Rex Final Days Of An Empire
It was the seventy-third year of the period that historians call the Twilight Wars. The conflict, which had thus far been a string of territorial disputes and border skirmishes, was about to enter a far more deadly phase.
Complacent in their age-old imperial rule, the Lazax had mortally underestimated the severity of the unrest. Failing to heed the true state of affairs, imperial forces had arrogantly been disbursed across the galaxy, engaged in thousands of peacekeeping and policing missions; their strength stretched increasingly thin.
Then, one fateful evening, the Lazax found themselves betrayed. A great Sol fleet, equipped with secret technology, struck violently at the heart of the empire, at the planetary seat of the emperor himself: Mecatol Rex.
With its planetary-shield network compromised by sabotage and centuries of underfunding, with the bulk of its home fleet dispatched to quell a nearby uprising, Mecatol Rex had little protection against the slaughter and devastation that would follow.
The last Lazax emperor and his family were among the first casualties of the Sol bombardment. The methodical destruction of imperial institutions and the vital infrastructure followed in the months thereafter. Throughout the continent-sized city, the ambassadorial contingents of great races quickly entered the fray to further their own interests. Secret caches of arms were opened, and special forces mustered into action. From out-system, Hacan trading lords deftly flouted the Sol blockade, bringing reinforcements to any surface faction with sufficient coin or influence. Fierce fighting erupted as the convergence of powerful ambitions sought to control the influential real estate of the vast city.
What was once a splendid jewel of civilization and empire would soon dissolve into a smoking nightmare of armed conflict and destruction. It was a dramatic microcosm of the great fire that would engulf the galaxy in the years that followed.
The unthinkable has become reality. The emperor is dead, killed by Sol bombs, and with him most of the Lazax supreme leadership. It seems the dying curse of the Mahact has reached across the mists of time to punish their usurpers at last.
As news of the atrocities on Mecatol Rex spread, the pillars of Lazax power across the galaxy began to splinter. No less than nine distant relatives of the Sai Corian dynasty, none residing on Mecatol Rex, have declared themselves the rightful heir to the imperial throne.
As stars in a darkening sky, reports of local uprisings seem to appear everywhere. Several great races have initiated major military provocations, or worse, as in the case of the Sol Federation, have declared outright war on the empire. As chaos gains momentum, the disparate, but still-mighty Lazax military has found itself without a clear chain of command. Some fleets and powerful regional PDF commanders have declared themselves for one imperial claimant or the other, but most Lazax military commanders have not yet taken decisive action. Many lean towards a declaration of galaxy-wide martial law, and the formation of strict Lazax military rule on Mecatol Rex until it is returned to Lazax control and an imperial succession firmly in place.
Although the Sol attack was masterfully coordinated and undoubtedly caused great injury to the Lazax, the resources of the empire remain vast. On Mecatol Rex, the Lazax PDF commander Gereon Sy Hern, has swiftly coordinated stiff resistance across several important sectors of Mecatol City. By his orders, advance Lazax naval units have begun harassing the Sol blockade, and columns of heavy mechanized units have been marshaled from under-city depots in support of the ground resistance. Swallowing pride by necessity, Sy Hern has made clandestine arrangements with the Hacan for transportation and safe passage of Lazax reinforcements from the Gul satellites of Jun and Semani. Most importantly, as enemy bombardments continue unabated, most of Rex's economy and crucial supply depositories remain in the hands of indigenous Lazax or imperial sympathizers, intent on funneling as much support and wealth as possible to Sy Hern's forces.
Gereon Sy Hern is aware the crisis has spread far beyond Rex, and he guesses the danger it poses may now be an existential one. He knows the empire will never be as it once was. That only through the perception of control — exemplified by the mastery of Mecatol Rex — will his people survive as a relevant power, or perhaps survive altogether.
Federation of Sol
Throughout history, the simian species of humans have reacted adversely to bondage or imposed limitation of any kind. Since they joined the Galactic Council during the third millennia of the Lazax empire's expansion, humankind found vassalship to the Lazax an uncomfortable coupling at best.
During the Age of Dusk, as the empire's expansion began to lessen and territorial assertions of the great races began to collide with those of others, the Sol Federation were first among the discontented. The Lazax, largely unconcerned, sought to solve disputes between the empire's denizens by what was perceived as increasingly inconsistent and arbitrary rulings.
Though Sol was not alone among the great races to begin serious armament and large-scale mobilization during the Age of Dusk, it was among the most aggressive and blatant in violating imposed militarization limits. The Quann Conflict and Maandu Edict were but the sparks that lit the tinder of Sol's rebellious predisposition. When the High Minister declared Sol's independence, he was greeted by universal support and jubilation by almost every Jord state and Sol out-system colony.
The short-term abdication consequences were virtually non-existent. The Sol administration had correctly guessed that little remained of the iron will and fierce ideology that had made the Lazax the masters of the stars. The once-formidable sovereignty of the Lazax had become bloated by vast bureaucracies, and its military branches controlled by a quibbling Lazax nobility whose wealth had grown beyond comprehension. A complacency harvested by thirty millennia of unbroken rule had blinded the Lazax to the cracks forming in the foundation of their empire.
