The "Ancient" Orions
From these surviving Tribes, approximately a dozen small-to-moderate STL "pocket empires" were concurrently established throughout the galaxy for a significant period of time. One of the more progressive Tribes settled around the Orion star system because it contained several large rich habitable planets. Not surprisingly, this civilization became known as "the Orions." Another dominant Tribe, who became know as "the Antarans," settled around the equally rich and inhabitable Antares star system.
Both of these tribes made excellent choices for colonization for they had discovered planets that were environmentally sound. Due to the wealth of resources readily available for the taking, these races made increasingly steady advances in all areas of technology and production.
Interestingly, long lags in STL transportation and communication during this period altered the way these civilizations viewed time as well as the pace of cultural development. As a result, these surviving Tribe civilizations were considered the most successful at establishing an incremental approach to societal evolution, which enabled them to avoid rapidly changing cultural shifts that generally precede social and political upheaval. They seemed to have nothing but time and they planned their civilizations accordingly.
The Faster-Than-Light Cycles
Around 1000 GC, hyperspace finally calmed sufficiently to permit FTL test flights. However, this was still considered very risky, for travel though hyperspace was frequently prone to turbulent hyperspace fluxes that could last for cycles at a stretch.
The Tribes that did finally develop a safe method of FTL transportation readily expanded their boundaries between 1200 to 1250 GC. During the following "Age of Exploration," colonization increased and the Tribes consistently found that they were the most advanced life forms around the galaxy. Within some of these Tribes, most notably the Antarans, their demonstrable superiority evolved into an innate arrogance. They saw the galaxy and its multitude of primitive life forms as their private dominion, and themselves as gods. This attitude became externalized as new advances in genetics and evolution were uncovered.
Historical Note: This was an era dominated by an optimistic yet isolated view of the galaxy for each Tribe feared it was the only one to survive The Exodus.
The first contact between the Tribes occurred around 1550 GC. At first their obvious differences kept them from recognizing their common lineage. So much had transpired since the days at Center One where they were united by such common bonds as ethnicity and ideology that when they met again in council around 1600 GC any similarities in ideas or language were much too vague to be thought familiar. This, when combined with the obvious technological, evolutionary, and sociological differences, raised further doubt as to whether the newly discovered civilizations could be one of the lost Tribes.
Before long, however, certain physical similarities in appearance pointed toward a common source between the civilizations. This commonality was later verified by extensive genetic testing. Once their suspicions were confirmed that they were indeed all descendents of the original lost Tribes, the progeny of Center One knew they were destined to rule the galaxy.
First encounters among the Tribes always proved exciting. The "Elder Civilizations," a name by which the Tribes came to refer to themselves, frequently shared contact with each other, but their amiable reunions often turned sour due to an innate lack of trust.
The Elder Civilizations shared a variety of solutions to their common technical and engineering problems, for each had adopted its own unique style over the centuries that they were apart. Consequently, there were always new discoveries to be made and information to exchange, for although the Elder Civilizations were more or less equivalent in technology and social advancements, the way they approached these matters varied widely in both theory and practice.
Despite the discovery of their common ancestry, and the facility with which they were able to mix their differing approaches to technology, their relationships could hardly be considered brotherly love. Differences, which were once celebrated during the glorious days of the ethnically diverse Center One civilization could no longer be whitewashed by the happy circumstance of their common heritage. Instead, these differences became the stuff of suspicion and intolerance. The Elder Civilizations had become accustomed to homogeneous societies, each with its own unique history. It was thus quite difficult to coexist in harmony as other Elder Civilizations were discovered.
Ancient Orion Experiments in Evolution
The Orions were the most dominant race among the Elder Civilizations. As such, they felt it was their responsibility to take charge of the other Tribes and, hopefully, resolve these problems of dissention. In order to maintain their edge over the rapidly evolving civilizations, which were now sharing their knowledge and becoming more equal, the Orions resolved themselves to a course of action. During the period from 1600 to, roughly, 2000 GC, the technically advanced Orion scientists began altering the genetic codes of pre-sentient life forms in order to monitor their evolution. By doing so they hoped to find ways to enhance their superior characteristics by fine-tuning their own genetic makeup based upon the discoveries in othersí evolution. These experiments, which involved only minor changes, were conducted at an evolutionary pace for the confident Orions felt that they could maintain control over the situation far into the foreseeable future.
Another purpose for the Orionsí continued experimentation was to gain additional experience in this field so that they could learn just how far these sentient beings could be altered before actually causing undesirable mutations. The inquisitive Orions studied these experiments upon "primitives" with hopeful anticipation of uncovering the unsolved mystery of the evolutionary process.
The Orions were not the only Elder Civilization who envisioned that the key to understanding evolution would be found through genetic manipulation, however. This same idea would dawn on the Antarans centuries later.
NEXT IN THE BACKGROUND FICTION: "The First Orion-Antaran War"
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