The Orion Dark Age
When the war ended, the Orion "Dark Age" began. The Antarans established their Sector Government on Orion itself. Fearful of any serious rivalry, they systematically stripped the other races of any technology and research capabilities that threatened their supremacy. The Antarans retained these advancements for their exclusive use.
Historical Note: This was consistent with the general notion of the Antarans being a "black hole" civilization. The saying goes, "all knowledge gets sucked in but no enlightenment ever shines out."
The Antarans kept certain races alive as "study specimens." The Ichthys and Ethereans had both proven to be better warriors than previously anticipated, so they were placed back under the microscope. The technologically advanced Evon concerned the Antarans. This was because they showed no visible sign of genetic tampering, so the Antarans were convinced that whoever did create them might come looking for them one day. This same kind of paranoia kept a number of Orion races alive, for the Antarans simply weren't convinced that all of the Ancient Orions were gone. Besides, the Antarans reasoned, some of the answers to the Ancient Orion mystery might be encrypted in the cultural and genetic makeup of this sector. It would be wasteful to destroy these clues to their hated enemy's possible whereabouts.
Those unfortunate races who were of no significant interest to the Antarans were each relocated to a single world or system where they were kept under siege, reduced to poverty, and nearly worked to death. The Antarans would have seen no reason for mercy, had they even possessed the capability of expressing it. Instead, they considered the creation of this new order in the Orion Sector to be their "Great Work."
Eventually, the Antarans succumbed to their temptation for genetic manipulation, but this time no one was spared. The Antaran genetic engineers experimented to some degree with every species in the Orion Sector over the next thousand cycles. Thus, the once proud ethnic Orion races would never be the same as their ancestors had been.
The Collapse of the Antaran Hegemony
The Antaran Hegemony, which dominated the Orion Sector and other portions of the galaxy for a thousand cycles, did finally collapse around the mid 19090s. While there is no solid evidence about what caused the breakdown of the Antaran Hegemony, it is adduced that no outside force destroyed the Antarans. All known accounts convey that an incredibly large percentage of their population throughout the galaxy simply "disappeared." This process spread like a plague in just a few Galactic Cycles and significantly reduced the Antaran populace.
Very few facts have been uncovered because of the secretive nature of the Antarans. Those who did survive among the Antarans during their "population implosion" have passed on only sketchy pieces of information.
The Antaran Mystery...
Life has a way of coming full cycle when given sufficient time, and that was what happened in the case of the Antarans. It was ironic that after spending over a thousand cycles manipulating the genetic codes of all the races of the Orion Sector that the Antarans would actually experiment on themselves, given the poor results of their prior genetic trials. However, that was exactly what the Antarans did when they decided to transform themselves into pure energy. Perhaps having played as gods for so long, they actually began to believe they were, and that was why they would risk everything to achieve a more divine state that would transcend all physical limitations.
This idea turned into a secret government research project that was carelessly revealed before it was thoroughly tested. A group of overzealous scientists, who felt the government was holding back this information for their use only, exposed their findings prematurely to the Antaran public. Once this was done, they were besieged by followers who desired to submit themselves to this "cleansing" transformation. The Antaran officials, hoping to cover up this incident, denounced these scientists and their research as a sham, but this reaction only succeeded in driving the rogue scientists "underground" where they were free to practice their "religious rites" unfettered. The outward defiance by this segment of Antarans was responsible for a new, defiant trend in Antaran Society that might never be reversed.
Before long, the cream of Antaran society was disappearing; its smartest, bravest, and most devout were all gone. Soon both high and low born followed them until most of their population was gone. Today, barely one Antaran in fifty remains within their racial enclaves.
The Master of Orion III Era Dawns
During the rapid decline of the Antaran civilization, a new government policy was ruthlessly enforced among the dwindling numbers of remaining Antarans. This ruling required the destruction of every vestige of their civilization among its far-flung outposts so that no others could follow them. True to their nature, the Antarans maintained their civilization's "black hole" philosophy right up to the very end of its days as many enclaves of stored Antaran knowledge were destroyed. The secrets of Antaran rule, each a mysterious 'X,' were being systematically erased and blasted out of existence.
The End of "Antaran" Rule
In 19098 the Orion Senate was reconvened, the Antarans feigning a change from the worst of tyrants to "enlightened" believers in representative rule. Naturally, not every race in the sector was invited to participate in the Senate. Only those races closest to Orion were asked to rejoin the ancient body. Those indigenous Orion races at the fringes of the sector (an area beyond the now weakened operational range of the Antaran military) were left in a political vacuum to govern themselves.
For the first time in over a millennium, the lights in the ancient Senate chamber burned brightly. Many of the attending races were so eager to welcome in a new era of peaceful diplomacy that they were willing to forget the atrocities of the Dark Ages and focus on the "bright future," but not all present were as willing to forget the Antarans' deplorable past.
NEXT IN THE BACKGROUND FICTION: "The First Meeting of the Orion Senate"
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