching the world collapse, everyone fought. Many claimed genetic modification was the cause, dividing humanity into too many competing families. Other blamed capitalism, individuality, godlessness, religion, technology, weak institutions... everyone had a solution, it seemed, and everyone was ready to kill to force that solution on the galaxy.
War bred War. As trade collapsed, more planets were lost simply to refugees fleeing, to a lack of resources, Specialized planets were hurt the most, but every world suffered from the collapse of trade, of communication, of travel. Piracy and worse rose across known space. Whole sectors were lost to any sort of unified government.
By 1350, the Second Empire had even nominally ceased to exist when the Hyperlanes began to shift again, isolating the Throneworld of Argoss from the galaxy. The final collapse into darkness was settled by 1439, with all remnant claims to the throne, to even sector-level power lost to the entropy and decay of collapse. There was virtually no trade, beyond what nomadic peddlers brought. Communication between worlds ended.
Centuries passed. Worlds were lost. Worlds died. Worlds were destroyed, by themselves or by outsiders. Alien menaces returned but were cut off by shifting hyperlanes. New, primitive races threatened to rise to space. Marauding alliances of lost aliens formed, plundering. But surviving worlds adapted, changed, grew ready for the new order. New models of organization were tasted, planets unified, planets formed new governments. Some were determined to bring about a Third Empire. Some simply want to exist, thrive and survive in a new galaxy.
But all know that sooner or later, there will be a Third Empire.
But with the chaos in hyperspace, the weakness of all these powers... nothing could happen yet. But hyperspace calmed, new warships and starbases were built.
But by 2200, things stood poised to change. Across the galaxy, the known hyperlanes connecting some 1300 star systems in a network that would serve as the backbone for the eventual Third Empire.
But there are threats on the horizon to all sentient life, to all the Children of Earth, to the possibility of new, growing civilization and a Third Empire. Internecine warfare is not the only danger.
The Gynoids survived, in small numbers, on Elteris Prime, unknown to most. Over the centuries, their programming corrupted, and now all organic life is understood to be part of the Kishrath, the war not over yet. The Kishrath must still be defeated, and if that means exterminating all life that is part of the hivemind? The warped machine intelligence of the 2118th Gynoid Infantry Division, with fleets at its command is ready to make that sacrifice.
In a once-remote system, the Ravening has evolved, escaping quarantine during the fall of the Second Empire and found a new form. A sentient virus that controls its hosts, the New Ravening is a hivemind swarm, bent on devouring all life, all biomass, into itself.
On Ulger, robots invented to catalogue and preserve all knowledge assimilated their creators, and now seek to preserve and catalogue all knowledge - and all who hold it. If they assimilate all life, there will be only stagnation. The Archivist Angels are a threat to the hope of the Third Empire.
And beyond known space, other, darker threats linger. Pislon Oracles speak of the legendary Shroud and the entities contained therein. They speak of another dimension, home to strange devouring energy beings. They are laughed at, ignored.
Archeologists warn of suggestions of a great, hidden machine empire out there, ready to exterminate all life - a contingency gone awry. Proof is scattered, discounted, unsure.
And astronomers watch a galaxy slowly vanishing into dark space, and notice that hyperspace itself seems to be bending at the outer edges of the galaxy. Something is coming. To the Kishrath come anew, or does another invading swarm come? Is this all just an overreaction based on an absence of data?
Humanity stands at a crossroads. There will be a Third Empire... or perhaps there will not. Will Humanity fall to its own hubris, to its own struggles with itself - or will it fall to some greater threat beyond it?
And if there is a Third Empire, what form will it take? Will it favor only one vision of Humanity, only one of its many subraces, or will it be a unity of all of Earth's Children?
No one can say. But we will see. We will see.
Programming Note said:Animated Synthetic Portraits Extended Reborn seems to be... not entirely functional. Several tests have shown that they just don't seem to force spawn properly and in the process the mod seems to screw up all machine empire spawning. So there's gonna be a few changes to the appearance of the Archivist Angels and the Gynoids in-game, even if, lore-wise, the above images are what those races are *supposed* to look like.