The Federation leadership knew Sol's obstinacy would not go unpunished forever. Eventually, the inbred behemoth that was the Lazax empire would bare its teeth, and even a fully-mobilized Sol Federation could not hope to stand against the roused wrath of the empire. Sol's leadership concluded they had little choice but to go on the offensive, hoping to pull more races into abdication and stretch the empire's resources so far it would tear itself apart. When the Jol-Nar's headmasters offered Sol access to a powerful new drive technology, Admiral Steen Grayson suggested the unthinkable to the Sol leadership: a surprise strike at the heart of Lazax hegemony. A blow aimed to shatter the brittle stone that the empire had become.
In the year 73AT, the Sol Federation's 3rd Expeditionary Force, consisting of more than 700 warships equipped with new JoI-Nar Type II mass drives, furtively entered the Gul System and commenced their historic attack on Mecatol Rex. Within hours, the Lazax emperor was dead, the imperial administration in disarray, and the battle for Mecatol Rex begun.
The Universities have been preparing for war since the Grand Headmaster announced his people's abdication before the emperor's Mirritan almost fourteen years ago. The resignation came as a surprise to the remaining members of the Galactic Council. Since their peaceful annexation into the empire more than six thousand years prior, the Hylar of Jol-Nar had been people that would bend when pushed and retreat when confronted. Resentful but practical, they placed a patient trust in the empire's ever-increasing reliance on technologies harvested in the deep laboratories of their oceanic home worlds. With that influence ever-growing, the Universities bided their time.
At the height of the recent Quann Conflict, when two powerful members of the Galactic Council — the Sol Federation and the Letnev Barony — severed their ties to the empire, the Jol-Nar headmasters carefully observed the Lazax reaction. When no immediate reprisals or consequences were served upon the rebels (other than harsh words and a few toothless trade embargoes), the Jol-Nar felt it safe to act.
Over the centuries, long desirous of a more prominent and powerful place in the galaxy, the headmasters came to conclude that only the dismantlement of the galaxy's bloated central authority, the Lazax empire, would allow the Hylar to forge their own destiny among the stars. As the influence of the Jol-Nar's near-ubiquitous technologies spread, their wealth increased by lucrative profit-sharing arrangements with tens-of-thousands of Jol-Nar expatriate guilds across the galaxy, each licensed to install and service proprietary technology. No longer a poor and fragile civilization, the Jol-Nar had ascended to great stature.
After Jol-Nar's abdication, even as they publicly engaged in ancient territorial disputes with the Federation of Sol, the headmasters secretly plotted with the humans against their former masters. The clandestine allies aimed, in one audacious attack, to destroy the central Lazax command structure, perhaps even killing or capturing the emperor himself, landing a direct blow that would unravel the fabric of the empire. To this end, teams of Jol-Nar engineers secretly installed prototype Type II mass-drives on the Sol Federation's 3rd Expeditionary Fleet. With this cutting-edge technology, the Sol fleet was able to circumvent the imperial navy's central garrisons and patrols, an absolute requirement to mount a surprise attack against Mecatol Rex itself.
As the bombs have begun to fall, the headmasters intend to unleash their own ambitions on Mecatol Rex and elsewhere. With the setting of the Lazax sun, they mean to show the galaxy that the Hylar are not to be underestimated ever again.
Emirates of Hacan
"For a trader to flourish beyond current successes, he must embrace change. For it is change that originates both source and market, opening the void between them where the merchant prospers. Yet one must beware: despite innovative contracts, monopolizing conditions, or clever manipulation of price and supply, any lucrative exploit between economic attractors will in time lessen, and ultimately close. The wise merchant therefore always must look to the trade winds that favorably replace an existing product with a fresh opportunity."
— Excerpt from "Market Cycles" by Quieron Roban II
Through their widespread trade networks, the Hacan leadership have long sensed the impending upheaval in the fabric of the empire. Thus far, it has not overly concerned them; as a general rule, upheaval is not anathema to the general trade, only to certain goods and the pricing of others.
What does concern the Hacan, however, has been the increased Lazax reliance on trade embargoes as punishment to dissenters. Through most of the empire's trading history, the costs of breaching Lazax trade restrictions were sufficient to halt trade pursuits in affected regions. However, in recent decades where no less than three major civilizations had been declared non-fabrica ports of call, the scales were shifting.
Those broad imperial embargoes against Sol, Jol-Nar, and Letnev had sent a deep chill through the galaxy's commercial activity. For the first time in ages, significant segments of Hacan cargo haulers were sitting idle, and the reduction in transaction velocities had forced the financier tribes to make cuts in both short-term funding, and broader investments, further dampening commercial activity.
Though the teachings of Roban II embrace the virtue of market change, they are short on guidance for the merchant himself as an active agent of change. The current Quieron, Waech Sla, has concluded the Hacan must become such agents, while staying true to their old creeds whenever possible.
