Antaran Domestic Politics and the "Three Wars at Dawn"
Two factions were emerging in Antaran domestic politics with the end of the Long Night. The "internal" faction promoted the idea of developing the vast territories the Hegemony already controlled. They believed that the resources being squandered on seemingly endless wars and further expansion would be better spent on internal development. It was time to let the past go and see to the Antarans' own future.
Opposing them was the "external" faction, the party in power at the end of the Long Night. These vengeful Antarans clearly remembered their defeat and shameful imprisonment by the Orions, and they would have their revenge. They were convinced that the continued path of Antaran glory (and their own personal power) could only be found by the continued expansion of Hegemony borders and their complete domination of any other civilizations they might encounter. Their graphic response to any opposing arguments was to unfurl the ancient maps of space, point to the locations of previously known Elder Civilizations, and argue, "We must be certain!"
When the Long Night ended, the external faction leaders in the Antaran Hegemony began aggressively probing the galaxy's ancient charted space routes. Around 17800 the Antarans established contact with two Elder Civilizations, but these reunions ended in hostility. The ill-tempered Antarans responded by dispatching the Black Fleet and the Green Fleet (named after the Antarans' colors of conquest and exploitation) to crush these "pestilent" civilizations.
After swiftly gaining the upper hand in battle, the Green Fleet was recalled for a refit one ship at a time (with bulk of the Green Fleet being initially left behind on pacification and garrison duties in their newly won provinces). These overhauled warships and their experienced (and now rested) crews were then dispatched to deeply probe and relentlessly raid the Orion Sector, where they expected to find their ancient enemy, the Orions, laying in wait. It was imperative to the fixated Antarans that the fate of the Orions during the Long Night be discovered quickly.
The raider squadrons were deliberately kept small to permit the Antarans a certain degree of deniability if the Orions proved more far advanced than themselves. Surprisingly, the Antarans were at first unable to find a single trace of the Ancient Orion civilization.
When they discovered the indigenous races of Orion from a respectfully safe distance; the Antarans' own paranoia led them to believe that these warring civilizations were actively being manipulated by a secretive Orion civilization lurking nearby in the shadows. (After all, that's what they would be doing.) Despite thoroughly investigating various ruins found in the Orion Sector, the obsessed Antarans were never truly convinced that these "mutations" were, in fact, what remained of "the enemy."
Although the situation was deliciously ripe for conquest, the hostile Antarans could only send out raids against these Orion barbarians while their two Great Fleets were engaged in serious wars against worthy opponents. They were also concerned about taking any action that might bring them undue attention, given their conviction that the Ancient Orions were merely lying in wait. Consequently, the aggressive Antaran raiders met with only limited success in the Orion Sector as they lacked the power and motivation to act decisively.
Until the Green Fleet's final victory could be accomplished, the anxious Antarans had to play for time against their third front at Orion. With the "freaks" of the Orion Sector busy killing each other anyway, time seemed to be working in the Antarans' favor.
In 17914 the Ancient Orions finally received their long awaited absolution. The Psilons had developed the Trans-Dimensional Portal from the Orions' original plans to resolve the problems of the "pocket dimension." This discovery was made quite by accident while the Psilons were constructing a research facility. During the excavation for this deep subterranean facility, a sealed vault was uncovered along with numerous Ancient Orion artifacts. Ironically, the site chosen for their facility was over the buried ruins of an Ancient Orion laboratory. Upon opening the vault, the scholarly Psilons discovered unexpected technological riches for it contained numerous blueprints developed by the Ancient Orions. Soon, and without knowing it, the Antarans would have much to fear from "these warring rabble" in the Orion Sector.
Even with this advanced technology now in their possession, the pragmatic Psilons knew they could not defeat the Antarans with their lone military might. They calculated that it would take the combined power of all the Orion civilizations to finally destroy their ruthless common foe. Since the Psilons needed the collaboration of all the races in order to succeed, they traded the Trans-Dimensional Portal technology freely to their neighbors as a gesture of goodwill and unity.
Portals sprang up around the key military facilities and mobilization points throughout the Orion Sector. In observing the approach vectors of Antaran raiders into Orion space, only one destination point in the Antarans' dimension was uncovered. Shortly after that determination, the more aggressive races of the Orion Sector began conducting their own raids against what they assumed was the Antarans' home world.
The confident Antarans felt they had nothing to fear since they were able to destroy these raiding ships before they could do any damage to their base world, the Antaran Sector Seat at Conjenn. With more pressing wars to settle first, the Antarans banked on the fact that Orions needed time to rebuild their forces and devise more powerful ships and weapons before they could make a sufficiently massive attack to harm an Antaran world.
The Antaran's mistake was to miscalculate the sheer hatred the Orions had come to feel for them. A hatred that drove those races day and night in preparation for war with unbounded energy now that they knew they could strike home against the Antarans.
NEXT IN THE BACKGROUND FICTION: "The Great War Finale: The Second Orion-Antaran War"
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