The First Orion-Antaran War
As the Elder Civilizations discovered each other, some thirteen were accounted for. The rocky path of diplomatic intercourse took centuries, but eventually each Elder Civilization perceived that the only genuine threat to its continued existence was to be dominated (or eliminated) by another Elder Civilization. With this gradual shift in mindset, a need for "collective security" (i.e., through mutual defense) became apparent. Alliances among the communicating Elder Civilizations eventually coalesced into two factions. The larger faction was led by the Orions (the Orion League). The Antarans dominated the smaller but more closely-knit and militaristic faction (the Central Entente). As these factions hardened, all that was required to start a galactic war was a mere spark.
That spark was provided by the continuing Orion efforts in genetic engineering of the minor races. The Orions presented their efforts as being purely scientific, for the benefit of all the Elder Civilizations, and leading eventually toward a better understanding between civilizations and "eternal" peace. The Central Entente flatly rejected this view, accusing the Orions of a program bent toward achieving utter domination of the galaxy through the creation of groups of mindless super-soldiers. They further maintained that the Orions, with their ultra-scientific bent, were trying to divide the galaxy into an intellectual elite and a working lower-class. The Orions' counter-charge was that the Antarans were overly militaristic, and that their hunger for power showed in how deeply threatened they felt by the possibilities that a devotion to scientific research could bring.
The passions of the galactic citizenry were greatly stirred over this all-consuming moral controversy during the next fifty GCs. Demagoguery of all types flourished, as the more radical proponents of either side took to constant campaigning for the "correct view." The outlook of each side shifted from building up the galaxy to looking to and after "their own." Patriotism and nationalism flourished, and any hope for a harmonious "galactic society" landed squarely on the ash heap of history.
Philosophically, the citizens and leaders of each Elder Civilization became less and less averse to war. They came to accept the idea that they must take any means necessary to ensure their own survival and prosperity, including the destruction of their galactic cousins.
In 2093, a border incident between two of the more provocative Elder Civilizations, each belonging to a different alliance, sparked a brushfire war. While token efforts were made to maintain peace, further encounters heightened the tensions. Inevitably, the situation escalated to limited and then total war. Civilizations that managed to maintain their neutrality early on were inexorably drawn into the maelstrom for various declared reasons. Some staunchly claimed that they were fulfilling their diplomatic obligations and were standing united against the other alliance, others proclaimed they were merely protecting their own vital interests, while some opportunists were blinded by the potential gains that the growing chaos of war offered. Entire civilizations mobilized, and the horrendous First Orion-Antaran War (or "Elders Civil War") ensued.
While the weapons used in this war have no doubt been exaggerated over time, they easily equaled the best that the later Orion Sector civilizations would develop at the height of their power. The Death Rays and Black Hole Generators of the Orion Guardian are considered lesser versions of the terrible weapons employed during this conflict. Accounts of asteroids accelerated to high speeds and used, as gigantic "cannonballs" against planets are also widespread.
The war became a cause unto itself, feeding on all it touched beyond the reason of those who were fighting it. Exhaustion was not an issue, only losing and extinction. Virtually everyone felt that the conflict could not be ended short of ultimate victory; the price paid had already been too high to accept anything less. The stage was set for centuries of war.
The End of the First Orion-Antaran War
Loss of life mounted rapidly and essential supplies were dangerously depleted as the bloody war continued for over 400 GCs. Despite the fact that no visible end to the destruction was anywhere in sight, exhausted and disheartened combatants fought bravely in battle after endless battle. Those in charge frantically sought any means that would end the war in final victory.
Unfortunately for the soldiers, the long sought "decisive breakthrough" was never realized on the innumerable battlefields ravaged by fighting. It did finally occur around 2500 GC in a scientific research facility far away from the physical effects of this war when the Orions discovered a means to effectively sever the Antaran home world from our universe, and fold it into a "pocket dimension." Based on their newly developed understanding of Dimensional Physics the now desperate Orions took a chance on a relatively untested experiment. They believed that its application would imprison the Antaran leaders and their home world forever and, thus, secure for the Orion League a final and lasting victory.
The experiment succeeded and was hailed as the "Orion Solution." The Antaran home world was placed in a pocket dimension. Devoid of Antaran leadership, the war efforts of the Central Entente did soon collapse. The victorious Orion League, now completely dominated by the Orions, dictated the terms that put an end to the fighting.
The Pocket Dimension Brings on "The Long Night"
The Orion League's decision to use Dimensional Physics to end the war seemed correct at the time, but there was one unforeseen consequence that would haunt the Orions for many cycles to come. Shortly after the Antarans were imprisoned, a renewed disruption of hyperspace occurred, one more volatile than anything they had experienced in the past.
Many of the civilization comprising the Orion League held the Orions solely responsible. Their own allies accused the Orions of acting too hastily and without proper League approval. They demanded that the Orions undo the Dimensional Pocket they created when they locked the Antarans away and restore normality to hyperspace so that FTL travel would be safe once again.
Regrettably, the Orions knew they could not reverse the process they had employed to imprison the Antaran home world. Also, there was no immediate solution for the unpredictable rift it created in hyperspace.
An era dubbed "The Long Night" was ushered in as these once hyper-advanced civilizations began to unravel. Worlds that were previously connected by well-traveled jump routes were suddenly cut off to all but STL travel and existing wormholes. Many barren world populations that depended upon the importation of food slowly starved to death. Some worlds plunged into intense civil wars, a result of the unrest created by interstellar isolation suffered by all due to the chaos in hyperspace. Mysteriously, a few worlds located along the perimeters of the galaxy were "raided" into extinction by something of unidentified origin.
This Long Night lasted over the next 15,000 galactic cycles. Throughout that time there were periods when FTL travel was possible. Unfortunately, these periods ended as puzzlingly as they began. Whenever this anomaly occurred, the Elder Civilizations scrambled to rebuild their fragmented empires. However, they could achieve only a limited amount of success due to the unpredictability of FTL travel during this period.
NEXT IN THE BACKGROUND FICTION: "The Antaran Hegemony is Forged"
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