As the Sol fleet rushed towards Mecatol, it did so relying on Hacan trading fleets for its logistical needs. Yet, to the Federations impending surprise, the Hacan does not consider Sol its only customer in the matter of the Mecatol siege. With complete control over shipping routes to the Gul system, and the sole purveyor of supplies to Mecatol's surface, the Hacan are not inclined to turn down lucrative offers from invested parties. In fact, Waech Sla ponders what gains would lie in a greater change; one in which the Hacan took the reins of the empire and led the galaxy to prosperity through commerce.
Barony of Letnev
In the third deep of Arc Prime, Vvlos Samrac XVII, the Baron of Letnev, has awaited the Days of Reckoning with ill-contained wroth. Ever since he slit the throat of his father at age 19, Vvlos has presided over a populace as near to revolt as to starvation. The Baron is keenly aware that the shadows may soon leap for his own throat, should he not manage to improve the lot of the Letnev and feed their ambition for glory and conquest.
When his father burned the ancient papers of submission, in the wake of the Quann Conflict nearly seventy years prior, the old man expected a military response from the Lazax. Such a response would have allowed Vvlos' father to unite the sparring Letnev dynasties, and — more importantly — given him more direct authority over the Cimm Fenn: the powerful Letnev security force whose assassins and operatives infiltrated nearly every echelon of the empire.
Instead, the intolerable Lazax hit the Barony with a range of cowardly trade embargoes and out-planet asset seizures. Unlike the Sol Federation (who had also abdicated at that time), such measures bit the Letnev deep. Despite its incredible metallurgical wealth, Arc Prime suffered from chronic foodstuff and water shortages, and worse, the unstated ambitions of its warrior nobility.
Only a few short months ago, by word of the Cimm Fenn masters, Vvlos learned of Sol's assault on Mecatol Rex. In this, Vvlos tasted the day long-awaited. With only months to spare, the Baron wasted no time. As the humans would strike their dagger into the heart of the empire, Letnev raiders would be ready to assault vital neighboring systems. Here they would reap food sources and slaves, bolstering the Letnev engine of war that Vvlos meant to unleash on the galaxy.
While his ambition far exceeds the conquest of a single planet, Vvlos understands that ceding a trophy such as Mecatol Rex to the humans would be unwise. To counter the Sol power-grab, Vvlos has, with the support of the Cimm Fenn, smuggled hundreds of capable operatives and thousands of Letnev special forces to the surface of Mecatol Rex. Secretly encased in shipping containers, or covertly undercover in Mecatol City, they await the Days of Reckoning. Should the situation warrant additional attention, the Baron has arranged for military transportation to Mectaol Rex by means of the Hacan Gisnada group. Hungry for access to the metals of Arc Prime, the opportunist felines have guaranteed safe delivery of additional Letnev forces despite "possible objections by third parties".
The days foreseen are surely at hand, and when that hour finally comes, the Baron of Letnev intends to plunge a spear deep into the side of an already wounded galaxy.
Domo Oolan has been greatly saddened by the sudden sour turn of events. The short-sighted attack on Mecatol Rex has threatened to undo not only his most important work, but the arduous preparations of his predecessors. Centuries of careful planning, subtle suggestion, wise guidance, and accumulated goodwill. All wasted, all forgotten. Bodiless casualties in the firestorm the short-lived races have unleashed on this holy place of reason and communion.
Instead, events inexorably slide toward that which the Xxcha so ardently have sought to avoid: the interminable darkness and devastation of galaxy-wide civil war.
The Xxcha, philosopher-warriors and master diplomats, have long recognized the dangerous degradation of stability in the galaxy around them. In the center of this converging vortex sat the progressively flawed rule of the Lazax. The legendary energy and vision of the imperial race had, after nearly thirty millennia of rule, receded to a state of complacency governed by the blind arrogance of the entitled. Like a dying sun, the Lazax empire now burned a sullen, uncaring red; its waning heat belying the destructive nova it would set off in death.
Ttepliren su Tteplitau. The ebb and the flow. As one, the Yystori. Ever true, ever moving. The Xxcha believe those with sufficient patience can in the Yystori hear the breathing of the universe itself. At its zenith lies glory and decline, at its nadir death and rebirth. The Xxcha teach it is not the task of mortals to still or to change the course of the Yystori, but rather it is the responsibility of all sentience to lessen the painful effects of its churning.
As the Xxcha came to understand that the end of the Lazax empire was at hand, they began a tireless work towards its peaceful passing; to facilitate a rebirth that would transition the galaxy into its next Ttepliren, a new age. To this end, Xxcha diplomats subtly nudged the Lazax to cede powers to the Galactic Council while they preached patience and compromise to the galaxy's other disparate, and increasingly discontented powers. As the Age of Dusk, a time of deceit and selfishness, seethed around them, the Xxcha alone fought to deflect the growing spectre of all-out civil war that loomed ahead.
As the nascent civil war now rages across Mecatol Rex, Domo Oolan is determined not to let his people's Domorkan, its greatest task, fail. He tells his brethren to resist the voice of savagery calling from the abyss, and instead redouble efforts of reconciliation and restraint. Even if the Xxcha must use their powerful arms and hardened bodies to soften the blows to the galaxy, it must be done. Even if the Xxcha should themselves be forced to don the mantle of the emperors, it must be done. For the greater good, it must be done.